Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 21 of 27)
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they died as soon as born ; Cymlin s silent contempt with
ered them, for his local influence was so great that the at
tending constables thought it best to have no clear memory
of what passed in those last moments of Anthony s life.

" Lynn was neither here nor there," said one of them ;
"and what he said was just like dreaming. Surely no man is
to be blamed for words between sleeping and waking much
less for words between living and dying." But the incident
made much comment in the King s favour ; and when Sir
Thomas heard of it, he rose to his feet and bared his head,
but whether in honour of the King or of Anthony Lynn,
he did not say.

After Anthony was buried, his will was read. He left
everything he possessed to the Lady Matilda de Wick, and
no one offered a word of dissent. Sir Thomas seemed un
usually depressed and his lady asked him " if he was in any
way dissatisfied ? "

" No," he answered ; " the will is unbreakable by any
law now existing. Lynn has hedged and fenced every tech
nicality with wonderful wisdom and care. It is not anything
in connection with his death that troubles me. It is the death
of the ouriii Lord Neville that gives me constant regret.


It is unnatural and most unhappy ; and I do blame myself
a little."

" Is he dead ? Alas ! Alas ! Such a happy, handsome
youth. It is incredible," said Lady Jevery.

" I thought he had run away to the Americas with your
gold and my aunt s jewels," said Matilda.

" I wronged him, I wronged him grievously," answered
Sir Thomas. " That wretch of a woman at The Hague
never paid him a farthing, never even saw him. She in
tended to rob me and slay him for a thousand pounds, but
under question of the law she confessed her crime."

" I hope she is hung for it," said Lady Jevery.

" She is ruined, and in prison for life but that brings not
back poor Neville."

"What do you think has happened to him ? "

"I think robbery and murder. Some one has known, or
suspected, that he had treasure with him. He has been fol
lowed and assassinated, or he has fought and been killed.
Somewhere within fifty miles of Paris he lies in a bloody,
unknown grave ; and little Jane Swaffham is slowly dying
of grief and cruel suspense. She loves him, and they were

There was a short silence, and then Matilda said, " Jane
was not kind to poor Stephen. He loved her all his life,
and yet she put Lord Neville before him. As for Neville,
the nobility of the sword carry their lives in their hands.
That is understood. Many brave young lords have gone
out from home and friends these past years, and never come
back. Is Neville s life worth more than my brother s life,
than thousands of other lives ? I trow not ! "

But in the privacy of her room she could not preserve
this temper. " I wonder if Rupert slew him," she mut
tered. And anon


" He had money and jewels, and the King and his pov
erty-stricken court cry, Give, give, constantly.

u He would think it no wrong only a piece of good

" He would not tell me because of Jane.

" He might also be jealous of Cluny. I spoke often of
the youth s beauty I did that out of simple mischief but
Rupert is touchy, sometimes cruel always eager for gold.
Poor Jane ! "

Then she put her hand to her breast. The portrait of
Prince Rupert that had lain there for so many years was
not in its place. She was not astonished; very often lately
she had either forgotten it, or intentionally refused to wear
it. And Stephen s assertion that failure was written on all
Rupert touched had found its echo in her heart. When
she dressed herself to secure the warrant, she purposely
took oft Rupert s picture and put it in her jewel box.
She went there now to look for it, and the hauntino- mel-


ancholy of the dark face made her shiver. "Stephen told
me the very truth," she thought. " He has been my evil
genius as well as the King s. While his picture has been
on my heart, I have seen all I love vanish away." A kind
of terror made her close her eyes ; she would not meet
Rupert s sorrow-haunted gaze, though it was only painted.
She felt as if to do so was to court misfortune, and though
the old love tugged at her very life, she lifted one tray and
then another tray of her jewel case, and laid Prince Rupert
under them both.



" Like ships, that sailed for sunny isles,
But never came to shore."

" I could lie down like a tired child,
And weep away the life of care
Which I have borne, and yet must bear."

" He is most high who humblest at God s feet
Lies, loving God and trusting though He smite."

