G.A. Henty.

Friends, though divided A Tale of the Civil War online

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times the Mary Anne scarce moved through the water. Harry had no love
for Cromwell. Upon the contrary, he regarded him as the deadliest enemy
of the king, and moreover personally hated him for the cruel massacre of
Drogheda. In battle he would have gladly slain him, but he was
determined to save him from assassination. He felt the man to be a great
Englishman, and knew that it was greatly due to his counsels that so
little English blood had been shed upon the scaffold. Most of all, he
thought that his assassination would injure the royal cause. The time
was not yet ripe for a restoration. England had shown but lately that
there existed no enthusiasm for the royal cause. At Cromwell's death the
chief power would fall into the hands of fanatics more dangerous and
more violent than he. His murder would be used as a weapon for a
wholesale persecution of the Royalists throughout the land, and would
create such a prejudice against them that the inevitable reaction in
favor of royalty would be retarded for years. Full of these thoughts,
Harry fretted and fumed over the slow progress of the Mary Anne. Late on
Saturday night she entered the mouth of the Thames, and anchored until
the tide turned. Before daybreak she was on her way, and bore up on the
tide as far as Gravesend, when she had again to anchor. Harry obtained a
boat and was rowed to shore. In his present appearance, he did not like
to go to one of the principal inns for a horse, but entering a small one
on the outskirts of the place, asked the landlord if he could procure
him a horse.

"I am not what I seem," he said, in answer to his host's look of
surprise. "But I have urgent need to get to London this evening. I will
pay well for the horse, and will leave this ring with you as a
guarantee for his safe return."

"I have not a horse myself," the landlord said, with more respect than
he had at first shown; "but I might get one from my neighbor Harry
Fletcher, the butcher. Are you willing to pay a guinea for his use?
Fletcher will drive you himself."

Harry agreed to the sum, and a quarter of an hour later the man, with a
light horse and cart, came to the door.

"You are a strange-looking carle," he said, "to be riding on a Sunday in
haste; I scarce like being seen with thee."

"I have landed but an hour ago," Harry said, "and can buy no clothes
to-day; but if you or mine host here, who is nearer my size, have a
decent suit which you can sell me, I will pay you double the sum it
cost."

The landlord at once agreed to the terms, and five minutes later Harry,
clad in the sober garb of a decent tradesman, mounted the cart. The
horse was not a fast one, and the roads were bad. It was nigh six
o'clock before they reached London. Paying Fletcher the sum agreed upon,
Harry walked rapidly westward. Cromwell was abiding in a house in Pall
Mall. Upon Harry arriving there he was asked his business.

"The general is ill," the servant said, "and can see no one."

"I must see him," Harry urged. "It is a matter of the extremest
importance."

"See him you cannot," the man repeated, "and it were waste of words to
talk further on the matter. Dost think that, even were he well, the
general, with all the affairs of the Commonwealth on his shoulders, has
time to see every gossiping citizen who would have speech with him?"

Harry slipped a gold piece into the man's hand.

"It is useless," the man said. "The general is, as I truly told thee,
ill."

Harry stood in despair, "Could you gain me speech with the general's
wife?"

"Ay," the man said. "I might do that. What name shall say?"

"She would not know my name. Merely say that one wishes to speak to her
on a matter nearly touching the safety of the general."

"Hadst thou said that at once," the man grumbled, "I might have admitted
you before. There are many rumors of plots on the part of the malignants
against the life of the general. I will take your message to Madam
Cromwell, and she can deal with it as she will."

The man was absent for a few minutes. Then he returned with an officer.

"Can you tell me," the latter asked, "what you have to reveal?"

"No," Harry replied, "I must speak with the general himself."

"Beware," the officer said sternly, "that you trifle not. The general is
sick, and has many things on his mind; 'twill be ill for you if you
disturb him without cause."

"The cause is sufficient," Harry said. "I would see him in person."

Without a word the officer turned and led the way to a room upstairs,
where Cromwell was sitting at a table, His wife was near him. A Bible
lay open before him. Cromwell looked steadily at Harry.

