Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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his cousin s Court in the Louvre for three years," said
Matilda warmly ; " it is not right to make little of what he
has done."

" He has done miracles, my dear Lady Matilda," answered
Rupert s mother ; " but the miracles never pay. We are
all of us wretchedly poor. He sells his valour and his
blood for nothing worth while."

" He is the greatest soldier and sailor in the world ; so
much even his enemies admit."

" There are no results," said the ex-Queen, with a gay
laugh and a shrug of her shoulders. " And I am told he
has learned magic among the Africans, and brought home
blackamoors and finer monkeys than my own. I object to
nothing, since he assures me of his undying love for my
self and the Protestant religion. I assure you, if he did
not love the Protestant religion I should find no difficulty
in renouncing; him."


" He was too well educated in his religion to forget it,
madame," said the Princess Louise.

" I am not to blame if it were otherwise. I assure you he
knows his Heidelberg Catechism as well as any Doctor of
Divinity, and the History of the Reformers is at his


tongue s end. I am not in health to go regularly to church,
but my children go without omission, and they give me the
points of the sermon in writing, I do my duty to them ;
and of Rupert I had once great hopes, for the first words
he ever spoke were Praise the Lord, in the Bohemian
tongue. After that, one does not readily think evil of a

Every day Matilda adroitly induced such conversations ;
and once when the mother had talked herself into an en
thusiasm, she said, " Come and I will show you some pic
tures of this Rupert. His sister Louise makes portraits
quite equal to those of her master, Honthorst. I may tell
you frankly, we have sold her pictures for bread often ;
they are said to be Honthorst s, but most often they are the
work of the Princess Louise. The poor child ! she paints
and she paints, and forgets that she is a Palatine Princess
without a thaler for her wardrobe. Look at this portrait
of Rupert ! Is he not a big, sturdy boy ? He was only
four then, but he looks eight. How full of brave wonder
are those eyes, as he looks out on the unknown world !
And in this picture he is fourteen. He does not appear
happy. No, but rather sad and uncertain, as if he had not
found the world as pleasant as he expected. In this
picture he is seventeen, gallant and handsome and smiling.
He has begun to hope again, perhaps to love. And look
now on this face at twenty-nine ; he has carried too heavy
a burden for his age, done too much, suffered too much."

Matilda knew the latter portrait well, its facsimile lay
upon her heart ; and though she aid not say a word, it
was impossible not to notice in all the painted faces that
strange, haunting Stuart melancholy, which must have had
its root in some sorrowful, unfathomable past.

On another evening they were talking of England, and


of recent events there, chiefly of the high-handed dismissal
of the Parliament, and the gay-hearted Elizabeth laughed
at the affair very complacently. " I am an English Prin
cess," she said, " but I hate parliaments ; so did his late
Majesty, my brother Charles. But for the Parliament, my
fate might have been different. I adored my husband, that
is known, but it was the Parliament who made our mar
riage. My father, the great and wise King James, did not
wish me to marry the Elector Palatine, it was a poor
match for the Princess Royal of England, but the Parlia
ment thought the Elector would make himself the leader cf
the Calvinistic princes of the Empire. My dear Lady
Alatilda, he was sixteen years old, and I was sixteen, and
we two children, what could we do with those turbulent
Bohemian Protestants ? You make a stir about your
Oliver Cromwell ordering the English Members of Parlia
ment out of their own House, listen then : the Protestant
nobles of Bohemia threw the Emperor s ministers and
members out of their Council Chamber windows. It was
only their way of telling the Emperor they would not have
the Catholic King he supported. The English adore the
Law, and will commit any crime in it and for it ; the
Bohemians are a law unto themselves. They then asked
us to come to Prague, and we went and were crowned
there, and in the midst of this glory, the Prince Rupert was
born. He was a wonder for his great size, even then.
And he had for his sponsors the King of Hungary and the
Duke of Wurtenburg and the States of Bohemia, Silesia,
and Upper and Lower Lusatia. Yet in less than a year we
were all fugitives, and the poor child was thrown aside by
his frightened nurse, and found lying alone on the floor
by Baron d Hona, who threw him into the last coach leav
ing the palace ; and he fell into the boot and nearly per-


ished. So you see how unfortunate he was from the begin

" But, madame, you have a large family ; some of them
will surely retrieve your misfortunes."