THE settlement of the affairs of Anthony Lynn oc
cupied .Sir Thomas much longer than he expected, and the
autumn found the family still at de Wick. For other
reasons, this delay in the retirement of the country had
seemed advisable. Stephen had escaped, as had also his
companion conspirators, Mason and Blythe; and Matilda
could not but compliment herself a little on her share in
securing their safety. But the plot and its consequences had
kept London on the alert all summer. Little of this ex
citement reached them. Sir Thomas was busy laying out
a garden after a plan of Mr. Evelyn s ; Lady Jevery was
making perfumes and medicinal waters, washes for the
toilet and confections for the table. Matilda was out walk
ing or riding with Cymlin Swaffham, or sitting with him
in the shady garden or in the handsome rooms of de
Wick. Her uncle had presented her with a fine organ,
but her lute suited her best, and she knew well what a beau
tiful picture she made, singing to its tinkling music.



If Cymlin was in the hall, she came down the stairway
flooded with coloured lights from its painted windows
lute in hand, singing singing of young Adonis or cruel
Cupid; her rich garments trailing, her white hands flashing,
her face bent to her adorer, her voice filling the space with
melody. Or she sat in the window, with the summer
scents and sun around her, musically mocking Love, as if he
never had or never could touch her. Cymlin knew all her
entrancing ways, and followed her in them with wonder
ful prudence. No word of his great affection passed his
lips ; he let his eyes and his actions speak for him ; and there
had been times when Matilda, provoked by his restraint,
had used all her fascinations to compel his confession.
But she had to deal with a man of extraordinary patience,
one who could bide his time, and he knew his time had not
yet come.

Towards the middle of September Sir Thomas roused
himself from his life among flowers and shrubs, and said
he must go back to London. He was expecting some ships
with rich cargoes, and the last flowers were beginning to
droop, and the rooks were complaining, as they always do
when the mornings are cold ; the time for the outdoor life
was ended ; he had a sudden desire for his wharf and his
office, and the bearded, outlandish men that he would meet
there. And as the ladies also wished to return to London,
the beautiful home quickly put on an air of desertion.
Boxes littered the hall; they were only waiting until the
September rain-storm should pass away, and the roads be
come fit for travel.

At this unsettled time, and in a driving shower, Cymlin
and Doctor Verity were seen galloping up the avenue one
evening. Every one was glad at the prospect of news and
company, Sir Thomas so much so, that he went to the


door to meet the Doctor. " Nobody could be more wel
come," he said; "and pray, what good fortune brings you
here ? "

" I come to put my two nephews in Huntingdon Gram
mar school. I want them to sit where Cromwell sat," he

Then he drew his chair to the hearth, where the ash logs
burned and blazed most cheerfully, and looked round upon
the company the genial Sir Thomas, and his placid, kindly
lady, and the beautiful girl, who was really his hostess.
Nor was he unmindful of Cymlin at her side, for in the
moment that his eyes fell on the young man, he seemed to
see, as in letters of light, an old description of Englishmen,
and to find in Cymlin its expression " a strong kind of peo
ple, audacious, bold, puissant and berolcal ; of great magnanim
ity, valiancy and prowess"

As he was thinking these things, Sir Thomas said, u You
must make us wise about events. We have had only the
outlines of them, and we are going into the midst of we
know not what. As to the great plot, was it as black as it
was painted ? "

" Like all the works of the devil, it grew blacker as it
was pulled into the light. It was soon an indisputable fact,
that de Baas, Mazarin s envoy extraordinary in London,
was head over heels in the shameful business. I can tell
you, de Baas had a most unpleasant hour with the Protec
tor; under Cromwell s eyes and questions, he wilted away
like a snail under salt."

" What did Cromwell do to him ? "

" Sent him back to King Louis and to Mazarin with a
letter. They have done the punishing, I have no doubt.
He would better have thrown himself on Cromwell s mercy
than face Mazarin with his tale of being found out. More


like than not he is at this hour in the Bastile. No one will
hear any more of M. de Baas."

" Then you think Mazarin was really in the plot to
assassinate ? "

" No doubt of it ; de Baas was only his creature. Both
of them should be rolled into their graves, with their faces

" And King; Louis the Fourteenth ? "


" He knew all about the affair. Kings and Priests !
Kings and Priests ! they would trick the world away, were
it not that now and then some brave yeoman were a match
for them."

" And Prince Rupert ? "

" Neck deep. That was fortunate, for he is a luckless
blackguard, and dooms all he touches."

" If a man is unfortunate, he is not therefore wicked,
Doctor. These men were plotting for what they believed
a good end," said Matilda with some temper.

