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thee to bide here awhile, at least until a courier shall return from the tree, where thou sayest thy cousin will place the billet. And if everything is well, then there will be found for thee a guide to lead thee through the forest to the monastery, where thou shalt first sign thyself for the strict carrying out of our plans; then thou shalt be wed, if there is no remissness, and carried safely to London, where thou shalt remain until thy lady has audience, and gains that we seek of the King. Ah! there are times when we sigh and almost weep for those good old _pro_-Reformation days, when such ecclesiastical bodies as ours took their grievances to–Rome. Bah! to have to bribe a profligate king for–the signing of his name. What does he know about bequests and inheritances–” The count started and Dempsy all alert broke in with,–“and freeholds. Thou dost know, count, the monastery is a freehold in the very centre of Lord Cedric’s lands; but–I am telling secrets; forget what I said.” The count fell back listlessly, a gap made in his thoughts by the sudden disappearance of a clue.

“Charles treats us as mendicants; but if he should chance to see the coffers of our order, he would know we had received something else beside a crust for shriving.” The count looked up again so quickly, Dempsy caught himself and wondered what he had been saying, and what his last words were; for he had been thinking aloud, as it were.

“Aye, aye, I was saying if Charles could see the riches of our coffers, he would know the sale of Indulgences had not been a little. Thou seest, count, we have here at the monastery great treasure, our coffers are filled with priceless articles of virtue that will, no doubt, be carried to Rome and be laid in the reliquary of Santa Maria Maggiore or St. Andrew Corsini or St. Peters. We have some priceless bones–” Adrian shuddered and relaxed his attention–“they have brought us great, good fortune; we have bits of clothing–thou dost well know most of the saints were plainly attired–that some day will be worth much, perhaps not in my day nor thine, but when age comes, when we grow a little further from the saints. Ah! I see, thou hast not much interest in my converse–treasure is nothing to thy love-sick heart, eh! count?”

“Nay, not dead men’s bones, indeed thou hast rare wine for such cumbrous relics that can be turned to naught! And didst thou shrive the saint for the use of his bones a hundred years hence?”

“Thou art growing facetious, count. Dost think of no virtue but thy maid’s? And art thou sure she will not fall back from her promise to thee?”

Cantemir, filled with his own ideas, gave perfunctory acquiescence and continued in his own line of thought. And what with a busy brain that was not over-strong, and a ride of some length and dampness, with a sore leg, he became feverish and the monk took him to bed in great haste, where he remained for the best part of a week; the seriousness of his disease not a little augmented by the desire for immediate action.



The next morning after Christopher’s sudden disaster, the castle seemed to have awakened from a long apathy. The servants clattered under breath of their wounded fellow. The arrival of his Grace of Ellswold’s physicians held gossip in the castle in abeyance, as all were anxious of their decision; but the presence of Sir Julian seemed to fill the sails of the becalmed household with a stiff breeze, which at a favourable moment would raise anchor and fly forth on a joyous sea.

The physicians gave out that there was no immediate danger, but his illness was serious and there must neither be noise nor excitement. It was out of the question to move his Grace either to his own estates or elsewhere for baths or sea air.

Lord Cedric and Sir Julian sat with him an hour after the doctor’s examination, Sir Julian, conversing of the freshest gossip at court, without the usual condiment of inflammables which would be apt to rouse his Grace not a little.

There being now no traitor–unless perchance Constance might be termed one–in the house, and no danger of Mistress Pen wick being left without the close surveillance of Janet, she was no longer kept prisoner. And, while she was greatly wrought upon by the sad havoc of the previous night, her youth and gay spirits and Janet’s exhortations upon the age, giving license to all sorts of uprisings and display of temper and unwarranted vengeance, somewhat quieted her, and she arose as sprightly as ever, all the more determined to free herself from Lord Cedric. If she had stopped for self-analysis, she would have found that she was bent on gaining her independence at no matter what cost; regardless of consequences. That her desire was more of adventure than ambition. And she also would have found that she cared naught for Cantemir and a very great deal for Lord Cedric. She had never given thought to a separation from her beloved Janet; while even classing her as antagonistic to her desires, she never ceased to love her; for this woman had made herself a mother in every respect, aye, even more watchful and exacting. While acting in a servant’s capacity, doing the most menial of service, she developed in the maid those seemingly trifling motives of mind and soul which in the end make up the character of a life; and very few mothers ever have the tact to so understand these very minute details that so develop a child’s passion. Janet had ever developed in her charge an inclination for all beauty; not failing, however, to show wherein weakness crept; where grace of countenance oft screened defect of character. Indeed this maid was one of Janet’s own creation, save in flesh and blood, and no one knew any better than she, herself, the vanity to rout the faults and frailties inherited. She strove the harder to overthrow such imperfections by perfecting and cultivating the maid’s receptive mood. She was ever fencing with her in words, working out in detail exchange of thought wherein Katherine might, if ’twere in her, make a clever reply. At times Mistress Penwick would pick up such threads of Janet’s teaching as would bring her to a semblance of conscience of present environment, and she would see in a vague way the right and wrong of things. For the moment she would read all in Cantemir’s handsome face that it masqued and would turn from it only to become lost in contemplation of what life would be if she were free from Cedric’s guardianship, never thinking of the greater bondage of espousing a knave. Ever and anon her eyes sought the young lord of the castle, forgetting she was his ward–and there would come to her such a feeling of overwhelming conviction she was for the moment submerged in ecstasy, and with the hot blush still upon her face she would flee from him as if he were an evil tempter. He brought her near to that great unknown, upon whose threshold she stood trembling and expectant, eager to know what was before her. And so, not understanding her own mind, and being of such tender years, drifted along with the tide that was carrying her to destruction. Her mind was set upon her own way, and sheer perversity deigned not to let her see the hands stretched toward her.

The afternoon sun fell aslant the black oak parquetry where sat her Grace of Ellswold, Lady Constance and Mistress Penwick, engaged with limning and embroidery. Lord Cedric and Sir Julian entered, attired in the most modish foppery of the time. The latter was saying, as he soundly rapped his pouncet-box,–

“His demeanour is too provincial, too provincial–ah!”–and he bent low with grave formality to Mistress Penwick as Cedric presented him; then turning to the duchess continued,–“I was saying, your Grace, that Dryden is provincial in his demeanour, when compared to his Grace of Buckingham.”

“Indeed, Julian, thou dost speak lightly of such gigantic genius; beside, ‘twould not be fair to compare sun and moon; and how could we do without either the one or the other?”

“To which dost thou comparison his Grace?”

“The moon, of course!” said the Duchess.

“And to what planet is my lord a satellite?”

“Nay, I know not; thou dost question of one who knows little of astronomy; but I think perhaps Mars, as the planet doth resemble earth more closely than any other.”

“Bravo, ’tis a rare simile; and I take it thou didst speak in derogation;–no matter how true the _inuendo_, it is ever the material we most appreciate and enjoy, and the sun being nearly ninety-three million miles from the earth, ’tis too remote to be interesting.”

“Indeed, Julian, Dryden in five minutes’ converse will stir one to seriousness by his fancy, to tears by his pathos, and to thoughts of deity by his sublimity.”

“‘Tis only a great, good, noble nature like thine that could be so stirred; believe me, your Grace, thou didst dissemble these emotions from pure charity.”

“Well, well, we must all admit that ’tis not his character that commands our respect and esteem, but his prose and poesy. We all love Buckingham, but in our appreciation of him we must not exclude reason and put him before all others,”–and her Grace turned abruptly to Mistress Penwick. “Here is an admirer of Dryden’s compositions, she clings pertinaciously and with all the ardour of strong youth to his satire of ‘Absalom and Achitophel,’ although ’tis a bitter lampoon on Monmouth and Shaftesbury; two men she heartily admires.” Sir Julian leant over the Duchess and spoke softly,–

“I was not aware Mistress Penwick had been presented?” And his keen eyes scanned every lineament of her face and mould. Lord Cedric was watching askance, and his face grew red with a stroke of passion as he noted Sir Julian’s look of evident admiration, and jealousy for a moment swept the young lord’s heart, and he cursed in thought the wicked feeling that in connection with his noble friend could predicate of naught but the foul fiends. Indeed, so open were Sir Julian’s glances that the maid herself became confused and said, with some embarrassment,–

“My imagination is ofttime profligate, and I indulge–in fancy–in exchange of word and thought with those great and exalted personages whose noble compeers I have the good fortune to consort with daily.” And she laid her hand caressingly upon the Duchess’ arm.

“Then ‘twould serve thee greatly to place thee within the shadow of Whitehall, aye, Mistress?”

“‘Twould be a great happiness, Sir Julian.”

“Dost know of any greater, my lady?” It seemed his eyes would pierce her very soul.

“I must admit it; I have a great desire,” and her face grew rose-hued and her heart fluttered with the bold words she was about to utter–

“Ah, thou dost wish for, or have a desire to enter the–“

“The distinguished service of a Lady of Honour.” As one looked upon her great beauty, ’twas a wonder she was not born a queen.

Upon hearing the maid’s words, Constance in jealous rage fell to inordinate laughter and shook her work to the floor, and as Lord Cedric stooped to regain it he whipped out,–

“And why, pray, art thou so amused; ’tis most like Julian to promote this idea, and she will straightway wish to leave us. I am sure one glimpse of her would set the whole court on fire.”

“Such startling metaphor, unless indeed thou dost allude to the colour of her hair!” She spoke with so much malice and hate Lord Cedric was stirred to amazement, and for the first time his eyes were opened to Constance’ hate of one whom he loved beyond all else on earth. He had thought her merely jealous of the maid, but now he saw ’twas hatred.

Sir Julian paid no heed to aught save Mistress Penwick’s brave colour as it came and went, and the fervour of her eyes as they looked into his. He came nearer to being shaken than ever before in his twenty odd years of slow and fast living.

“If I might be so honoured by the privilege, I would present thy desire straightway to the Duchess here, who would no doubt place thee at once at court.” Mistress Penwick arose, unable to contain her perturbed spirit, and said,–

“Sir Julian, how can I ever–” and she stopped, so stirred was she with her emotion; very much as a child is wrought to wonderment by the sight of a marvelous toy. Julian offered his arm, and they sauntered up and down the room, Sir Julian boldly playing his part. If Katherine had been less innocent, she might have seen that he was not sincere. He said:

“I see no reason why thou shouldst not begin preparation at once for thy journey. The Duke is progressing finely and her Grace could perhaps accompany thee as well now as at another time. Wilt thou prepare at once, Mistress Penwick?” If the king had already sent for her, he could not have talked with more confidence; but there was something he must know. As he insisted on an immediate journey, she turned scarlet, and bit her lip, and frowned.

