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THE LADY OF
LOYALTY HOUSE

A Novel

BY

JUSTIN HUNTLY McCARTHY

AUTHOR OF
"MARJORIE" "THE PROUD PRINCE" ETC.

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
1904




Copyright, 1904, by HARPER & BROTHERS.

_All rights reserved._
Published October, 1904.




AD SILVIAM


Take for our lady's loyal sake
This vagrant tale of mine,
Where Cavalier and Roundhead break
A reed for Right Divine,
A tale it pleasured me to make,
And most to make it thine.

The Solemn Muse that watches o'er
The actions of the great,
And bids this Venturer to soar,
And that to stand and wait,
Will swear she never heard before
The deeds that I relate.

But all is true for me and you,
Though History denies;
I know thy Royal Standard flew
Against autumnal skies,
And find thy rarest, bravest blue
In Brilliana's eyes.

J. H. McC.
_August 10, 1904._




CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

PROLOGUE 1
I. THE STRANGER AT THE GATES 4
II. HARBY 16
III. MY LORD THE LADY 26
IV. THE LEAGUER OF HARBY 33
V. A MONSTROUS REGIMENT 40
VI. HOW WILL ALL END? 49
VII. MISTRESS AND MAN 56
VIII. THE ENVOY 62
IX. HOW THE SIEGE WAS RAISED 73
X. PRISONER OF WAR 82
XI. AT BAY 90
XII. A USE FOR A PRISONER 99
XIII. A GILDED CAGE 110
XIV. A PASSAGE AT ARMS 120
XV. MY LADY'S PLEASAUNCE 129
XVI. A PURITAN APPRAISED 138
XVII. SET A KNAVE TO CATCH A KNAVE 149
XVIII. SERVING THE KING 156
XIX. SIR BLAISE PAYS HIS RESPECTS 165
XX. SIR BLAISE PAYS HIS PENALTY 180
XXI. A PUZZLING PURITAN 188
XXII. MASTER PAUL AND MASTER PETER 203
XXIII. A DAY PASSES 212
XXIV. A HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE 223
XXV. ROMEO AND JULIET 235
XXVI. RESURRECTION 249
XXVII. THE KING'S IMAGE 256
XXVIII. LOVER AND LOVER 266
XXIX. THE KING MAKES A FRIEND 273
XXX. RUFUS PROPOSES 281
XXXI. HALFMAN DISPOSES 286
EPILOGUE 296




THE LADY OF LOYALTY HOUSE




PROLOGUE


In the October of 1642 there came to Cambridge a man from over-seas.
He was travelling backward, after the interval of a generation,
through the stages of his youth. From his landing at the port whence
he had sailed so many years before in chase of fortune he came to
London, where he had bustled and thundered as a stage-player. Here
he found a new drama playing in a theatre that took a capital city
for its cockpit. He observed, sinister and diverted, for a while,
and, being an adaptable man, shifted his southern-colored garments,
over-blue, over-red, over-yellow in their seafaring way, for the
sombre gray surcharged with solemn black. A translated man, if not
a changed man, he journeyed to the university town of his stormy
student hours, and there the black in his habit deepened at the
expense of the gray. In the quadrangle of Sidney Sussex College he
meditated much on the changes that had come about since the days when
Sidney Sussex had expelled him, very peremptorily, from her gates.
The college herself had altered greatly since his day. The fair court
that Ralph Symons had constructed had now its complement in the fair
new court of Francis Clerke. The enlargement of his mother-college
was not so marvellous to him, however, as the enlargement of one
among her sons. A fellow-commoner of his time had, like himself, come
again to Cambridge, arriving thither by a different road. This
fellow-commoner was now the member in Parliament for Cambridge, had
buckled a soldier's baldric over a farmer's coat, had carried things
with a high hand in the ancient collegiate city, had made himself
greatly liked by these, greatly disliked by those.

