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to be walking aimlessly upon the opposite side of the way, but at her
bidding moved with alacrity. When the guard saw her intention, he
begged her to consider the Duke's wish that she should communicate
with no one.

"I was not aware, sir, that I am held as prisoner. I'm quite sure his
Grace was only kindly intentioned for my safety; - and as for further
vigilance, 'tis beyond his power to use it." The three now stood at
the gate. The monk looking intently at the guard, said, -

"Where hath flown thy religion, Eustis?"

"'Tis a poor religion that hath not the grace to offer its adherents
an honest living."

"Ah! then thy faith is hinged upon the _largesse_ of the damned.
There! - take for the nonce thy meed in honest coin." The Abbé gave him
a piece of gold and passed within the gate. The sun now dropped from
sight, leaving the villa terraces in sombreness, and brought into
prominence glow worm and firefly and the sheen of Mistress Penwick's
frock.

"I have watched for thee ever since thou arrived, hoping to catch
thine eye. - Hast guarded the billet to the King, my child?"

"Here it is." She took from her bosom the letter. The keen eyes of the
Abbé saw the seal was intact and quickly put out his hand deprecating
what her act implied.

"'Twas not that, my child; 'twas the fear that thou hadst been robbed,
as we have. We trust thee with all our hearts," and she read not
hypocrisy in the feint of benignancy.

"Thou hast been deceived into thinking that the Duke of Monmouth or
Buckingham will arrange a meeting between thee and the King. The
former Duke is evil-intentioned toward thee."

"Ah, my Father; thou dost sorely grieve me! If thou didst not say it,
'twould be hard to believe; for surely he has been most kind to me."

"But 'tis true, nevertheless. He is now with the King and fretting for
being so detained from thee. He means to offer thee the protection of
his favour; which means thou art to become an inmate of his seraglio.
Dost understand me, my child?"

"Ah! - I understand," and Mistress Penwick looked up into the face that
the darkness veiled.

"And I have heard that the King is sometimes poorly intentioned" The
monk coughed behind his hand and moved uneasily, - "'Tis said of him,
as other like things are reported; but 'tis false. He is a good
Catholic at heart, and he will offer thee no insult, else we would
not allow thee to approach him. Our first thought is to get thee from
Monmouth's hold and place thee in safety elsewhere. The noble Lady
Constance is helping us and hopes that by to-night to have arranged
certain matters, so with our aid thou mayest be able to see his
Majesty very soon. One of the Brotherhood will accompany thee to his
presence or meet thee there; for we are anxious of the issue. Thou
wilt - " The conversation was interrupted by the sound of wheels. The
guard came running to them, crying half aloud, -

"Methinks some one of importance is about to arrive, as there is a
coach and outriders and a score of mounted escort. If thou, Father,
art found here, I'm doomed. I prithee hide thyself; - and my lady's
gown can be seen for a league. Hide here, behind this bunch of iris,
'til the cavalcade hath passed."

It was in truth the young Duke of Monmouth, who was hurrying with the
impatience of young, warm blood to his mistress. For all Katherine was
indignant with him for having such wicked intentions toward her, yet
she was moved by the fact that he was a Prince, the son of the King;
and susceptible as are all womankind to masculine beauty, she hardly
could withhold her admiration. She did not fear him, on the contrary
she wished to play with firebrands and see how he would appear in her
eyes, now that she understood him. On a sudden she wished to see him
more than any one else in the world, Lord Cedric excepted; and in her
adventurous heart vowed to torment and give him pangs to remember her
by. Her pride was wrought upon. That any one should presume to love
her without thought of espousal! and Janet's words came back to her
with great force, making her see her error in accompanying the Duke.

There were a few hasty words spoken by the monk as he left her, and
passed through the postern-gate, where none save Eustis saw his tall
form. Katherine took her time, as she crossed the lawn to her former
seat, stopping here and there to gather a nosegay; exulting all the
time at his Grace's discomfort when he found her not within doors.
Suddenly she thought of Christopher and of what might happen to the
servants if the Duke undertook to vent his displeasure upon them. At
the thought, she leant forward, straining her ear for any signs of
violence; but she only heard Janet say, -

"My eyes have not been off her, your Grace. I'm just taking her a
wrap."