"I hear that you have a matter of importance to tell me, young man, and
one touching my safety. I know that there are many who thirst for my
blood. But I am in the hands of the Lord, who has so far watched over
His servant. If there be truth in what you have to tell you will be
rewarded."

"I seek for no reward," Harry said. "I have gained knowledge of a plot
against your life. Do you wish that I should speak in the presence of
this officer?"

"Assuredly," the general said.

"Briefly, then, I have arrived from Hamburg but now to give you warning
of a matter which came to my ears. I overheard, how it matters not, a
conversation between two rascals who gave themselves out as Royalists,
but who were indeed rather escaped criminals, to the effect that men had
gone over thence to England with the intention of killing you. The plot
was to come off to-night, Whether there be any change in the
arrangements or no I cannot say, but the matter was, as they said, fixed
for to-night. One of the women servants has been bribed to open the back
entrance and to admit them there, More than this I know not."

"You speak, sir, as one beyond your station," Cromwell said; "and
methinks I know both your face and figure, which are not easily
forgotten when once seen."

"It matters not who I am," Harry replied, "so that the news I bring be
true. I am no friend of yours, but a servant of King Charles. Though I
would withstand you to the death in the field, I would not that a life
like yours should be cut short by assassination; or that the royal cause
should be sullied by such a deed, the dishonor of which, though planned
and carried out by a small band of desperate partisans, would yet, in
the eyes of the world, fall upon all who followed King Charles."

"You are bold, sir," Cromwell said. "But I wonder not, for I know you
now. We have met, so far as I know, but once before. That was after
Drogheda, where you defended the church, and where I spared your life at
the intercession of my chaplain. I heard of you afterward as having, by
a desperate enterprise, escaped, and afterward captured a ship with
prisoners; and as having inflicted heavy loss and damage upon the
soldiers of Parliament. You fought at Dunbar and Worcester, and, if I
mistake not, incurred the enmity of the Earl of Argyll."

"I am Sir Harry Furness," Harry said calmly; "his majesty having been
pleased to bestow upon me the honor of knighthood. Nor are you mistaken
touching the other matters, since you yourself agreed at the lonely
house on the moor to hand me over to Colonel Campbell, as his price for
betraying the post I commanded. That matter, as you may remember, turned
out otherwise than had been expected. I am not ashamed of my name, nor
have I any fear of its being known to you. I have come over to do you
service, and fear not harm at your hands when on such business."

"Why then did you not tell me at once?" Cromwell asked.

"Simply because I seek no favor at your hands. I would not that you
should think that Harry Furness sought to reconcile himself with the
Commons, by giving notice of a plot against your life. I am intending to
start for Virginia and settle there, and would not stoop to sue for
amnesty, though I should never see Furness Hall or England again."

Harry spoke in a tone of haughty frankness, which carried conviction
with it.

"I doubt you not," Cromwell said. "You have been a bitter foe to the
Commons, Colonel Furness, but it is not of men like you that we need be
afraid. You meet us fairly in the field, and fight us loyally and
honorably. It is the tricksters, the double-dealers, and the traitors,
the men who profess to be on our side but who burrow in the dark against
us, who trouble our peace. In this matter I am greatly beholden to you.
Now that you have given us warning of the plot, it will be met if
attempted. But should these men's hearts fail them, or for any other
cause the attempt be laid aside, I shall be none the less indebted to
you. I trust, Colonel Furness, that you will not go to the plantations.
England needs honest men here. There is a great work yet to be done
before happiness and quiet are restored; and we need all wise and good
men in the counsels of the state. Be assured that you are free to return
and dwell with the Cavalier, your father, at your pleasure. He drew
aside from the strife when he saw that the cause he fought for was
hopeless, and none have interfered with him. Charles will, methinks,
fight no more in England. His cause is lost, and wise men will adapt
themselves to the circumstances. Let me know where you lodge to-night.
You will hear further from me to-morrow."




CHAPTER XXVI.

REST AT LAST.


