Lucy Ellen Guernsey.

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Through Unknown Ways; OB, THE

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Winifred ;





W -




Copyright, 1869, by


In the District Court of the United States for the Southern
District of New York.



THE reigns of Charles the Second and his
unfortunate brother are certainly among the
darkest pages of English history. There pro-
bably was never a time in England when vice
was more rampant and unblushing, or morality
at a much lover ebb among courtiers and place-
men of every name; yet I believe whoever
takes the manners of the court as a fair sam-
ple of those of the kingdom wiU make a great
mistake as great as that of certain modern
American writers who talk of a small number
of frivolous city ladios as if they represented
the whole body of American women. The trutli
seems to be that even in the court itself wer?
to be found some shining instances of virtue


both among men and women ; and that among
the body of the people were many devout Chris-
tians seems to be proved by the great number
and ready sale of books inculcating the most
exalted purity and spirituality. It is this bright
side of the picture that I have attempted to
display in the following pages. Should they
prove acceptable, I may follow them with others
illustrative of different points of English his-

L. E. G




IT was nearly two months after the battle c/
Sedgemoor, which was fought on the 6th of July,
1685, between the forces of James the Second,
King of England, and those of the Duke of Mon-
mouth, his illegitimate nephew, who laid claim to
the crown. Monmouth was without the shadow
of right upon his side, and was utterly unsupport-
ed, save by a few political exiles and adventurers
as reckless as himself. He had hoped that as soon
as he landed the gentry of the western counties
would flock to his standard, but in this he was
mistaken. Nobody joined him but the country
people, and a few prominent dissenters who were


misled by their hatred of popery and their dread
and dislike of the reigning king.

After some weeks of aimless marching and coun-
ter-marching, of foolish proclamations and sense-
less quarrels among themselves, the forces of Mon-
mouth encountered those of King James upon
Sedgeinoor, not far from Bridgewater in Somerset-
shire, and were utterly defeated, though most of
liis raw, undisciplined troops behaved with the
greatest bravery, resisting to the very last, even
after they were abandoned by their leader. Mon-
mouth fled, but was soon taken, carried to London,
tried, and executed.

No one could blame King James for putting
Monmouth to death. He had been guilty of high
treason in taking up arras against the government,
and had justly forfeited his life ; but nothing couid
excuse the barbarous cruelty exercised toward hi?
followers, almost all of whom were simple country
people, who had been influenced chiefly by personal
attachment to the duke. In Somersetshire alone
two hundred and thirty persons were put to death.
Their bodies hung in chains, or their heads and
mangled corpses, hoisted upon poles, poisoned the
air of every market-place and village-green in the
county. One poor half-idiot, who had been long


supported by charity, was treated in this way ; and
two aged women, one in Hampshire and one in
London, were sentenced to be burned alive, merely
for sheltering and assisting with food and money
some of the wretched fugitives. Both were persons
of the best character, noted for their piety and
their active benevolence. By the urgent interces-
sion of certain of the king's own party, the sentence
of Alice Lisle was changed from burning to be-
heading ; but Elizabeth Gaunt perished in the
flames, meeting her death with a patience and
courage worthy of an ancient Christian martyr.

At the time when my story commences, Master
David Evans lived near a little hamlet called
Holford, about nine or ten miles from Bridgewater.
He was a yeoman, that is to say, he farmed his own
land, which had belonged to his family for several
generations. Master Evans had received more
education than most of his neighbors, even thoso
of higher rank than himself, and possessed what
hi that time and place was esteemed quite a library,
that is to say, he had besides his great Bible and
Prajer-book, "The Whole Duty of Man," Fox'a
"Martyrs," and a couple of odd volumes of Hack-
luyt's " Voyages." He was not rich, for his land was
none of the best, and scientific farming was un-


known in those days ; but he had always enough
and to spare, and no poor person applying to him
for help was sent empty away. His principal
profits were derived from his orchards and cidei
presses, for which then as now Somersetshire was
famous, and from the horses he raised for the
London market. His elder son had been appren-
ticed to a shipwright in Bristol, and was now in
business for himself. The younger was captain of
a fine vessel sailing from the same port, while his
wife Magdalen lived with her father-in-law, kept
his house, and attended to the dairy and poultry