"Give it to me," the Duke said in a voice surprisingly calm and
gentle. It piqued Katherine. It was disappointing not to hear a
fierce voice like Cedric's was wont to be. She saw the Duke's form
silhouetted by a bush of white blossom and heard from his lips a
quaint love ditty. It so set her very susceptible heart to fluttering
she knew not whether to be glad or sorry that he was there. She was
weaving a garland in a peculiar manner learned at the convent. The
finished strands she placed under the bench upon which she sat,
pretending the while neither to see nor hear his Grace as he walked
about from bush to bush, singing softly. But he soon caught the
glimmer of her dress, and he came bounding toward her.

"Pray what does Mistress Penwick out alone on so dark a night?"

"Ah!" - she started in feigned alarm, dropping her flowers and rising
hurriedly - "'tis your Grace of Buckingham. I admit I was startled."
She made a sweeping courtesy.

"We who love never forget its voice, Mistress. I believed that thou
wouldst never be able to find it in Buckingham's tones; for if 'twas
there, thou only could note its tenderness." He so ignored her
feint - and she knew he understood that she knew not whether to keep up
her hypocrisy or recant.

"Didst see the King, your Grace, upon my affair?" He stooped to
recover the flowers she had dropped. She hindered him, fearing lest he
should see her schoolgirl play beneath the bench.

"Ah! ah! what hast thou hid there?" She exulted.

"Nothing, your Grace, only - the flowers are not worth the exertion."

"Aye, they are worth the bended knee of a thousand, when dropped from
such fair hands," and he again essayed to reach them; but she stood
between, and holding her hand out to him, said, -

"Nay. I pray thee come. I am going to the villa. 'Tis growing damp."
She timidly made as if to go. He on the instant drew his sword and
lunged beneath the bench and drew out upon its point the maid's
flowers. He laughed at his disappointment, for he was certain some one
was beneath. She felt ashamed of her childish pastime and hastened
within doors. He followed, carrying the interwoven hearts upon the
point of his sword. He held them high for inspection as he entered the
lighted room, and was transported with delight when he saw the design,
and complimented her upon its significance.

"Thou dost seem to know that two hearts are to be entwined, at any
rate! Even if a voice full of passion doth corrupt thine ears to
hearing tones that are vibrantless of love." He broke into a
great laugh and looked upon Katherine's blushing face with tender
admiration. "Come, Mistress, I have played thee very uncavalierly,
inasmuch as I have not answered thy question. Sit with me and sup.
There - his Majesty is indisposed. He will not be able to see thee for
at least a week. Then I am to bring the most beautiful woman in the
world to Court."

"I am very sorry; my business is imperative - "

"Imperative! - imperative! that such words should fall from cherry lips
that will become irresistible should they turn to pouting; - so take
heed and tempt me not." He had already swallowed several glasses of
wine and was fast becoming audacious.

Janet stood behind Mistress Penwick's chair; her face appearing
immutable. The Duke bade the maid drink her wine. She touched her lips
to the glass and set down the cup. He swept it passionately to his
own. Katherine's boldness was fast declining. She began to wish that
something would happen to take the Duke's attention from her. Even
Constance' presence would be a relief. If she were only in the garden
again - free - she would fly to some place of safety.

He lowered his voice into a passionate whisper and leant over,
catching her hand as she would withdraw it. He began to draw her
toward him. Her fear was evident, for Monmouth, drunk as he was, saw
it, and fell to coaxing. His voice, not yet maudlin, was sweet and
impassioned.

"Thou were not afraid when that Russian knave claimed thee and was
about to carry thee off, and now thou hast the King's son to guard and
love thee - love - dost hear it, my Precious? And I came to claim thee
this night, to tell thee all I know, to make the little Convent Maid
wise." He threw his arm about her, almost drawing her from the chair.
Katherine was white and trembling, knowing not which way to turn.

"Indeed, sir, I know not thy meaning."

"My meaning? Dost not thou know what love is? Of course thou dost
not - if thou didst, it might be I should not care to be thy tutor.
Come, I will teach thee this night - now, my Pretty, - now. Come, come
with me." He arose and essayed to draw her toward the door that led
to an inner chamber. Katherine was well nigh to swooning, and perhaps
would have, had not there fell upon her ear the sound of some one
entering the house. "Ah, heaven!" she thought, "if it were only Father
La Fosse or Sir Julian or even - ah!" She did hear Constance' voice.
"Aye, even Constance could think of some way for her to escape." She
knew Janet was behind her chair, but she might have lost her usual wit
and have become incapable of helping at the very moment she was most
needed. Monmouth drank another glass of wine, then withdrew from
his chair and leant over that of the maid, drawing her close in his
embrace. He was now so drunk he did not hear the door creak as Janet
and Katherine did; the former, seeing the pale, triumphant face of
Constance reflected in a mirror, as she stood half-way inside the
door. Katherine tried to disengage herself by reaching for another
glass of wine. The Duke reached it for her and would hold it to her
lips; but she, looking up at him with a feint of a smile, said in
coaxing tones, -

"I was getting it for thee; your Highness will drink it?"

