Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

The lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time online

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speech. At length Jane said :

" You have been ill, and you never sent for me. I
would have stayed by you night and day. I would have
been mother and sister both. Oh, indeed, my mother would
have come to you, without doubt ! Why did you not let
us know ? "

u I have only been in London three days. I was ill at
de Wick. I became unconscious at my father s burial.
We had heard that day that Stephen had been shot while
trying to reach the coast. It was the last thino- I could

C 1 O


" But I assure you Stephen is at The Hague. Doctor
Verity said so, and he said it not without knowledge."

" I know now that it was a false report, but at the time
I believed it true. My father was lying waiting for burial,
so was Father Sacy, and Lord Hillier s chaplain came over
to read the service. It was read at midnight in the old


chapel at de Wick. We did not wish any trouble at the
last, and we had been told the service would be forbidden ;
so we had the funeral when our enemies were asleep. You
know the old chapel, Jane, where all the de Wicks are
buried ? "

u Yes, dear ; a mournful, desolate place."

" A place of graves, but it felt as if it was crowded that
midnight. I ll swear that there were more present than we
had knowledge of. The lanterns made a dim light round
the crumbling altar, and I could just see the two open
graves before it. Eather Olney wept as he read the service;
we all wept, as the bodies were laid in their graves ; and


then our old lawyer, William Studley, put into Father
Olney s hands the de Wick coat of arms, and he broke it in
pieces and cast the fragments on my father s coffin ; for we
all believed that the last male de Wick was dead. And
when I heard the broken arms fall on the coffin, I heard no
more. I fell senseless, and they carried me to my own
room, and I was out of my mind for many days. My aunt
and Delia were very kind to me, but I longed for you,
Jane, I did indeed. I am nearly well now, and I have left
my heartache somewhere in that awful land of Silence
where I lay between life and death so long. I shall weep
no more. I will think now of vengeance. I am only
a woman, but women have done some mischief before this
day, and may do it again."

" Tonbert and Will are now at SwarTham ; they will
keep a watch on de Wick if you wish it."

" I suppose I have left de Wick forever ; and I could
weep, if I had tears left, for the ill fortune that has come
to the old place. You remember Anthony Lynn, the tan
ner and carrier, Jane ? "


" He has bought de Wick from the so-called Parliament.
He was very kind to me, and he knew his place; but on
my faith ! I nearly lost my senses when I saw him sitting
in my father s chair. Well, then, I am now in London, and
all roads lead from London. I shall not longer spoil my
eyes for the Fen country, and

" De Wick, God knows,
Where no corn grows,
Nothing but a little hay,
And the water comes
And takes all away.


You remember the old rhyme ; we threw it at one another
often when we were children. But oh, Jane, the melan
choly Ouse country ! The black, melancholy Ouse, with
its sullen water and muddy banks. No wonder men turned
traitors in it."

And Jane only leaned close, and closer to the sad, sick
girl. She understood that Matilda must complain a little, and
she was not unwilling to let the dreary meadows of the
Ouse bear the burden. So the short afternoon wore away
to Jane s tender ministrations without one cross word.
Early in her visit she had yielded to Matilda s entreaties,
had sent home her carriage, and promised to remain all
night. And when they had eaten together, and talked
of many things and many people, Matilda was weary ; and
Jane dismissed Delia, and herself undressed her friend as
tenderly as a mother could have done ; and when the tired
head was laid on the pillow, she put her arms under it and
kissed and drew the happy,, grateful girl to her heart.

" Sweet little Jane ! " sighed Matilda ; " how I love you !
Now read me a prayer from the evening service, and the
prayer for those at sea you won t mind doing that, eh,
Jane ? "

And after a moment s hesitation Jane lifted the inter
dicted book, and taking Matilda s hand in hers, she knelt by
her side and read the forbidden supplications ; and then
Matilda slept, and Jane put out the candles and sat silently
by the fire, pondering the things that had befallen her
friends and acquaintances. The strangeness of the house,
the sleeping girl, the booming of the city s clocks and bells,
and the other unusual sounds of her position filled her
heart with a vague dream-like sense of something far off
and unreal. And mingling with all sounds and sights, not
to be put away from thought or presence, was that strange


powerful picture in the salon the terrible force of Crom
well s face and attitude as he seemed to stride forward from
the group ; and the unearthly passion and enthusiasm of the
unknown, just a step behind him, would not be forgotten.
She saw them in the flickering flame and in the shadowy
corners, and they were a haunting presence she tried in vain
to deliver herself from.