Harry slept at an inn in Westminster, and the next morning on going down
to his breakfast, he found people much excited, a rumor having gone
about that an attack had been made upon Cromwell's house during the
night, and that several had been killed, but no harm done to the
general. An hour afterward a messenger brought word that General
Cromwell wished to see Colonel Furness. After his breakfast Harry had at
once gone out and purchased clothes suitable to a country gentleman; in
these he proceeded to the general, and was at once shown up to his room.

"Your news was trustworthy, Colonel Furness, and Oliver Cromwell owes
his life to you. Soon after midnight one of the serving wenches opened
the back door, and eight men entered. Had no watch been set, they would
doubtless have reached my room unobserved, by the staircase which leads
from that part of the house. As it was, I had a guard in waiting, and
when the men were fairly inside they fell upon them. The soldiers were
too quick with them, being hot at the plot which was intended against my
life, and all were killed, together with the wench who admitted them,
who was stabbed by one of the men at the first alarm, thinking doubtless
she had betrayed them. I hear that none of them have the air of
gentlemen, but are clearly broken men and vagabonds. The haste of my
soldiers has prevented me from getting any clew as to those who set them
on, but I am sure that no English gentleman, even although devoted to
the cause of Charles Stuart, would so plot against my life. And now,
sir, I thank you heartily for the great service you have rendered me. My
life is, I think, precious to England, where I hope to do some good work
before I die. I say only in return that henceforth you may come and go
as you list; and I hope yet that you will sit by me in Parliament, and
aid me to set things in England in order. Do not take this, sir, as in
any way a recompense for saving my life. The war is over; a few of those
who had troubled, and would always trouble the peace of England, have
been executed. Against the rest we bear no malice. They are free to
return to their homes and occupations as they list, and so long as they
obey the laws, and abstain from fresh troubles and plots, none will
molest them. But, sir, in order that no molestation or vexation may
occur to you, here is a free pass, signed by General Fairfax and two of
the commissioners, saying that you are at liberty to go or come and to
stay where you please, without hindrance or molestation from any."

Harry took the document, bowed, and withdrew.

"It is a thousand pities," he said to himself, "that his majesty the
king has not somewhat of this man's quality. This is a strong man, and a
true. He may have his faults - ay, he has them - he is ambitions, he is
far more fanatical for his religion than was Charles I. for his. He is
far more absolute, far more domineering than was King Charles. Were he
made king to-morrow, as I hear he is like enough to be, he would trample
upon the Parliament and despise its will infinitely more than any
English king would ever have dared to do. But for all that he is a great
man, honest, sincere, and, above all, to be trusted. Who can say that
for the Stuarts?"

Upon the day of his arrival Harry had written to Jacob telling him the
cause of his sudden departure, and promising to return by the first
ship, He hesitated now whether he should sail at once, or go down to see
his father, but he determined that it would be best, at any rate in the
first place, to return to Hamburg and look after his companion, and then
to come over to see his father, before carrying out his intention of
proceeding to Virginia. A ship would, he found, be sailing in three
days, and he wrote to his father telling him that he had been in London
for a day or two, but was forced by the illness of Jacob to return at
once; but that upon his friend's recovery he would come back to Abingdon
for a short time before leaving. He arrived at Hamburg without
adventure. On reaching the hotel he was informed that Jacob was
delirious, and that his life was despaired of. The rascally boatman
could not have given the message with which he had been charged, since
Jacob, upon the day after he was first missed, had risen from his bed,
and insisted on going in search of him. He had, after many inquiries,
learned that one answering to his description had taken part in a fray
in a drinking-house - interfering to protect a Bohemian singer from
insult. Beyond this nothing could be heard of him. He had not been seen
in the fray in the street, when several of the rioters had been captured
and carried off by the watch, and some supposed that he might have left
the place at the back, in which case it was feared that he might have
been fallen upon and assassinated by the ruffians in the low quarter
lying behind the drinking hall. Jacob had worked himself into a state of
high fever by his anxiety, and upon returning to the hotel had become so
violent that they were forced to restrain him. He had been bled and
blistered, but had remained for a fortnight in a state of violent fever
and delirium. This had now somewhat abated, but he was in such a weak
state that the doctors feared the worst.