"Could I refuse - there! - there! Come! - " He put his arms about her
and was carrying her forth, when Janet plucked him by the sleeve and
whispered something in his ear. He loosed for a moment her trembling
form and she began to weep. These tears made him forget Janet's words,
and he turned again to Katherine.

"There, there, my wife; thou dost break my heart at each sob. Here,
see here what I brought thee," and he placed on her arm a circlet of
rubies. "There, hush thy tears. I will not teach thee anything but how
kind I may be - there, sit thee down. I will let thee wait until thou
art accustomed to man's caresses." Monmouth's heavy drinking trended
to strengthen his good humour, else he might have resented roundly the
interruption of his love-making by the entrance of Lady Constance. He
held out his hand to her, saying, -

"Come, my lady; see my poor dear. The poor child is affrighted at my
love-making. Thou wouldst not be so frightened, Constance, - eh?"

"I am not a child, your Highness, to fall to weeping if so honourable
a gentleman as some should choose to kiss my hand." The Duke reached
to the table and pressed another cup of wine to his lips, that were
already stiffened by excess.

"Come, Sweet; give me one kiss - " and he bent over her close.

"Nay, nay, I'll not suffer thee." And Katherine drew from him with
flashing eyes.

"Come, silly child; one, just one." She fled from his reach. He sought
to catch her but was stopped by Constance who whispered something
hurriedly. The Duke turned upon Janet and frowned, then broke into a
mocking laugh, and with a sly wink at Constance, said, -

"Thou art a trickster, good nurse; thou didst play upon me foully.
Good, good nurse! Come, go quickly. Thou shalt see no more
love-making; I forbid thee; kiss thy nestling and go. I will watch
over her. Come, my sweet, come!" His Grace took the maid in his strong
arms, and though his legs threatened collapse, bore her toward the
door.

Janet saw the look of devilish menace and triumph upon Lady Constance'
face and - beyond - what did she see behind the curtain of the window
that looked upon the garden? Surely 'twas something more than the
evening breeze that stirred those hangings. 'Twas a familiar face
that looked from behind the folds; aye, of a truth, 'twas Sir Julian
Pomphrey's. When Monmouth, half carrying Katherine, reached the door
and stood some little way beyond its deep embrazure, he turned to
Janet again, saying, -

"Go, good nurse. I wait for thine exit. Come, begone!"

"I beg your Grace to forgive the lie I told and give pledge of thy
forgiveness by taking this." She handed him a brimming cup.

"Then, good nurse, I forgive thee. Here is to the maid thou dost let
go and to the woman I shall bring back." He threw back his head and
lifted the cup. As it touched his lips a handkerchief fell about his
eyes and a strong hand covered his mouth and the Duke lay helpless
upon the floor.

Janet carried the half-fainting maid from the room. As she did so, Sir
Julian and Lord Cedric, who had also come through the window, carried
the young Duke to another chamber; binding him fast; keeping his eyes
well blindfolded and their own tongues still. Constance was left
standing in the middle of the floor in dumb surprise and chagrin. In a
moment Lord Cedric returned, and his voice rang steel as he faced her,
nor was there shadow of pity as he saw her white face grow ghastly in
fear.

"Thou, Constance, art the receptacle of all the damned ills flung from
mortals, whether of the mind or body. As for soul, that unknown thing
to thee - thou canst not recognize in another and therefore canst take
on nothing of it save its punishment hereafter, when thou shalt have
no choice of condiment. Thy heart lies festering in the rheum that
exuviates from its foul surroundings. Conscience thou art bankrupt of,
and in its place doth lurk the bawd that envenoms thy senses and turns
thy narrow body into prodigious corruption - "

"Cedric, - my God; stay thy tongue!"