" Good ends never need assassination, my lady ; if evil
is done, evil will come from it."

" I think we ought to pity the men."

" Pity them, indeed ! Not I ! The scaffold and the
halter is their just reward."

" Forty, I heard, were arrested."

" Cromwell had only three brought to trial. Gerard was
beheaded, Vowell hung, Fox threw himself on Cromwell s
mercy and was pardoned."

" Was not that too much leniency ? "

" No. Cromwell poked the fire to let them see he could
do it ; but he did not want to burn every one. He has
made known to England and to Europe, and especially to
France, his vigilance. He has escaped the death they in
tended for him. He has proved to the Royalists, by



Gerard s and VowelPs execution, that he will not spare
them because they are Englishmen. Beyond this he will
not go. It is enough. Most of the forty were only tools.
It is not Cromwell s way to snap at the stick, but at the
cowardly hands that hold it."

" If he can reach them," muttered Matilda.

" Then, Sir Thomas, we have united Scotland to the
Commonwealth. Kingship is abolished there ; vassalage
and slavish feudal institutions are swept away ; heritors
are freed from military service. Oh, tis a grand union for
the Scotch common people ! I say nothing of the nobles;
no reparation has been made them they don t deserve any ;
they are always invading England on one pretext or an
other. But they cannot now force the poor heritors to
throw down their spades and flails, and carry spears for
them. The men may sow their wheat and barley, and if
it will ripen in their cold, bleak country, they can bake and
brew it, and eat and drink it in peace."

" I do not believe Englishmen like this union, Doctor.
I do not it is all in favour of Scotland. They have noth
ing to give us, and yet we must share all our glory and all
our gains with them. They do not deserve it. They have
done nothing for their own freedom, and we have made
them free. They have no commerce, and we must share
ours with them. And they are a proud, masterful people ;
they will not be mere buttons on the coat-tails of our rulers.
Union, indeed ! It will be a cat and a dog union."

" I know, Sir Thomas, that Englishmen feel to Scotch
men very much as a scholar does to Latin however well
he knows it, it is not his mother tongue. What we like,
has nothing to do with the question. It is England s
labour and duty and honour to give freedom to all over
whom her Red Cross floats ; to share her strength and se-


curity with the weak and the vassal, and her wine and her
oil and her purple raiment with the poverty-stricken. Eng
land must open her hands, and drop blessings upon the de
serving and the undeserving ; yes, even where the slave
does not know he is a slave, she must make him free."

" And get kicked and reviled for it."

" To be sure the rough side of the tongue, and the
kick behind always ; but even slavish souls will find out
what freedom means, if we give them time."

"But, Doctor "

" But me no buts, Sir Thomas. Are we not great
enough to share our greatness ? I trow we are ! "

u I confess, Doctor, that in spite of what you say, my
patriotism dwells between the Thames and the Tyne."

" Patriotism ! Tis a word that gets more honour than
it deserves. Half the wars that have desolated this earth
have come from race hatreds. Patriotism has been at the
bottom of the bloodiest scenes ; every now and then it
threatens civilisation. If there were no Irish and no Scotch
and no French and no Dutch and no Spanish, we might
hope for peace. I think the time may corne when the
world will laugh at what we call our patriotism and our
fencing ourselves from the rest of mankind with fortresses
and cannon."

" That time is not yet, Doctor Verity. When the
leopard and the lamb lie down together, perhaps. But all
men are not brothers yet, and the English flag must be kept

" The day may come when there will be no flags ; or at
least only one emblem for one great Commonwealth."

"Then the Millennium will have come, Doctor," said
Sir Thomas.

" In the meantime we have Oliver Cromwell ! " laughed


Matilda, " and pray, Doctor, what state does his Highness
keep ? "

" He keeps both in Hampton Court and Whitehall a
magnificent state. That it due to his office."


" I heard but it is a preposterous scandal that the
Lady Frances is to marry King Charles the Second," said
Lady Jevery.

" A scandal indeed ! Cromwell would not listen to the
proposal. He loves his daughter too well to put her in the
power of Charles Stuart; and the negotiation was definitely
declined, on the ground of Charles Stuart s abominable

" Imagine this thing ! " cried Matilda striking her hands
together. " Imagine King Charles refused by Oliver
Cromwell s daughter ! "

" It was hard for Charles to imagine it," replied the

" I hear we have another Parliament," said Sir Thomas.