“There are a few matters I must see to; I could hardly leave within a week;–there is no hurry!”

“On the contrary there is a great hurry, for I must leave at once, and I would escort thee. I think I shall leave by dawn to-morrow.” Katherine’s brow puckered still more as she stood upon the seesaw of duty and ambition, perplexed to know which way to turn. It appeared the better quality was innate and her brow cleared, as she said,–

“‘Twould be impossible to go so soon. I could not ask her Grace to leave when the Duke is so ill; for, beside a long journey, much time might be required ere I should be presented. I must have time–a lady should have a great number to attend her–“

“Thou hast a host in thy nurse, Janet; she is quite enough for the journey, and at London there will be a matron for each finger of thy hand. I can see no reason why thou shouldst not start at once, if the Duchess so decides.” They were quite alone now, and Katherine, being well cornered and being young and given to confiding, felt so irresistibly drawn toward this man at her side, she looked up into his face and said,–

“Canst thou not guess, after all thou didst see last night, why I am kept from going?”

“I cannot; methinks ‘twould be a happy moment to say _adieu_ to such scenes.”

“Then thou dost not know I am to wed Count Cantemir, Lady Constance’ cousin?”

“I think thy heart an alien to love; for if thou wouldst sooner become a Lady of Honour than wed one to whom thou hast ‘trothed thyself, ’tis sure thou hast no love; ’tis caprice or–what one wills to call it, and thou hadst better fly from a marriage that has not love in it.”

“But I know not what to do. I have given my promise to wed, and I want to go to London.”

“Then I beg to assist thee to thy heart’s desire as soon as thou hast found what its desire is; and I insist thou dost examine the weather-vane of thy mind and discern its bent. I am by thy side, groping in darkness for that thou wouldst have. I am bound to serve thee.”

“Sir Julian, thou dost nonplus my understanding of myself absurdly. I agree I have more minds than one, and ’tis disconcerting to try in haste to ascertain which is the best. Indeed, I do not wish to make a false step and do that ‘twould make me sorry ever after.”

“‘Twould be well to have one to guide thee in thine uncertainty. I should aspire to such an office with alacrity, if thou wouldst but give me one encouraging glance.” For a moment they looked into each other’s eyes, then Katherine’s lids dropped and she became as clay in his hands. And before she was aware, she had told him all things. These matters were not altogether new to Sir Julian, for Lord Cedric had discoursed at length upon them, but the nucleus he sought was found, and he listened perfunctorily to all else, feasting his eyes upon her face and listening only to the music of her voice.

“Then why, may I ask, didst thou discard Cedric’s suit?”

“He is tyrannical and cruel, and even though my heart should incline toward him, ‘twould not be meet for me to wed with one of another faith.”

“‘Tis possible thou couldst win him to thy way of thinking.”

“Nay, I should not try it; for I have cast all thought of him aside.”

“Then thou dost acknowledge having had a tenderness for him? ‘Tis well thou dost so fling him aside, he is unworthy of thy consideration.”

“Not so; he is most noble, but–but–I know not what,–he is haughty and full of temper and given to harsh language–“

“Yet he is not a fit companion for thee, sayest thou?”

“Thou dost greatly misunderstand me; he is on the contrary a most delightful person to converse with and every whit fit to be a King;–but we are not suited to each other.”

“Was it not thy father’s desire for thee to soon wed and to this man?”

“Even so; but he knew not my Lord Cedric but his father; beside–“


“I am expecting to hear from my father in the near future–“


“–and ’tis possible he will come to me or send and make some change. I have asked him to appoint another guardian for me and my estates.”

“‘Twould be a wise thing to do, no doubt; but ’tis possible Cedric has used already thine inheritance.” Mistress Penwick flushed hotly.

“Nay, thou dost judge him ill; he is above such a thing.” And Sir Julian knew what the poor maid knew not herself, and he felt ’twas a safe thing to carry through his adventure.

“Then there are two things that weigh upon thee. Thou knowest not whether to wed or become a Lady of Honour. I will warn thee that thou must not dwell long upon them, for ’tis possible if thou dost not decide very early, I will be able to help thee to nothing but–myself.”

Mistress Penwick flushed warmly and smiled back at him; and her desire for admiration drove her on and on, and she soon forgot all else save the man by her side, and it appeared that no matter how he tried to break the spell of her witchery, he could not leave her for a moment.

It fell out that before three days had passed, they were deep in admiration of each other. Cedric was racked by doubt and fear, yet never for an instant letting go his faith in Julian. Constance was happy that Katherine was so diverted, keeping thereby Cedric from any rash moves, and giving herself time to visit the tree that often held so much of importance. And she managed to outwit the ubiquitous Janet and hailed with joy the day of the great battle when Mistress Penwick was to be removed from her pathway forever.

The disappearance of Adrian Cantemir was not spoken of–as if ’twere a matter of too small import;–and yet he hovered ominously in their minds; and Katherine most of all desired to forget her promise and every word she had spoken to him, and Constance understood and would not let her forget, planning night and day to bring them together again….

To look back from the lower terrace at the castle was to see a gorgeous display of blossom. The ivy-clad walls stood a rich background to the splendour of tinted flower. Indeed, the scene appeared not unlike an enormous nosegay lying upon a hill of moss. The night had brought showers, and from every minute projection of twig, leaf or petal glistened limpid drops, some swelling with honey and falling like dew upon the young sward. The birds twittered ceaselessly, and some young thing preening upon a light blossomy twig scattered down, anon, perfume upon some shy young fawn, and he leapt away frightened by so dainty a bath and plunged knee-deep in crystal pools and sent the stately swans skimming hurriedly to a quiet and sheltered cove.

From the Chapel came indistinctly the sound of the organ in a prelude, it would seem, to the day. ‘Twas Sir Julian’s wont to rise early and draw–it may be–inspiration from the full vibrant chords of sweet harmony.

From an upper casement leant forth Mistress Penwick with a face as delicately tinted as the blossoms of the peach that flaunted their beauty at some distance. She appeared to be arranging violets–that still sparkled with rain–in an oblong porcelain box that lay flat upon the casement. Her white jewelled fingers flitted in and out of the blue depths. Her small white teeth were but half eclipsed and there fluttered forth from her parted lips a low humming that keyed and blended with the organ. Her soft white dress enveloped her mould loosely; her long flowing sleeves, prefaced by rare lace, displaying her pink, round arm. She wore not the look of care; for she had thrown all such evil weight upon one who played in yonder sacred shrine so tranquilly, as if nothing but his own sins rested–and they but feather-weight–upon his soul. On he played, and she arranged her flowers, and up the avenue came horses’ feet and Lady Constance unattended came riding near the castle and called up to the vision of beauty that leant from the window,–

“‘Tis a glorious morning for riding forth. I have had a fine jaunt and met nothing but the post-boy,”–and here she showed a billet and rode close to the wall and hid it neath the ivy–“and a famous adventure which I’ve half a mind to pursue, after–I’ve ‘suaged my hunger. If I ride thus every morning, I shall soon have an arm as pink and round and perfect in mould as thine own. Hast thou broken fast?”

“I have had my simple allotment, and have been down on the lower terraces and gathered these violets, and am now hungry again and Janet has gone for a wing of fowl and some wine.” At these words Lady Constance looked about her cautiously and spoke in low tones,–

“Everything is ready for thy flight. I saw Adrian this morning. He is handsomer than ever and eager to see thee, and counts the hours ’til nightfall. If ’tis possible thou art to escape unnoticed to the monastery, where the nuptials will be performed at once, then thou art to depart immediately for Whitehall, where thou wilt be made much of by the King and he will more like detain thy husband under pretext, and mayhap offer him some honour for the sake of keeping thy beauty in England.”–With a wave of the hand Mistress Penwick bade Lady Constance depart as Janet stood within the door.

The castle was astir early, as if there was naught but a glorious day before them, and they would make it of much length. It seemed as if a great peace had settled upon those ivy-clad walls, or it might be the calm that is the solemn presage of storm, and Sir Julian himself quiet beyond his wont seemed to portend the calamities that were to ensue; and after his breakfast stood at a window watching the dripping trees and whistling so softly one could not tell whether ’twere he or the birds chirping without. Cedric and Lady Constance played at battledore and shuttlecock. Mistress Penwick sat apart, busy with thought and needle. His Grace of Ellswold sat up that morning, his wife and physicians by his side, and all were happy with the great improvement.

Meanwhile, at the monastery all was commotion. The day there would be far too short to accomplish all that was to be done. Three couriers had arrived since dawn with important dispatches. In the midst of the monks, who sat upon long benches that flanked either side of a spacious gallery, sat Adrian Cantemir, reading the last message. Opposite, at the table, were three monks apparently engaged upon their own affairs, but subtly watching the puzzled countenance of their guest. Finally their patience seemed to have run out and Constantine, the monk directly _vis-a-vis_ to Cantemir, coughed, cleared his throat and in low gutterals said,–

“Thy countenance is unfair; ’tis a perjury on thy happy heart.” Adrian looked up with a start, so lost was he in contemplation. His letter was prophetic of evil, and he was afraid.

“‘Tis ill news, and thou wert not far wrong to bring forth thine arms. The secrets to be intrusted to my wife it seems have already reached–“

“The King?” and with the words it appeared each Abbe was upon his feet and leaning forward intent.

“Nay, but the arch-fiends Buckingham and Monmouth. And with the King’s consent they leave for a hunting bout and they ride hither. It says that the former in masque saw my meeting this morning with Lady Constance, and he followed and made love to her.” The Abbes stood in utter dismay and dejection. At last, Dempsy of the Cow and Horn began in deep, full tones the first movement of the “Kyrie eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie eleison,” and one by one every voice leapt up in a God-have-mercy, and the walls echoed and without the birds seemed to take it up, and it was carried to a listening ear not far from the shadow of the wall. Then the prayer ceased and La Fosse–half soldier, half priest–spoke in ringing tones.

“And what else does thy billet say? Why are we to be attacked; are we not upon our own ground?”

