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Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr.

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

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drew his hand across his eyes and added, " He ll have
company, Jabez, a great bodyguard of ministering angels ;
and sure a soul needs them most of all between here and
there. Evil ones no doubt, to be watched and warded,
but the Guard sent is always sufficient."

Israel sat near the men, and heard something of what
they said, but he was too inert with grief and weariness to
answer them. Presently, however, Doctor Verity joined
him. They said a few words about the storm, their words
being emphasised by the falling and crashing of trees out
side the windows, and by thunder and lightning and driven
torrents of rain ; and then Doctor Verity said in a low
voice, " He knows nothing of this he is still as death ; he
barely breathes ; he is unconscious ; where is be, Israel ? "

"Not quite gone not quite here Is he watching

the battle of elements in the middle darkness ? " Then he



OLIVER THE CONQUEROR 381

told the Doctor what Abel and Jabez had said, and for some
minutes only the pealing thunder and the howling winds
made answer. But John Verity was thinking, and as soon
as there was a moment s lull in the uproar, he said,
" Oliver is no stranger to the Immortals, Israel. They
have heard of his fame. In their way, they have seen and
helped him already. Oliver has fought the devil all his
life long. While his body lies yonder, without sense or
motion, where is his spirit ? Is it now having its last fight
with its great enemy ? Israel, I was thinking of what
Isaiah says, about hell being moved to meet Lucifer at
his coming."

" I remember."

" May not heaven also be moved to meet a good man ?
May not the chief ones of the earth arise, each from his
throne, to welcome a royal brother, and narrowly to con
sider him, and ask of the attending angels, Is this he who
moved nations, and set free his fellows, and brought forth
for his Master one hundredfold ?

" Yet how he has been reviled ; and what is to come
will be worse."

" He has already forgiven it. I heard him praying ere
he went somewhere that God would pardon such as de
sire to trample upon the dust of a poor worm, for they are
Thy people too; and then he added, just as a little child
might, and give us a good-night. And somehow, Israel, I
do think he is having a good-night. I do surely think so."

" But oh, John, John Verity, all this great life is to be a
failure. All our travail and toil and suffering to be a
failure ! "

" No, indeed ! There is no failure. No, no, nothing
of the kind ! We have ushered in a new era of Freedom.
We have made a breakwater against tyranny. Kings will



382 THE LION S WHELP

remember forevermore that they have a joint in their necks.
Oliver has done, to the last tittle, the work he was sent to
do. It is Oliver the Conqueror ! not Oliver the Failure.
But I could weep my eyes out for the cruelties his tender
heart has had to bear. There are some men I could wish
a tenfold retribution to, and I think they will get it. Bax
ter has whined and whined against Cromwell, but he will
have plenty of opportunities yet to wish Cromwell back.
And there is Vane ! he will not find Charles Stuart as for
bearing to his fine mystical unreasonableness as Cromwell
has been ; he may lay his head on the block before long.
As for Lambert and Fairfax and the rest, the subtle Monk
will be too much for them. Let them alone, their sins will
find them out ; and we will sail westward in good hope.
Remember, Israel, it is not incumbent on us to finish the
work; we can leave it in God s hands. And though we have
to leave it behind us incomplete, God will use it some way
and somewhere, and the news will find us, even in heaven,
and sweeten our happy labours there. I believe this, I do
with all my soul."

On Thursday night, the second of September, being the
ninth day of his hard fight, he bade his wife and children " a
good-bye " ; but into this sacred scene not even the ten-
derest imagination may intrude. Afterward he appeared to
withdraw himself entirely within the shadow of the Al
mighty, waiting the signal for his release in a peaceful, even
a happy, mood, and saying in a more and more laboured
voice, " Truly God is good indeed He is He will not
leave. My work is done but God will be with His peo
ple." Some one offered him a drink to ease his restless
ness and give him sleep, but he refused it. " It is not my
design to drink or to sleep," he said ; " my design is to
make what haste I can to be gone." The last extremity



OLIVER THE CONQUEROR 383

indeed ! hut one full of that longing desire of the great
Apostle "to depart and be with Christ, which is far better."

The next morning, the third of September, his Fortunate
Day, " the day of Dunbar Field and Worcester s laureate
wreath," he became speechless as the sun rose, and so he
lay quiet until between three and four in the afternoon,
when he was heard to give a deep sigh. The physician in
attendance said softly, " He is gone /" And some knelt to
pray, and all wept, but unmindful of his tears, Israel Swaff-
ham cried in a tone of triumph

" Thou good Soldier of God, Farewell ! Thou hast
fought a good fight, thou hast kept the faith, and there is
laid up for thee a crown greater than England s crown, a
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,
shall ojve thee."

O

But Doctor Verity went slowly to the beloved Dead ; he
put tenderly back his long gray hair, damp with the dew of
death, and closed the eyelids over his darkened eyes, and
kissed him on his brow, and on his lips ; and as he turned
sorrowfully away forever, whispered only two words :

" Vale Cromwell ! "



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