Copyright
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

. (page 12 of 27)
Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 12 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"Then tell them what to do, Oliver. And if they will
not obey, make them. Are they not as much at your dis
posal as the shoes on your feet ? "

" The time is not fully ripe ; a little longer they must
trample upon law and justice and mercy, and do such bare
faced things as will make men wonder a little longer we
must suffer them, then "

" Then, Oliver ? "

" I will thunder at the door for inquisition, and it will be
with no runaway knock. I am sorry, and I could be sorry
to death, for the needs-be, but it will come, it will come.
God knows I wish it otherwise. I do, indeed ! "



TWO LOVE AFFAIRS 163

" What were they about to-night ? "

" About nothing they should be. Have we not come to
a pretty state when Parliament looks to the private doings
of its members ? After some testimonies, there came a
motion to expel all profane and unsanctified persons from
the House, and I rose and said, I could wish also, that
all fools were expelled ; then we might have a house so
thin it would be at our say-so.

" Pray, what said Sir Harry Vane to that ? He is as
touchy as tinder."

" He said, General, no man in England knows better
than you do, the usefulness of piety ; and I answered
him prompt, Sir Harry Vane, I know something better
than the usefulness of piety, it is the piety of usefulness.
Take heed, I said, of being too sharp, or of being too
easily sharpened by others. If Parliament is to sit that it
may count the number of glasses a man drinks, or the style
of his coat and his headgear, England is in her dotage. I
would rather see death than such intolerable things, I would
truly. And I said these words in great wrath, and I could
wish I had been in still greater anger."

" Why don t they do what you desire ? Will they come
to disputing with you ? "

" I look for it, but I understand the men. This state of
affairs will grow to somewhat. I know what I feel. My
dearest, I need pity ; I do, indeed. I am set here for Eng
land s defense, and there is One who will sift me as wheat
concerning my charge. Elizabeth, there are at this very
hour twenty-three thousand unheard cases in Chancery. I
see the law constantly abused. If I say a word that mercy
may now be shown, I am accused of pandering to the ma-
lignants for some end of my own. Hundreds of English
men are in prison on matters of conscience ; they ought



1 64 THE LION S WHELP

to be free. There are tithes and exactions intolerable, and
this fragment and figment and finger-end of an old Parlia-

DO O

ment busies itself with its members moralities ; with rais
ing money for a Dutch war, or with selling the stonework,
leads and bells of our Cathedrals. If my God will give me
a word, I will better such work j I will indeed ! "

" Sir Harry Vane has already reduced the army. He
thought thus to curtail your power, Oliver ; I saw through
the man from the first."

" My authority came not through Sir Harry Vane, nor
can Sir Harry Vane take it from me. My comfort is that
God called me to be captain of Israel s host. Truly, I
never sought the place. I did not. But while my head is
above the mold, my heart will burn against oppression. I
will not suffer it ; before God and angels and men I will
not suffer it ! Tis the time now for showing mercy and
for settling the Kingdom, and these things shall be done.
I know the sort of men I have to deal with, I will carry jus
tice through their teeth, even if they be a Parliament. And
let God be my judge."

" But what will you do ? There are strong men that
hate you."

" I will do nothing just yet unless I get the commis
sion. Who are these men ? Only cedars of Lebanon
that God has not yet broken. They shall be able to do
nothing against me. His Hands shall cover me. That
word came to me by little Jane Swaffham. I have
thanked her many times for it."

" I know your patience and your goodness, Oliver."

" Yes, but patience works to anger. I shall stand no
nonsense from any one much longer. When Opportunity
comes, I shall make Importunity fit Opportunity I will
that."



TWO LOVE AFFAIRS 165

He had been unbuttoning his doublet as he spoke these
words, and he flung it from him with an extraordinary force
and passion ; then suddenly calming himself he sat down,
and said with a sadness equal to his anger, " Let me have
your prayers, dear wife, let me have them. For come
what will, we must work God s good pleasure and serve
our generation our rest we expect elsewhere. I live in
Meshec (prolonging) and in Kedar (blackness), yet as John
Verity said to me last Sabbath Brother Oliver, you
have daily bread, and you shall have it, despite your
enemies. In your Father s house there is enough and
to spare of every good thing ; and He dispenseth it.
Those three words go to my heart like heavenly wine
He dispenseth it, Elizabeth ; " and he took her hand,
and she leaned her face full of light and trust against
his shoulder, and as he stooped to it, his countenance
grew sweet and tender as a little child s. For a few
moments they sat silent, then the God-full man burst
into rapturous thanksgiving, because all his hopes were
grounded on the Truth of God, on the immutability of
His Counsel, and on the faithfulness of His promises.
"Promises," he cried out, "having this double guar
antee, that they have not only been spoken, they have
been sworn to."