Musing philosophically, but also observing shrewdly and inquiring as
pertinaciously as dexterously, our traveller made himself familiar
with places of public resort, sat in taverns where he tasted ale more
soberly than was his use or his pleasure, listened, patently devout,
to godly exhortations, and implicated himself by an interested
silence in strenuous political opinions. From all this he learned
much that amazed, much that amused him, but what interested him most
of all had to do with the third stage of his retrospective
pilgrimage. If he had not been bound for Harby eventually, what came
to his ears by chance would have spurred him thither, ever keen as he
was to behold the vivid, the theatrical in life. Women had always
delighted him, if they had often damned him, and there was a woman's
name on rumor's many tongues when rumor talked of Harby. So it came
to be that he rode sooner than he had proposed, and far harder than
he had proposed, through green, level Cambridgeshire, through green,
hilly Oxfordshire, with Harby for his goal. Chameleon-like, he
changed hues on the way, shifting, with the help of his wallet, back
into a gaudier garb less likely to be frowned on in regions kindly to
the King.




I

THE STRANGER AT THE GATES


The village of Harby was vastly proud of its inn, and by consequence
the innkeeper thought highly of the village of Harby. He had been a
happy innkeeper for the better part of a reasonably long life, and he
had hoped to be a happy innkeeper to that life's desirably distant
close. But the world is not made for innkeepers by innkeepers, and
Master Vallance was newly come into woes. For it had pleased certain
persons of importance lately to come to loggerheads without any
consideration for the welfare of Master Vallance, and in trying to
peer through the dust of their broils on the possible future for
England and himself, he could prognosticate little good for either.
Master Vallance was a patriot after his fashion; he wished his
country well, but he wished himself better, and the brawling of
certain persons of importance might, apart from its direct influence
upon the fortunes of the kingdom, indirectly result in Master
Vallance's downfall. For the persons of importance whose bickerings
so grievously interested Master Vallance were on the one side his
most sacred and gracious Majesty King Charles I., and on the other a
number of units as to whose powers or purposes Master Vallance
entertained only the most shadowy notions, but who were disagreeably
familiar to him in a term of mystery as the Parliament.

In the mellow October evening Master Vallance sat at his inn door and
dandled troubled thoughts. The year of his lord 1642 having begun
badly, threatened to end worse. Master Vallance chewed the cud of
country-side gossip. He reminded himself that not so very far away
the King had set up his standard at Nottingham and summoned all loyal
souls to his banner; that not so very far away in Cambridge, a fussy
gentleman, a Mr. Cromwell, member for that place, had officiously
pushed the interests of the Parliament by raising troops of
volunteers and laying violent hands upon the University plate. Master
Vallance tickled his chin and tried to count miles and to weigh
probabilities. Royalty was near, but Parliament seemed nearer; which
would be the first of the fighting forces to spread a strong hand
over Harby?

Master Vallance emptied his mug and, turning his head, looked up the
village street, and over the village street to the rising ground
beyond and the gray house that crowned it. He sighed as he surveyed
the familiar walls of Harby House, because of one unfamiliar object.
Over the ancient walls, straight from the ancient roof, sprang a
flag-staff, and from that flag-staff floated a banner which Master
Vallance knew well enough to be the royal standard of England's King.
Master Vallance also knew, for he had been told this by Master
Marfleet, the school-master, that the Lady of Harby had no right to
fly the standard, seeing that the presence of that standard implied
the bodily presence of the King. But he also knew, still on Master
Marfleet's authority, that the Lady of Harby had flung that standard
to the winds in no ignorance nor defiance of courtly custom. He knew
that the high-spirited, beautiful girl had been the first in all the
country-side to declare for the King, prompt where others were slow,
loyal where others faltered, and that she flew the King's flag from
her own battlements in subtle assertion of her belief that in every
faithful house the King was figuratively, or, as it were,
spiritually, a guest.

Master Vallance, reflecting drearily upon the uncertainties of an
existence in which high-spirited, beautiful young ladies played an
important part, became all of a sudden, though unaccountably, aware
that he was not alone. Moving his muddled head slowly away from the
walls of Harby, he allowed it to describe the better part of a
semicircle before it paused, and he gazed upon the face of a
stranger. The stranger was eying the innkeeper with a kind of
good-natured ferociousness or ferocious good-nature, which little in
the stranger's appearance or demeanor tended to make more palatable
to the timid eyes of Master Vallance.

