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what hour she is to come?"

"If they know so much, they perhaps know even all."

"Then we must hasten the hour by two, and 'twill incur no disadvantage
save to bring the maid to a greater discretion and show of wit; for
'twill be harder for her to escape at nine than eleven."

"Methinks 'twill be a greater task to warn the maid of the setting
forth of the hour." Adrian looked up hopefully; for he was of no
mind to meet his wife upon the threshold of a battle, and two hours
earlier, 'twould be time and to spare, and he spoke out bravely, -

"I'll see to the message," and he was guilty of a low-bred wink at
Dempsy.

"Then 'twill serve to set aside this matter for the next," and La
Fosse looking at Cantemir and speaking softly and deferentially bade
him leave them for the present.

Adrian left the room by the door he had entered it, and passing
through a hall reentered the chamber that had been assigned him.

The Russian, though a coward, was wary at times and allowed it to
carry him into danger, and as an example he changed his riding garb
for his cavalier costume, discarding his spurred boots for high-heeled
slippers and deigning not to don coat or waistcoat started forth in
search of - he must think what? He was without servant, as 'twas safer
to leave him at the Cow and Horn; - especially one who has corners on
his conscience. He must search for - the kitchen. This place was below
stairs, and he stole this way and that to find a flight of steps.
Treading softly, listening intently and looking ravenously for
opportunity to plunder, for there was treasure somewhere about the
monastery, this was certain, and he might as well have part of it as
Buckingham and Monmouth to have it all. And in case of any mischance
and Mistress Penwick be lost to him, he must have something to live
upon. Constance would never forgive him for allowing the maid to
escape him, and consequently would not give him large loans as
heretofore. But if he should gain the fair prize, some day he would
give back to his church even more than he had taken. As he thus
thought, he forgot for a moment his present surroundings and was
suddenly reminded by a touch on the shoulder,




CHAPTER XIII

AS NINE TOLLED FROM THE CHAPEL BELFRY


He started quickly and looked up shuddering, and saw a tall, slender
monk with cowl so drawn not a feature could be seen. The Abbé spoke
low and hoarsely, as though a cold prevented better utterance, -

"What seekest thou?"

"The kitchen," Cantemir answered, with a great show of bravery.

"And what there to find, my young man?"

"Pen and paper. I must write to Mistress Penwick."

"Ah yes, ah yes, my son. I had forgotten. Curve thy sentences to the
point, without being so broad in assertion another might understand.
Thou hadst better put it this way - "

"Indeed I thought I had my meaning well covered. I had proposed to
say - "

"Ah, we are not alone; step this way." The monk turned to a panelling
that gave way by a touch, and to Cantemir's surprise they were alone
in a dark and vaulted passage; indeed they were unable to discern
aught. Quickly the Abbé drew his companion from the panelling through
which they had passed; and 'twas hardly done when three monks followed
with lighted candles. The foremost was Constantine, carrying an
enormous bunch of keys. Their long robes swept Cantemir's feet. He
drew a quick breath, and before it sounded his companion placed his
hand over his mouth. Now this hand smacked not of holy mould or
monastic incense, but rather of rare perfume; but Cantemir was
frightened and did not notice the worldliness of the admonishing hand.
The monks proceeded down the passage; stopping near the centre they
lifted from the floor a trapdoor. A ladder was brought and swung down
the opening and the three descended.

"Now, my son, thou hadst better write thy billet, and if thou dost not
find one to carry it, I will be along directly and do the service for
thee. I must visit the village and the tree, my son. Now I'll give
thee a bit of advice. Never again go about looking for anything where
'tis supposed there is treasure. If it had not been for my timely
interruption, my brothers there would have found thee and not
so easily forgiven thy inclination for discovery. Go, go in
peace - remember always, that discretion is the wit of safety."

Cantemir was frightened, and glad to get away, for he feared the
Abbé's smooth tones masqued treachery, and he slid through the
panelling and in very earnest sought the kitchen.