So she was glad when she turned around to find Matilda
awake, and she went to her side, and said some of those
sweet, foolish words which alas ! too often become a for
gotten tongue. Matilda answered them in the same tender,
broken patois " Dear heart ! Sweet heart ! Darling Jane !
Go to the little drawer in my toilet table and bring me a
picture you will find there. It is in an ivory box, Jane,
and here is the key." And Jane went and found the
miniature she had once got a glimpse of, and she laid it in
Matilda s hand. And the girl kissed it and said, " Look
here, Jane, and tell me who it is."

Then Jane looked earnestly at the handsome, melan
choly, haughty face ; at the black hair cut straight across
the brows and flowing in curls over the laced collar and


steel corselet, and she lifted her eyes to Matilda s but
she did not like to speak. Matilda smiled rapturously and

" It is not impossible, Jane, though I see you think so.
He loves me. He has vowed to marry me, or to marry no
one else."

" And you ? "

" Could I help loving him ? I was just sixteen when we
first met. I gave my heart to him. I adored him. He
was worthy of it. I adore him yet. He is still more
worthy of it."

" But but he cannot marry you. He will not be al-


lowed. Half-a-dozen kings and queens would rise up to
prevent it for I am sure I know the face."

" Who is it, Jane ? Whisper the words to me. Who
is it, dear heart ? " And Jane stooped to the face on the
pillow and whispered,

" Prince Rupert"

And as the name fell on her ear, Matilda s face grew
heavenly sweet and tender, she smiled and sighed, and
softly echoed Jane s last word

" Rupert"



" Justice, the Queen of Virtues !
All other virtues dwell but in the blood,
That in the soul; and gives the name of good."

" The wise and active conquer difficulties
By daring to attempt them. Fear and Folly
Shiver and shrink at sight of wrong and hazard,
And make the impossibility they fear."

MATILDA S confession brought on a conversation which
lasted many hours. The seal of silence having been
broken, the sick and sorrowful girl eagerly took the conso
lation her confidence procured her. She related with an
impulsive frankness often with bitter, though healing
tears the story of her love for the gallant Royalist leader.
" He came first when I was yet a girl at my lessons," she
said, " but my governess had told me such wonderful things
of him, that he was like a god to me. You must know,
Jane, that he is exceedingly tall and warlike, his black hair
is cut straight across his brows, and flows in curls upon his
shining armour. And he is always splendidly dressed."

" Indeed, all have heard of his rich clothing ; even the
laced cravats are called after him."

" See how people talk for nothing. Rupert s laced
cravat was a necessity, not a vanity. He told me himself,
that being out very early drilling his men, he took a sore



throat, and having no other covering, he drew his laced
kerchief from his pocket and tied it round his neck.
And his officers, seeing how well it became him, must

* O

needs also get themselves laced neckerchiefs ; and then
civilians, as is their way, followed the custom. But who
could look as Rupert looked ? the most beautiful, the most
soldierlike man in England."

" I might question that opinion, Matilda. I might say
there is your brother Stephen or "

"Or Lord Cluny Neville, or many others; but let the
question go, Jane. I had given my heart to Prince Rupert
before I knew what love was ; but one day it was my
sixteenth birthday we were walking in de Wick Park, and
the Hawthorns were in flower I can smell them now, it
was the very scent of Paradise ; and he said such words as
seemed to float upon their sweetness, and they rilled my
heart till I could have cried for pure happiness. The
green turf was white with flowers, and the birds sang
above us, and if heaven can come to earth, we were in
heaven that dear spring morning. And as truly as I loved
him, so he loved me; and that is something to make all my
life beautiful. I have been loved ! I have been loved !
even if I see him no more, I have been loved ! and by the
noblest prince that ever drew a righteous sword. This is
the one joy left me."

u But, Matilda, it was a secret joy, and it could not be
right. What would your father and mother have said ? "

" You think wrong too readily, Jane. When Rupert
had told me how dear I was to him, he went to my parents.
He said to them, as he held my hand, Earl and Countess
de Wick, with your permission, this is my Princess ; -
and they were glad and proud, for they loved Rupert, and
my brothers, who were in his troop, adored him. As for


me, when Rupert said Matilda, I was in an ecstasy ; and
if he took my hand I trembled with delight. I was so
happy ! So happy ! For those heavenly hours I will
thank God all my life long."