"Outlandish," was the epithet which lumbered into Master Vallance's
mind as he gaped, and the epithet fitted the new-comer aptly. He was,
indeed, an Englishman; that was plain enough to the instinct of
another Englishman, if only for the gray-blue English eyes; and yet
there was little that was English in the sun-scorched darkness of his
face, little that was English in the almost fantastic effrontery of
his carriage, the more than fantastic effrontery of his habit.

When the stranger perceived that he had riveted Master Vallance's
attention, he smiled a derisive smile, which allowed the innkeeper to
observe a mouthful of teeth irregular but white. Then he extended a
lean, brown hand whose fingers glittered with many rings, and caught
Master Vallance by his fat shoulder, into whose flesh the grip
seemed to sink like the resistless talons of a bird of prey. Slowly
he swayed Master Vallance backward and forward, while over the dark
face rippled a succession of leers, grins, and grimaces, which had
the effect of making Master Vallance feel thoroughly uncomfortable.
Nor did the stranger's speech, when speech came, carry much of
reassurance.

"Bestir thee, drowsy serving-slave of Bacchus," the stranger chanted,
in a pompous, high-pitched voice. "Emerge from the lubberland of
dreams, and be swift in attendance upon a wight whose wandering star
has led him to your hospitable gate."

As the stranger uttered these last words his hand had drawn the
bemused innkeeper towards him: with their utterance he suddenly
released his grip, thereby causing Master Vallance to lurch heavily
backward and bump his shoulders sorely against the inn wall. The
stranger thrust his face close to Master Vallance's, and while a
succession of grimaces rippled over its sunburned surface he
continued, in a tone of mock pathos:

"Do you shut your door against the houseless and the homeless, O
iron-hearted innkeeper? Can the wandering orphan find no portion in
your heart?"

Then, as Master Vallance was slowly making sure that he had to deal
with a dangerous lunatic, the stranger drew himself up and swayed to
and fro in a fit of inextinguishable laughter.

"Lordamercy upon me," he said, when he had done laughing, in a
perfectly natural voice. "I have seen some frightened fools before,
but never a fool so frightened. Tell me, honest blockhead, did you
ever hear such a name as Halfman?"

Master Vallance, torpidly reassured, meditated. "Halfman," he
murmured. "Halfman. Ay, there was one in this village, long ago, had
such a name. He had a roguish son, and they say the son came to a bad
end."

The new-comer nodded his head gravely.

"He had a roguish son," he said; "but I am loath to admit that he
came to a bad end, unless it be so to end at ease in Harby. For I am
that same Hercules Halfman, at your service, my ancient ape, come
back to Harby after nigh thirty years of sea-travel and land-travel,
with no other purpose in my mind than to sit at my ease by mine own
hearth in winter and to loll in my garden in summer. What do you say
to that, O father of all fools?"

Master Vallance, having nothing particular to say, said, for the
moment, nothing. He was dimly appreciating, however, that this
vociferous intruder upon his quiet had all the appearance of one who
was well to do and all the manner of one accustomed to have his own
way in the world. It seemed to him, therefore, that the happiest
suggestion he could make to the home-comer was to quench his thirst,
and, further, to do so with the aid of a flask of wine.

The stranger agreed to the first clause of the proposition and vetoed
the second.

"Ale," he said, emphatically. "Honest English ale. I am of a very
English temper to-day; I would play the part of a true-hearted
Englishman to the life, and, therefore, my tipple is true-hearted
English ale."

Master Vallance motioned to his guest to enter the house, but Halfman
denied him.

"Out in the open," he carolled. "Out in the open, friend." He rattled
off some lines of blank verse in praise of the liberal air that set
Master Vallance staring before he resumed plain speech. "When a man
has lived in such hissing hot places that he is fain to spend his
life under cover, he is glad to keep abroad in this green English
sweetness."

He had seated himself comfortably on the settle by now, and he
stretched out his arms as if to embrace the prospect. Master Vallance
dived into the inn, and when he emerged a few seconds later, bearing
two large pewter measures, the traveller was still surveying the
landscape with the same air of ecstasy. Master Vallance handed him a
full tankard, which Halfman drained at a draught and rattled on the
table with a sigh of satisfaction.