"Nay, nay; my tongue is a well-matched Jehu for thy devil's race. I
would I might scorch thee with it, to give thee foretaste of that to
come; perchance 'twould seethe thy rottenness to the quick - if thou
of that art not also bereft - and turn thee from thy course. Thou dost
pander for the King's son and steal an innocent maid of unripe years
to gratify his lust - ah, 'sdeath! thou art but a pernicious wench,
as false as hell. And when the nurse whispered that 'twould save the
child from shame, thy protrusile tang-of-a-serpent didst sibilate in
his ready ear a denial - "

"Cedric, Cedric; cease, I pray!" And Constance fell upon her knees
sobbing. But the young lord's storm had not yet spent itself, and he
sped on in fury:

"I would thy noxious blood had all run out ere mingling with its
better, and I had naught of so foul a taint within. If I held the
apothecary's skill, I would open my veins and purge from them thy
jaundiced blood and let in slime of snakes and putrid matter to
sweeten the vessel thus set free - "

"My lord, we must hasten. The maid is ready to depart with her
nurse," said Sir Julian. As the young lord turned to him, Lady
Constance - crushed and broken - said, -

"Couldst thou not see why I have so misused my better self; have thine
eyes been blind all these years not to see how I have loved thee,
Cedric - thee - thee - with all my heart and soul?"

"I would not hear thee prate of anything so sacred as love, - 'tis
sacrilege."

"Nay, not so, Cedric! I love thee more than heaven. I love thy scorn,
if to be free from it were to deprive me of thy presence. I would
follow thee to the end of time, even though thy brow lowered in ever
threatening storm - "

"Nay! thou shalt not follow me. Would I draw such as thou to yonder
maid? From this moment thou art none of mine, and I fling thee from me
as I would a snake. - Thou didst think to take Mistress Katherine from
me; put her beyond my reach, first, by marriage, then by ruin. Thanks
to heaven, both of thy infernal schemes miscarried and she is again in
my keeping. And soon I shall fold her to me as my own; pillow her head
here, Constance, here, where thou sayest thou shouldst love to lie. I
shall press her to my heart as wife, wife - ah! I have at last touched
the quick within thee. We may hope there is some redemption - some
possibility of bringing thee back from thy foulness - "

"Come, Cedric, come; we are late!" cried Sir Julian at the door. Lord
Cedric turned to go, but Constance flew to his side and grasped his
hand, -

"Nay, nay; thou shalt not leave me thus. Thou shalt not leave me to go
to one who cares not one jot for thee! Cedric, turn not away. Do not
leave me here. Cedric, hear me, take me, take me with thee! I will be
so good - "

Again Sir Julian came and called hastily, - "Indeed, my lord, there is
a chaise upon the highway, and if we mistake not 'tis the King's."
Cedric loosed himself from Constance and hurried from the room. She
flew after him; but he had passed Sir Julian and flung himself upon a
horse. Pomphrey saw her plight, and, whether from pity, gallantry, or
intrigue, lifted her quickly - before she had time to withdraw from
him - into a coach. Cedric remonstrated with him; but Julian was
confident of his motive and started the coach at full speed. They flew
along in the opposite direction from whence came the King.

It was his Majesty, who had heard of his son's hiding with some
beauteous maid and was resolved to play a trick and come upon him
unawares.

It was feared, when he should find Monmouth in such a plight, he would
pursue the offenders, if for nothing but to see with his own eyes the
maid who had so wrought upon his son's affections.

The coaches bearing Katherine and Constance sped along at a rapid
swing. The one bearing Katherine, with Janet by her side, was some
distance ahead; Constance alone in the rear. Cedric and Julian rode at
either side of the first coach, their horses in full gallop.

They reached Southwark after two hours' hard riding. Katherine was
not aware of Lord Cedric's presence, and he avoided meeting her or
attracting her attention in any way. He was content with the thought
that she was near him.

They proposed to remain at Tabard Inn at least until the next night,
when they would set out under cover of the darkness for Crandlemar,
where Lord Cedric had given orders to have all things ready for
his immediate espousal. He knew that Katherine loved him, and felt
sanguine that after passing through so many vicissitudes she would
come to her senses and give up the ideas of churchly duties and
religious requirements.

Lady Constance feared the worst, now that Cedric was once more with
Katherine. What could she do to stave the matter off? She knew
Cantemir would hardly be able to place Cedric in the Tower before
another week. She was tempted to poison or kill in some way the maid.
Aye, she would kill her - that would be safest. Then Cedric could not
have her. They would be parted forever.