The return of Harry did more for him than all the doctors of Hamburg. He
seemed at once to recognize his voice, and the pressure of his hand
soothed and calmed him. He presently fell into a deep sleep, in which he
lay for twelve hours, and on opening his eyes at once recognized his
friend. His recovery now was rapid, and in a week he was able to sit up.

One morning the servant told Harry that a gentleman wished to speak to
him, and a moment after his father entered. With a cry of delight father
and son flew into each other's arms. It was four years since they had
met, and both were altered much. The colonel had aged greatly, while
Harry had grown into a broad and powerful man.

"My dear father, this is an unexpected pleasure indeed," Harry said,
when the first burst of delight was over. "Did you not get my letter
from London, saying that I hoped shortly to be with you?"

"From London!" the colonel exclaimed, astonished. "No, indeed; I have
received no letter save that which your boy brought me. We started a
week later for Southampton, where we were detained nigh ten days for a
ship."

"And who is the _we_, father?" Harry asked anxiously.

"Ah," the old man said, "now you are in a hurry to know. Who should it
be but Master Rippinghall and a certain young lady?"

"Oh, father, has Lucy really come?"

"Assuredly she has," Colonel Furness said, "and is now waiting in a
private room below with her brother, for Sir Harry. I have not
congratulated you yet, my boy, on your new dignity."

"And you really consent to my marriage, sir?"

"I don't see that I could help it," the colonel said, "since you had
set your mind on it, especially as when I came to inquire I found the
young lady was willing to go to Virginia. But we must talk of that anon.
Yes, Harry, you have my full consent. The young lady is not quite of the
rank of life I should have chosen for you; but ranks and classes are all
topsy-turvy in England at present, and when we are ruled over by a
brewer, it would be nice indeed to refuse to take a wool-stapler's
sister for wife. But seriously, Harry, I am well contented. I knew
little of the young lady except by common report, which spoke of her as
the sweetest and kindest damsel in Abingdon. But now I have seen her, I
wonder not at your choice. During the fortnight we have been together I
have watched her closely, and I find in her a rare combination of
gentleness and firmness. You have won her heart, Harry, though how she
can have kept thee in mind all this time is more than I can tell. Her
brother tells me that he placed no pressure upon her either for or
against, though he desired much for your sake, and from the love he bore
you, that she should accept of your suit. Now you had better go down,
and learn from her own lips how it stands with her."

It need not to describe the meeting between Harry and his old friends.
Herbert was warm and cordial as of old. Lucy was but little changed
since Harry had seen her four years before, save that she was more fair
and womanly.

"Your letter gave me," Herbert said, "a mixed feeling of pleasure and
pain. I knew that my little sister has always looked upon you as a hero
of romance, and though I knew not that as a woman her heart still turned
to you, yet she refused so sharply and shrewishly all the suitors who
came to her, that I suspected that her thoughts of you were more than a
mere child's fancy. When your letter came I laid no pressure upon her,
just as in other cases I have held aloof, and indeed have gained some
ill-will at the hands of old friends because I would not, as her
brother, and the head of the family, lay stress upon her. I read your
letter to her, and she at first said she was ready to obey my wishes in
the matter, and to go with you to Virginia if I bade her. I said that in
such a matter it was her will and not mine which I wished to consult,
and thus pressed into a corner, she owned that she would gladly go with
you."

"Harry," the girl said, "for my tongue is not as yet used to your new
title, under other circumstances I should have needed to be wooed and
won like other girls. But seeing how strangely you are placed, and that
you were about to start across the sea, to be absent perhaps for many
years, I felt that it would not be worthy either of me or you were I to
affect a maiden coyness and so to throw difficulties in your way. I feel
the honor of the offer you have made me. That you should for so many
years have been absent and seen the grand ladies of the court, and have
yet thought of your little playfellow, shows that your heart is as true
and good as I of old thought it to be, and I need feel no shame in
acknowledging that I have ever thought of you with affection."

