The Lady of Loyalty House
by Justin Huntly McCarthy
THE LADY OF
JUSTIN HUNTLY McCARTHY
MARJORIE THE PROUD PRINCE ETC.
HARPER &BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
Copyright, 1904, by HARPER &BROTHERS.
All rights reserved.
Published October, 1904.
I. THE STRANGER
AT THE GATES
III. MY LORD THE
IV. THE LEAGUER
V. A MONSTROUS
VI. HOW WILL ALL
VIII. THE ENVOY
IX. HOW THE
SIEGE WAS RAISED
X. PRISONER OF
XI. AT BAY
XII. A USE FOR A
XIII. A GILDED
XIV. A PASSAGE
XV. MY LADY'S
XVI. A PURITAN
XVII. SET A
KNAVE TO CATCH A
XIX. SIR BLAISE
XX. SIR BLAISE
PAYS HIS PENALTY
XXI. A PUZZLING
PAUL AND MASTER
XXIII. A DAY
XXIV. A HIGH
COURT OF JUSTICE
XXV. ROMEO AND
XXIX. THE KING
MAKES A FRIEND
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.
THE LADY OF LOYALTY HOUSE
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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 Tortugasthe 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 kindmental 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.
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
Who but a King's man could hope to have civil speech with the Lady
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
specious show of allegiance.
We shall see, he muttered. We shall see. Stay where you are, just
where you are, and I will inquire at the hall. The gate is fast, so you
can do no mischief while my back is turned.
As he spoke he turned on his heel and, plunging among the trees in
pursuit of a shorter cut than the winding avenue, disappeared from
view. Halfman eyed the gateway with a smile.
I do not think those bars would keep me out long if I had a mind to
climb them, he said to himself, complacently. But he was content to
wait, walking up and down on the wet grass and running over in his mind
the playhouse verses most suited to a soldier of fortune at the gate of
a great lady. He had not to wait long. Before the jumble-cupboard of
his memory had furnished him with the most felicitous quotation his
ears heard a heavy tread through the trees, and the man with the musket
hailed him, tramping to the gate. He carried a great iron key in his
free hand, and this he fitted to the lock of the gate, which, unused to
its inhospitable condition, creaked and groaned as he tugged at it. As
at length it yielded the man of Harby opened one-half wide enough to
admit the passage of a human body, and signalled to Halfman to come
through. Halfman, smilingly observant, obeyed the invitation, and
looked about him reflective while the gate was again put to and the key
again turned in the lock to the same protesting discord. Many years had
fallen from the tree of his life since he last trod the turf of Harby.
All kinds of queer thoughts came about him, some melancholy, some full
of mockery, some malign. He was no longer a poor lad with the world
before him to whom the Lord of Harby was little less than the
viceregent of God; he was a free man, he was a rich man, he had
multiplied existences, had drunk of the wine of life from many casks
and yet maintained through all a kind of cleanness of palate, ready for
any vintage yet unbroached, be it white or red. The rough voice of his
companion stirred him from his reverie.
My lady will see you, he said. Follow me.
As the man spoke he started off at a brisk pace upon the avenue with
the evident intention of making his words the guide-marks to the
new-comer's deeds. But Halfman, never a one to follow tamely, with an
easy stretch of his long limbs, swung himself lightly beside his
uncivil companion, and without breathing himself in the least kept
steadily a foot-space ahead of him. I was ever counted a good walker,
he observed, cheerfully. I have taken the world's ways at the trot;
you will never outpace me.
The man of Harby slackened his speed for a second, and there came an
ugly look of quarrel into his face which made it plain as a map for
Halfman that there was immediate chance of a brawl and a tussle. He
would have relished it well enough, knowing pretty shrewdly how it
would end, but he contented himself for the moment, having other
business in hand, with cheerful comment.
Friend, he said, if we are both King's men we have no leisure for
quarrel, however much our fingers may itch. What is your name,
The serving-man scowled at him for a moment; then his frown faded as
he faced the smile and the bright, wild eyes of Halfman.
My name is Thoroughgood, he answered, and he added, civilly
enough, as if conscious of some air of gentility in his companion,
John Thoroughgood, at your service.
A right good name for a right good fellow, if I know anything of
men, Halfman approved. And I take it that you serve a right good
My lady is my lady, Thoroughgood replied, simply. None like her
as ever I heard tell of.
Halfman endeavored by dexterous questionings to get some further
information than this of the Lady of Harby from her sturdy servant, but
Thoroughgood's blunt brevity baffled him, and he soon reconciled
himself to tramp in silence by his guide. So long as he remembered
anything he remembered that passage through the park, the sweet smell
of the wet grass, the waning splendors, russet and umber, of October
leaves, the milky blueness of the autumn sky. This was, indeed,
England, the long, half-forgotten, yet ever faintly remembered, in
places of gold and bloodshed and furious suns, the place of peace of
which the fortune-seeker sometimes dreamed and to which the
fortune-maker chose to turn. The place of peace, where every man was
arming, where citizens were handling steel with unfamiliar fingers, and
where a rover like himself could not hope to let his sword lie idle. It
was as he thought these thoughts that a turn of the road brought him
face to face with Harby Hall, and all the episodes of a busy, bloody
life seemed to dwindle into insignificance as he crossed the moat and
passed with John Thoroughgood through the guarded portals and found
himself once again in the shelter of the great hall.