The deceitful monk hastened toward the open trap and kneeling gazed
for a moment below. There came up a foul odour that made him flinch
and draw back; he drew his handkerchief and placed it to his nose and
leant again and looked. There was a faint glimmer that showed in which
direction the lights were. He lay flat and putting his head beneath
the opening, saw the priests leaning over a chest. Quickly he prepared
to descend and was upon the second rung of the ladder, when the
panelling again opened and a half-dozen faces looked through; anger
and indignation upon all but one, and that was the Russian's, which
bore joy of a discovery. He had gone to the refectory with good intent
to write his letter; but finding a small company of monks gathered
there and they appearing much perturbed, he asked the cause. One
said there was a strange Abbé in the monastery, whose hands were as
bejewelled as any fop's, and that a number had gone in search of him.
The false monk's hand had betrayed him, as 'twas seen from a window as
he uncovered it to open the door. Now Cantemir thought it a good, safe
moment to become a hero and straightway told of his encounter; saying
he was in search of the refectory and had lost his way; making a
plausible story. He was carried forth with the party in search and
now came toward the opening in the passage with drawn sword, his face
wearing the masque of bravery.

The man upon the ladder was the same that had listened to the "Kyrie
eleison" from without, and before it concluded had made his way
inside: the Duke of Buckingham.

He jumped like a cat under cover of his pursuer's noisy entrance and
slipped away from the opening. Quickly he drew from him the robe and
cowl and flung them down upon the ladder and drawing his sword stood
waiting and almost eager for a fight. He did not forget, however,
that there is often a practiced and keen thrust from the folds of a
priest's habit. But they were confident the false Abbé was beneath,
and with less noise and more subtleness moved toward the opening. As
they did so, his Grace swung round and cautiously approached the wall
where the panelling was. "Aye, aye," he heard, as the foremost man
found the robe. Straightway they all rushed below stair, and as
the head of the last man disappeared, his Grace went through the
panelling, and within five minutes stood safe in the forest, happy
with the knowledge he had gained.

It was near the hour of five when Lady Constance rode forth alone. She
left the courtyard unnoticed and hurried to the village and through it
and on beyond toward the tree and passed it and galloped some distance
beyond, then seeing she was not followed made a quick turn and
retraced, But there came from a bend in the road a horseman that rode
warily. She again turned to see if any came, and seeing no one stopped
at the tree and brought from its cavity a letter. As she replaced the
knot, there was such a sudden sound of horses' feet behind her she
dropped the billet and her unknown squire leapt from his horse to
recover it, and stood uncovered before her with such a long, low bow
of homage he had most time to read the missive. Lady Constance was
flattered and felt surely that one with such courtly dress and bearing
could be nothing less than a Duke and his wearing of a full masque
made her doubly sure of it. She flushed and reached out her hand for
the letter and spoke in her most seductive tones, -

"My lord," - he looked up and saw on her pretty, though characterless
face a smile that warranted a further acquaintance. He placed the
letter in her hand slowly, then caught her hand and held it firmly;
indeed their hands touched and lingered together with such intention
it conveyed much more meaning than words. Constance had all the
outward show of a great lady, but at soul she was putrescent. There
came such a heartrending sigh from her cavalier she spoke in a most
tender tone, -

"And why such sighing?"

"Is it not enough, sweet lady?"

"I am at a loss?"

"Nay, rather 'tis I that am at loss; for I had sought to gain thy
favour undivided, and I meet with thee only to give into thy hands a
trysting billet that lifts thy glorious orbs above me." He bowed low
in mock humility. Constance' heart fluttered at his ardent words.

"I would fain know who thus sues for a woman's love; 'tis possible - "
He lowered his masque. "Ah, his Grace of Monmouth!" She well-nigh
prostrated herself upon the saddle, in lieu of the fine courtesy
she would have swept had her position been more favourable. His
words - such gloriously sweet words when uttered by the lips of a
Duke - fed her vanity. Her face flushed as she thought of what his
love must be. He saw his vantage and drew nearer - it may be a hair's
breadth over the line of respect - indeed 'twould have been an
innovation had he not done so, as the time warranted nothing else but
a show at virtue.

"Your Grace finds a maid that is heart whole; but I would aid others
to their desire. I but act as post-boy 'twixt tree and castle."