Magdalen belonged to a good Devonshire family,
which had sent more than one confessor to the rack
and the stake in the time of Queen Mary, and had
borne a good share in the naval exploits by which
the men of Devon rendered themselves famous
during the next glorious reign. Magdalen herself
was a woman of a grave and earnest spirit, scru-
pulously exact in the performance of all daily duties,
kind and considerate to those about her, and
thoroughly imbued with that spirit of religious
devotion which had sustained her great-grand-
mother amid the fires of Smithfield. She had two
children. Jack was a sturdy boy of twelve, with a


great aptitude for fishing, birds'-nesting, and riding
on horseback, and an equal disinclination for
learning of any sort, together with a marvellous
capacity for tearing his clothes, blackening his
eyes, and getting into scrapes generally. Winifred
was nearly three years older, ard very much
resembled her mother, both in mind and person.

Master Evans had been in no way concerned in
the Rebellion. He was not given to politics at
any time, and he looked upon the Duke of Mou-
rn outh's adventure with equal dislike and contempt.
He was a constant and devout church-goer, and
even his great high-tory neighbor, Sir Edward
Peckham, could find no other fault with him than
that he dispensed his charities to churchman and
dissenter alike, which however was equally true of
the vicar of the parish and the Bishop of Bath and
Wells, the learned and excellent Doctor Ken.

But it did not follow of course that Master Evans
was in no danger during the bloody proscription
which followed the battle of Sedgemoor. A great
many persons as innocent as himself had been put
to death by the monster Jeffreys and the almost
equally wicked soldiers Kirke and Faversham. He
could not go to the parish church on Sunday with-
out seeing over the porch the ghastly head of his


kind old neighbor and friend Master Oldmixon,,
who had been hung for no other crime than that
of having been in Bridgewater bargaining for the
Bale of his cheese on the day before the battle, and
taking off his hat to the Duke of Monmouth as he
passed by. Another neighbor had sold eggs and
cider to certain of the duke's officers, and for this
offence ho was hung in chains at his own house-
door. But Master Evans had thus far escaped pci
secution, and as he was not rich enough to excite
the covetousness of the king's officers, he began to
hope he should go entirely free.

It was about two weeks after the conclusion of
the Bloody Assizes, as they have ever since bt en
called, that Jack Evans was going across the field
with a basket in his hand, containing some meal, a
large piece of cheese, and sundry other provisions
which his mother had sent him to carry to a poor
widow. Old Dame Sprat lived in a hovel on the
edge of a waste, swampy plain, partly overgrown
with bushes and reeds, and to reach her hut it was
necessary to pass through a certain thicket, called
the Black Copse, which bore no good name.
Strange sounds had been heard, and strange lights
Been glancing among the trees ; nay, it was sol-
emnly declared that the place was haunted by a


black horse without a head, which spoke with a
human voice. All country people were supersti-
tious at that time, and Jack was no wiser than his
neighbors in this respect, while the terrible inci-
dents and horrible sights of the last few weeks had
filled the country with ghost stories. However,
his mother had commanded, and there was noth-
ing for it but to obey. The afternoon was warm
and sunny, and the hazel-nuts were ripening in the
hedges ; and besides, Jack, who was really a kind-
hearted boy, pitied the poor lonely old woman
who had no one to care for her. So he went along
cheerily enough, sometimes whistling, sometimes
singing an old ballad or some sea-song which he
had learned from his father. He was passing
through his grandfather's barley field, and had
nearly reached the stile at the further end, when
he noticed with surprise that two or three of the
barley sheaves had fallen down, and were lying
*artly unbound and scattered upon the ground.