" But I see not how, even with your father s and
mother s consent, you could hope to marry Prince Rupert.
Kings and queens would be against it."

"Indeed, it was a most likely consummation. The
Prince came to de Wick to arrange loans for the King.
You must have heard that at the beginning of the war my
father had great wealth which he had made by joining in
Sir Thomas Jevery s East and West Indian ventures. He
was glad to let King Charles have money, and a great deal
of gold was sent, from time to time, as the King needed it.
And when the war was over, my father was to have all his
loans back, and also be raised to the rank of a Duke. And
in those days we never doubted that the King would win ;
not till Dunbar, not till after cruel Worcester, did we lose
hope. And surely you can see that an English Duke s
daughter, with a large fortune in money, would be a suit
able match for one of the Palatine Princes. Rupert is
poor, Jane, his sword is his only fortune. And moreover,
Rupert s mother and brothers have been in terror lest he
marry a papist. But as for me you know that I would
die, yes, I would burn for my Bible and Book of Common
Prayer. More than this, the King was pleased at our en
gagement, and sent me a jewel in token of it. Alas, it has
been an unlucky jewel ! I have had only sorrow since it
came to me."

" I would get quit of it."

"It is too beautiful. And when the poor King is dead !
Oh, dear me ! I could not bear to part with it Do you
wonder now that the news of Dunbar made me so cross



and sad, and that I was distraught - past myself after
Worcester ? All was lost that fatal night."

" J do not wonder, but

" Say you are sorry, plain out, Jane. I am past disguise
with you, now, and must ask your pity. Think of my
father and mother dead of grief, and of my three brothers,
two slain in battle, one wandering, I know not where.
Remember that with my father s death, died all hope of the
loaned money and the dukedom to the family, and all my
own hopes regarding my lover. For without money and
rank, I would be no bride for Prince Rupert ; a milkmaid
were as fit. And when father had been three days in his
grave, and I lay at point of death, Anthony Lynn came
with his Parliamentary title to our house and lands. I was
at his mercy, at his charity, Jane."

" Well, and if so, many favours he and his have re
ceived from your family. All he is worth he owes to your

" He was kind and respectful ; I am very sensible of
that. It is a strange thing to count past benefits, Jane ; tis
like remembering eaten bread. If Anthony thought of my
father s help, tis more than can be believed. But for my
jewels, I am a very pauper a dependent on Sir Thomas

" He was your father s friend and partner in business
he is the husband of your aunt."

" Tis confest ; but for all that, I am here by his charity."

u Your aunt r "

" My aunt lives in the atmosphere of Sir Thomas
whims and wishes. What she will think, what she will do,
depends upon what he thinks and what he does."

u Tis commonly said that he is devoted to her."

" He loves her after the ordinary rate of husbands, I ll


warrant." Then, speaking with her old peremptoriness, she
said suddenly, " But for God s sake let me ask when you
heard anything of Prince Rupert ? Oh, Jane, I am sick
with heart-hunger for some small intelligence of his doings
or his whereabouts."

" He has rilled the news-letters and papers lately."

" But I am not suffered to see them. Tis pretended
they will make oie ill ; and Sir Thomas vowed when the
doctor gave the order, that he was glad on it, and that he
had long wanted an excuse to keep the pernicious sheets
outside of his house. So, then, I hear nothing, and if I did
hear, twenty to one I would be the better of it."

" I think you would, Matilda. What is harder to bear
than trouble that is not sure ? Still, to be the messenger of
ill news is an ungrateful office."

" Any news will be grateful ; be so much my friend,
dear Jane, as to tell me all you have heard."

" You know that he was made Admiral of the Royalist
Navy ; but, indeed, he is said to be nothing else but a pirate,
robbing all ships that he may support the Stuart family at
The Hague. No sail could leave British waters without be
ing attacked by him, until Blake drove him to the African
coast and the West Indies."

" He is the bread-finder of the King as well as his de
fender. So much I knew, and tis well done in him."