"Thou art cold and cruel. I can see well thou dost hold tightly to thy
bosom thy billet; thou art afraid 'twill betray thee. Thou art the
maid herself that doth own it?" Constance had a burning curiosity to
know why Monmouth was in the neighbourhood of Crandlemar, and though
he insinuated he had come purposely to see her, yet she was not blind
and wondered what diplomacy she could use to gain from him the desired
knowledge. Could it be possible he had come on behalf of the King,
and if so, for what business? The Catholics surely had not been so
indiscreet as to allow their affairs to reach the King's ears? And if
so, why should he send to them? It was not at all likely any one knew
of the monastery so hidden away in a dense forest. Could it be that
the beauty of Mistress Penwick had become notorious at Whitehall and
that the Duke was hunting for her? These thoughts passed speedily
through her brain, while the ogling Monmouth waited for her answer to
his accusation. She spoke with a shy little twist of her head, vainly
trying to blush like little innocence.

"How can I hold out against thee, Duke? Thou dost steal my secret;
here, then, read it for thyself." With a lightening glance he finished
reading what he had begun before.

"I was right, sweet Katherine; 'tis a trysting letter, and thou art
to go to him to-night at nine? Thou shalt not; I'll have thee for
myself." Now they had made a great mistake. Constance thought to
convince the Duke she had no lover. He misunderstood and believed
her to be the Katherine he had come after. She, thinking to gain his
secret, allowed him to think so, and quickly took up her new part.

"Thou dost embarrass me, Duke!"

"In very truth," said he, "we have heard of thy great beauty at
Whitehall, and have come hither to claim thee for ourselves. Thou
shalt be my very own, sweet Katherine. The King was about to send
forth to Crandlemar to enquire of his Grace of Ellswold. We asked for
the service, that we might gain sight of thy rare beauty. We are about
to pay our respects to the Duke who lies yonder, and at the King's
order bring him important news. We have heard, however, his condition
is most critical, and we cannot see him until high noon to-morrow, as
the midday finds him stronger. And I must see thee, sweet one, again
before the night is over. I cannot wait for the morrow's noon." He
caught her hand and pressed his lips to it, resting himself against
the horse, his arm thrown carelessly across Constance' knee. She
deemed it an honour to be in such close proximity to the royal Duke,
and grew red with his amorous glances and soft-spoken words and the
familiarity of his arm upon her.

"Indeed, it doth seem to me also like a very long time to wait," and
she sighed heavily. At this Monmouth drew her down and kissed her upon
her thin, arrogant lips. She, well-nigh beside herself, exclaimed in a
thin, high voice, -

"Ah, ah, Duke, thou dost kill me - I must hasten away from thee. I must
go." She spurred her horse; but the Duke caught the rein and held it
fast.

"Nay, nay, thou shalt not yet be gone. Wouldst thou be so cruel to
leave me now at Love's first onset? I will not have it!"

"But I must hasten, - I am riding alone, and some one will be sent for
me if I do not soon return to the castle."

"Thou must give me promise first, sweet one!"

"Promise, - promise of what?" and she listened eagerly to his next
words.

"Dost thou not covet a Prince's favour?" Constance' heart fluttered
mightily, and she thought - "A fig for Cedric's love of me. He loves
not at all, compared with this man's warm passion. Cedric loves me not
at all, anyway. I will be a Prince's favourite," and she answered, -

"I never covet that which is beyond my reach." 'Tis often a true thing
that when we sit within our dark and dismal chamber without comfort,
hope or happy retrospection, there stands upon the threshold a joyous
phenomenon of which we have never so much as dreamt as being in
existence; and this had come to Constance. If the Duke loved her, what
would it matter if Cedric did love Katherine? She could not compel him
to love her.

"Ah, sweet Katherine, how can one covet that they already possess? I
would teach thee to enjoy all that such beauty as thine is heir to.
Thou wilt come to me to-night?"

"To-night!" and Lady Constance fairly gasped.

"To-night, fair one, on the stroke of nine thou wilt pass through the
postern door of the castle and fall into my arms, - here, take this,
sweet, to pledge thyself." He slipped from his finger a ring of
marvellous beauty and essayed to place it upon her hand.

"Nay, I cannot. I should be seen to go forth at so early an hour, - and
I know thee not!"

"Thou art not afraid of me? Nay, I am one of the most gentle and
tender - "

"But where wilt thou take me, your Grace?"

"I will take thee to my heart, and if thou art unhappy, thou mayest
return when thou desirest; but 'twill be my pleasure to keep thee with
me alway; we will go to London." Constance, having read the letter,
knew it would not do for her to leave the drawing-room at the same
hour with Katherine, and she hardly knew what to do.

"Indeed, I have no wish to see a duel upon my Lord Cedric's grounds,
thou must come later. My love will perhaps wait an hour, - thou mayest
come at twelve."