u I do not trouble myself about the day I have never
seen. There is a great astrologer in Paris, and he has told
me that my daughter Sophia will bear a son, who will be
come King of England. Sophia gives herself airs on this

Sophia, who was present, laughed heartily. " Indeed,
madame," she said, " and when I am Queen Mother I shall
abolish courtesies. Imagine, Lady de Wick, that I cannot
cat my dinner without making nine separate courtesies, and
on Sundays and Wednesdays, when we have two divines
to eat with us, there are extra ones. I shall regulate my
Court with the least amount of etiquette that will be

u You perceive, Lady de Wick, what a trial it is to have
four clever daughters not to speak of sons. Aly daugh
ter, the Princess Elizabeth, is the most learned of women ;
I think she knows every language under the sun. You
have seen the paintings of the Princess Louise. Sophia is
witty and pretty, and is to be the mother of an English
King; and my fair Henrietta is a beauty, and what is re
markable, she is also amiable, and makes adorable embroid
eries and confections. So the mother of four such prin
cesses must not complain."

" Especially when she has seventeen dogs and horses ;
not to speak of monkeys and blackamoors," cried Sophia.

"Sophia is jealous!" said the merry ex-Queen. "So
is Rupert. Now, I am never jealous; I think jealousy is

Such intimate conversations occurred daily while Ma-


tilda frequented the House at The Hague ; and when Sir
Thomas Jevery was ready to proceed to Paris, the ladies
did not leave their pleasant entertainer without tangible,
financial proof of their interest in the Palatines. The
light-hearted, dependent Elizabeth took the offering with
open satisfaction. " It is very welcome," she said grate
fully ; " and the more so, because it is so sensibly ex
pressed. Some would have thought it best to offer me a
jewel, and so put my steward to the trouble of selling it,
and me to the loss. Oh ! " she sighed, smiling cheerfully
at the same time, " it is a sad thing to be poor for want of
money ; poverty is so transparent. If you have only
money, it is a cloak for everything."



" Beauty formed
Her face ; her heart Fidelity."

" For he was of that noble trade,
That demigods and heroes made ;
Slaughter, and knocking on the head,
The trade to which they all were bred."

WHEN the Jeverys arrived in Paris, they went immedi
ately to the beautiful Hotel de Fransac, which Sir Thomas
had rented for their residence while in the city. It was
situated in La Place Royale, almost within sight of the
palaces of the King and the Cardinal. But Sir Thomas
considered it necessary to the success of his business with
Mazarin to wear the outside show of great wealth, and it
was quite as necessary to Matilda s hopes and desires. If
she would keep in enthralment a prince, she must, at least,
be the princess of his imagination. In reality, she was
now much more so than ever before. Years and sorrow
and manifold experiences had imparted to the mere loveli
ness of the flesh the captivating charm of the spirit. She
was now a woman, not only to be adored for her beauty,
but still more so for the qualities that would be in their
perfection when beauty of face and form had faded away.

And with this rarer loveliness there had come a kind of
necessity to express it in clothing marvelously splendid and
effective. The palace in which she was abiding also de-



manded it : the enormous spaces given to stairways and
apartments, the magnificent furniture, the gorgeously liv
eried servants, were only the natural accessories of some
personage whose nobility or authority or wealth found in
such splendour a fitting expression.

One afternoon Matilda stood at a window watching the
crowds passing incessantly from palace to palace. Silk and
velvet and lace fluttered in the bright sunshine ; jewels
flashed from the soft hats, and the gleaming vests and the
ready weapons. They were kissing hands, drawing swords,
falling on one knee before some beauty or dignitary ; they
were laughing and swearing, and wooing and fighting, and
riding and driving, as if life was only a grand Court

To the right was the palace of the great King Louis, and
not far away the palace of his Eminence, the great Cardi
nal Mazarin ; and between them, the crowd amused itself,
conscious all the time of that other palace for the Unfor
tunates, called the Bastile. Its shadow was always over
Place Royale ; dark, inexorable, mysterious ; and every soul
of them knew that either road, or any road, might lead them
to that silent, living sepulchre. How different was all this
from the cool, gray, busy streets of London, with their
steady movement of purposeful men and women !