" Who has done that ?" said he to himself. " I
wonder if the gypsies have been turning their asses
into the field again? However, the sheaves must
not be left like that, for I think it is coming on to
rain, and they will all be spoiled."

So saying, he put down his basket and set hin>


self seriously to the business of restoring ihe fallen
barley to its place. It was not an easy task to
accomplish alone, but Jack was both strong and
skilful for a boy of his age, and he knew how
important it was that not a grain of this precious
barley should be lost : so he persevered, and at
last succeeded in putting matters to rights.

He was just fastening the band of the last sheaf,
when he heard a sound which made him spring to
his feet, with hair bristling and eyes almost start-
ing from his head. It was a deep groan, as of a
person in great distress. He listened, trembling
in every limb. Presently he heard it again, and
then a faint, hollow voice, speaking, as it were, out
of the ground.

" My good lad I" it said.

Jack waited to hear no more. If truth must be
told, he was at all times an arrant coward, and the
horrible events of the summer had made him
afraid of his own shadow. He thought no more
of basket, barley, or Widow Sprat. Terror lent
him wings, and he never paused to look round or
breathe till he burst into the kitchen, where his
mother and grandfather were sitting, and fell flat
on the floor. It was some time before he could
Bpeak so as to be understood, and then he told a


terrible tale of groans, and voices speaking out ol
the ground, of clattering hoofs pursuing him, and
a white spectre as tall as a chimney which waved
its arms over his head. He could give no account
of the basket, and he declared, in his distress, that
he would not go to the Black Copse again, no, not
if they killed him. Indeed it was plain enough
that to send him back would be to endanger his
reason if not his life.

" I cannot tell what to doT" said Dame Magdalen,
very much perplexed. "Your grandfather is ill
with rheumatism, and the men are all away. My
ankle is so lame with the sprain I got yesterday,
that I* can hardly make shift to go about house,
and Jenny and Prissey would either of them be
as bad as Jack himself. I fear the poor old dame
will suffer for want of food."

Both the maids declared that they could not and
would not go near the Black Copse that night for
all the world ; and Jenny added, " Not for King
Monmouth himself, God bless him I"

"Hush, fool!" said Master Evans, sternly
" There is more danger in one such speech as that
than in all the ghosts in Somersetshire. Let me
never hear the name of that unl appy man spoken
under my roof I"


Jenny was caroful to put the dairy dcor between
herself and her master before she muttered that
King Monmouth would come to his own yet, iu
epite of them all.

"As for you, Jack, you had better take your
Bupper, and then go to bed and sleep off your
fright, which I dare say has not taken away your
appetite," said Master Evans. "I do not know
what you will do, Magdalen. I fear the poor
woman must go supperless to bed."

" I will carry the basket to Dame Sprat !" said
Winifred, who had sat all this time in the chimney-
corner without speaking a word.

" You, Winifred !" said her mother, surprised.
"But will you not be afraid?"

"No, mother, I do not think there is any
danger," replied Winifred.

" Oh, you are wondrous brave, Miss Winifred 1"
said Jack, not very well pleased. " Just wait till
you hear the headless horse speaking to you
that's all!"

" It would be so strange to hear a horse speak
at all, that I do not think his not having a head
would make much difference, 5 ' replied Winifred,
filyly. " A re you sure it was a horse which followed


you, Jack, or did you only hear the clattering of
your own shoes ?"

Jack muttered something about girls thinking
they knew more than any one else, and followed
Jenny into the dairy, that he might enlarge upon
his adventure to a more credulous listener.

" Then you do not believe in Jack's goblins.
Winifred ?"

" No, mother. I have noticed before that when
Jack is frightened he can never see anything as it
really is. I suppose the ghost was the old dead
tree in the copse, which he has seen a hundred
times before, and the groans he heard were the
creaking of the branches, or perhaps the old red
cow who is always grumbling to herself. I remem-
ber when I had the fever how the dame sat up with
me and told me tales all night when I could not
sleep, and how she made cool drinks for me, and
baskets of rushes. I always thought I should like
to do something for her in return."