The great hall at Harby was justly celebrated in Oxfordshire and in
the neighboring counties as one of the loveliest examples of the rich
domestic architecture which adorned the age of Elizabeth. That
prodigal bravery in building, which Camden commends, made no fairer
display than at Harby which had been designed by the great architect
Thorp. Of a Florentine favor externally, it was internally a
magnificent illustration of what Elizabethan decorators could do, and
the great hall gave the note to which the whole scheme was keyed. Its
wonderful mullioned windows looked out across the moat on the terrace,
and beyond the terrace on the park. Its walls of panelled oak were
splendid witnesses to the skill of great craftsmen. Its carved roof was
a marvel of art that had learned much in Italy and had made it English
with the hand of genius. Over the great fireplace two armored figures
guarded rigidly the glowing shield of the founder of the house. Heroes
of the house, heroines of the house, stared or smiled from their
canvases on the mortal shadows that flitted through the great place
till it should be their turn to swell the company of the elect in
frames of gold. At one end of the hall sprang the fair staircase that
was itself one of the greatest glories of Harby, with its wonderful
balustrade, on which, landing by landing, stood the glorious carved
figures of the famous angels of Harby.
III. MY LORD THE LADY
Between the topmost pair of carven angels a woman stood for a second
looking down upon the man below. She had come quite suddenly from a
door in the great gallery, and she paused for a moment on the topmost
stair to survey the stranger who had summoned her. The stranger for his
part stared up at the woman in an honest and immediate rapture. He was
not unused to comely women, seen afar or seen at close quarters, but he
felt very sure now that he had never seen a fair woman before. He
prided himself on a most unreverential spirit, but his instant, most
unfamiliar emotion was one of reverence. His fantastic wit idealized
wildly enough. An angel among angels, he exulted. Ecce Rosa Mundi,
his rusty scholarship trumpeted. His brain was a tumult of passionate
phrases from passionate play-books, Oh, thou art fairer than the
evening air, overriding them all like a fairy swan upon a fairy sea.
There never was such a woman since the world began; there never could
be such a woman again till the world should end. And while his mind
whirled with his own ecstasies and the ecstasies of dead players, the
Lady Brilliana came slowly down the great stairs.
If the light of her on his eyes dazzled him, if the riot in his mind
overprized her excellence, a saner man could scarce have failed to be
delighted with the girl's beauty, a wiser to have denied her visible
promises of merit. If better-balanced minds than the mind of Hercules
Halfman, striving to conjure up the image of their dreams, had looked
upon the face, upon the form, of Brilliana Harby, they might well have
been willing to let imagination rest and be contented with the living
flesh. Twenty sweet years of healthy country life had set their seal of
grace and color upon the child of the union of two noble, sturdy
stocks; all that was best of a brave dead man and a fair dead woman was
mirrored in the pride of her face, the candor of her eyes, the courage
of her mouth. Lost father and lost mother had made a strange pair; all
their excellences were summed and multiplied in their bright child's
being. A dozen gallant gentlemen of Oxford or Warwickshire would have
given their fortunes for the smallest scissors-clipping of one sable
curl, would have perilled their lives for one kind smile of those blue
eyes, would have bartered their scanty chances of salvation for the
first kiss of her fresh lips.
While she descended the stairs Halfman never took his eyes off the
lady. He found himself wishing he were a painter, that he might
perpetuate her graces through a few favored generations who might
behold and adore her dimly as he beheld and adored her clearly, in her
riding-dress of Lincoln green, whose voluminous superfluity she held
gathered to her girdle as she moved. No painter could have scanned her
more closely, noted more minutely the buckle of brilliants that
captured the plume in her hat, the lace about her throat, the curious
work upon her leather gauntlets, the firm foot in the small, square
shoe, the riding-whip with its pommel of gold which she carried so
commandingly. Lovely shadows trooped into his mind, names that had been
naught but names to him till nowRosalind, Camiola, Bianca. They had
passed before him as so many smooth-faced youths, carrying awkwardly
and awry their woman's wear, and lamentably uninspiring. Now he saw all
these divine ladies take life incarnate in this divine lady, and he
marvelled which of the loveliest of the rarely named company could have
shone on her poet's eyes so dazzlingly as this creature.
He stared in silence till she had reached the foot of the staircase,
still stared silent as she advanced towards him. There was nothing
disrespectful in his direct glance, but the steadfastness and the
silence stirred her challenge.
Sir, she said, when you asked to see me it was not, I hope, in
the thought to stare me out of countenance.