"And allow him to come first and steal thee; nay, I protest."
Constance felt somewhat dubious. The Duke saw it, and hastened to
reassure her.

"If thou wilt sit near the window on the stroke of nine, I will let
thy lover go; but if thou dost pass from my sight, I will run the
fellow through; and thou mayest come to me at twelve!"

To this Constance agreed, and allowed him to place the ring; and he
kissing her again with fervour, let her go, exultant.

'Twas a glorious, clear, warm night. The castle was aglow and merry.
Lady Bettie Payne and Sir Rodger Mac Veigh and Sir Jasper Kenworthy
and sundry other shire folk had come to while away a spring night. The
gentlemen were playing at cup and ball; Lady Constance and Lady Bettie
were gossiping of Court scandal, when in swept her Grace of Ellswold
with Mistress Penwick, the latter such a vision of loveliness the game
was suspended for a moment, and Constance and Bettie looked up to see
why all eyes were turned from them.

The maid wore a pale-hued brocade gown of sweeping length of skirt,
and short, round bodice and low-neck and long sleeves that tightly
encased her plump, pink arms. Her mother's pearls lay glistening about
her slender neck, and falling low was caught again by some caprice
of mode high where met sleeve and waist, and here a rare bunch of
fragrant violets shone bravely as a shoulder knot.

Lord Cedric saw her first, and was well-nigh drunk with her beauty,
and he advanced and bent low, kissing her hand that trembled in his
own. He raised his eyes to hers, she looking fairly at him with a
ready smile.

"Kate, Kate - " Such a flood of emotion came upon him he was bereft of
speech. She looked at him surprised, and wondered if he knew aught.
Could it be that Sir Julian had found out anything and had spoken to
Cedric? She was sure she had kept this last secret safe from all save
Constance, and had not been with Sir Julian for a whole day, fearing
he would find out by looking at her. Nay, he knew nothing, - beside, if
he did, he would shield her from Cedric's anger by keeping so great
a secret. And yet it almost seemed as if the young lord knew of her
desperate act; 'twas written on his face, she saw the pain upon it;
and yet, how could it be? These thoughts flashed through Katherine's
brain, and she tried to move from him, but an inscrutable presence
held her, and she felt she must not leave him, perhaps forever, with
that face so full of pain, and she spoke out a word she had never
used before and one which touched his Lordship as nothing else could,
'twas:

"Cedric." He caught his breath with sheer excess of joy, and bent
again and whispered, -

"What, Kate; what is it?" 'Twas enough, she laughed quietly and turned
to Sir Julian, who had come to her side. Lady Constance was not long
in finding an opportunity to speak alone with her.

"Oh, sweet," she said. "I haven't had a chance to talk with thee of my
adventure," and she drew the maid aside and began volubly to speak
of her encounter of the early morning. "He was most certainly of the
Court. I cannot possibly mistake his manner. Indeed, I am certain
he is a noble lord, and no doubt is here to bear Cantemir
escort - perhaps - " and she leant close to Katherine - "it might be the
King himself, who knows?" Her listener flushed and thought -

"Was it possible she was to receive such honour, and why not?" She had
heard from Constance and Cantemir himself that his house was a very
wealthy and important one in Russia and that the English royalty and
nobles made much of him. She, with her poor knowledge of the world,
thought Constance spoke truth.

"I'll tell thee why I thought he was the King. He was the form, grace
and elegance of his Royal Highness and kept his masque securely tied.
I'm sure it was he. And this evening, - ah, ah, how can I ever tell
thee, Katherine, the honour I felt! Indeed we do not know how
important Adrian is until we see those with whom he consorts. To-night
I met - who dost guess it was, Katherine?"

"Nay, I could never guess, for I know not whom Adrian's friends are;
but if thy friend of the morning was the King, 'tis certain the
setting sun brings thee one less titled."

"'Tis so, but one who may be a King. Thou wilt never tell, Katherine?"

"Nay, never."

"'Twas the King's son, his Grace the Duke of Monmouth."