An inward, instant sense of God s presence came to
both of them. They had a joy past utterance. Troubles
of all kinds grew lighter than a grasshopper. They par
took of those spiritual favours which none know, save
those who receive them ; and urged by a spiritual pressure
within, Cromwell sighed into the very ear of God, " Whom
have I in heaven but Thee ? and there is none upon earth
that I desire beside Thee."

For the Eternal God was the firmament of this man s



i66 THE LION S WHELP

life ; whether on the battle-field or in the Council Chamber,
amid his family or alone in his closet, God was the
Majestic Overhead and Background of all his thoughts,
affections, purposes and desires.



CHAPTER VIII

UPON THE THRESHOLD
" Predestinated ills are never lost."

" The Power that ministers to God s decrees,
And executes on earth what He foresees,
Called Providence,
Comes with resistless force ; and finds, or makes a way."

IF we believe that life is worth living, our belief helps
to create that fact, for faith is in matters of the spirit all
that courage is in practical affairs. To Jane and Cluny
this belief was not difficult, for limitation always works for
happiness, and during the ensuing year life kept within the
bounds of their mutual probation and of Cluny s military
duties, was full of happy meetings and partings ; days in
which Love waited on Duty, and again, days in which
Love was lord of every hour ; when they wandered to
gether in the Park like two happy children, or, if the
weather was unfit, sat dreaming in the stately rooms of
Sandys about the little gray house in Fifeshire, which was
to be their own sweet home.

These dreams and hopes were set to a national iife full
of unexpected events and rumours of events, and to inter
esting bits of gossip about the beloved Lord General and
his family and friends. The news-letters were hardly
necessary to the Swaffhams ; they were in the heart of
affairs, and life was so full of love and homely pleasures,

167



i68 THE LION S WHELP

that the days came and went to thanksgiving literally so,
for Jane could not but notice how at this time her father
and mother selected for the household worship psalms,
whose key-note was, " Bless the Lord," " Make a joyful
noise unto the Lord," or, " I will love thee O Lord my
strength." And she could so well remember when these
prayers were implorations for help and comfort, or for
victory over enemies. How different was now her father s
tone of joyful confidence when he recited with the family
his favourite portion from the eighteenth psalm, generally
beginning about the thirtieth verse, and growing more and
more vivid and earnest, until in a voice of triumph he
closed the Book with a great emphasis, to the exulting
words, " The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock, and
let the God of my salvation be exalted."

So the weeks and months went by, and though they were
not alike, they had that happy similitude which leaves little
to chronicle. Jane s chief excitements came from her visits
to Mary Cromwell and Matilda de Wick. The latter had
now quite recovered her beauty and brightness, and she
had gradually moulded her new life to her satisfaction. It
was not a life that Jane thoroughly understood, and indeed
she shrank from Matilda s confidences about it; and Ma
tilda was soon aware of this reluctance and ceased to make
any overtures in that direction. And in this matter, Mrs.
Swaffham was of her daughter s mind.

" If Sir Thomas is blind to what goes on beneath his
own roof, Jane," she said, " why should you see incon
veniences ? There is a deal of wisdom in looking over
and beyond what is under your eyes. The Lord Gencn.l
does it, for Sir Thomas dined at Whitehall last wee!:.
Your father says one of his ships has been taken by Prince
Rupert, and Cromwell has written to Cardinal Mazarin



UPON THE THRESHOLD 169

about the matter. But Admiral Blake is the only mes
senger Mazarin will heed."

The affection between Jane and Matilda had, however,
the strong root of habit as well as of inclination. They
could not be happy if they were long apart. Jane visited
frequently at Jevery House, and Matilda quite as frequently
at Sandys. That they disagreed on many subjects did not
interfere with their mutual regard. It was an understood
thing that they would disagree, and yet there was between
them such a sincere love as withstood all differences, and
ignored all offenses. Generally Jane was forbearing but
occasionally her temper matched Matilda s, and then they
said such words, and in such fashion said them, that final
estrangement seemed inevitable. Yet these bursts of anger
were almost certainly followed by immediate forgiveness and
renewal of affection.