"But if you should meet any of the soldiers,
Winifred ?"

" There are no soldiers in the neighborhood now,
mother," said Winifred. " Dame Hodges has just
come from Bridgewater this morning, whither she

has been to see her poor sou, and she tells me the


soldiers have all gone away to some other j.lace,
with the chief-justice. She went to bid poor Sim-
eon farewell, but she was not allowed even to see

"Lord have mercy on him, poor creature !" said
Dame Evans. " He had hardly sense to tell hia
right hand from his left. I do not believe he even
knew upon which side he was fighting. But,
daughter, if you are frightened, what will you do ?
It is a long way from any house."

" I will say my prayers or sing a psalm, mo-
ther," replied Winifred, simply. " I think I ought
to go," she added. " I think it would be but right.
None of us have been near the dame for some days,
and she may be starving."

" Give her the basket and let her go, Magdalen,"
said the old man. "She has the spirit of thy
great-grandmother the martyr. May the blessing
of God go with thee, child!" he added, laying his
hand upon her head. " I will trust Him to bring
thee safe back again ; but make no further delay,
for it is waxing late, and the days are shorter than
they were."

"And, Winifred, you may take this bottle ol
milk for the old dame, and give a look for the


other basket as you pass tlie white elin. It will
doubtless be standing somewhere about.*'

Winifred was soon on her way with her bottle
and a second basket well filled. It may seem
strange that she was so ready to undertake the task,
but "Winifred Evans was no common child. She
came of a race of heroes and confessors, and it
seemed as if she had inherited her character from
them. Quiet and retiring as she ordinarily was,
hardly ever speaking unless when spoken to, ani
preferring her book or her own thoughts to any
kind of play, she was never known to show a
particle of fear. Gentle, patient, and ever ready
to yield to the wishes and opinions of others, in
matters where right and wrong were concerned she
was inflexible. Winifred's library was not a large
one. There was no Sunday-school library in those
times with its weekly supply of story-books no
magazine or illustrated newspaper. Her books
were few, and those of a character which I fear
would hardly attract many of my young readers.
Her favorite volumes were the Bible, the " Book of
Martyrs," and an odd volume of Mr. Edmund Spen-
ser's " Fairy Queen," which her father had bought
for her in Bristol ; besides which she read aloud
DOW and then to Mrs. Alwright in Hall's "


iclo " and Sir Philip Sidney's " Arcadia " Bui
the very fact that Winifred had access to so
few books made her prize more dearly and siudy
more attentively those she had. Over the first ol
these especially she pondered for hours in the
intervals of her daily tasks, strengthening her spirit
and feeding her imagination with the glorious
truths of the one and the beautiful tales of hero-
ism and virtue in the others. In other circum-
stances she might have become a mere luxurious
dreamer and castle-builder, living in 'a world of her
own fancies, to the neglect of real duties ; but no
such result was possible under the sensible and
energetic training of Dame Magdalen Evans. Ever
since Winifred had been able to run alone, she had
had a regular round of daily duties laid upon her,
for the performance of which she had been held
strictly accountable. The chickens must be fed,
the eggs collected,' the daily task of spinning and
knitting duly performed ; and the little girl was
taught to hallow these daily and common] >lace
toils by a spirit of religious consecration.

Dame Magdalen early made her daughter her
assistant in those works of charity and mercy which
were the delight of her own heart, and Winifred
at all times a welcome visitor in the cottages