Matilda appeared to be watching the brilliant scene in La
Place Royale, but she was taking no special notice of it.
She had just received a letter from Jane, and was ponder
ing the news it brought her and waiting. She was won
derfully dressed, and wonderfully lovely, the delicate
brightness of her complexion admirably enhanced by the
darkness of her hair, and the robe of ruby-coloured Lyons
velvet in which she was dressed. It fell away in billows
of lace from her white throat and shoulders ; and its large


sleeves were lifted above the elbows with bands of Oriental
pearls. There were pearls round her throat and round her
arms, and the golden combs that held back her hair were
ornamented with them.

She was dressed for her lover, and awaiting his arrival,
her soul flashing from her watching eyes, her whole sweet
body at attention. When to ordinary ears there would
have been nothing to give notice, Matilda heard a step.
She let Jane s letter drop to her feet, and stood facing the
door with hands dropped and tightly clasped. She was very
tall and her long velvet gown gave emphasis to her stature.
Unconsciously she had advanced her right foot indeed, her
whole body had the eager look of one whose soul was out-
reaching it.

A moment later the footsteps were very distinct ; they
were ascending the stairway quickly, peremptorily the
tread of impatience where all obstacles have been removed.
A perfectly ravishing light spread itself over Matilda s face.
A moment was an hour. Then the door flew open and
Prince Rupert entered; "entered," however, being too
small a word, for with the opening of the door he was on
his knees at Matilda s feet, his arms were round her
waist, she had bent her face to his, they were both near to
weeping and knew it not; for love must weep when it
snatches from some hard Fate s control the hours that
years have sighed for.

" Adorable Mata ! O lovely and beloved ! O my love,"
he sighed. " O Mata, my flower ! my wine ! my music !
my sacred secret ! "

She kissed him, and made him rise. And he told her
ao-ain, all the waste, weary remembrance of his life apart

O * > L

from her, and showed her the long tress of hair which had
kept for him the kisses and vows of long ago. And with


what sweet sighs she answered him ! Her tender eyes, her
happy mouth, her soft tones, her gentle touch, were all to
kens from her heart s immediate sanctuary. Amid the sins
and sorrows and shows of Paris, there was paradise for two
hearts in the Hotel de Fransac.

In these days men and women did really live and die for
love, and a lover who did not fall at his mistress feet was
held graceless and joyless, and without natural fervour. And
Rupert could do everything in excess and yet be natural,
for all his being was abnormally developed; his gigantic
stature, his passionate soul, his unreasoning love, his reck
less bravery, his magnificent generosity, his bitter enmities,
were all points in which he offended against the usual
standard though it was a large standard, if measured by the
conventions of the present day. He had been dangerously
ill after his arrival in Paris, and he was not the Rupert who
had invaded the high seas three years previously. In these
three years he had endured every evil that tempests, bad
climates, war, fever, want of food and " strange hard
nesses " of all kinds could bring him ; and above all he had
practically failed in everything. He had lost most of the
treasure so hardly won ; his ships and his men and his idol
ised brother, Maurice; and all these losses had taken with
them some of the finer parts of his nature. He had come
home a disappointed and cynical man, his youth melted
away in the fiery crucible of constant strife with human and
elemental forces.

Yet he was the most picturesque figure in Paris. The
young King Louis delighted in his society. Mazarin was
his friend, and not only the English Court in exile, but also
the French Court paid him the most extraordinary atten
tions. His striking personality, his barbaric retinue of
black servants, his supposed wealth, the whispers of his


skill in necromancy, were adJed to a military and naval
reputation every one seemed desirous to embellish. Many
great ladies were deeply in love with him, but their per
fumed billet-doux touched neither his heart nor his vanity.

He loved Matilda. All the glory and the sorrow of his
youth were in that love, and as he knelt at her feet in his
princely, soldierly splendour, there was nothing lacking in
the picture of romantic devotion. " Adorable, ravishing
Mata ! " he cried, " at your feet I am paid for my life s
misery." And Matilda leaned towards him till their hand
some faces touched, and Rupert could look love into her
eyes, soft and languishing with an equal affection.