CHAPTER XIX

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE COACH


In the meantime his Majesty had entered the villa and found his son
bound and in drunken sleep. Seeing he was uninjured, the King fell
to laughing at his plight, his ringing tones awakening Monmouth. The
King's gentlemen unbound him and brought him to a chair. The youth was
not long in collecting himself, quickly making a tale for his father's
ears.

"I have caught thee, James," - said the King, - "but where, oh! where is
the maid? Has she flung thee off and escaped with thy guard, who left
the gates wide, or didst thou expect us and had them placed so for our
convenience?"

"'Tis certain, Sire, I have been foully treated. I have been drugged
and some valuable papers taken I had got hold on."

"And who held the papers before thee, a pretty wench, eh?" Monmouth
glanced suspiciously at Buckingham, who stood behind the King.

"Now indeed, Sire, I should like thy opinion upon her, and - she hath
a secret, as the Duke there can testify." Buckingham started, but met
the King's glance with a stolid countenance.

"And what is this secret, George?"

"'Tis something the Papists have enveigled the maid into bringing to
thy notice, your Majesty," and the Duke cast a contemptuous glance at
Monmouth, who had made a wrong move.

"Then, by God! why was she detained? Why did any one take the papers
from her?" His Majesty looked not too kind at his son, who was now
fair caught. "We will send for her posthaste." The lackeys were
questioned of the direction taken by the coaches that had just left
the grounds, and a courier was sent after them, bearing the Royal
command to Mistress Penwick to appear before his presence within three
days.

The courier did not reach the inn until the party were about to set
forth, on account of being turned repeatedly from his course by
designing lackeys left along the way for the purpose.

Sir Julian, Katherine and Janet were standing at the coach door when
Lady Constance came hurrying down the stairs to join them, unasked;
for she was of no mind to let Cedric carry off Katherine without her.
She felt it would be worse than death. As she opened her mouth to ask
of Cedric - for she saw he was not with the party - the King's messenger
rode into the courtyard. Mistress Penwick received the order from the
courier with her own hand, and was rejoiced at it; Lady Constance flew
to her chamber in an ecstasy; Sir Julian roundly disappointed at the
news he must send Cedric, who had gone on toward Crandlemar. There
was no help for them now. They were under the King's order; but - what
might not happen in three days?

Sir Julian was as adamant when Constance proposed a trip to London,
and would under no circumstances allow her to leave the inn. Janet
kept Katherine in complete seclusion, fearing lest some new thing
should come upon them. She did not fail, however, to tell Sir Julian
of the monk's visit to the grounds of the villa and of his project to
accompany her to the King, when an audience should be granted.

"I am glad thou didst apprise me of this, Janet, for it gives me an
idea. I have seen lurking about several of the Order and have watched
them carefully."

The morning of the eventful day arrived. Mistress Penwick was already
gowned in a sombre old woman's dress. A hump was fastened to her
shoulder; her face was darkened skillfully and leprous blotches
painted thereon. She stepped like a Queen, for all that, and 'twas
feared her falseness would become evident to the King's eye.

Lady Constance was to remain at the inn, a prisoner, until Sir Julian
saw fit to release her. With curious eyes she watched for Katherine,
whom she conceived would be decked in irresistible finery. She even
pictured her beauty, clad in that soft brocade of peach and green that
so became her figure and enhanced the richness of her youthful bloom.

"Ah! ah!" she cried under her breath, as she saw the maiden's masque,
and fairly bit her lips in rage at the clever ruse about to be played
upon the King. Back she flew from the window and pranced up and down
her chamber in rage, her brain on fire. She sought in its hot depths
some way - some way. "It must be done. The King must know. It would be
the convent wench's ruin - and what would his Majesty not do for one
who should give him hint?" She was not kept under close guard. She
could go about the corridors as she chose. Out she flew into one of
these and saw near by a scullion furbishing a brass knob.

"Come, fool, hast thou a close mouth?" she said, almost in a whisper.

"Aye, too close for the comfort of my stomach."

"Then here - but first, bring me from anywhere thou canst a gentleman's
suit that will cover me in plenty - not too scant, remember, and bring
a horse from where thou likest to the door below. Haste thee, and thou
shalt have this." She jingled a well-filled purse in his face. Off he
ran in hot haste, soon returning with the desired outfit; no doubt
looted from some gentleman's closet near by. Quickly she donned it;
but here and there were slight alterations to be made, and her fingers
were all a-tremble, slackening speed to a meagre haste. She donned a


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