"Right English ale," he attested. "Divine English ale. What gold
would I not have given, what blood would I not have spilled for such
a draught as that, so clean, so cool, so noble, in the lands where I
have lived. The Dry Tortugas - the Dry Tortugas, and never a drop of
English ale to cool an English palate."

He seemed so affected by the reflection that he let his hand close,
as if unconsciously, upon Master Vallance's tankard, which Master
Vallance had set upon the table untasted, and before the innkeeper
could interfere its contents had disappeared down Halfman's throat
and a second empty vessel rattled upon the board.

The eloquence of disappointment on Master Vallance's face as he
beheld this dexterity moved the thirst-slaked Halfman to new mirth.
But while he laughed he thrust his hand in his breeches-pocket and
pulled out a palm full of gold pieces.

"Never fear, Master Landlord," he shouted; "you shall drink of your
best at my expense, I promise you. We will hob-a-nob together, I tell
you. Keep me your best bedroom, lavender-scented linen and all. I
will take my ease here till I set up my Spanish castle on English
earth, and in the mean time I swear I will never quarrel with your
reckoning. I have lived so long upon others that it is only fair
another should live upon me for a change. So fill mugs again, Master
Landlord, and let us have a chat."

Master Vallance did fill the mugs again, more than once, and he and
the stranger did have a chat; at least, they talked together for the
better part of an hour. In all that time Master Vallance, fumbling
foolishly with flagrant questions, learned little of his companion
save what that companion was willing, or maybe determined, that he
should learn. Master Halfman made no concealment of it that he had
been wild at Cambridge, and he hinted, indeed, broadly enough, that
he had had a companion in his wildness who had since grown to be a
godly man that carried the name of Cromwell. He admitted frankly that
his pranks cast him forth from Cambridge, and that he had been a
stage-player for a time in London, in proof whereof he declaimed to
the amazed Master Vallance many flowing periods from Beaumont,
Fletcher, Massinger, and their kind - mental fireworks that bedazzled
the innkeeper. Of his voyages, indeed, he spoke more vaguely if not
more sparingly, conjuring up gorgeous visions to the landlord of
pampas and palm-lands, where gold and beauty forever answered to the
ready hand. But Master Halfman, for his part volubly indistinct and
without seeming to interrogate at all, was soon in possession of
every item of information concerning the country-side that was of the
least likelihood to serve him. He learned, for instance, what he had
indeed guessed, that the simple country-folk knew little and cared
little for the quarrel that was brewing over their heads, and had
little idea of what the consequences might be to them and theirs. He
learned that the local gentry were, for the most part, lukewarm
politicians; that Peter Rainham and Paul Hungerford were keeping
themselves very much to themselves, and being a brace of skinflints
were fearing chiefly for their money-bags; while Sir Blaise
Mickleton, who had been credited with the intention of riding to join
his Majesty at Shrewsbury, had suddenly taken to his bed sick of a
strange distemper which declared itself in no outward form, but
absolutely forbade its victim to take violent action of any kind. He
learned that there were exceptions to this tepidity. Sir Randolph
Harby, of Harby Lesser, beyond the hill, Sir Rufus Quaryll, of
Quaryll Tower, had mounted horse and whistled to men at the first
whisper of the business and ridden like devils to rally on the King's
flag. He learned much that was familiar and important to him of the
Harby family history; he learned much that was unfamiliar and
unimportant to him of local matters, such as that Master Marfleet,
the village school-master, was inclined to say all that might be said
in praise of the Parliament men, and that, when all was said and
done, the only avowed out-and-out loyalist in the neighborhood was no
man at all, but a beautiful, high-spirited girl-woman, the Lady
Brilliana Harby.

The Lady Brilliana Harby. When Halfman was a lad gray Roland was Earl
of Harby, a choleric scholar, seeming celibate in grain, though the
title ran in direct male line. Suddenly, as Halfman now learned, gray
Roland married a maid some forty years younger than he, and she gave
him a child and died in the giving. This did not perpetuate the
title, for the child was a girl, but it gave the gray lord something
to cherish for the sake of his lost love. This child was now the Lady
Brilliana, whom gray Roland had adored and spoiled to the day of his
own death, hastened by a fit of rage at the news of the King's
failure to capture the five members. Since then the Lady Brilliana
had reigned alone at Harby, indifferent to suitors, and had flown the
King's flag at the first point of war. "By Heaven!" said Halfman, "I
will have a look at the Lady Brilliana."