“It is mooted that should my wife gain the King’s ear, she will influence him to consent not only on this thy matter but others of great importance that now pend. It is said that Buckingham has boasted of rare sport in routing a full score of knaves; taking treasure–” Cantemir’s eyes swept keenly the visage of Constantine–of great value, beside the beauteous maid that is to arrive; for he says ’tis sure she will be worth as much to them as the King. He refers to himself and Monmouth, who mean to take my wife prisoner this very night.”

“‘Tis enough,” said La Fosse, with a deprecating gesture. “We must put on the armour of strength and gird ourselves for battle. We have all to fight for that that is honourable: home, virtue and religion. What more could we ask for to strengthen us?”

“‘Tis well said,” quoth Constantine. “Judging from thy billet, we are not to be attacked until the maid hath arrived. Is it known, also, at what hour she is to come?”

“If they know so much, they perhaps know even all.”

“Then we must hasten the hour by two, and ’twill incur no disadvantage save to bring the maid to a greater discretion and show of wit; for ’twill be harder for her to escape at nine than eleven.”

“Methinks ’twill be a greater task to warn the maid of the setting forth of the hour.” Adrian looked up hopefully; for he was of no mind to meet his wife upon the threshold of a battle, and two hours earlier, ‘twould be time and to spare, and he spoke out bravely,–

“I’ll see to the message,” and he was guilty of a low-bred wink at Dempsy.

“Then ’twill serve to set aside this matter for the next,” and La Fosse looking at Cantemir and speaking softly and deferentially bade him leave them for the present.

Adrian left the room by the door he had entered it, and passing through a hall reentered the chamber that had been assigned him.

The Russian, though a coward, was wary at times and allowed it to carry him into danger, and as an example he changed his riding garb for his cavalier costume, discarding his spurred boots for high-heeled slippers and deigning not to don coat or waistcoat started forth in search of–he must think what? He was without servant, as ’twas safer to leave him at the Cow and Horn;–especially one who has corners on his conscience. He must search for–the kitchen. This place was below stairs, and he stole this way and that to find a flight of steps. Treading softly, listening intently and looking ravenously for opportunity to plunder, for there was treasure somewhere about the monastery, this was certain, and he might as well have part of it as Buckingham and Monmouth to have it all. And in case of any mischance and Mistress Penwick be lost to him, he must have something to live upon. Constance would never forgive him for allowing the maid to escape him, and consequently would not give him large loans as heretofore. But if he should gain the fair prize, some day he would give back to his church even more than he had taken. As he thus thought, he forgot for a moment his present surroundings and was suddenly reminded by a touch on the shoulder,



He started quickly and looked up shuddering, and saw a tall, slender monk with cowl so drawn not a feature could be seen. The Abbe spoke low and hoarsely, as though a cold prevented better utterance,–

“What seekest thou?”

“The kitchen,” Cantemir answered, with a great show of bravery.

“And what there to find, my young man?”

“Pen and paper. I must write to Mistress Penwick.”

“Ah yes, ah yes, my son. I had forgotten. Curve thy sentences to the point, without being so broad in assertion another might understand. Thou hadst better put it this way–“

“Indeed I thought I had my meaning well covered. I had proposed to say–“

“Ah, we are not alone; step this way.” The monk turned to a panelling that gave way by a touch, and to Cantemir’s surprise they were alone in a dark and vaulted passage; indeed they were unable to discern aught. Quickly the Abbe drew his companion from the panelling through which they had passed; and ’twas hardly done when three monks followed with lighted candles. The foremost was Constantine, carrying an enormous bunch of keys. Their long robes swept Cantemir’s feet. He drew a quick breath, and before it sounded his companion placed his hand over his mouth. Now this hand smacked not of holy mould or monastic incense, but rather of rare perfume; but Cantemir was frightened and did not notice the worldliness of the admonishing hand. The monks proceeded down the passage; stopping near the centre they lifted from the floor a trapdoor. A ladder was brought and swung down the opening and the three descended.

“Now, my son, thou hadst better write thy billet, and if thou dost not find one to carry it, I will be along directly and do the service for thee. I must visit the village and the tree, my son. Now I’ll give thee a bit of advice. Never again go about looking for anything where ’tis supposed there is treasure. If it had not been for my timely interruption, my brothers there would have found thee and not so easily forgiven thy inclination for discovery. Go, go in peace–remember always, that discretion is the wit of safety.”

Cantemir was frightened, and glad to get away, for he feared the Abbe’s smooth tones masqued treachery, and he slid through the panelling and in very earnest sought the kitchen.

The deceitful monk hastened toward the open trap and kneeling gazed for a moment below. There came up a foul odour that made him flinch and draw back; he drew his handkerchief and placed it to his nose and leant again and looked. There was a faint glimmer that showed in which direction the lights were. He lay flat and putting his head beneath the opening, saw the priests leaning over a chest. Quickly he prepared to descend and was upon the second rung of the ladder, when the panelling again opened and a half-dozen faces looked through; anger and indignation upon all but one, and that was the Russian’s, which bore joy of a discovery. He had gone to the refectory with good intent to write his letter; but finding a small company of monks gathered there and they appearing much perturbed, he asked the cause. One said there was a strange Abbe in the monastery, whose hands were as bejewelled as any fop’s, and that a number had gone in search of him. The false monk’s hand had betrayed him, as ’twas seen from a window as he uncovered it to open the door. Now Cantemir thought it a good, safe moment to become a hero and straightway told of his encounter; saying he was in search of the refectory and had lost his way; making a plausible story. He was carried forth with the party in search and now came toward the opening in the passage with drawn sword, his face wearing the masque of bravery.

The man upon the ladder was the same that had listened to the “Kyrie eleison” from without, and before it concluded had made his way inside: the Duke of Buckingham.

He jumped like a cat under cover of his pursuer’s noisy entrance and slipped away from the opening. Quickly he drew from him the robe and cowl and flung them down upon the ladder and drawing his sword stood waiting and almost eager for a fight. He did not forget, however, that there is often a practiced and keen thrust from the folds of a priest’s habit. But they were confident the false Abbe was beneath, and with less noise and more subtleness moved toward the opening. As they did so, his Grace swung round and cautiously approached the wall where the panelling was. “Aye, aye,” he heard, as the foremost man found the robe. Straightway they all rushed below stair, and as the head of the last man disappeared, his Grace went through the panelling, and within five minutes stood safe in the forest, happy with the knowledge he had gained.

It was near the hour of five when Lady Constance rode forth alone. She left the courtyard unnoticed and hurried to the village and through it and on beyond toward the tree and passed it and galloped some distance beyond, then seeing she was not followed made a quick turn and retraced, But there came from a bend in the road a horseman that rode warily. She again turned to see if any came, and seeing no one stopped at the tree and brought from its cavity a letter. As she replaced the knot, there was such a sudden sound of horses’ feet behind her she dropped the billet and her unknown squire leapt from his horse to recover it, and stood uncovered before her with such a long, low bow of homage he had most time to read the missive. Lady Constance was flattered and felt surely that one with such courtly dress and bearing could be nothing less than a Duke and his wearing of a full masque made her doubly sure of it. She flushed and reached out her hand for the letter and spoke in her most seductive tones,–

“My lord,”–he looked up and saw on her pretty, though characterless face a smile that warranted a further acquaintance. He placed the letter in her hand slowly, then caught her hand and held it firmly; indeed their hands touched and lingered together with such intention it conveyed much more meaning than words. Constance had all the outward show of a great lady, but at soul she was putrescent. There came such a heartrending sigh from her cavalier she spoke in a most tender tone,–

“And why such sighing?”

“Is it not enough, sweet lady?”

“I am at a loss?”

“Nay, rather ’tis I that am at loss; for I had sought to gain thy favour undivided, and I meet with thee only to give into thy hands a trysting billet that lifts thy glorious orbs above me.” He bowed low in mock humility. Constance’ heart fluttered at his ardent words.

“I would fain know who thus sues for a woman’s love; ’tis possible–” He lowered his masque. “Ah, his Grace of Monmouth!” She well-nigh prostrated herself upon the saddle, in lieu of the fine courtesy she would have swept had her position been more favourable. His words–such gloriously sweet words when uttered by the lips of a Duke–fed her vanity. Her face flushed as she thought of what his love must be. He saw his vantage and drew nearer–it may be a hair’s breadth over the line of respect–indeed ‘twould have been an innovation had he not done so, as the time warranted nothing else but a show at virtue.

“Your Grace finds a maid that is heart whole; but I would aid others to their desire. I but act as post-boy ‘twixt tree and castle.”

“Thou art cold and cruel. I can see well thou dost hold tightly to thy bosom thy billet; thou art afraid ’twill betray thee. Thou art the maid herself that doth own it?” Constance had a burning curiosity to know why Monmouth was in the neighbourhood of Crandlemar, and though he insinuated he had come purposely to see her, yet she was not blind and wondered what diplomacy she could use to gain from him the desired knowledge. Could it be possible he had come on behalf of the King, and if so, for what business? The Catholics surely had not been so indiscreet as to allow their affairs to reach the King’s ears? And if so, why should he send to them? It was not at all likely any one knew of the monastery so hidden away in a dense forest. Could it be that the beauty of Mistress Penwick had become notorious at Whitehall and that the Duke was hunting for her? These thoughts passed speedily through her brain, while the ogling Monmouth waited for her answer to his accusation. She spoke with a shy little twist of her head, vainly trying to blush like little innocence.

“How can I hold out against thee, Duke? Thou dost steal my secret; here, then, read it for thyself.” With a lightening glance he finished reading what he had begun before.

“I was right, sweet Katherine; ’tis a trysting letter, and thou art to go to him to-night at nine? Thou shalt not; I’ll have thee for myself.” Now they had made a great mistake. Constance thought to convince the Duke she had no lover. He misunderstood and believed her to be the Katherine he had come after. She, thinking to gain his secret, allowed him to think so, and quickly took up her new part.

“Thou dost embarrass me, Duke!”

“In very truth,” said he, “we have heard of thy great beauty at Whitehall, and have come hither to claim thee for ourselves. Thou shalt be my very own, sweet Katherine. The King was about to send forth to Crandlemar to enquire of his Grace of Ellswold. We asked for the service, that we might gain sight of thy rare beauty. We are about to pay our respects to the Duke who lies yonder, and at the King’s order bring him important news. We have heard, however, his condition is most critical, and we cannot see him until high noon to-morrow, as the midday finds him stronger. And I must see thee, sweet one, again before the night is over. I cannot wait for the morrow’s noon.” He caught her hand and pressed his lips to it, resting himself against the horse, his arm thrown carelessly across Constance’ knee. She deemed it an honour to be in such close proximity to the royal Duke, and grew red with his amorous glances and soft-spoken words and the familiarity of his arm upon her.