For the next few days there was much argument over the project of going
to Virginia. Herbert, when he heard what had happened in London, joined
his entreaties to those of Sir Henry, asserting that he had only
consented to Lucy's going to so outlandish a place in the belief that
there was no help for it, and that he did not think it fair for Harry to
take her to such a life when he could stay comfortably at home. Sir
Henry did not say much, but Harry could see how ardently he longed for
him to remain. As for Lucy, she stood neutral, saying that assuredly
she did not wish to go to Virginia, but that, upon the other hand, she
should feel that her consent had been obtained under false pretenses,
and that she had been defrauded of the enjoyment of a proper and regular
courtship, did it prove that Harry might have come home and sought her
hand in regular form. Harry's reluctance to remain arose principally
from the fact that he had gained permission to do so by an act of
personal service which he had done the king's great enemy. Had he been
included in a general amnesty he would gladly have accepted it. However,
his resolution gave way under the arguments of Herbert, who urged upon
him that he had no right, on a mere point of punctilio, to leave his
father in his old age, and to take Lucy from her country and friends to
a life of hardship in the plantations of Virginia. At last he yielded.
Then a difficulty arose with Lucy, who would fain have returned to
Abingdon with her brother, and urged she should there have time given
her to be married in regular fashion. This Harry would by no means
consent to, and as both Sir Henry and Herbert saw no occasion for the
delay, they were married a fortnight later at the Protestant church at
Hamburg, Jacob, who was by this time perfectly restored to health,
acting as his best man.

One of the first steps which Harry took after his return to Hamburg was
to inquire about the gypsy maid who had done him such service. She was
still singing at the drinking-house. Harry went down there in the
daytime and gave one of the drawers a crown to tell her quietly that the
Englishman she knew would fain see her, and would wait for her at a spot
he named on the walk by the river bank, between ten and twelve the next
day. Here, accompanied by Lucy, who, having heard of the service which
the girl had rendered him, fully entered into his anxiety to befriend
her, he awaited her the next day. She came punctual to the appointment,
but in great fear that the old gypsy would discover her absence. Upon
Harry telling her that Lucy, who was about to become his wife, would
willingly take her to England and receive her as a companion until such
time as some opportunity for furthering her way in life might appear,
Zita accepted the proposal with tears of joy. She abhorred the life she
was forced to lead, and it was only after many beatings and much
ill-usage from the gypsies that she consented to it, and it made her
life the harder, inasmuch as she knew that she had not been born to such
a fate, but had been stolen as a child.

"What could have been their motive in carrying you away?" Lucy asked.

"I believe," the girl said, "from what they have told me, that I was
taken in revenge. My father had charged one of the gypsies with theft,
and the man having been hung, the others, to avenge themselves, carried
me off."

"But why did you not, when you grew old enough, tell your story to the
magistrates, and appeal to them for assistance?"

"Alas!" the girl said, "what proofs have I for my tale? Moreover, even
were I believed, and taken from the gypsies, what was there for me to
do, save to beg in the streets for charity?"

They now arranged with her the manner of her flight. She was afraid to
meet them again lest her footsteps should be traced, for she was sure
that the gypsies would carry her away to some other town if they had the
least suspicion that she had made friends with any capable of taking her
part, as the whole party lived in idleness upon the money she gained by
singing. It was arranged, therefore, that the night before they were to
depart Harry should appear in the singing hall, and should take his
place near the door. She should let him know that she perceived him by
passing her hand twice across her forehead. When the performance was
over she should, instead of leaving as usual by the back way, slip down
the steps, and mingle with those leaving the hall. Outside the door she
would find Harry, who would take her to the hotel, where dresses would
be provided for her. There she should stop the night, and go on board
ship with them in the morning.

These arrangements were all carried out, and four days after the wedding
of Harry and Lucy the party, with Zita, sailed for England. Had the
tenantry on the Furness estate known of the home-coming of their young
master and his bride, they would have given him a grand reception; but
Harry and his father both agreed that this had better not be, for that
it was as well to call no public attention to his return, even though he
had received Cromwell's permission.

After all his adventures, Sir Harry Furness dwelt quietly and happily
with his father. In the following years the English fleet fought many
hard battles with the Dutch, and the Parliament, in order to obtain


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Online LibraryG.A. HentyFriends, though divided A Tale of the Civil War → online text (page 23 of 24)