" How tall you have grown. You have the stature of a
goddess," he cried with rapture ; and then in a tone full of
seriousness he added,

" You are my mate. You are the only woman I can
ever love. I vow that you shall be my princess, or I will
die unmarried for your sake."

For a little while their conversation was purely personal,
but their own interests were so blent with public affairs
that it was not possible to separate them for any length of

"We have sold all our cargoes," he said triumphantly,
" in spite of old Cromwell s remonstrances. Mazarin
helped us, and the money is distributed. What can Crom
well do ? Will he go to war with France for a merchant s
bill of lading ? The King and the Cardinal laugh at his
demands. He is an insolent fellow. Does he think he can
match his Eminence ? But, this or that, the money is scat
tered to the four quarters of the world. Let him recover

"I will tell you something, Rupert. I had a letter to
day from my friend, Mistress Jane Swaffham. She says


her lover, Lord Cluny Neville, must be in Paris about this
time, and that he will call on me. He is on Cromwell s
business ; there is no doubt of it."
" Do you wish to see the man ? "

" No. He has stolen my brother s mistress. He has
done Stephen a great wrong ; and he is also full of perfec
tions. A very sufficient youth in his own opinion, and
much honoured and trusted by his Excellency, the Lord
General Cromwell."

She spoke with evident scorn, and Rupert said, "I shall
have to reckon with him. Stephen s wrongs are my
wrongs. Is the lady fair and rich ? "
" Tis thought so. I once loved her."
" And now, you love her not ; eh, sweetheart ? "
" There is Cromwell between us and Neville."
" What is the appearance of Neville ? I think I saw
him this morning."

Then Matilda described the young lord, and the particu
larity of her knowledge regarding his eyes and hair and
voice and manner did not please Prince Rupert. At least,
he affected to be jealous of such intimate observation, and
for a few minutes the affairs of Cromwell and Mazarin
were forgotten in one of those whiffs of displeasure with
which lovers season their affections. But during it, Ma
tilda had felt obliged to speak disparagingly and disagreeably
of Neville, and she was only too sensible afterwards of all
the ill-will she had expressed. In putting the dormant dis
like into words, she had brought it into actual existence.

" A very haughty youth," said Rupert when the conver
sation was resumed. " He was with the Cardinal this
morning, and bore himself as if he carried the honour of
England on his shoulders. And now I begin to remember
his business was such as in a manner concerns us. Twas


about a merchant ship which that old farmer on King
Charles throne wants payment for. My men took it in
fair fight, and tis against all usage to give back spoils.
The demands of Cromwell are beyond measure insolent,
and the [roods are gone and the ship is sold and the money

O O i J

scattered, and what can old Ironsides do in the matter ? "

They talked of these things until Rupert s engagements
called him away, then they rose, and leaning towards each
other, walked slowly down the long splendid room together.
Large mirrors repeated the moving picture they made, and
before one of them Rupert stood, and bid Matilda survey
her own beauty. It was verv great and bewitching and its

/ ,O O *

effect was certainly heightened by the handsome, pictur
esque figure at her side. There he kissed her with the
fondest love and pride, promising an early visit on the fol
lowing day.

She went then to find her uncle and aunt, for she knew
that she owed to their love and generosity her present op
portunities, and though her gratitude had in it, very likely,
a certain sense of favours to come, she was really pleased
and thankful for the happiness present and within her reach.
But she quickly noticed in them an air of anxiety and
gloom, and it annoyed her. " Could she never be happy
and find all her surroundings in key with her? It was too
bad ! " Such thoughts gave a tone of injury to her inquiry,

" Is anything particularly wrong, aunt ? Have I been
making some trouble again ? "

" Sir Thomas is verv unhappy, niece. He has heard
news that frightens him, and we are longing to be in the
peace and safety of our own home."

Then Matilda began to complain. " As soon as a joy
is at my hand, it is taken away," she said. " And what
a lovely city is Paris ! How can any one want to leave


it and go to London ? It is cruel. It is beyond bear
ing ! "

" Niece, dear niece," said Sir Thomas, " you have had
many happy meetings now with your lover. You said
1 one would make you happy. While he was so ill, con
sider to what trouble and expense I gladly went, in order
that you might have the satisfaction of knowing his con
stant condition. Be reasonable, Matilda. I have already
done far more than I promised, and now affairs are in such
a state that I feel it best to go home. I do long for my
home and my garden. I have missed all my roses this sum
mer. And the business I came to settle has been suddenly
settled for me."