“Indeed, it doth seem to me also like a very long time to wait,” and she sighed heavily. At this Monmouth drew her down and kissed her upon her thin, arrogant lips. She, well-nigh beside herself, exclaimed in a thin, high voice,–

“Ah, ah, Duke, thou dost kill me–I must hasten away from thee. I must go.” She spurred her horse; but the Duke caught the rein and held it fast.

“Nay, nay, thou shalt not yet be gone. Wouldst thou be so cruel to leave me now at Love’s first onset? I will not have it!”

“But I must hasten,–I am riding alone, and some one will be sent for me if I do not soon return to the castle.”

“Thou must give me promise first, sweet one!”

“Promise,–promise of what?” and she listened eagerly to his next words.

“Dost thou not covet a Prince’s favour?” Constance’ heart fluttered mightily, and she thought–“A fig for Cedric’s love of me. He loves not at all, compared with this man’s warm passion. Cedric loves me not at all, anyway. I will be a Prince’s favourite,” and she answered,–

“I never covet that which is beyond my reach.” ‘Tis often a true thing that when we sit within our dark and dismal chamber without comfort, hope or happy retrospection, there stands upon the threshold a joyous phenomenon of which we have never so much as dreamt as being in existence; and this had come to Constance. If the Duke loved her, what would it matter if Cedric did love Katherine? She could not compel him to love her.

“Ah, sweet Katherine, how can one covet that they already possess? I would teach thee to enjoy all that such beauty as thine is heir to. Thou wilt come to me to-night?”

“To-night!” and Lady Constance fairly gasped.

“To-night, fair one, on the stroke of nine thou wilt pass through the postern door of the castle and fall into my arms,–here, take this, sweet, to pledge thyself.” He slipped from his finger a ring of marvellous beauty and essayed to place it upon her hand.

“Nay, I cannot. I should be seen to go forth at so early an hour,–and I know thee not!”

“Thou art not afraid of me? Nay, I am one of the most gentle and tender–“

“But where wilt thou take me, your Grace?”

“I will take thee to my heart, and if thou art unhappy, thou mayest return when thou desirest; but ’twill be my pleasure to keep thee with me alway; we will go to London.” Constance, having read the letter, knew it would not do for her to leave the drawing-room at the same hour with Katherine, and she hardly knew what to do.

“Indeed, I have no wish to see a duel upon my Lord Cedric’s grounds, thou must come later. My love will perhaps wait an hour,–thou mayest come at twelve.”

“And allow him to come first and steal thee; nay, I protest.” Constance felt somewhat dubious. The Duke saw it, and hastened to reassure her.

“If thou wilt sit near the window on the stroke of nine, I will let thy lover go; but if thou dost pass from my sight, I will run the fellow through; and thou mayest come to me at twelve!”

To this Constance agreed, and allowed him to place the ring; and he kissing her again with fervour, let her go, exultant.

‘Twas a glorious, clear, warm night. The castle was aglow and merry. Lady Bettie Payne and Sir Rodger Mac Veigh and Sir Jasper Kenworthy and sundry other shire folk had come to while away a spring night. The gentlemen were playing at cup and ball; Lady Constance and Lady Bettie were gossiping of Court scandal, when in swept her Grace of Ellswold with Mistress Penwick, the latter such a vision of loveliness the game was suspended for a moment, and Constance and Bettie looked up to see why all eyes were turned from them.

The maid wore a pale-hued brocade gown of sweeping length of skirt, and short, round bodice and low-neck and long sleeves that tightly encased her plump, pink arms. Her mother’s pearls lay glistening about her slender neck, and falling low was caught again by some caprice of mode high where met sleeve and waist, and here a rare bunch of fragrant violets shone bravely as a shoulder knot.

Lord Cedric saw her first, and was well-nigh drunk with her beauty, and he advanced and bent low, kissing her hand that trembled in his own. He raised his eyes to hers, she looking fairly at him with a ready smile.

“Kate, Kate–” Such a flood of emotion came upon him he was bereft of speech. She looked at him surprised, and wondered if he knew aught. Could it be that Sir Julian had found out anything and had spoken to Cedric? She was sure she had kept this last secret safe from all save Constance, and had not been with Sir Julian for a whole day, fearing he would find out by looking at her. Nay, he knew nothing,–beside, if he did, he would shield her from Cedric’s anger by keeping so great a secret. And yet it almost seemed as if the young lord knew of her desperate act; ’twas written on his face, she saw the pain upon it; and yet, how could it be? These thoughts flashed through Katherine’s brain, and she tried to move from him, but an inscrutable presence held her, and she felt she must not leave him, perhaps forever, with that face so full of pain, and she spoke out a word she had never used before and one which touched his Lordship as nothing else could, ’twas:

“Cedric.” He caught his breath with sheer excess of joy, and bent again and whispered,–

“What, Kate; what is it?” ‘Twas enough, she laughed quietly and turned to Sir Julian, who had come to her side. Lady Constance was not long in finding an opportunity to speak alone with her.

“Oh, sweet,” she said. “I haven’t had a chance to talk with thee of my adventure,” and she drew the maid aside and began volubly to speak of her encounter of the early morning. “He was most certainly of the Court. I cannot possibly mistake his manner. Indeed, I am certain he is a noble lord, and no doubt is here to bear Cantemir escort–perhaps–” and she leant close to Katherine–“it might be the King himself, who knows?” Her listener flushed and thought–

“Was it possible she was to receive such honour, and why not?” She had heard from Constance and Cantemir himself that his house was a very wealthy and important one in Russia and that the English royalty and nobles made much of him. She, with her poor knowledge of the world, thought Constance spoke truth.

“I’ll tell thee why I thought he was the King. He was the form, grace and elegance of his Royal Highness and kept his masque securely tied. I’m sure it was he. And this evening,–ah, ah, how can I ever tell thee, Katherine, the honour I felt! Indeed we do not know how important Adrian is until we see those with whom he consorts. To-night I met–who dost guess it was, Katherine?”

“Nay, I could never guess, for I know not whom Adrian’s friends are; but if thy friend of the morning was the King, ’tis certain the setting sun brings thee one less titled.”

“‘Tis so, but one who may be a King. Thou wilt never tell, Katherine?”

“Nay, never.”

“‘Twas the King’s son, his Grace the Duke of Monmouth.”

“Ah, ah, a Prince! Thou art indeed favoured. And how came it about? I am very curious.” Lady Constance related part of her interview with the Duke, embellished and with many deviations–

“He said they were to be at the monastery as witnesses and intimated that the King had heard of thy wonderful beauty and grew so impatient to see thee he must either come himself or send some one he could trust. Monmouth said thy request was already granted in the King’s mind, and he only waited to see thee to give it utterance. Thou dost know what a good Catholic he is, and hearing they were to send thee to ask certain things of his clemency, he has sent the Duke with other special guard to render speed and safety to thy journey to Whitehall, where great honour will be shown Adrian’s fair bride.” Constance so entered into the very soul of her lies, she half believed them as she gave them utterance.

The young maid was well-nigh beside herself with pleasure at the honours that were to attend her, and she gave up all idea of a backward step. And when Constance proclaimed she was to accompany her, her heart leapt up with joy. She gave no place to doubt now, ’twas an unknown quantity, and her voice trembled as she said–“It makes me perfectly content, if thou art to accompany me. Thou wilt go with me to the monastery, Constance?” For once her ladyship answered truthfully, but she did not know it:

“Nay, I am to join thee some time after twelve; I know not just when or where; but we are to be together. I owe this especial favour to the Duke. I am so glad thou art espoused, or will be in a short while, or I should be insanely jealous. Look, Katherine!” and Constance under cover of her handkerchief showed the ring.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” said Katherine.

Mistress Penwick, like many another of her beauty and age, was inclined to be of ill-spirit when another of her sex seemed to be in favour; and at Constance’ sudden acquaintance with the King’s son, and able to wear his ring, she was piqued, and almost wished it was herself instead; for in such intimacy there could be nothing else but a very near and exalted position at Court. The poor child–innocent of all evil seeing naught in the gaining of Royal favour but the achievement of all that was high, holy, beautiful and perfect–now for a brief moment scorned her own poor estate and fell to envying Constance, and was of a notion not to go at all to the monastery;–but if she didn’t, then her religion would suffer; for who could go to the King in her place? She knew she was beautiful, and knew its influence, and was sure the King would not refuse her. Now if Lord Cedric had not forbidden her going to the monastery for confession, she could have known what they wished and gone openly with Lady Constance or Sir Julian, or perhaps just with Janet to his Majesty and gained his favour and at once have become a Lady of Honour. But no, ’twas not thus, and things were as they were, and she could not change them or retrace.

She would not engage in any game, but played upon the harpsichord and sung some of her sweetest songs; Lord Cedric ever coming to her side to turn her music or offer some little service. He was aflame with hope, for had she not called him “Cedric”?

How dear it sounded; if he might only hear her say it again. He came to her side and whispered,–

“‘Twas sweet of thee to call me Cedric!”–His hand for a moment rested upon the violets at her shoulder,–“Kate, why didst thou not wear the opal shoulder-knot instead of these violets?”

“Because–I value it more than aught else, and I would not wear it on all occasions, for ’twas thy mother’s choicest brooch.”

“Indeed, I love it, also, Kate, for the same reason; but I would rather see thee wear it, for I love thee, Kate, thee, thee, thee.” His voice was like a sob stirring her to a pity that made her sick and weak, and she turned from him hastily and began singing softly,–

“When love with unconfined wings hovers within my gates; And my divine Althea brings to whisper at the grates; When I lie tangled in her hair and fetter’d to her eye; The gods that wanton in the air, know no such liberty.

“‘Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage; Minds innocent and quiet take that for an hermitage; If I have freedom in my love, and in my soul am free; Angels alone that soar above enjoy such liberty!'”

“Thou dost sing the words of the beautiful and amiable Richard Lovelace; I have heard my father speak of him with great affection. The lines to Althea–his sweetheart–were written in prison. She thought him dead and married some one else. He loved her more than life,–dost believe in such love, Kate?”

“Aye, why not?–Ah, Sir Julian, hast finished,–who was victor?”