II

HARBY


As he tramped the muddy hill-road his mind was busy. The scent from
the wet weeds on either side of him, heavy with the yester rains,
brought back his boyhood insistently, and his memory leaped between
then and now like a shuttlecock. He had dreamed dreams then; he was
dreaming dreams now, though he had thought he was done with dreams. A
few short months ago he had planned out his last part, the prosperous
village citizen, the authority of the gossips, respectable and
respected. His fancy had dwelt so fondly upon the house where he
proposed to dwell that he seemed to know every crimson eave of it,
every flower in the trim garden, the settle by the porch where he
should sit and smoke his pipe and drain his can and listen to the
booming of the bees, while he complacently savored the after-taste of
discreditable adventures. He knew it so well in his mind that he had
half come to believe that it really existed, that he had always owned
it, that it truly awaited his home-coming, and his feeling as he
entered the village that morning had been that he could walk straight
to it, instead of abiding at the inn and going hither and thither day
after day until he found in the market a homestead nearest to his
picture. And now he was walking away from it, walking fairly fast,
too, and walking whither? What business was it of his, after all, if
some sad-faced fellows from Cambridge tramped across country to lay
puritan hands upon Harby. What business was it of his if monarch
browbeat Parliament or Parliament defied king? He owed nothing to
either, cared nothing for either; what he owned he owed to his sharp
sword, his dull conscience, his rogue's luck, and his player's heart.
Why, then, was he going to Harby when he ought to be busy in the
village looking for that house with crimson eaves and the bee-haunted
garden?

He knew well enough, though he did not parcel out his knowledge into
formal answers. In the first place, if the country was bent upon
these civil broils, clearly his intended character of pipe-smoking,
ale-drinking citizen was wholly unsuited to the coming play.
Wherefore, in a jiff he had abandoned it, and now stood, mentally, as
naked as a plucked fowl while he considered what costume he should
wear and what character he should choose to interpret. His sense of
humor tempted him to the sanctimonious suit of your out-and-out
Parliament man; his love for finery and the high horse lured him to
lovelocks and feathers. The old piratical instinct which he thought
he had put to bed forever was awake in him, too, and asking which
side could be made to pay the best for his services. If he must take
sides, which side would fill his pockets the fuller? It was in the
thick of these thoughts that he found himself within a few feet of
the walls of the park of Harby.

The great gates were closed that his boyhood found always open. He
smiled a little, and his smile increased as a figure stepped from
behind the nearest tree within the walls, a sturdy, fresh-looking
serving-fellow armed with a musketoon.

"Hail, friend," sang out Halfman, and "Stand, stranger," answered the
man with the musketoon. Halfman eyed him good-humoredly.

"You do not carry your weapon well," he commented. "Were I hostile
and armed you would be a dead jack before you could bring butt to
shoulder. Yet you are a soldierly fellow and wear a fighting face."

The man with the musketoon met the censure and the commendation with
the same frown as he surlily demanded the stranger's business at the
gates of Harby.

"My business," answered Halfman, blithely, "is with the Lady of
Harby," and before the other could shape the refusal of his eyes into
an articulate grumble he went on, briskly, "Tell the Lady Brilliana
Harby that an old soldier who is a Harby man born has some words to
say to her which she may be willing to hear."

"Are you a King's man," the other questioned, still holding his
weapon in awkward watchfulness of the stranger. Halfman laughed
pleasantly.

"Who but a King's man could hope to have civil speech with the Lady
Brilliana Harby?"

He plucked off his hat as he spoke and waved it in the air with a
flourish. "God save the King!" he shouted, loyally, and for the
moment his heart was as loyal as his voice, untroubled by any thought
of a venal sword and a highest bidder. Just there in the sunlight,
facing the red walls of Harby and the flapping standard of the
sovereign, on the eve of an interview with a bold, devoted lady, it
seemed so fitly his cue to cry "God save the King!" that he did so
with all the volume of his lungs.

The man with the musketoon seemed mollified by the new-comer's


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