Halfman made her a sweeping salutation and found his voice with an
effort, but his words did not interpret the admiration of his eyes.
I asked to see you, he answered, respectfully, because I ride
with tidings that may touch you. I am newly from Cambridge.
Brilliana's eyes widened.
What do you carry from Cambridge? she asked; then swiftly added,
But first, I pray you, be seated.
She pointed to a chair on one side of the great table, and to set
him the example seated herself at another. Halfman bowed and took his
appointed place, resting his hat upon his knees.
Lady, he said, there was at Cambridge a certain Parliament man
who plays at being a soldier, and though he should be no more than
plain master, those that would do him pleasure call him Captain or
Brilliana frowned a little. I have heard of the man, she said. He
talks treason at Westminster; he is the King's enemy.
Halfman leaned a little nearer to her across the table and spoke
with a well-managed air of mystery.
Captain Cromwell is not only the King's enemy; he is also the enemy
of the Lady Brilliana Harby.
Brilliana shook her dark head proudly, and Halfman thought that her
curls glanced like the arrows of Apollo.
Any enemy of the King is an enemy to me, but not he, as I think,
more than another.
Halfman tapped the table impressively.
There you are mistaken, lady, he said. The man is very especially
and particularly your enemy. He has been very busy of late in Cambridge
raising train-bands, capturing college plate, and the like
naughtinesses, but he has not been so busy as not to hear how the
King's flag flies unchallenged from the walls of Harby.
And shall fly there so long as I live, Brilliana interrupted,
Halfman smiled approval of her heat, yet shook his head dubiously.
It shall not fly long unchallenged, he continued. That is my
news. Master Cromwellmay the devil fly away with his soldier's
titleis sending hither a company of sour-faced Puritans to bid you
haul down your flag.
Even as he spoke his heart glowed at the instant effect of his words
upon the woman. She sprang to her feet, with flaming cheeks and blazing
eyes, and struck her white hand upon the table.
That flag flies, she cried, for the honor of Harby. Whoever
challenges the honor of Harby will find it a very dragon, with teeth
and claws and a fiery breath.
Halfman sprang to his feet, too, and gave the gallant girl a
military salute. Every fibre of him now tingled with loyalty to the
royal quarrel; he was a King's man through and through, had been so for
sure from his cradle.
Lady, he almost shouted, you make a gallant warrior, and I will
be proud to serve you. Seeing the surprise in her eyes, he hurried on:
Lady, I am an old soldier, an old sailor. I have seen hot service in
hot lands; have helped to take towns and helped to hold towns, and if
it be your pleasure, as it will be your prudence, to avail of my aid, I
will show you how we can maintain this place against an army.
Brilliana rested her hands on the table, and, leaning forward,
looked steadily into Halfman's face. He accepted the scrutiny steadily;
he was all in all her servant. She seemed to read so much.
If your news be true, she said, and if you do not overboast your
skill, why, I shall be very glad of your aid and counsel.
Your hand on that, gallant captain, clamored Halfman, all aflame
of pride and pleasure. And across the oaken table the Lady of Harby and
the adventurer clasped hands in compact.
IV. THE LEAGUER OF HARBY
Halfman proved himself a creditable henchman. There was much to do
and little time to do it in, for any hour might bring news that the
enemy was near at hand. Brilliana, as he told her and as she knew,
would have done well without him, once she had warning of danger, but,
as she told him and as he knew, she did very much better with him.
There was no help to be had in the neighborhood, but by Halfman's
advice a message was trusted to a sure hand to be carried to Sir
Randolph Harby, of Harby Lesser, now with the King, telling him of what
was threatened. All the servants were assembled in the great hall, and
there Brilliana made them a stirring little speech, to which Halfman
listened with applauding pulses. She told them how Harby was menaced;
she told them what she meant to do. She and Captain Halfman meant to
hold the place for the King so long as there was a place to hold. But
she would constrain none to stay with her, and she offered to all who
pleased the choice to go down into the village and bide there till the
business was ended one way or the other. Not a man of the little
household, nor a woman, offered to budge. Perhaps they did not care
very much about the quarrel, but they all loved very dearly their wild,
high-spirited young mistress, and it was God save Brilliana! they
were thinking while they shouted God save the King!
This was how it came to pass that when the hundred men from
Cambridge, under the command of Captain Evander Cloud, made an end of
their forced march, they found the iron gates of Harby's park closed
against them. This was in itself a matter of little moment, needing but
the united efforts of half a dozen stout fellows to arrange. But it was
the hint significant of more to follow. The Puritan party tramping
through the park was greeted, as it neared the moat, with a volley,
purposely aimed high, which brought them to a halt. The Puritans eyed
grimly a place whose great natural strength had been most ingeniously
increased by skilful fortification, and while their leader advanced
alone and composedly across the space between the invaders and the
walls of Harby, the followers were bale to note how all the windows
were barricaded and loop-holed, and how full of menace the ancient
Evander Cloud advanced across the grass until he was within a few
feet of the moat. Then an upper window was thrown open, its wooden
curtain removed, and a young, fair woman appeared at the opening and
quietly asked of the Puritan the meaning of his presence.