“I am modest, my Lady.”

“But never too modest to hold thine own.” As she spoke thus to Sir Julian, the sands of the hour-glass ran out and nine tolled from the Chapel belfry. Before the bell had ceased, Constance had drawn Cedric and Julian into a game of cards, she placing herself opposite the window, and Katherine had stepped into an adjoining passage, and taking up her camelot cloak, with flying feet and beating heart hastened to the postern-door and slipped bolts and bars and stood without in the calm, warm night.



“The reign of Charles the Second seemed to be impregnated with a free and easy moral atmosphere that engendered lewdness in human product. It is said by a great historian that Thomas Hobbes had, in language more precise and luminous than has ever been employed by any other metaphysical writer, maintained that the will of the prince was the standard of right and wrong, and that every subject ought to be ready to profess Popery, Mahometanism, or Paganism, at the royal command. Thousands who were incompetent to appreciate what was really valuable in his speculations eagerly welcomed a theory which, while it exalted the kingly office, relaxed the obligations of morality and degraded religion into a mere affair of state. Hobbism soon became an almost essential part of the character of the fine gentleman. All the lighter kinds of literature were deeply tainted by the prevailing licentiousness. Poetry stooped to be the pander of every low desire. Ridicule, instead of putting guilt and error to the blush, turned her formidable shafts against innocence and truth. The restored Church contended indeed against the prevailing immorality, but contended feebly, and with half a heart. It was necessary to the decorum of her character that she should admonish her erring children, but her admonitions were given in a somewhat perfunctory manner. Her attention was elsewhere engaged. Little as the men of mirth and fashion were disposed to shape their lives according to her precepts, they were yet ready to fight for her cathedrals and places, for every line of her rubric and every thread of her vestments. If the debauched cavalier haunted brothels and gambling houses, he at least avoided conventicles. If he never spoke without uttering ribaldry and blasphemy, he made some amends by his eagerness to send Baxter and Howe to gaol for preaching and praying. Thus the clergy, for a time, made war on schism with so much vigour that they had little leisure to make war on vice.”

“Charles the Second wished merely to be a King who could draw without limit on the treasury for the gratification of his private tastes, who could hire with wealth and honours persons capable of assisting him to kill the time, and who, even when the state was brought by maladministration to the depths of humiliation and to the brink of ruin, could still exclude unwelcome truth from the purlieus of his own seraglio, and refuse to see and hear whatever might disturb his luxurious repose. Later in life, the ill-bred familiarity of the Scottish divines had given him a distaste for Presbyterian discipline, while the heats and animosities between the members of the Established Church and the Nonconformists, with which his reign commenced, made him think indifferently of both. His religion was that of a young prince in his warm blood, whose inquiries were applied more to discover arguments against belief than in its favour.”

“The wits about the Court, who found employment in laughing at Scripture, delighted in turning to ridicule what the preachers said in their sermons before him, and in this way induced him to look upon the clergy as a body of men who had compounded a religion for their own advantage. So strongly did this feeling take root in him that he at length resigned himself to sleep at sermon-time–not even South or Barrow having the art to keep him awake. In one of these half-hours of sleep, when in Chapel, he is known to have missed, doubtless with regret, the gentle reproof of South to Lauderdale during a general somnolency:–‘My lord, my lord, you snore so loud you will wake the King.'”

“He was altogether in favour of extempore preaching, and was unwilling to listen to the delivery of a written sermon.” (Indeed, if we had more people like him in this day, we would hear far more of the gospel and far less of politics and jokes which so demoralize the pulpit and take away all sacredness. The King was right, as all mankind will agree, in his idea of preaching.) “Patrick excused himself from a chaplaincy, ‘finding it very difficult to get a sermon without book.’ On one occasion the King asked the famous Stillingfleet ‘how it was that he always reads his sermons before him, when he was informed that he always preached without book elsewhere?’ Stillingfleet answered something about the awe of so noble a congregation, the presence of so great and wise a prince, with which the King himself was very well contented,–‘But, pray,’ continued Stillingfleet, ‘will your Majesty give me leave to ask you a question? Why do you read your speeches when you can have none of the same reasons?’ ‘Why truly, doctor,’ replied the King, ‘your question is a very pertinent one, and so will be my answer. I have asked the two Houses so often and for so much money, that I am ashamed to look them in the face.'”

“This ‘slothful way of preaching,’ for so the King called it, had arisen during the civil wars; and Monmouth, when Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, in compliance with the order of the King, directed a letter to the University that the practice of reading sermons should be wholly laid aside.”

There was much ignorance in the seventeenth century; but ’twas of the people’s own choosing; ’twas not of necessity. Lewdness was preferable to purity; it was easier had. And when the King led the pace, why not they of lesser rank and fortunes? But was there ever a thing created in all the world without its right and wrong sides? It seemed there was no room in Charles’ time for aught but evil. “The ribaldry of Etherege and Wycherley was, in the presence and under the special sanction of the head of the church, while the author of the Pilgrim’s Progress languished in a dungeon for the crime of proclaiming the gospel to the poor.”

As time waxed, even the vigilant persecutors became passive, relaxed themselves into indifference; but before immorality was aware the still, small voice was heard. The seed that was twelve years in planting had taken root and Pilgrim’s Progress became known and John Bunyan stood without the prison gates to preach and pray at will, to keep on extending that influence that lives to-day. And for once the King did not go to sleep when, through caprice or curiosity, he went to hear him preach.

“When Bunyan went to preach in London, if there was but one day’s notice, the meeting house was crowded to overflowing. Twelve hundred people would be found collected before seven o’clock on a dark winter’s morning to hear a lecture from him. In Zoar St. Southwark, his church was sometimes so crowded that he had to be lifted to the pulpit stairs over the congregation’s heads.” He strove not for popularity, as could be seen in the one little circumstance when “a friend complimented him, after service, on ‘the sweet sermon’ which he had delivered. ‘You need not remind me of that,’ he said. ‘The devil told me of it before I was out of the pulpit.'”

“Charles Doe, a distinguished nonconformist, visited him in his confinement. ‘When I was there,’ he writes, ‘there were about sixty dissenters besides himself, taken but a little before at a religious meeting at Kaistor, in the county of Bedford, besides two eminent dissenting ministers, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Dun, by which means the prison was much crowded. Yet, in the midst of all that hurry, I heard Mr. Bunyan both preach and pray with that mighty spirit of faith and plerophory of Divine assistance, that he made me stand and wonder.'”

The sweet spirit of a minister is treasured and kept green in the memory of his flock, no matter how recalcitrant they may be. This is shown by the reading once a year in Bedford Church of John Gifford’s letter to his parish people, written over two hundred years ago. It says: “Let no respect of persons be in your comings together. When you are met as a church, there’s neither rich nor poor, bond nor free, in Jesus Christ. ‘Tis not a good practice to be offering places or seats when those who are rich come in; especially it is a great evil to take notice of such in time of prayer or the word; then are bowings and civil observances at such times not of God.” It was the “holy Mr. Gifford” that was often in conference with John Bunyan; “the latter as the seeking pilgrim, the former the guiding evangelist.” With such men as these the sweet spirit was kept aflame and eventually changed England and made her the great country she is. But in those licentious days this sweet spirit shone from its impure surroundings like the _ignis fatuus_, and ’twas a great, wicked world that Mistress Penwick stood all alone in that early summer night.

A nightingale sung afar in some bowery of blossom, and for a moment she listened.

“‘Tis an ode to the night he sings, ’tis too clear and high and full of cadence for a nuptial mass,–nay, nay, I shall not marry to-night, I will go and see what dear father Constantine wishes and return to this home that has never seemed so fair to me before;–and my lord is handsome and so, too, is Sir Julian and I’m fond of their Graces of Ells wold and Janet,–Janet, I love her best of all. Nay, nay, I’ll not be married. I will go and see and return. Janet will not look for me above stair before eleven at least. I shall be home again ere I’m missed.” She thought thus as she hurried on through the courtyard and beyond, where waited Father Dempsy.

In a second, it seemed, they were galloping away, Mistress Penwick throwing back a long, sweeping glance at the great, stone pile behind her. The train of her brocade skirt hung almost to the ground; her fair, sloping shoulders, her exquisite face framed in a high roll of amber beauty, made a picture,–a rare gem encircled by a gorgeous June night.

On they rode without converse; Dempsy was a brave man, yet he feared and justly, too, that Mistress Pen wick might be taken from him before they reached the monastery, therefore he enjoined silence, and the best speed of their horses, and kept a hand upon his sword.

He drew a sigh of relief when he beheld the dark outline of the cloister that appeared quiet and undisturbed.

As they approached, Cantemir came from the open door and lifted Mistress Penwick from her horse in a most tender fashion, and would have held her close and imprinted a kiss upon her forehead had she not drawn from him and raised her hand to his lips.

“‘Tis a cold greeting, Katherine, after these long, weary days of separation.”

“Nay, not so. ‘Tis thy warmth that is premature.” And without deigning further opportunity for converse, she swept over the threshold of the monastery.

There was much business to be attended to before the ceremony could take place, and the time was limited; for in one hour it was believed the cloister would be attacked by the Duke of Buckingham and his party, and the maid must be far on her way before the attack.

There was none but Mistress Penwick, herself, that thought else than that a marriage contract was to be sealed. She on a sudden felt a great repulsion for Adrian Cantemir, and she resolved not to wed him.

As she stood in the large hall that served as council chamber and for all functions of importance, she cast her eye about for those answering to the description of his Grace of Monmouth and that other–was it the King? She felt sure she would know him; but upon the long benches there were none but sombre cowled figures with crucifix and–aye, swords gleamed from beneath the folds of their long gowns and touched the floor. Her eyes flashed wide with surprise, and she felt proud and loved the bravery of her religion. But to what it portended she thought on for a moment seriously and concluded Royal personages must be present, or why else such precaution?

As the business had to do with Mistress Penwick only, Cantemir was asked to withdraw. As soon as the business was entered upon, the maid’s doubts of the surrounding company were dispelled and she knew none of the Royal party would dare be even an unknown guest at such a meeting.

At the conclusion of the council she held an important secret, more important to herself than she dreamt. It made her bold, and she straightway arose and spoke out clearly,–

“If the reverend fathers would agree upon a certain matter, I will start at once upon my journey. I feel my mission to the King to be more important than all else to me, and for the success of my undertaking I deem it best I should go as maid and not wife to his most Royal presence.” This was a startling but most acceptable assertion. It had been much spoken on by the Abbes but by common consent they agreed if the maid wished to marry the Russian, why–they would offer no objections; so they had left the matter.