One morning in the spring of 1653, J ane was returning
from a two days visit to the Cromwells. The air was so
fresh and balmy she went to Jevery House, resolved to ask
Matilda to drive in the Park with her. She had not her
key to the private door, and was therefore compelled to
alight at the main entrance. Sir Thomas was among his
crocus beds, at this time a living mass of gold and purple
beauty, and he was delighted to exhibit them to one so sen
sitive to their loveliness. Jane told him she had been at the
Cockpit, and he asked after the Lord General, adding, " It
is high time he stepped to the front again." Then Jane
instantly remembered the picture in the cedar salon, and
smiled an understanding answer.

As she went up-stairs she wondered what mood she would
find Matilda in, for there was a certain mental pleasure in
the uncertainty of her friend s temper. It was so full of
unlooked-for turns, so generally contrary to what was to be



1 70 THE LION S WHELP

expected, that it piqued curiosity and gave spice and interest
to every meeting. She found her lying upon a sofa in her
chamber, her little feet, prettily shod in satin, showing just
below her gown ; her hands clasped above her head, her
long black hair scattered loosely on the pillow. She smiled
languidly as Jane entered, and then said,

" I have been expecting you, Jane. I could not keep
the thought of you out of my mind, and by that token I
knew you were coming. But how bravely you are gowned !
Pray, where have you been ? Or, where are you going ? "

" I have been spending two days with the Cromwells ;
and the morning is so fair, I wondered if you would not
drive an hour in the Park. Perhaps, then, you would come
home with me to dinner, and so make mother very happy.
Do you know that Cymlin arrives from Ireland to-day ?
He would think the journey well taken, if he saw you at
the end of it."

" You are a little late with your news, Jane. That is
one of your faults. Cymlin was here last night. He
spent a couple of hours with me ; " then she smiled so
peculiarly, Jane could not help asking her

" What is there in your way of smiling, Matilda ? I am
sure it means a story of some kind."

" I shall have to tell you the story, for you could never
guess what that smile was made of. First, however, what
did you see and hear at the Cromwells ? Tis said the
great man is in a strange mood, and that his picked friends
are wondering how he will cast the scale. Vane and he
must come to l Yes and No soon ; and when rogues fall
out, honest folk get their rights."

" England will get her rights if Cromwell cast the scale.
He is both corner-stone and keystone of her liberties. He
was in the kindest of moods, and I took occasion to speak



UPON THE THRESHOLD 171

of you and your many sorrows. And he wet my speech
with the most pitiful tears ever man shed, saying such
words of your father as brought me to weeping also. He
spoke also very heavenly about your afflictions, and bade me
tell you sorrow was one of the surest ways to heaven."

" But I could wish a pleasanter way, and so will not
take Cromwell s guidance."

" I heard in a passing manner that Prince Rupert is off
the seas forever that he is at the French Court, where he
is much made of."

"Jane Swaffham, have you no fresher news?" and she
pulled out of her bosom many sheets of paper tied together
with a gold thread. " I had this yesterday," she said, " by
the hand of Stephen, and I may as well tell you to prepare
to meet Stephen de Wick, for he vows he will not leave
England again until he has speech with you."

"Then he is forsworn; I will not see him."

" It will be no treason now to speak to your old servant.
The Amnesty Act will cover you. But I fight not Stephen s
battles ; I have enough to do to keep my own share of
your friendship from fraying. See how Fortune orders
affairs ! The ship my uncle has been worrying Cromwell
about, and which Cromwell has been bullying Mazarin
about, was taken by Prince Rupert ; and I hope, by this
time, he has turned her last ounce of cargo and her last
inch of plank into good gold ducats."

"But that would be to your uncle s great loss."

" Cromwell has promised to see to that. The man and
his army ought to be of some use. If you can keep a
secret suspicion, you may believe, with me, that my uncle
was not averse to letting the royal family have this one of
his ventures. They need the money from it, and Cromwell
will collect the full value from the Frenchman. I like



1 72 THE LION S WHELP

that way of paying Sir Thomas. The French have be
haved abominably to the poor Queen and His Majesty, and
their unhappy Court. Let them pay for what Rupert
took. They owe it to His Majesty ; let them pay ! Make
them pay ! In grace of God, tis good enough for them.
As for Uncle Jevery, he always gets his own ; some one,
in some manner, will pay him for the Sea Rover^ plank and
cargo. In the meantime, the King can have a little com
fort. Why has Cymlin come at this time from Ireland ? "

" He has leave of absence from Commander-in-chief
Fleetwood."