" Yes ; a hazardous matter for Cromwell," answered the
Doctor. " All electors were free to vote, who had not
borne arms against the Parliament. Most of them are
Episcopalians, who hate Cromwell ; and Presbyterians, who
hate him still worse ; and Republicans, who are sure he
wants to be a King ; and Fifth Monarchy men and Anabap
tists, who think he has fallen from grace. Ludlow, Har
rison, Rich, Carew, even Joyce once his close friends
have become his enemies since he was lifted so far above
them. And they have their revenge. Their desertion has
been a great grief to the Protector. I have been wounded
in the house of my friends, he said to me ; and he had the
saddest face that ever mortal wore. Yet, it is a great
Parliament, freely chosen, with thirty members from Scot
land, and thirty from Ireland."


" After Cromwell s experience with the Irish," said
Matilda, " I do wonder that he made them equal with

" I do wonder at it, also. John Verity would not have
done it, not he ! But the Protector treads his shoes straight
for friend or foe. He will get no thanks from the Irish
for fair dealing ; that is not enough for them ; what they
want is all for themselves, and nothing for any one else ;
and if thev got that, they would still cry for more."

At this point Matilda rose and went into an adjoining
parlour, and Cymlin followed her. Lady Jevery, reclining
in her chair, closed her eyes, and the Doctor and Sir
Thomas continued their conversation on Cromwell and on
political events with unabated spirit until Lady Jevery,
suddenly bringing herself to attention, said

" All this is very fine talk, indeed ; but if this great
Oliver has ambassadors from every country seeking his
friendship, if he has the wily Mazarin at his disposal, why
can he not find out something about that poor Lord Ne
ville r It was said when we were in Paris that Mazarin
knew every scoundrel in France, and knew also how to use
them. Let him find Neville through them. Has Colonel
Ayrton returned, or is he also missing ? "

" He returned some time ago. He discovered nothing
of importance. It is certain that Neville left the Mazarin
palace soon after noon on the seventh of last November ;
that he went directly to the house in which he had lodged,
eat his dinner, paid his bill, and gave the woman a silver
Commonwealth crown for favour. She showed the piece
to Ayrton, and said further that, soon after eating, a gentle
man called on Neville, that in her presence Neville gave
him some letters, and that after this gentleman s departure,
Neville waited very impatiently for a horse which he had


bought that morning, and which did not arrive on time ;
that when it did arrive, it was not the animal purchased,
but that after some disputing, Neville agreed to take the
exchange. The horse dealer was a gypsy, and Ayrton
spent some time in finding him, and then in watching him.
For Ayrton judged and I am sure rightly that if the
gypsy had followed and slain and robbed Neville, he could
not refrain himself from wearing the broidered belt and sap
phire ring of his victim. Besides which, your jewels would
have been given to the women of his camp. But no sign
of these things was found kerchief, or chain or purse, or
any trifle that had belonged to the unfortunate young man."

" Was there any trace of him after he left Paris ? "

" Yes. Ayrton found out that he stayed half-an-hour at
a little inn fourteen miles beyond Paris to have his horse
fed and watered. One of the women at this house de
scribed him perfectly, and added that as he waited he was
singing softly to himself, a thing so likely, and so like
Cluny, that it leaves no doubt in my mind of his identity ;
and that he was really there between gloaming and moon
shine on the eleventh of last November. Beyond that
all is blank a deaf and dumb blank."

" How far was it to the next house ? "

" Only two or three miles ; but no one there remem
bered anything that passed on that night. They said that
horsemen in plenty, and very often carriages, were used to
pass that way, but that unless they stopped for entertain
ment, no attention was paid to travelers."

" Who was the gentleman who visited Cluny and re
ceived his letters ? "

"Menzies of iMusselburg, an old friend of Neville s
mother. Ayrton went to Scotland to question him, but to
no purpose."


" Then I suppose we shall see no more of Lord Neville.
I am very sorry. He was a good youth, and he loved Jane
Swaffham very honestly. And my jewels, too, are gone,
and if it were worth while, I could be sorry for them also ;
one set was of great value and singular workmanship. But
they count for little in comparison with Neville s life and
little jane s sorrow."