"The latest news is the drowning of Prince Maurice."

" That is the worst of news. Rupert loved this brother
of his so tenderly. They were not happy apart. Poor
Rupert ! His last letter said, he was kept waking with
constant troubles ; this will be a crowning misfortune.
Sir Hugh Belward told me that his disasters have followed
one on the heels of the other ; that he had no port, and
that poverty, despair and revenge alone guided his course."


" Sir Hugh Belward ! Was he not the companion of
your brother Stephen that night ?

" Yes. He is now at The Hague with the King, and he
has been over on secret affairs. I saw him at cle Wick the
day before I left. He was so shocked at my appearance
that he burst out weeping, and knelt down and kissed my
hands. Aunt begged him to leave my presence, for indeed I
was like to faint away."

" Then you must have heard all about the doings of
Prince Rupert ? "

" I had not heard of the drowning of Prince Maurice.
That affliction will bring Rupert to shore, and then what
will the King do for money ? "

" He is said now to be in great need of it, though Prince
Rupert sent home a rich prize this past summer ; and tis
further said he resigned his own share of it to his cousin,
Charles Stuart."

" Twould be most like him."

" Some English sailors taken on a prize were put on one
of the Royalist ships, and they overpowered her officers, and
brought the ship to London a few days ago. I like not to tell
you what they said of Prince Rupert to the Parliament."

" It will not vex me, Jane. Evil is said of people so uni
versally that no one is hurt by it."

" They declared, then, that the delight of Prince Rupert
and his crews was in swearing and plundering, and in
sinking all English shins they could lay their talons on ;
but also, they added to this account, that there was a chap
lain on the Admiral s ship, and that they rode still on Sun
days, and did the duties of the day in the best manner they
could the same at evening. Many believed not this re
port, and many made a mock at, what they conclude, is a
travesty of true worship."


" Indeed, Jane, the Puritans have not all the religion in
the world, though they think so. However, if Prince
Maurice be dead, I am sure that Rupert will not keep the
high seas wanting him. Thank you for this intelligence,
Jane. Twill be some comfort to hear that Rupert is on
dry land again."

This conversation had many asides and deviations, and
the night was far spent when Matilda was willing to sleep.
And in the morning, while they eat breakfast together, the
subject was renewed ; for sorrow is selfish, and Matilda
forgot that she had never even asked after the welfare of
Jane s family. As they talked, Lady Jevery joined them.
She bid Delia bring her some capon and white wine, and
then thanked Jane for her visit, adding

" I have brought you the key to my private entrance.
It will admit you to Matilda s apartments when you wish,
without the delays of a formal reception ; and twill be the
greatest token of kindness if you come often."

She spoke gently, and was soft and moth-like in all her
movements, but her affection for her niece was unmistak
able. While she talked, Jane s eyes wandered over the
richly furnished room, noting its draperies of rose vel
vet, beautifully painted, its carved bedstead and quilted
satin coverlet, its dressing-table with little gilded Venetian
ewers for perfumes, and India boxes for powders and also
the fine breakfast service of French china before her.
Lady Jevery s " charity " to her niece was certainly mag
nificent, and Jane felt no anxiety concerning her friend s
material comforts.

She returned to her home soon after breakfast, and her
mother met her with a smiling face. " I was going to
send the coach for you," she said, " for there is to be
company to-night; " and then she looked at Jane so intel-


ligently that the girl understood at once what was meant.

" Is it Cluny ? " she asked, blushing brightly.

" Yes. He has asked for an interview with your father,
and I suppose that it is granted, for I was told of the mat

" Mother, dear, you will speak in our favour ? "

u If needs be, Jane. But I am of this opinion some
one has spoken already."

" Do you mean the Lord General ? "

" I wouldn t wonder if he has said the two or three
words that would move your father more than any woman s
talk or tears. Keep your bravery, Jane ; father likes
women that stand up for themselves. When we were first
married, I tried crying for my way, and I never got it. It
is a deal better with men like your father and brothers to
stand up for your rights. They know what that means,
but they think a crying woman is trying to get the better
of them."

Jane understood this advice, and she was not a girl in
clined to cry for her way or her wish, yet she was glad to
be thus early warned of the stand she might have to take.
After all, it was one so loving and simple, so well defined
in her own mind, and so positively accepted, that there was
little need for preparation.