" Oh, Jane ! I am tipsy with laughing when I think of
the doleful widow Ireton and Fleetwood. You remember
what a hot quarrel we had about Ireton being buried among
the Kings of England they will kick him out yet, though
they be dead and how you shamed me for not weeping
with the desolated woman ? "

" It would be better to forget these things, Matilda."

" And then she let the widower Fleetwood console her in
less than half a year ! It makes me blush ! Yet the widow
Ireton is an honourable woman ! To be sure, only God
understands women. I don t. I don t understand myself
- or you."

" No woman likes to be put down ; and when General
Lambert got Ireton s place, Madame Lambert was insolently
proud, and insisted on taking precedence of Ireton s
widow, though she was Cromwell s daughter."

" Fancy the saints quarreling about earthly precedence !
Madame Lambert was right. A living dog is better than a
dead lion. And I admire the devout Bridget s revenge; it
was so human so sweetly womanly. How did she get
round her father ? "

"Indeed, men are sweetly human too; and the better



UPON THE THRESHOLD 173

men, the more human. Colonel Fleetwood by taking Lady
Ireton s part, won her affection ; it was a fitting match, and
it pleased the Lord General ; he recalled Lambert who
was truly overpowered by his great position and made
Fleetwood commander in Ireland, thus giving his daughter
back the precedence."

" Twas a delightful bit of domestic revenge. I enjoyed
it. London enjoyed it. Puritans and Royalists alike
laughed over it. It was such a thing as any mortal father
would have done, and every mortal father, for once, felt kin
to the Lord General. Nicest thing I ever heard of him,
said Lord and Lady Fairfax ; for, as you know, Lord and
Lady Fairfax always have the same opinion."

" Why do you talk of it ? The thing is past and
over."

" By no means. The Lamberts are still going up and
down, he in wrath and she in tears, talking about it."

" Then let us talk of other things. As I came here
I met a large company of Dutch prisoners. They were
taking them to our Fen country, that they might drain it."

" They are very fit for that work. They are used to
living in mud and water. How came they ? "

" They did not come. Blake sent them. He sunk
their ship and made them his prisoners."

" Why did they interfere with Blake ? It serves them
right."

u The Dutch are at war with the Commonwealth. Does
not that please you ? "

" No. What right have the Dutch to meddle in our af
fairs ? The quarrel is between our King and the Parlia
ment. It is our own quarrel, Englishmen against English
men. That is all right. It is a family affair ; we want no for
eigners taking a hand in it. The only time I ever saw my



174 THE LION S WHELP

father angry at the King was when he landed foreigners to
fight Englishmen. We can settle our own quarrels. If
Dutchmen will come into our boat they will, of course, get
the oars over their fingers. Serve them right. Let them
go to the Fens. They are only amphibious creatures."

" But you do not understand ; they "

" And I do not want to understand ; I have settled that
affair to my satisfaction. Now I must tell you something
concerning myself. I am going to France."

" France ! " cried Jane in amazement.

"Yes, France. I have persuaded my uncle that he
ought to go there, and look after the Sea Rover. I have per
suaded my aunt that it is not safe for my uncle to go with
out her; and they both know my reason for going with
them, although we do not name Prince Rupert."

" When do you go, Matilda ? "

" To-morrow, if Stephen be ready. And let me tell you,
Jane, Stephen s readiness depends on you."

" That is not so."

" It is. I hope you will be definite, Jane. You have
kept poor Stephen dangling after you since you were ten
years old."

" What about Cymlin and yourself? "

Then Matilda laughed, and her countenance changed,
and she said seriously, " Upon my word and honour, I was
never nearer loving Cymlin than I was last night, yet he
was never less deserving of it. Tis a good story, Jane. I
will not pretend to keep it from you, though I would stake
my last coin on Cymlin s silence about the matter. He
came into my presence, as he always does, ill at ease ; and
why, I know not, for a man more handsome in face and
figure it would not be easy to find in England. But he has
bad manners, Jane, confess it; he blushes and stumbles over



UPON THE THRESHOLD 175

things, and lets his kerchief fall, and when he tries to be a
gallant, makes a fool of himself."

" You are talking of my brother, Matilda, and you are
making him ridiculous, a thing Cymlin is not, and never was."