Evander Cloud saluted the lady; he could see that she was young and
comely. His own face was in shadow and the chatelaine could not
distinguish its features.
Have I the honor to address the Lady Brilliana Harby? he asked.
I am the Lady Brilliana Harby, the girl answered. What is your
I come, madam, Evander replied, a servant of the Parliament and
of the English people, to safeguard this mansion in their name.
You may speak for the London Parliament, Brilliana said, firmly,
but I think you are too bold to speak in the name of the English
people. As for this poor house, it can safeguard itself very well, with
the help of God.
Madam, responded Evander, I am empowered to take by force what I
would gladly gain by parley.
This house is the King's house, Brilliana said, scornfully, and
does not yield to thieves.
It is the King's evil advisers who have forced civil war upon the
land, Evander replied, gravely. And it is in the King's name and for
the King's sake that we would secure this stronghold.
Ay, retorted Brilliana, derisively. And do the King honor by
hauling down the King's flag. No more words. This is Loyalty House. You
have ten minutes in which to withdraw your men. At the end of that time
we shall fire again, and you will find that we can shoot straight. And
so you may go to the devil.
Evander would have appealed anew, but with her last word Brilliana
disappeared from the window, which in another moment was barricaded as
stubbornly as before.
And this was the beginning of the siege of Harby House.
Mr. Samuel Marfleet, in his Diurnal of certain events of moment
happening of late at Harby, is very eloquent over the coming of the
little company. He sees in them the deliverers from Dagon, the
destroyers of Babylon, and in sundry heated if confused allusions to
the worship of Ashtaroth, it seems certain that the indignant
school-master was vehemently protesting against the popularity of
Brilliana. He probably goes too far, however, when he interprets the
silence of Harby villagers as the Cambridge company marched through the
main street as the silence too great for speech of a liberated people.
Harby villagers were, for the most part, serenely indifferent to the
quarrels of the court and the Parliament, but they had a hearty liking
for Brilliana, and would, if they could, very likely have shown active
resentment at the attack upon her home. But with nobody to lead them,
there was nothing for them to do but to stare at the grave-faced men in
sober clothes with guns upon their shoulders and steel upon their
breasts who tramped along towards Harby Hall. Even to the siege itself
they were perforce indifferent, seeing very little of it, for the
parliamentary leader took care that none of them came into Harby park,
and did not, as we may gather from occasional asperities in the
Diurnal, greatly encourage even the visits of Mr. Marfleet himself.
The full chronicle of that siege does not concern us here. Those
that are curious in the matter may seek for ampler information, if they
will, in the Marfleet Diurnal. Thanks to its situation, thanks to the
experience of adventurer Halfman in barricading windows and so
loop-holing them for musketry as fully to command the moat on all
sides, Harby Hall proved a hard nut to crack. It was but child's play,
indeed, if you chose to compare it with the later leaguer of Lathom,
but to those immediately concerned, and to Harby village, all open
mouths and open eyes, the business was a very Iliad. There was a great
deal of powder burned and but little blood shed. The little Parliament
party soon learned that there was no taking the place by a rush or a
ruse, that it was discretion to keep due distance and invest. For the
besieged, on the other hand, there was no chance of a sortie, their
numbers being so few and their provisions were sorely scarce. If no one
could for the moment get into Harby, neither could any one get out of
So day succeeded day, and Halfman found them all enchanted days. He
was inevitably much in the company of the lady, and he played the part
of an honest gentleman ably. He made the most of his odd scholarship,
of that part of his knowledge of the world best likely to commend him
to the favor of a gentlewoman; his buccaneering enterprises veiled
themselves under the vague phrase of foreign service. He had been in
tight places a thousand times; he weighed them as trifles against a
chance to win money and the living toys that money can buy. But it was
new to him to hold a fort under the command of a woman, and the woman
herself was the newest, strangest thing he had ever known. Ever the
lover of his abandoned art, he conceived shrewdly enough the character
that would not displease Brilliana and played it very consistently: the
soldier of fortune true, but one that had tincture of letters and would
be a scholar if he could. So the siege hours were also hours of such
companionship as he had never experienced, ever desired; he ripened in
the sunshine of a girl's kindliness, and he deliberately tied, as it
were, the foul pages of his book of memory together with the pink
ribbon of a girl's garter. He would have been content for the siege to
last forever. But the siege did not last forever.