"Ah, ah, a Prince! Thou art indeed favoured. And how came it about? I
am very curious." Lady Constance related part of her interview with
the Duke, embellished and with many deviations -

"He said they were to be at the monastery as witnesses and intimated
that the King had heard of thy wonderful beauty and grew so impatient
to see thee he must either come himself or send some one he could
trust. Monmouth said thy request was already granted in the King's
mind, and he only waited to see thee to give it utterance. Thou dost
know what a good Catholic he is, and hearing they were to send thee to
ask certain things of his clemency, he has sent the Duke with other
special guard to render speed and safety to thy journey to Whitehall,
where great honour will be shown Adrian's fair bride." Constance so
entered into the very soul of her lies, she half believed them as she
gave them utterance.

The young maid was well-nigh beside herself with pleasure at the
honours that were to attend her, and she gave up all idea of a
backward step. And when Constance proclaimed she was to accompany her,
her heart leapt up with joy. She gave no place to doubt now, 'twas an
unknown quantity, and her voice trembled as she said - "It makes me
perfectly content, if thou art to accompany me. Thou wilt go with
me to the monastery, Constance?" For once her ladyship answered
truthfully, but she did not know it:

"Nay, I am to join thee some time after twelve; I know not just when
or where; but we are to be together. I owe this especial favour to the
Duke. I am so glad thou art espoused, or will be in a short while, or
I should be insanely jealous. Look, Katherine!" and Constance under
cover of her handkerchief showed the ring.

"Isn't it beautiful?" said Katherine.

Mistress Penwick, like many another of her beauty and age, was
inclined to be of ill-spirit when another of her sex seemed to be in
favour; and at Constance' sudden acquaintance with the King's son,
and able to wear his ring, she was piqued, and almost wished it was
herself instead; for in such intimacy there could be nothing else but
a very near and exalted position at Court. The poor child - innocent
of all evil seeing naught in the gaining of Royal favour but the
achievement of all that was high, holy, beautiful and perfect - now
for a brief moment scorned her own poor estate and fell to envying
Constance, and was of a notion not to go at all to the monastery; - but
if she didn't, then her religion would suffer; for who could go to the
King in her place? She knew she was beautiful, and knew its influence,
and was sure the King would not refuse her. Now if Lord Cedric had not
forbidden her going to the monastery for confession, she could have
known what they wished and gone openly with Lady Constance or Sir
Julian, or perhaps just with Janet to his Majesty and gained his
favour and at once have become a Lady of Honour. But no, 'twas not
thus, and things were as they were, and she could not change them or
retrace.

She would not engage in any game, but played upon the harpsichord and
sung some of her sweetest songs; Lord Cedric ever coming to her side
to turn her music or offer some little service. He was aflame with
hope, for had she not called him "Cedric"?

How dear it sounded; if he might only hear her say it again. He came
to her side and whispered, -

"'Twas sweet of thee to call me Cedric!" - His hand for a moment rested
upon the violets at her shoulder, - "Kate, why didst thou not wear the
opal shoulder-knot instead of these violets?"

"Because - I value it more than aught else, and I would not wear it on
all occasions, for 'twas thy mother's choicest brooch."

"Indeed, I love it, also, Kate, for the same reason; but I would
rather see thee wear it, for I love thee, Kate, thee, thee, thee." His
voice was like a sob stirring her to a pity that made her sick and
weak, and she turned from him hastily and began singing softly, -

"When love with unconfined wings hovers within my gates;
And my divine Althea brings to whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair and fetter'd to her eye;
The gods that wanton in the air, know no such liberty.

"'Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take that for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love, and in my soul am free;
Angels alone that soar above enjoy such liberty!'"

"Thou dost sing the words of the beautiful and amiable Richard
Lovelace; I have heard my father speak of him with great affection.
The lines to Althea - his sweetheart - were written in prison. She
thought him dead and married some one else. He loved her more than
life, - dost believe in such love, Kate?"

"Aye, why not? - Ah, Sir Julian, hast finished, - who was victor?"

"I am modest, my Lady."

"But never too modest to hold thine own." As she spoke thus to Sir
Julian, the sands of the hour-glass ran out and nine tolled from the
Chapel belfry. Before the bell had ceased, Constance had drawn Cedric
and Julian into a game of cards, she placing herself opposite the
window, and Katherine had stepped into an adjoining passage, and
taking up her camelot cloak, with flying feet and beating heart
hastened to the postern-door and slipped bolts and bars and stood
without in the calm, warm night.




CHAPTER XIV

SERMONS NEW AND OLD


"The reign of Charles the Second seemed to be impregnated with a free


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