"Wait a bit, Jane. I was kind to him, and he told me
about his life in Ireland, and he spoke so well, and looked so
proper, that I could not help but show him how he pleased
me. Then he went beyond his usual manner, and in leav
ing tried to give me a bow and a leg in perfect court fashion ;
and he made a silly appearance, and for the life of me I could
not help a smile not a nice smile, Jane ; indeed, twas
a very scornful smile, and he caught me at it, and what do
you think he did ? "

" I dare say he told you plainly that you were behaving
badly ? "

" My dear Jane, he turned back, he walked straight
to me and boxed my ears, for a silly child that did not
know the difference between a man and a coxcomb. I
swear to you I was struck dumb, and he had taken himself
out of the room in a passion ere I could find a word
to throw after him. Then I got up and went to a mirror
and looked at my ears, and they were scarlet, and my
checks matched them, and for a moment I was in a tower
ing rage. I sat down, I cried, I laughed, I was amazed, I
was, after a little while, ashamed, and finally I came to
a reasonable temper and acknowledged I had been served
exactly right. For I had no business to put my wicked lit
tle tongue in my cheek, because a brave gentleman could
not crook his leg like a dancing-master. Are you laughing,
Jane ? Well, I must laugh too. I shall laugh many a time
when I think of Cymlin s two big hands over my ears.
Had he kissed me afterwards, I would have forgiven him
I think,"



176 THE LION S WHELP

" I cannot help laughing a little, Matilda, but I assure
you Cymlin is suffering from that discipline far more than
you are."

u I am not suffering at all. This morning I admire him.
There is not another man in the world who would have pre
sumed to box the Lady Matilda de Wick s ears ; accord
ingly I am in love with his courage and self-respect. I de
served what I got, I deserved it richly, Jane ; " and she
rose and went to the glass, and turned her head right and
left, and looked at her ears, and then with a laugh said,
" Poor little ears ! You had to suffer for a saucy tongue.
Jane, my ears burn, my cheeks burn., I do believe my heart
burns. I shall laugh and cry as long as I live, and remem
ber Cymlin Swaff ham."

u It was too bad of Cymlin but very like him. He has
boxed my ears more than once."

"You are his sister. That is different. I will never
speak to him again. He can go hang himself if he likes,
or go back to Ireland which seems about the same thing."

" Cymlin will not hang himself for man or woman.
Cymlin has the fear of God before him."

" I am glad he has. Surely he has no fear of Matilda de
Wick. There, let the matter drop. I wish now, you
would either take Stephen, or send him off forever. I am
in a hurry to be gone, and Sir Thomas also."

" Sir Thomas seemed full of content among his lilies and
crocuses."

" I ll wager he was bidding them, one by one, a good
bye. Go and send Stephen with a Yes or No to me.
I am become indifferent which, since you are so much so."

The little fret was a common one ; Jane let it pass
without comment, and it did not affect the sympathy and
affection of their parting. Many letters were promised on



UPON THE THRESHOLD 177

both sides, and Jane was glad to notice the eagerness and
hope in her friend s voice and manner. Whatever her
words might assert, it was evident she looked forward to a

O

great joy. And as long as she was with Matilda, Jane let
this same spirit animate her; her ride home, however, was
set to a more anxious key. She was a little angry also.
Why should Stephen de Wick intrude his love upon her ?
Twice already she had plainly told him that his suit was
hopeless, and she did not feel grateful for an affection that
would not recognise its limits, and was determined to force
itself beyond them.

She entered Sandys with the spring all about her ; her
fair face rosy with the fresh wind, and her eyes full of the
sunshine. Cymlin and Stephen were sitting by the fireside
talking of Irish hounds and of a new bit for restive horses
which Cymlin had invented. It was evident that Mrs.
Swaffham had given Stephen a warm welcome; the re
mains of a most hospitable meal were on the table, and he
had the look and manner of a man thoroughly at home.
In fact, he had made a confidant of Cymlin, or, rather, he
had talked over an old confidence with him. Cymlin ap
proved his suit for Jane s hand. He did not like the idea
of Cluny as a member of his family. He had an aversion,
almost a contempt, for all men not distinctly and entirely
English, and he was sure that Cluny had won that place
in the Lord General s favour which he himself was in sight
of when Cluny appeared. Again, Stephen had been his
playmate ; he was his neighbour, and if the King ever


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 12 of 27)