V. A MONSTROUS REGIMENT
In the great hall at Harby a motley fellowship were assembled. If a
stranger from a strange land, wafted thither on some winged Arabian
carpet or flying horse of ebony, could have beheld the place and the
company, he would have been hard put to it to find any reasonable
explanation of what his eyes witnessed. In the middle of the hall some
five singular figures stood on line: two tall, powerful lads with
foolish faces, flagrant farm-hands; an old, bowed man with the snow of
many winters on his hair; an impish lad who might have welcomed
fourteen springs; and, finally, a rubicund, buxom woman with very red
cheeks, very blue eyes, very brown hair, whose person suggested the
kitchen a league off. Each of these persons handled a pike, carrying it
at an angle different from that of the others, and each of them gazed
with painfully attentive stare at the oaken table near the hearth upon
which Hercules Halfman sat learnedly expounding the mysteries of the
pike drill, while Thoroughgood stood between him and the awkward squad
to illustrate in his own person and with the pike he carried the
teachings of the instructor.
Order your pikes, Halfman commanded. Advance your pikes. Shoulder
your pikes. Then, as these orders were obeyed deftly enough by
Thoroughgood and with bewildering variety by the others, he continued,
Trail your pikes, and then broke sharply off to expostulate with one
of the farm-hands.
Now, Timothy Garlinge, call you that trailing of a pike. Why,
Gammer Satchell carries herself more soldierly.
Timothy Garlinge grinned loutishly at this rebuke, but the fat dame
whom Halfman's flourish indicated seemed to dilate with satisfaction.
It were shame, she chuckled, if a handy lass could not better a
The impish lad grinned derision.
Ay, he commented; but an old fool's best at her spits and
A most unmilitary titter rippled along the rank but broke upon the
rock of Mrs. Satchell's anger. It might have seemed to many that it
were impossible for the dame's cheeks to be any redder, but Mistress
Satchell's visage showed that nature could still work miracles. With
face a rich crimson from chin to forehead, she made to hurl herself
upon the leering, fleering mannikin, but was caught in the unbreakable
restraint of neighbor Clupp's clasp.
You limb, I'll griddle you! Mistress Satchell gasped, panting in
the embracing arms. Halfman played the peace-maker with a sour smile.
There, there, goody, he expostulated; youth will have its yelp.
He turned with something of a yawn to Thoroughgood.
Why a devil did you press gossip cook into the service?
Thoroughgood shook his head protestingly.
Nay, the virago volunteered, he explained, with a look that seemed
to supplement speech in the suggestion that it were best to let
Mistress Satchell have her own way. This was evidently Mistress
Satchell's own view of the matter.
Truly, she exclaimed, if my lady, being no more than a woman, is
man enough to garrison her house against the Roundheads, she cannot
deny me, that am no less than a woman, the right to handle a pike.
Halfman, eying the dame's assertive rotundities, thought that he
would be indeed a quarrelsome fellow who should deny her evident
You are a lovely logician, he approved. Enough.
Then resuming his sententious tone of military command, he took up
the task where he had left it off.
Trail your pikes.
The order was this time obeyed by the company with something
approaching resemblance to the action of Thoroughgood, and Halfman went
Cheek your pikes.
Out of the confused cluttering of weapons which ensued, Timothy
Garlinge emerged tremulous.
Please, sir, he gurgled, I've forgotten how to cheek my pike.
Halfman mastered exasperation bravely, as, taking a pike from the
hands of Thoroughgood, he strove to illuminate rusticity.
Use your pike thus, noddy, he lessoned, good-naturedly, wielding
the weapon with the skill of a practised pikeman. But the illustration
was as much lost upon Garlinge as the original command, and in his
attempt to imitate it he whirled his arm so recklessly that his
companions scattered in dismay, and Halfman himself was fain to move a
step or two backward to avoid the yokel's meaningless sweeps.
Have a care, he cried. If you work so wild you will damage your
Mrs. Satchell, taking her post in the now restored line, shook her
red fist at the delinquent.
He had best not damage me, she thundered, or I'll damage him to
Silence in the ranks! Halfman commanded, sharply. Charge your
pikes, he ordered.
This order was obeyed indifferently and tamely enough by all save
the egregious Mrs. Satchell, who delivered so lusty a thrust with her
weapon that Halfman was obliged to skip back briskly to avoid bringing
his breast acquainted with her steel.
Nay, woman, warily! he shouted, half laughing, half angry. Play
your play more tamely. I am no rascally Roundhead.
Mrs. Satchell grounded her weapon and wiped the sweat from her
shining forehead with the back of her red hand. There was a deadly
earnest in her eyes, a deadly earnest in her speech.
I cry you mercy, she panted. But I am a whole-hearted woman, and
when you bid me charge I am all for charging.
Halfman did his best to muffle amusement in a reproving frown.
Limit your zeal discreetly, he urged, and was again the drill
Shoulder your pikes.
The weapons followed the words with some show of decorum.
Comport your pikes.
Again the evolution was carried out with some degree of accuracy.
Port your pikes.
Here all followed the word of command fairly well with the exception
of Garlinge's fellow-rustic, who simply strove to repeat the order
already executed. Halfman turned upon him sharply.
Now, Clupp, he cried, will you never learn the difference between
port and comport?
