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  • 1910
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far in the good graces of Alice’s father, he could not help suspecting that Bridgenorth was desirous, as the price of his favour, that he should adopt some line of conduct inconsistent with the principles of his education.

Arrived in England, Julian first hastened to Martindale, only to find the castle in the hands of officers of the House of Commons and his mother and Sir Geoffrey prisoners on suspicion of conspiring in the popish plot, and about to be escorted to London by a strong guard. On their departure the property of the castle was taken possession of by an attorney in the name of Major Bridgenorth, a large creditor of the unfortunate knight.

Julian himself was soon seized and put to trial with his father. But the fury of the people had, however, now begun to pass away, and men’s minds were beginning to cool. The character of the witnesses was more closely sifted–their testimonies did not in all cases tally. Chief Justice Scroggs, sagacious in the signs of the times, saw that court favour, and probably popular opinion also, were about to declare against the witnesses and in favour of the accused.

Sir Geoffrey and. Julian were both declared “not guilty” of the monstrous and absurd charges brought against them and the accusation against Lady Peveril was dropped.

No sooner had the Peverils, father and son, escaped to Lady Peveril’s lodgings, and the first rapturous meeting over, than Alice Bridgenorth was presented by Julian’s mother as the pretended daughter of an old cavalier, and Sir Geoffrey embraced her warmly. Julian, to whom his mother whispered that Alice was there by her father’s authority, was as one enchanted, when a gentleman arrived from Whitehall bidding Sir Geoffrey and his son instantly attend upon the king’s presence.

The Countess of Derby had come openly to court, braving all danger, when she heard of the arrest of the Peverils, resolved to save their lives. From the king’s own lips she heard of the acquittal, and Charles II., for the moment anxious to reward the fidelity of his old follower, invited them forthwith to Whitehall.

Sir Geoffrey, with every feeling of his early life afloat in his memory, threw himself on his knees before the king, and Charles said, with feeling, “My good Sir Geoffrey, you have had some hard measure; we owe you amends, and will find time to pay our debt.”

Later in the evening the Countess of Derby, who had had much private conversation with Julian, said, “Your majesty, there is a certain Major Bridgenorth, who designs, as we are informed, to leave England for ever. By dint of the law he hath acquired strong possession over the domains of Peveril, which he desires to restore to the ancient owners with much fair land besides, conditionally that our young Julian will receive them as the dowry of his only child.”

“By my faith!” said the king, “she must be a foul-mouthed wench if Julian requires to be pressed to accept her on such fair conditions.”

“They love each other like lovers of the last age,” said the countess; “but the stout old knight likes not the roundheaded alliance.”

“Our royal word shall put that to rights,” said the king. “Sir Geoffrey Peveril has not suffered hardship so often at our command that he will refuse our recommendation when it comes to make amends for all losses.”

The king did not speak without being fully aware of the ascendancy which he possessed over the spirit of the old Tory; and within four weeks afterwards the bells of Martindale-Moultrassie were ringing for the union of the two families, and the beacon-light of the castle blazed high over hill and dale.