" I have made a resolve to marry Cluny, if Cluny be of
the same mind," she said to herself, " and I have made a
resolve to marry no one else, whether Cluny be of the same
mind or not. I will let no one impose a husband on me.
This thing I will stand boldly for; it has the witness of my
heart, and love is too great to need lying or deceit."

It was evening when Cluny came, and he was taken at
once to the room in which General Swaffham was smoking
his good-night pipe. He looked steadily at the young man


as he entered, but the look was one of inquiry and observa
tion rather than of displeasure.

" Good-evening, sir," he answered to Cluny s greeting.
" Sit down. You have requested speech with me ; talk
straight out then."

" I am here, General, to ask for your daughter s hand.
I love her."

" Come, come, Lord Neville ! Do you expect to drive
the wedge head foremost ? Ere you ask so great a gift,
give me some good reasons for expecting it."

"We love each other, sir."

" So ! but you must forethink, and straightforward is the
best course. You cannot live on love you two. No,
sir ! "

" I have my sword and the Lord General s favour.
And my mother left me an estate in Fifeshire. Tis no
great matter, but it is between me and the wolf s mouth."

"Very good for a young man; for a married man, very
poor. If you were wanting to know how in God s name
you were to provide for your household and pay your debts,
would it do to ask your sword, or to send to Fifeshire or
to the stars for the gold ? That is a father s question,

" It is a lover s also. I have enough for our necessities,
and somewhat for our comfort, and we are both willing to
take love as security for our contentment." And though
the words were such ordinary ones, the young man s heart
throbbed in them, and the father felt it.

" Well, well," he answered, " yet I could wish you were
altogether an Englishman."

" My mother was of a noble Scotch family, the Cupars
of Fife. I would not willingly lose anything she gave me,


" Lord Neville, I have seen the Scots in the late un
happy war, enough of them, and more than enough greedy
creatures, never losing sight of the spoil. I saw a good
deal of the country also beggary, nakedness, hunger, ever
lasting spite, envy and quarreling. But in every land God
has His elect and reserve, and I doubt not that Lady
Neville was among them."

" She was the purest-hearted of women. A word against
her goes to my heart like a sword."

" Nay, nay, I meant no unkindness in particular ; I
spoke of generalities. You are not a Scot, but I hear that
you arc a Presbyterian. If you marry my daughter, I wish
you to become an Independent."

" Twould be an impossible thing, sir. I sucked Pres-
byterianism in my mother s milk. Even in heaven, it
would grieve her to know I had become an apostate."

" An apostate ! The veriest nonsense. There is not
an ounce of difference between a Presbyterian and an Inde
pendent but the ounce is the salt and the savour. You
will become an Independent. The Lord General is an In

" He never asked me to become one."

"You never asked him for his daughter, his youngest
child, his darling."

" p orgive me, sir ; Mistress Swaffham has no objection
to my faith."

u Because, if men have not every good quality, some
woman invents all they lack for them. Mistress Swaffham
assures herself she can change your creed."

"I hope that she judges me of better mould. I can no
more change a letter in my creed than a feature in my

"That is John Knoxism ! It won t do, Lord Neville.


If I was asking you to become a Fifth Monarchy Man, or
one of those unbaptised, buttonless hypocrites, who call
themselves Quakers, you might talk about the letters of
your creed. Pooh ! Pooh ! "

" Sir, not for any woman born, will a man, worth the
name of a man, give up his creed or his country. Mistress
Swaffham would not ask this thing of me. She takes me
as I am. I love her with all my soul. To the end of our
life days, I will love and cherish her. Whether you credit
me thus far, or not, I can say no more. I am a suppliant
for your grace, and I know well that I have nothing worthy
to ofter in return for the great favour I ask from you."

Dauntless, but not overbold, the fine, expressive face of
the suppliant was very persuasive. General Swaft ham
looked at him silently for a few moments and then said,
" I will not be unkind to either you or my daughter ; but
there must be no leap in the dark, or in a hurry. Take
five years to learn how to live together fifty years. At the
end of five years, if you are both of a mind, I will do all
I can for your welfare."

" Your goodness is very great, sir ; make it more so by

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 10 of 27)