Clupp, the fellow addressed, bashful at finding himself the object
of attention, swayed backward and forward with his pikestaff for a
pivot, laughing vacantly.
No, sir, he gaped, stupidly. Master Halfman's lip wrinkled
menacingly, and he reached his hand to his staff that lay upon the
Indeed! he said. Then I must ask Master Crabtree Cudgel to lesson
He advanced threateningly towards the terrified fellow, but long
before he could reach him Dame Satchell had interposed her generous
bulk between officer and private, not, however, as was soon shown, from
any desire to intercede for the culprit.
Leave him to me, sir, she entreated, vehemently. If you love me,
leave him to me.
And, indeed, her angry eyes shone warranty that the offender would
fare badly at her hands. Halfman waved her aside with a gesture of
Mistress Satchell, he protested, you are a valiant woman, but a
Dame Satchell's cheeks glowed a deeper crimson, and her variable
anger raged from Clupp to Halfman.
Call me no names, she squalled, though you do call yourself
captain, or I'll call you the son of a
However Mistress Satchell intended to finish her objurgation it was
not given to the company to learn, for Halfman tripped up her speech
with a nimble interruption.
The son of a pike, so please you, he suggested, with a smile that
softened the virago's heart. There, we have toiled enough to-day and
it tests our tempers. Dismiss.
This command he addressed to the whole of his amazing company; to
Dame Satchell he gave a congee with a more than Spanish flourish: To
your pots and pans, valorous.
Dame Satchell, mollified by his compliment, shrugged her fat
shoulders. 'Tis little enough I have to put in them, she grumbled.
Roast or boiled, boiled, fried, or larded, all's one, all's none.
We'll be mumbling shoe-leather soon.
She sighed heavily at the thought, and moved slowly towards the door
at the end of the hall beneath the gallery. Halfman, unheeding her, had
turned to the table and was intently poring over the large map that lay
there together with a loaded pistol. Thoroughgood gave orders to the
Garlinge and Clupp, go scour the pikes. Tom Cropper, find something
to keep you out of mischief. As for you, Gaffer Shard, you may rest
The old man shook his frosty head vigorously. Nay, nay, he piped,
I need no rest. My old bones are loyal and cannot tire in a good
cause. God save the King.
He gave a shrill cheer which was echoed loudly by men and boy, and
so cheering they tramped out of the hall in the trail of Mother
Satchell, Garlinge staggering under the load of pikes which the lad had
officiously foisted on to his shoulder, Clupp laughing vacantly after
his manner, and steadfast old Shard waving his red cap and chirping his
VI. HOW WILL ALL END?
When they had all gone and the hall was quiet, Thoroughgood came
slowly down with a puzzled frown on his honest, weather-beaten face to
where Halfman humped over his map.
Where's the good of drilling clowns and cooks? he asked, surlily.
He talked like one thoroughly weary, but his mood of weariness seemed
to melt before the sunshine of Halfman's smile as he lifted his head
from the map.
Where's the harm? he countered. 'Twas my lady's idea to keep
their spirits up, and, by God! it was a good thought. She knows how it
heartens folk to play a great part in a great business: keeps them from
feeling the fingers of famine in their inwards, keeps them from
whining, repining, declining, what you will. But I own I did not count
on the presence of Gammer Cook in the by-play.
I could not see why she should be kept out of the mummery,
Thoroughgood responded, if she had a mind for the masking.
Perhaps you are right, Halfman answered, meditatively. My lady's
example would make a Hippolyta of any housemaid of them all.
I do not know what it would make of them, Thoroughgood answered;
but I know this, that it matters very little now.
Halfman swung round on his seat and stared at him curiously.
Why? he asked.
Now that this truce is called, Thoroughgood answered, that the
Roundhead captain may have speech with my lady.
Why, what then? questioned Halfman, with his eyes so fixed on
Thoroughgood's that Thoroughgood, dogged as he was, averted his gaze.
Naught's left but surrender, he grunted, between his teeth. The
words came thickly, but Halfman heard them clearly. He raised his right
hand for a moment as if he had a thought to strike his companion, but
then, changing his temper, he let it fall idly upon his knee as he
surveyed Thoroughgood with a look that half disdained, half pitied.
My lady will never surrender, he said, quietly, with the quiet of
a man who enunciates a mathematical axiom. You know that well enough.
Thoroughgood shrugged plaintive, protesting shoulders.
We've stood this siege for many days, he muttered. Food is
running out; powder is running out. Even the Lady Brilliana cannot work
Halfman rose to his feet. His eyes were shining and he pressed his
clinched hands to his breast like a man in adoration.
The Lady Brilliana can work miracles, does work miracles daily. Is
it no miracle that she has held this castle all these hours and days
against this rebel leaguer? Is it no miracle that she has poured the
spirit of chivalry into scullions and farm-hands and cook-wenches so
that not a Jack or Jill of them but would lose bright life blithely for
her and the King and God? Is it not a miracle that she has transmuted,
by a change more amazing than anything Master Ovid hath recorded in his
Metamorphoses, a villanous old land-devil and sea-devil like myself
into a passionate partisan? But what of me? God bless her! She is my
lady-angel, and her will is my will to the end of the chapter.