“Dost think, Mistress Penwick, thou canst settle readily the case with the Count?”

“‘Twill be easy and quickly done. Call him hither!” said she. The Russian came with eagerness and some impatience, for he feared a delay might plunge him into a lively skirmish.

Katherine went to his side, and placing her fingers upon his arm, said,–

“Thou wilt escort me to the King?”

“Most gladly, and where else in life thou shalt choose to go.”

“‘Tis the present that indicates the future,–wilt come at once without ceremony?”

“Nay, nay, I protest. I must have thee as wife, first, Mistress Penwick!”

Constantine leant toward them from the table and looked with purpose, a frown emphasizing his shrewd glance,–

“We have not time for further controversy, and if the maid will say the word, the ceremony will be performed now.” The Abbe knew the maid would give in to circumstances sooner than the determined Count, and thus hastened her. All eyes were upon the two, and Katherine hearing in the priest’s voice a tone of insistence, stood for a moment motionless and evidently debating her course.

As she opened her lips, there was a sudden sound of horses’ feet.

In a moment a thundering knock upon the door’s panelling demanded admittance.

“Who seeks an opening so roughly?” thundered La Fosse.

“Cedric of Crandlemar!”

“The devil!” cried Cantemir, as he fell back in consternation and fear. Indeed he would rather meet the King of devils than this hot-headed Cedric. Katherine was not at a loss to read Count Adrian’s countenance, and straightway bade them open the door. La Fosse spoke as his hand rested on the locker,–

“Art alone, my lord?”

“Aye, quite alone!” came in a voice so shaken Katherine fell to trembling in very fear. Cedric threw wide the door and stood within, facing them all. His face gleamed like marble, so colourless and still it seemed. His body swayed by love and anger, knew not which way to turn, but appeared to sway from side to side. His breath came in quick, sharp pants. His hair, damp as if from fine rain, was dishevelled. His dark eyes shot forth sparks of angry fire that burnt all who fell beneath their glance.

“Who brought hither the maid? Did yonder pandering fool? Aye, ’twas thou. I see it plain. Come, come, draw fool; draw ere I run thee through and dishonour sword by attacking thee, unarmed; draw, I say, fool!”

Count Adrian’s face was ghastly. Lord Cedric raised his sword and made a lunge at him. La Fosse was too quick for Cedric. He sprang between and parried the pass with astounding dexterity. The monk intended it for a finale stroke; but not so Cedric. He began a fight that was not to be so easily ended, and he drove his sword in fury. The good monk only wished to parry; but alas! he caught the spirit of battle and fought. Constantine made as if to draw the maid from the scene, while others sought to interfere with the combatants. ‘Twas of no avail. Katherine could not be moved from where she stood, white and still as a statue; neither could they interpose between the Abbe and his Lordship. Sorrow and dismay were written on every face, for ’twas sure one or the other must fall of those two masters of the sword. Already there fell at La Fosse’s feet drops of blood. When Katherine saw them, she sprang forward and cried,–

“Stop, stop in God’s name, stop!” As she was about to fling herself between them, Cedric fell heavily to the floor, a stream of blood flowing from his breast. With a wild scream Katherine fell upon her knees at his side and pressed her dainty handkerchief to the wound, and began to fondle him and speak in his ear that she loved him. Aye, she was sure now, there could be no doubt, and as she pressed her lips to his cold, white face she saw his eyelids flutter. She looked up quickly into the priest’s face; he answered her look with wholesome words.

“The wound is slight, my child; he will recover.” She fell back, blushing with shame for her bold avowals, and knew not which way to turn to hide her confusion; for she was sure all present had marked her warm words and actions.

Immediately Lord Cedric was carried to an inner room, and Katherine turned about to look for Cantemir, as did a half-dozen others; he had disappeared and where he stood were a score of masqued figures. When they saw they had the attention of the company, one lifted high his sword and cried,–

“Hail, merry monarchs of the Sylvan Chapel! We have come to escort the maid to the King!” While this avowal struck the Abbes with consternation, they had expected a different mode of attack, and they were not displeased that it had taken another course. They had expected the treasure would be demanded of them with all their papers. These they would fight for. The secret for which Mistress Penwick was to visit the King, the Abbes were now sure the Royal party knew not. The papers she carried could give them no clue even though they gained possession of them, and the maid would never divulge what she was to say to his Majesty.

“Her escort is provided,” said La Fosse, who stood nearly exhausted, leaning upon the table, his sword still in his hand.

“Ah, but if we choose to offer her a more honourable one! Indeed the knave of a Russian, who lies without, has but just put the matter in our hands. He was to escort her, but at sight of blood he faints and begs us take forthwith his promised wife to Whitehall.” One could not mistake the courtly grace and fine figure of his Grace of Buckingham. Behind him was a form equally imposing, and the handsome mouth and chin of the Duke of Monmouth could be seen as he tilted his masque for a better view of the maid, whom he supposed was the same he had met in the evening. But with half an eye he saw his mistake. Never was he so moved at first sight of a face before. He drank in her loveliness in rapturous drafts, and swayed from side to side examining with critical eye the outline of her fair mould. She had thrown her cloak from her and stood slightly in front of Constantine, as he, holding a candle at her elbow, leant close to her ear, whispering and holding a small paper for her to read. As she read, her eyes flashed, her bosom rose and fell neath the covering of her short, full waist; and Monmouth’s eyes seemed ravished by it. It had been his misfortune, he thought, to see long, modish, tapering stays that bruised his fancy as it did the wearer’s body, and to behold such slender waist crowned by full, unfettered maiden roundness, pedestalled by such broad and shapely hips was maddening. He had not dreamt of such beauty when his Grace of Buckingham had suggested the trip into the forest.

“We will have some sport finding a beauty and a secret. If it pleases your Grace, I will have the secret and thou the maid,” said he to Monmouth, and the latter had come all the way from Whitehall, for he knew the Duke would waste no time looking for aught but a King’s portion. Never was there another such a beauty; she would be the gem of his seraglio. She looked up, her dark orbs casting a sweeping glance upon those about.

“I will return to Crandlemar for the night; call my escort!” said she.

Now it was plain this was a ruse of Constantine’s own making, and had whispered it as she had pretended to read. Buckingham laughed cruelly and scornfully, provoking smothered mirth from behind the masques of his followers.

“Thou hadst better set out directly, if thou wouldst gain audience with the King ere he leaves Whitehall.”

“I am in no hurry, to-morrow will do as well. I like not advice unsought. I’ll have none of it. I will go where, when and how as I please!”

“And coercion smacks of a power residing not in these parts. I am delegated, Mistress Penwick, to bring thee straightway to the Royal presence.”

“And why, may I ask, am I so called to his Majesty?”

“Thou art a hostage!” and Buckingham took a pinch of snuff with as much ease and grace as if standing in a crowded drawing-room.



“I–I, a hostage! and who gave me as such, pray?”

“There is not time for further inquisition; we have a long journey before us. Come, Mistress!”

“Nay, nay, I protest; I’ll not go with thee–“

“Mistress Penwick, I beg thee in my own behalf,”–and the Duke bowed before her so courteously, he half won her good will, then–“and I command thee in the name of the King,” and with these words he put forth his hand as it were to take that of Katherine. A sword swept lightly over the maid’s fingers, at which the two Dukes drew back with haughty indignation, which meant that reparation must be immediate for this insult to those who came upon his Majesty’s affairs; for indeed they feigned well that they were carrying out the King’s orders. La Fosse, having now regained his breath and some strength, essayed to draw Mistress Penwick from the scene that was about to ensue; but a young man flung himself between them and drove back the monk at the point of his sword, thus beginning the fight.

Katherine was well-nigh fainting from actual fear and apprehension. If she were a hostage, ’twas her duty to go and it might favour her cause. Doubtless these men were gentlemen, and what matter now who accompanied her to the King? Adrian had proven himself a knave. Poor, dear Cedric lay ill of his wound and he could not attend her if he would. These things flashed through her mind as she watched the flash of steel. Then on a sudden it came to her who these masqued figures might be. Her heart gave a great bound, and she sprang into the midst of those fighting and raised her voice, crying forth,–

“Cease, cease, fight no more; I will go with thee.” A priest near her whispered,–

“‘Tis thy honour we fight for now, hold thy peace; ’tis not best for thee to go with them, ‘twould be thy utter ruin and the undoing of our affairs!” His warning came too late; all had heard Katherine speak; and although two forms already lay upon the floor, there were other motives stronger than the thirst for blood, which on a sudden seemed quenched, and faces pale and blood-stained turned upon Buckingham as he coolly and with much dignity lifted Katherine’s cloak from the table and placed it about her shoulders, then had the audacity to offer his arm. She ignored it, turned to Constantine and fell upon her knees; he blessed her, then whispered hurriedly in her ear. She arose and passed down the bloody aisle, which was flanked on either side by an array of shining steel. As she approached the door, it was flung wide by a figure that startled her, so like was it to Lord Cedric’s, but the light fell aslant his countenance and as she swept by saw ’twas Sir Julian Pomphrey.

A chaise stood some little distance from the cloister, into which Katherine was placed with great courtesy by his Grace of Buckingham.

She sunk back among the cushions with half-closed eyes; heeding not those that rode at either window of the equipage; she was trying to collect her thoughts and by degrees they shaped themselves and she was thinking of that that had but transpired. First of all, she consoled herself like the selfish girl she was: Cedric would not die; ’twas a sweet consolation, and she smiled; her thoughts dwelling not for a moment on her own conduct that had brought him to suffer such pain. Then she lay back even more luxuriously as she thought that Sir Julian would not have opened the door for her, had she been going into danger. To tell the truth, she sighed happily in contemplation of further exploit. She grew bolder and bolder, fearing naught but some slight mischance that might prevent her being a Maid of Honour; for never, never could she go back to Cedric after she had made assertion of love in his ear, and his eyelids had trembled. Nay, nay, she could not bear to look him in the face again. Alas! she made vow she never would. If she was not made a lady of her Majesty’s household, she would seek the patronage of some titled woman, who could help her. Not for a moment did she think of the perils that surrounded and grew closer about her unprotected self with every turn of the wheels that carried her on.