" You are going to lose a little gold, and so you are
wretched, and must go to the City-of-the-Miserable."

" I am not going to lose a penny."

" Well, then ? "

" There may be trouble because of this very thing, and
I do not want to be in Paris with the two women I love bet
ter than myself, if Cromwell and Mazarin come to blows.
I might be taken from you. I should very likely be sent to
the Bastile ; you would not wish that, Matilda ? "

" That is nonsense ! But will you tell me what is this
last outrage of Cromwell s ? "

" Blake, by his orders, has taken a French merchantman.
It was brought to London and sold with the cargo, and the
money received from this sale was used to cancel the debt
owing me by the French Government. All the papers re
lating to the transaction, with the balance of the money,
were turned over to Mazarin this morning. The Cardinal
was furious. He called me into his Presence Chamber,
and though his words were smooth as oil, he pointed out
the wrong of such high-handed management of debit and


credit between two nations. Also, he was much chagrined
at the seal on the papers, the design of which represents
England s navy as filling the seas. Pie said scornfully,
I perceive his Excellency has very merchant-like ways of
business, and has not yet learned king-craft; then he was
silent a moment, and smiled, my dear wife and niece, try
and fancy a serpent smiling, after which he handed me
the seals again, and still smiling, continued, Tis in the
mercy of the Almighty that He has been kind enough to
make the seas so wide as to permit poor French sailornicn
a little pathway through His great waters. His Excellency,
Oliver Cromwell, would have no ships but English ships
very patriotic, but perhaps patriotism is a smaller virtue than
people think; justice may be greater. As forme, he added,
casting his eyes to heaven, as for me, tis in my vows to
love all men. Much more was said, but these are the par
ticulars as I remember them."

" He is a great hypocrite," said Lady Jevery. " He
loves very few men, and no one loves him."

" Is that all, uncle ? "

" He turned sharply to Lord Neville, asked to look at his
credentials again, and called for an accountant. He seemed
to forget my existence, and I asked permission to retire. I
am very uneasy in my mind. Mazarin s good words are
not to be trusted; his silence is to be feared. I must leave
France as soon as possible. My affairs have been taken
out of Mazarin s hands by Cromwell ; he will visit the
offense on me. Every moment is full of uncertainty and

" Prince Rupert will not see us injured."

" I cannot take Prince Rupert for our surety. He has
not yet spoken to me about your marriage. He is at the
mercy of so many minds."


" That detestable Lord Neville ! Ever and always, he
brings me trouble and sorrow. There are half-a-dozen of


my lovers who would run him through for a look. I would
do it myself. You need not smile, sir, I am as ready with
the sword as any man, and have matched both Stephen and
Cymlin Swaffam. I hate Neville. I would most willingly
make an end of him."

" Hush, Matilda ! Your words belie you. You mean
them not. But there is no time for words now, we shall
leave here for England in two days. If Prince Rupert
loves you so much as to marry you, there are ways and
means to accomplish that end. If money only is the lack,
I shall be no miser, if I may ensure your happiness."

" Dear uncle, shall we not return by The Hague ? "

"No. Lord Neville has promised to do my business
there. It is only a matter of collecting a thousand pounds
from my merchant; but he is going to take charge of your
aunt s jewels, and you had better trust yours also with him.
They will be safer in the saddle of a horseman than in a
guarded traveling coach. In the latter case, robbers are
sure there is plunder; in the former it is most unlikely."

" I will not trust anything I possess to Lord Neville.
Nothing ! "

"The man trusted by Cromwell is above suspicion."

" It is his interest to be honest with Cromwell."

" You are angry at Neville."

" I have good reason. He is always the bringer of bad
news. The order to leave Paris and the Prince could have
come only through him."

" The Prince knows how he may keep you at his side."

" Oh ! I am weary of balancing things impossible.
The Prince cannot marry like a common man."

" Then he should only make love to such women as are


fit to marry with him. I have said often what I thought
right in this affair; I have offered to help it with my gold
as far as I can that is all about it, Matilda. I say no

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 15 of 27)