He dropped in his chair again as if exhausted by the vehemence of
his words and the emotion which prompted them. Thoroughgood
contemplated him sourly.
You prate like a play-actor, he snarled. Halfman's whole being
flashed into activity again. He was no more a sentimentalist but now a
Because I was a play-actor once, he shouted, when I was a
Thoroughgood eyed Halfman with a sudden air of distrust.
You never told me you were a play-actor, he growled. You spoke
only of soldiering.
Halfman laughed flagrantly in his face.
Godamercy, man, there has been scant time to tell you my life's
story. We have had other cats to whip. Yes, I was a play-actor once,
and played for great poets, for men whose names have never tickled your
ears. But the owl-public would have none of me, and, owllike, hooted me
off the boards. But I've had my revenge of them. I've played a devil's
part on the devil's stage for thirty red years. Nune Plaudite.
The Latin tag dropped dead at the porches of John Thoroughgood's
ears, but those ears pricked at part of Halfman's declamation.
What kind of parts? he asked, drawing a little nearer to the
soldier of fortune, whose experiences fascinated his inexperience.
Halfman shrugged his shoulders and favored honest Thoroughgood with
a bantering, quizzical smile.
All kinds of parts, he answered. How does the old puzzle run?
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, ploughboy, gentleman, thief. I think I
have played all those parts, and others, too. Fling beggar and pirate
into the dish. But I tell you this, honest John, I have never played a
part so dear to me as that of captain to this divine commander. I thank
my extravagant stars that steered me home to serve her.
You cannot sing her praises too sweetly for my ears, Thoroughgood
answered. But there is an end to all things, and it looks to me as if
we were mighty near to an end of the siege of Harby. Why else should
there be a truce called that the Roundhead captain may have speech with
Honest John Thoroughgood, Halfman answered, with great composure,
you are not so wise as you think. This Roundhead captain has sent us
hither the most passionate pleadings to be admitted to parley. Why deny
him? It will advantage him no jot, but it is possible we may learn from
the leakage of his lips something at least of what is going on in the
What is there to learn? asked Thoroughgood. Halfman shook his head
Why, for my part, I should like to learn why in all this great gap
of time nothing has been done to help one side or the other. If the
gentry of Harby have made no effort to relieve us, neither, on the
other hand, has our leaguer been augmented by any reinforcements. If my
lady has been surprised that Sir Blaise Mickleton has made no show of
coming to her succor, I, for my part, am woundily surprised that the
Cropheads of Cambridge have sent no further levies for our undoing.
Why, for that matter Thoroughgood began, and then suddenly broke
off. Here comes my lady, he said, turning and standing in an attitude
of respectful attention.
Halfman had known of her coming before his companion spoke. The Lady
Brilliana had come out on to the gallery from the door near the head of
the stairway, and Halfman was conscious of her presence before he
lifted his eyes and looked at her. She was not habited now, as on the
day when he first beheld her, in her riding-robe of green, but in a
simple house-gown chosen for the ease and freedom it allowed to a great
lady who had suddenly found that she had much to do. The color of the
stuff, a crimson, as being a royal, loyal color, well became her fine
skin and her dark curls and her bright, imperious eyes. She was
followed by her serving-woman, Tiffany, a merry girl that Thoroughgood
adored, and one that would in days gone over have been likely to tickle
the easy whimsies of Halfman. Now he had no eyes, no thoughts, save for
her mistress, the lass unparalleled.
Brilliana was speaking to Tiffany even as she entered the gallery.
Strip more lint, Tiffany, she ordered; and bid Andrew be brisk
with the charcoal.
Her voice was as buoyant as the song of a free bird, and her step on
the stair as light as if there were no such thing in the world as a
leaguer. Tiffany crossed the gallery and disappeared through the
opposite door. Brilliana, as she descended the stair, diverted her
speech to Thoroughgood.
John Thoroughgood, I saw from the lattice our envoys bringing the
Parliament man down the elm walk. To them at once. They must not unhood
their hawk till he come to our presence.
VII. MISTRESS AND MAN
When Thoroughgood had left the hall and Brilliana came to the floor,
Halfman questioned her, very respectfully, but still with the air of
one who has earned the friendly right to put questions.
Why do you see this black-jack? he asked. Brilliana smiled at him
as radiantly as if the holding of a house against armed enemies was the
properest, pleasantest business imaginable.
With the littlest good-will in the world, I promise you, she
answered. But, you know, he so plagued for the parley that it was
easier to try him than deny him. Besides, good friend and captain, I
learn from what I read in Master Froissart's Chronicles that it were
neither customary nor courteous to deny conference to a supplicating
Halfman adored her for her courage, for her calm assumption of
How if he but come to spy out our strategies? he asked. The
leanness of our larder? Our empty bandoliers?