It appeared now as if all barriers to the King’s presence had been levelled and Katherine’s hopes matured to confidence. She drew her cloak about her with sedulous care, as if in so doing she wrapped and hid from the whole world her own poor cunning. She found in her lonely condition no embarrassment, conceiving that her position as intermediary between her Church and the State was sufficient reason for her abrupt leaving of home. Sir Julian would doubtless explain matters to the Duke and Duchess, whom she believed were more than half of her faith. They would see she had been highly honoured by being entrusted with a great secret.

It appeared as if the chaise would never cease to lung and swagger over rough, unused roads, and when at last it did mend its way, Katherine had ceased thinking and fallen fast asleep, nor did she wake during hours of travel, until the great coach came to a sudden halt. She looked through the window. Dawn streaked the East with uncertain intention, knowing not whether to open the day with rain or sunshine. A little to the left was the dark outline of an inn, nestling upon the threshold of a forest, from the window of which fell aslant the way a line of light. The door of the equipage was opened, and a stately cavalier stood to assist her down the step. She leapt lightly to the ground, taking the proffered arm, as the way was dark and uneven.

Within the large, cheery room they entered, burnt a crackling fire; for the morning was damp and chilly. Katherine stole a glance at her companion and saw the handsome features of Monmouth. He had removed his masque and now stood uncovered before her.

“I hope Mistress Penwick has not suffered from her long ride?”

“Nay, sir; on the contrary, I feel refreshed.” Her manner told him plainly his address was not displeasing to her. His eyes rested amorously upon her; for ’twas naught but strong, healthful youth could predicate such reply and vouch for its assertion by such rich colouring of cheek, such rare sparkling of eyes and such ripeness of lips.

She sat at the chimney-nook, her satin gown trailing at her side, her cloak thrown over the back of the high chair. Their Graces were engaged aside with the landlord and servants.

“We will rest here until noon, anyway,” one said, “and if they have not arrived we will set out without them.” Katherine heard and thought ’twas Constance whom they were expecting; and when a table was drawn close to the fire and covers laid for four, there being but three to sit down, Katherine looked askance at the vacant place; the Dukes exchanged glances and his Grace of Buckingham turned to her quickly, introducing himself, then Monmouth, and explained that at the last moment Lady Constance had been prevailed upon to accompany them to London and was expected every moment.

Mistress Penwick had flushed at the presentation of two such noble names, but at his following assertion, which corroborated with Constance’ own words, made her not a little jealous; for the handsome young Monmouth had already shown his regard (God pity her innocence) for Lady Constance by giving her a valuable ring, and now had contrived to make her of their party that he might be constantly with her.

She straightway became very sober-minded, vouchsafing no remarks and inviting none. Her pique would have given way had she but heard the Duke’s conversation a few moments previous.

“Damme!” said young Monmouth, “I have kidnapped the wrong girl. ‘Tis not my fault; thou saidst, Duke, to take any pretty girl from Crandlemar castle, and I have captured Lady Constance, whom, I took it, was the girl in question; and I made up my mind thou shouldst not choose beauty for me. I shall throw her on thy shoulders to dispose of.”

The Dukes, bent on provoking the maid to her former manner, began witty tales of wayside inns. Their demeanour was so noble, their stories so terse and pretty, their converse of such elegant and pure wording, she relaxed and fell into their mood and told what few convent stories she could boast. Their Graces were charmed by her beauty, her sweet resonant voice and the simple and innocent narratives, and not a little pleased by the result of their diplomacy.

* * * * *

When Mistress Penwick had gone from the grand salon the evening before, Lord Cedric was not long in discovering her absence; for his eyes and thoughts ever sought her. He had been greatly stirred by some unknown thing, perhaps that we call premonition (’tis God’s own gift, if we would but heed its warning), but the game being well under way and Constance calling his attention to an immediate and imperative move, he was dissuaded from his inclination to arise and inquire of the maid’s absence. It was not for long, however, either the game or his kinswoman’s cunning could hold his Lordship from seeking her. Quietly he beckoned a lackey and whispered aside. A few minutes elapsed when the servant stood by his master, while beyond in the doorway was Janet, who for once in her life was quite pale. Swiftly Lord Cedric strode to her, saying,–

“Hast thou looked for her everywhere, Janet?”

“Aye, my lord, in her own chamber and–“

“But perhaps she has gone to the kitchens or pantries, for hunger doth assail her not infrequent and at unusual hours.”

There was a bit of bitterness and sarcasm in his voice and he ground his heel as he turned about to give orders. In a moment servants were hunting in every direction throughout the castle. It was soon ascertained she was not within the great house. Cedric grew wild with passion and tore up and down like one gone mad. Sir Julian could not restrain him, a thing that had not happened heretofore. Angel, his old nurse, was called; she bade him ride forth for her.

At this a horse was made ready, and his lordship mounted and rode away. Sir Julian protesting all the while.

As the clatter of horses’ hoofs had fairly died away and Sir Julian stood just where Cedric had left him, debating with his several ideas, a soft touch was laid almost tenderly upon his arm; had it been the soft, slimy trailing of a serpent, ‘twould not have so startled him. He turned suddenly and caught the slender hand, with no fine affection,–

“I see it all quite plainly, thou art the cruel spider that hath woven a silken mesh for that innocent child, and thou shalt tell me before the sands of the hour-glass mark ten moments of time, where has flown Mistress Penwick,–so speak, speak quickly, Constance!”

His voice and manner brooked no delay, and her ladyship thinking that even now Katherine was Cantemir’s wife, spoke out with a semblance of injured dignity that melted under Sir Julian’s scathing contempt to silly simpering. The noble character of Sir Julian seemed to silhouette that of her ladyship in all its ugly blackness.

“She is, I presume, by now, the Countess Cantemir–made so by an Abbe at the monastery.”

Pomphrey was a-road; the clatter of bit and spur brought a smile to Constance’ face, and she cried forth with all the venom in her poor, foul being:

“Two mad fools,–both gone crazy over a convent wench, who is now my Lady Cantemir–my cousin,–the wife of a fortune hunter!” She fled within doors like one pursued and stopped not until she reached her own chamber.

Midnight approached phantom-like, and as stealthily Lady Constance crept to the postern door. Behind her fell a shadow athwart the floor, a shadow that was not hers but of one that moved as warily. She listened as she held the door ajar, fearing to look back. As she thrust the door wide, a figure from without moved toward her.

“Who is there?” she whispered.

“Monmouth!” was the answer; and out she stepped, well pleased to be free from that shadow she felt was pursuing her. Her hand was immediately taken and eager eyes sought the ring. It was hardly visible, so dense was the shadow of the trees.

“Come this way, Lady Penwick,” came in a voice that was not that of Monmouth’s, which had sounded so much like music to her a few, short hours before, or that had spoken the word “Monmouth” even that moment. She, drawing back in her uncertainty, was captured by strong arms, a hood was thrown over her head, and she was lifted and carried in hot haste to a chaise, and helped therein without much formality. As her escort leapt in behind her, there swept in the other door another figure, also intent upon being accommodated by a seat in a London equipage; and before any one was aware of a _de trop_ comrade, the doors were shut with a bang and horses started at a gallop. Under cover of the noise her ladyship’s vizor was lifted and she, half smothered, drew breath and stared about her in the darkness.

“Thou didst bring thy servant with thee, Lady?”

“Who doth dare inveigle me from the protection of my cousin, Lord Cedric?”

“I, my lady; a simple gentleman of his Grace of Monmouth’s suite,–and at his order.”

“Ah–” ’twas long drawn and somewhat smacked of satisfaction. “Who is this female?”

“Is she not thine?”

“Nay, not mine. She doth play the hocus,” said her ladyship.

“Who art thou, then, woman; how came yonder door to pamper thy whim?” The surprised guardsman rapped smartly upon the window, then pulling it up leant out and asked for a torch. As there were none a-light, he waited some moments; as he did so, there came an answer from the figure opposite,–

“I am Mistress Penwick’s waiting-woman.” The answer was satisfactory to the guard.

“‘Tis Janet, as I live,” interrupted Lady Constance. She was not sorry to have a companion of her own sex, and Janet would make herself generally useful, if the ride was long and her ladyship should fall ill, as she was certain to do. She knew also Janet’s motive for following her. She was interested in nothing but her mistress.

As the road seemed rough and endless, Constance became anxious of her destination and began to inquire, as if in great anger, why she was thus taken and for what purpose. All questions being answered perfunctorily, she relaxed into silence. At last she asked broadly,–

“Where are we to stop for refreshment, man; I am near dead with fatigue?”

“We stop at Hornby’s Inn, my lady, there to meet his Grace.”

Janet sat quiet, nor did she speak again until she stood before Mistress Penwick at the inn, where she sailed in as if nothing in the world had happened, but inwardly she fairly wept with joy to find her nurseling happy and unharmed.

The rain was falling heavily as Lady Constance entered the room where sat Katherine with the two Dukes. Dawn seemed to have gone back into night, for ’twas so dark candles twinkled brightly and lighted up the maiden’s face as she spun a story of convent ghosts. Hate flung open gates through her ladyship’s eyes and fell a battery upon Katherine’s face. ‘Twas but a thrust of a glance, but their Graces noted it as they arose to greet her. Katherine was answering in an undertone Janet’s questions as Monmouth spoke aside to her Ladyship. Constance was not to be delayed, even by his Grace, and she hastened to the table and greeted Katherine as Lady Cantemir.

“Nay, not so!” said the maid; whereupon Constance gasped, covering her defeat by a great show of wonder and surprise. She fell to questioning, her inquiries being overthrown by Buckingham, who adroitly turned the conversation upon another matter.

Monmouth was wild with delight over the prize he had captured, and as they sat at meat he was pondering upon where he should hide the beauty, for he feared his father’s predilections, and ’twas sure he would not run the risk of any such mischance and he tossed about in his mind the advisability of taking her to London. As these thoughts crowded upon him he grew grave and frowned. Constance, feeling her disappointment most keenly, saw the tangle upon the Duke’s brow. It arrested the quick pulsing of her own discontent and turned her mind into a channel of evil even more treacherous than any ideas that had assailed her heretofore. It meant, in case of defeat, her own downfall. She would barter, if need be, her own soul away. Of such character were her ladyship’s ambitions. She was impatient for the final bout that was to settle all things.