A week after this evening the Jeverys were in their own
house, and Matilda had sent word to Jane SwafFham that
she wanted to see her. Why she did this, she hardly knew.
Her motives were much mixed, but the kindly ones pre
dominated. At any rate, they did so when the grave little
woman entered her presence. For she came to meet Ma
tilda with outstretched hands and her old sweet smile, and
she expressed all her usual interest in whatever concerned
Matilda. Had she met her weeping and complaining, Ma
tilda felt she would almost have hated her. But there was
nothing about Jane suggestive of the great sorrow through
which she was passing. Her eyes alone told of her soul s
travail ; the lids drooped, and there was that dark shadow
in them, which only comes through the incubation of some
long, anxious grief in the heart. But her smile was as
ready and sweet, her manner as sympathetic, her dress as
carefully neat and appropriate as it had always been.

Matilda fell readily under the charm of such a kind and
self-effacing personality. She opened her heart on various
subjects to Jane, more especially on Anthony Lynn s dra
matic life and death, and the money and land he had left
her. "Of course," she said, "it is only temporary.
When the King comes home, Stephen will be Earl de
Wick, and I shall willingly resign all to him. In the mean
time I intend to carry out Anthony s plans for the improve
ment of the estate ; and for this end, I shall have to live a


great deal at de Wick. Lynn often said to me, Some one
must own the land, and the person who owns it ought to
live on it.

When this subject had been talked well over, Jane named
cautiously the lover in France. Much to her surprise, Ma
tilda seemed pleased to enlarge on the topic. She spoke
herself of Prince Rupert, and of the poverty and suffering
Charles Court were enduring, and she regretted with many
strong expressions Rupert s presence there. " All he makes
is swallowed up in the bottomless Stuart pit," she said ; " even
my youth and beauty have gone the same hopeless road."

" Not your beauty, Matilda. I never saw you look love
lier than you do to-day."

" That I credit to Cymlin," she answered. " He would
not let me mope you know how masterful he is " and
Matilda laughed and put her hands over her ears ; " he
made me go riding and walking, made me plant and gather,
made me fish and hawk, made me sing and play and read
aloud to him. And I have taught him a galliard and a
minuet, and we have had a very happy summer on the
whole. Happiness breeds beauty."

" Poor Cymlin ! "

" There is no need to say poor Cymlin, Jane Swaff-
ham. I am not going to abuse poor Cymlin. He is to be
my neighbour, and I hope my catechism has taught me
what my duty to my neighbour is. Is it true that Will and
Tonbert have thrown their lives and fortunes into the
Massachusetts Colony ? "

" Yes," answered Jane ; " and if my parents were will
ing, I would like to join them. The letters they send make
you dream of Paradise. They have bought a dukedom of
land, father says, hills and valleys and streams, and the
great sea running up to their garden wall."


" Garden ? "

"Yes, they have begun to build and to plant. There is
no whisper of their return, for they are as content as if they
had found the Fortunate Islands. Father is much im
pressed with their experience, and I can see he ponders it
like one who might perhaps share it. I am sure he would
leave England, if the Protector died."

" Or the King came back ? "

" Yes. He would never live under a Stuart."

" The poor luckless Stuarts ! They are all luckless,
Jane. I have felt it. I have drunk of their cup of disap
pointments, and really the happiest time of my life has
been the past summer, when I put them out of my mem
ory king and prince, and all that followed them. Had it
not been for your kind note of warning, Stephen also had
been a sacrifice to their evil fate. It has to be propitiated
with a life now and then, just like some old dragon or devil."

" There was a queer story about Stephen robbing the
mail, and tearing up the three warrants for the arrest of
Elythe and Mason and himself," said Jane.

" Did you believe that, Jane ? "

" The mail was robbed. The warrants were never
found. Stephen has a daredevil temper at times. I think,
too, he would risk much to save his friends. When did
you hear from him ? "

" I hear very often now, Jane, for it is the old, old story
money, money, money. The King is hungry and thirsty;
he has no clothes ; he cannot pay his washing bill ; he has
no shoes to go out in, and his dear brother, King Louis
of France, is quite oblivious. In fact he has made, or is
going to make, an alliance with Cromwell; and the Stuarts,
bag and baggage, are to leave French territory. But for
all that, I am not going to strip de Wick a second time for

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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe lion's whelp; a story of Cromwell's time → online text (page 21 of 27)