of their poor neighbors, who looked upon her
as a kind of saint. She shrank from no toil, how-
ever disagreeable, which would benefit others, and
she sometimes undertook tasks from which elder
people shrank in dismay. It was she who first
gained access to Dame Oldmixon, as she sat alone
in her darkened cottage, distracted with grief and
terror after the horrible death of her husband, and
at first by tears and caresses, and then by whis-
pered prayers and verses of Scripture, had quieted
the poor creature and persuaded her to take some
food and try to sleep. It was she who by long and
careful searching had recovered little Willie Big-
gins' silver sixpence, just as the child had given up
the quest in despair, and was going home to the
whipping he was pretty certain to receive. It was
Winifred who penetrated to the awful presence of
Sir Edward Peckham himself, to beg off the herd-
boy who was about to be sent to jail for robbing
the heron's nest of eggs and feathers ; in which
enterprise she succeeded so well that she not only
saved the lad from punishment, but was presented
with a new silver piece by Sir Edward himself, and
regaled with sweetmeats by my lady, besides ob-
taining the inestimate privilege of coming twice
in every week, and sometimes oftener, to take Jes-


sons in fine work and confectionery of Lady Peck-
ham's waiting gentlewoman, Mistress Alwright.
Finally, it was Winifred who read the delinquent
herd-boy such a lecture on the enormity of his
guilt in robbing the herons, that he blubbered over
it for an hour, and promised never again to take
what did not belong to him. This very day she
had been to visit poor Dame Hodges in her afflic-
tion, and had thus heard the news of the depart-
ure of the soldiers from Bridge water.

Winifred walked briskly along, now watching the
rooks, which were beginning to return to their
nests in Holford Avenue, and the robin redbreasts
in the hedges ; now musing upon something she
had read, or repeating aloud her favorite verses
and ballads. As she drew near the place where
the dead elm stood white and gaunt in the copse,
she began to look about for the basket which Jack
had left behind in his terror. Presently she espied
it not far from a tall, upright stone near the dead
tree I have mentioned. This stone stood close to
the edge of the ".opse, amid a number of similar
ones which had fallen across each other in wild
confusion, and which were believed to have once
formed part of some old heathen temple. The
ruin, if such it was, was nearly overgrown with rank


weeds and brambles, and was looked upon with
peculiar disfavor by the country folks, as being the
favorite haunt of the headless steed before men-

" Why, there is the basket !" said Winifred,
surprised. " I would not have believed Jack would
go so near the standing stones alone for all the
blackberries in Somersetshire."

She went to the place, and as she stooped to
take up the basket, she heard distinctly the same
sound which had scared Jack a faint, hollow

" Jack did hear something, after all !" was her
first thought. " It is some poor creature who has
been wounded, and is perhaps starving I" was her
second thought. She looked carefully around, and
seeing nobody near, she said in a low voice, " Who
is here ?"

Another fainter groan was the only reply.
Winifred drew nearer. Stretched upon the ground,
ill a little hollow among the fallen stones, lay a
young gentleman so Winifred judged him to be
by his dress apparently just at the point of death.
His once gay doublet was soiled and ragged, hia
eyes were imnken and closed, and there was a half-
healed seal upon his cheek. Winifred spoke to


him, but there was no answer except a deep,
tremulous sigh.

Winifred was not long in deciding what to do.
She put down her burden and raised the poor
gentleman's head upon her lap. She then mois-
tened his lips with milk from the bottle, and witl
great difficulty forced a few drops into his mouth.
In a few moments the sick man opened his eyes

" Who is this ?" he asked, faintly.

" A friend !" answered Winifred, who was now
moistening some bits of bread with milk " Try
to swallow this."

The poor sufferer eagerly took the food offered
him, and presently was able to sit up and feed

" May God bless you, my maid !" said he. " I
thought all was over with me, but I seem already
to feel new strength. I believe you have saved
my life. How did you find me out ?"

Winifred related the story of Jack's ad-venture,
The gentleman smiled faintly.

" It was I who frightened your brother and
robbed him of his basket as well," said he. " I
had managed to crawl to the barley field in the
hope of carrying off a little straw to add to my
bedding, when I was surprised by his approach,


and shrank behind the sheaves. At that moment
I felt such a deadly faintness and hunger come over
rue, that I could not resist the impulse to call upon
him for aid an impulse I bitterly regretted when I
saw how frightened he was. I expected no less
than that he would bring back a crowd with him,
and crept to my hiding-place, carrying the basket

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