Even the haughty Duke of Buckingham was moved by Mistress Penwick’s youth, beauty and innocence. And yet he thought ’twas pitiful she should go unclaimed by Court. Her secret must be had at whatever cost, and seeing the maid was neither dismayed nor at loss by being thrown with the king’s son and the famous Buckingham, ’twas certain nothing less than extreme measures would draw from her her secret. Whether these measures were foul or fair was not of much consequence to him. If the maid was to favour any, he would withdraw, giving place to Monmouth, providing of course ’twas in his power to do so. And that ‘twould be his power he did not doubt.

Mistress Penwick saw Monmouth’s frown also, and looked up at him smiling and asked,–

“Thou must not ponder upon ghosts.–When do we journey, your Grace?”

“When thou art well rested and say the word.” His face broke into sunshine and the maid could not fail to see the admiration that fell upon her from his Grace’s eyes. She flushed rose red. He caught her hand as they arose from table, and pressed it warmly, and with a tenderness that was apparent to Buckingham and Constance. Should he press his suit upon her now or wait? He thought best to wait, as Janet quickly came to her mistress at a motion of the hand that the Duke reluctantly released. He allowed her to pass to her chamber without his escort. Constance passed unnoticed by him from the room, and being well-worn by her long ride, also went above stair, where she tumbled upon her bed in tears, most unlike Katherine who was rubbed and swathed in blankets by the faithful Janet.

* * * * *

Sir Julian Pomphrey had sent to the castle and procured conveyance and Ellswold’s physicians for the young lord, who lay very white and weak at the monastery. Owing to his serious wound, they had moved very slowly, reaching home near three o’clock in the morning. The Duchess was greatly shocked by Cedric’s condition and most indignant with Mistress Penwick and Constance.

The matter was blown about by servants, and before the dismal rainy day was ended, all Crandlemar knew of the goings-on at the castle and were greatly stirred that their lord had been so used by the Catholics. ‘Twas inflammable matter that meant the possible uprising in arms of the whole village. It was said the Protestants were aggrieved that Lord Cedric had thus long allowed the monks freehold, and now that he was helpless they would take it upon themselves to drive them away at the point of the sword and see if, by so doing, greater fortune would not fall to them, for such bravery would certainly bring them to their lord’s notice and mayhap he would build up many of his houses and do better by them than heretofore.

Over the ale mugs at the village inn ’twas whispered by the landlord that the day before two men, wearing masques, had left the place together, one bearing under his saddle-bag a monk’s robe; and a crucifix had fallen from his pocket as he mounted.

The men grew more and more excited and fell to pledging themselves to clean out the ancient monastery before another day should close.

A pale young man in fashionable attire sat apart, drinking deep and listening with satisfaction to the village swains and their elders’ talk; his eye in imagination upon the dark passage in the monastery that hid the trapdoor and–no doubt the treasures of the cloister that lay beneath.

‘Twas Cantemir; he had escaped unharmed from the clutches of Buckingham and Monmouth. The former had caught him hastening from the monastery and seizing compelled him to give the information he sought and to give up all papers on his person; which he did cheerfully. Finding him a cowardly knave, the Duke flung him from him with disgust. Buckingham had heard, to be sure, that the maid they sought was a hostage; but whether this was true, or would lead to matters of more consequence, he had yet to learn.

Buckingham, after a few hours’ sleep, left Hornby’s Inn, returning to the village of Crandlemar. He wore no masque this time and boldly entered the inn to refresh himself and prepare for a visit to the castle. He took little heed of the slender young man who now lay, very much drunken, upon a long bench; but ordered the best wine and sat down before a table that was already accommodating some half-dozen men. He appeared not to hear their excited whispers, and feigned preoccupation until he was quite sure his manner had been noted, then as if modesty held him, he spoke,–

“Is there not in these parts a monastery upon the estates of the noble Lord Cedric of Crandlemar?” He hardly raised his eyes, so indifferently did he put the question.

“There is, sir,” one said.

“Then where hath flown my lord’s religion?”

This struck consternation upon the group; for ’twas certain they loved their patron’s good name, even though he did forget their importunities, and this sudden thrust struck home. One whispered aside,–

“Perhaps ’tis one come to spy upon our lord’s intentions and take him to the Tower.” At this one honest, brave man arose and leant with rustic grace across the table toward the stranger and said,–

“His lordship lies ill yonder,” pointing over his shoulder toward the castle, “and we loyal subjects to his Majesty, claim the right to drive from Protestant soil the shackles of Catholic freeholds, and ’tis our intention to come upon them–what say you, fellows, to-night?”

“Aye, aye!” rang from nearly a score of tongues.

“‘Tis well,” said the cavalier, “for to-morrow might have been too late.”

“What might that mean, sir?”

“It means that Catholic lands and holds are sometimes confiscated and in some cases the boundary lines are not known, and some good King might send some noble lord to the Tower to search for the required limitations of his demesne.”

Every man’s hand sought a weapon and eye met eye in mutual concourse.

“To-night, then, to-night we’ll put to rout the enemy!” they cried.

The cavalier, pleased with the reception of his hint, asked for his horse.

He arrived at the castle to be most cordially received by the Duchess and Sir Julian. If Buckingham was ever unbending, it was to Sir Julian.

As they met, Buckingham bent lower than his wont to hide a guilt that was not perceptible to any one else but Julian, and the latter was not slow to note it. The Duchess, not knowing who had carried off either Constance or Mistress Penwick, was very free in her conversation and spoke at once of Lord Cedric’s injury and of the naughty beauty that had driven him to it. Buckingham’s countenance was changed by the assumed expression of either surprise or regret, as was necessary and suited.

Upon his arrival he was not allowed to see either the Duke or Cedric, and as his business called for a speedy return to London, he must leave early after supper, adding that he regretted the importunity of the hour, as it detained the king’s business with his Grace of Ellswold.

This of course changed the physicians’ minds, and Buckingham was allowed to have converse with the Duke and finished that he came to do at the castle.

But Sir Julian had somewhat to say, and ordered his horse to accompany the Duke on his return journey.

This was not unlooked for, and Buckingham, fearing no _imbroglio_, intended to hasten Sir Julian’s speech, as there was no time to spare. They started forth ‘neath the dripping trees.

“Where is Mistress Penwick, George?”

“With her nurse, Julian.”

“And where the nurse?”

“At Hornby’s.”

“Where is Monmouth’s place of hiding her?”

“That is more, I dare say, Julian, than he knows himself.”

“How long will they remain at the inn?”

“Until I return.”


“Then, London way is my desire, and I doubt not ’tis Monmouth’s also.”

“Dost love me, Duke?”

“Aye, as always. What is thy desire?”

“Canst thou keep the maid safe for thirty-six hours?” For a moment there was no answer; then calmly and cold came the word “No.”

“By God! is it so bad that you, you George, cannot take care of her?”

“‘Tis the worst of all!”

“Is she safe then now–now?”

“If the eye of the nurse doth not perjure its owner, I would say she was safe for all time.”


“But, Pomphrey, one would wonder at thy devotion to Cedric?”

“I loved him, first.”

“That does not say thou lovest thy second love better, eh?”

“By heaven, I love her, there–thou hast it.” Buckingham gave vent to his natural inclination and laughed boldly.

“Then, follow her. We may presume she will be safe kept ’til London gives her rest and wine and finds a locker for her nurse.”

“Then my errand is finished. I will bid thee _adieu_.”



Buckingham, returning to the village, where his escort met him, then went to a small unused cabin in the thick woods beyond. Here he changed his attire, making ready for a quick journey and one fraught with some adventure.

As he donned his clothes, ever and anon he paused to hear the low murmuring of voices that came up from the village. ‘Twas evident the mob was gathering.

An hour he waited impatiently, when his servant entered, saying that the mob had started and were hurrying along the high-road at great speed.

The Duke mounted and rode after them, quite far enough in the rear for them not to hear his horse’s step or see as he passed where some cottage light fell aslant the road.

By the time they came in sight of the monastery, he was exasperated beyond measure to be so held behind and was in no mood to wait the mob’s leisure. He leapt from his horse and threw rein to his man.

No light was to be seen. It appeared the monks had either deserted their dwelling or fortified it by fastening with boards the windows and doors. The latter was the case. The besiegers with all sorts of sticks, stones and bludgeons began at once to bombard the building that stood dark and seemingly impregnable. Buckingham stood some distance from them, as if indeed he were of different mould and could not mingle with their steaming, smoking, foul-smelling bodies, that reeked of gin and poor tobacco. He waited only for an entrance to be made, that he might pass in without the labour of making an opening for himself. Indeed, his arm, unused to such rough strength, would become unfit to handle the sword of a gentleman.

He was leant upon one knee behind a strip of iris that bordered a forest path, when suddenly he heard the crash of glass and heard a triumphant yell from the mob. He sprang from his hiding and crept toward the place. A window had been broken in and the fight had already begun. The monks were well equipped for battle with weapon, strength and stout hearts and a good stone wall for shelter, but their numbers were weak.

The siege was destined to be a long and bloody one, unless the ponderous door could be broken, for the mob could not enter fast enough through the small casement. Should this be done, it was evident the monks would be obliged to either take flight, surrender or be foully murdered.

Buckingham could not enter the window without taking part in the fight, and mayhap run a great risk to his person.

He was not long in discovering, however, that the doorway was being bombarded successfully, and soon the massive door must succumb.

At last there was a thundering crash, and broken oak panels flew through the air.

The men rushed in. Buckingham in a moment was in their midst and fighting his way through them. He flung himself aside and escaped the fighting mass by a small door that led him to a passage, where he regained his breath and looked out for his bearings.

He found his way through many winding passages to the panel. This he opened and quickly strode through to the trapdoor, which stood agape. From beneath came the sound of voices. He knelt and looked down. There was no light to guide him. Cautiously he descended the ladder, finding his way warily toward the place where he had seen the chest and whence now came the voices. One was saying:

“It’s gone, the damn knaves have secreted it; we must have a light, Anson, or the horde above stair will be upon us, and all the fires of hell could hardly show us out of this dungeon.” Whereupon the flint was struck and the forms of three men were dimly outlined.

They began running about nervously in different directions to find the chest; his Grace keeping from view by following in their shadow. Back they went again to the spot where it had stood, and as the light fell full in their faces Buckingham recognized the pale, chiselled countenance of Cantemir. There were two servants with him, which, judging from their eagerness, evidently expected perquisites.

The sound above stairs was growing more and more noisome, as if the monks were being pressed back in the direction of the secret passage. ‘Twas evident the Abbes intended this move; for unless there was