Brilliana beamed back at him with her bewildering confidence.
I have thought of that, too, she admitted. But he shall not find
us at our wit's-end. Seek Simon Butler, friend captain. Though our
cellars are near empty he will make shift to find you some full
flagons. Bring hither a bunch of your subalterns, the rosiest, the most
jovial, if any still carry such colors and boast such spirit; let them
gather in the banqueting-hall, where, with such wit as French wine can
give, let them sing as if they were merry and well fed. Our
sanctimonious spy-out-the-nakedness-of-the-land must think we are well
victualled, he must think we are well mannered.
Halfman made her a sweeping reverence which was not without its
play-actor's grace, though its honesty might have pardoned a greater
We are well womaned, lady, he asseverated, with you for our
leader. By sea and by land I have served some great captains, but never
one greater than you for constancy and manly valor.
Brilliana's bright face took a swift look of gravity and she gave a
The King's cause, she said, soberly, might turn a child into a
The steady loyalty that made her words at once a psalm and a
battle-cry bade Halfman's pulses tingle. Who could be found unfaithful
where this fair maid was so faithful? Yet he remembered their isolation
and the memory made him speak.
I marvel that none of your neighbors have tried to lend us a hand?
How could they? Brilliana asked, astonished. The brave are with
the King at Shrewsbury; the stay-at-homes are not fighters.
Hum, commented Halfman. What of Master Paul Hungerford?
Brilliana shrugged her shoulders.
A miserly daw, who would not risk a crown to save the crown.
Halfman questioned again.
What of Master Peter Rainham?
Brilliana shrugged again.
A dull, sullen skinflint waiting on event.
Halfman's inventory was not complete.
You have yet a third neighbor, he said, and, as I heard, a
prodigal in protestation. What of Sir Blaise Mickleton?
Brilliana's lips twitched with a derisive smile.
Sir Blaise, honest gentleman, loves good cheer and good ease. I
think he would not quit the board if Armageddon were towards. He will
be for eating, he will be for drinking, he will be for sleeping, and in
the mean time God's chosen gentlemen have learned the value of living
so long as to grant them a death for their King.
Her voice had risen to a cry of defiance, but now it dropped again
to its former note of bantering irony.
What a wonderful world it is which can hold at once such men as my
cousin Randolph or you or Rufus Quaryll and these hangbacks who shame
Harby. These three are professed my very good suitors, but they have
made no move to our help. Well, let them hang for a tray of knaves. We
need them not. We know that the King's cause must triumph and so we are
wise to be blithe.
Halfman's head was swinging with pleasure. She had counted him in so
glibly with the chosen ones, with the servants of God and the King. He
was very sure now that his watch-word had always been God and the
The King's cause must triumph, he echoed, his face shining with
How we shall all smile a year hence, Brilliana answered, to think
that such pitiful rebels vexed us. But for the moment there is one of
these same rebels to be facedand to be fooled. About our plan, good
Halfman saluted her more enthusiastically than he had ever saluted
My general, he vowed, he shall think these walls hold an army of
He turned on his heel and marched briskly out of the hall. Brilliana
looked after him, with the bright smile on her face, till the door of
the banqueting-hall closed behind him; then the smile slowly faded from
I would my spirits were as blithe as my speech, she thought, as
she went to the table and bent over it, looking at the open map which
Halfman had been studying.
What is going on in England, the King's England, little England,
that should not be big enough to have any room for traitors?
She put her finger on the spot where Harby figured on the sheet.
Here, she mused, we have been sundered from the world for all
these days by this Roundhead leaguer, hearing no outside news but the
ring of rebel shots and the sound of rebel voices. What has happened?
What is happening? When we began the King was at Shrewsbury and the
Parliament ruled London. What has come to the Parliament since? What
has come to the King? Well, Loyalty House will carry the King's flag so
long as one stone tops another. We will live as long as we can for his
Majesty, and then die for him gamely.
VIII. THE ENVOY
A sound of heavy steps disturbed her meditations. She stood up from
her map, blinked down the tears that tried to rise, and turned to face
Here is our enemy, she said to herself, and she forced back the
confident color to her cheeks, the confident light to her eyes. The
door from the park opened, and John Thoroughgood entered the room,
holding by the hand a man in the staid habit of a Puritan soldier,
whose eyes were muffled by a folded scarf of silk. Blindfolded though
he was, the Puritan followed his guide with a steady and resolute step.
Halt! cried Thoroughgood. The stranger stood quietly as if on
parade, while Thoroughgood saluted his mistress.
Unhood your hawk, Brilliana ordered. Thoroughgood, obedient,
unpicked the knot of the handkerchief, revealing his companion's face.
Brilliana observed with a hostile curiosity a tallish, well-set, comely
man of about thirty years of age, whose smooth, well-featured face
asserted high breeding and a gravity which deepened into melancholy in
the dark expressive eyes and lightened into lines of humor about the
fine, firm mouth. For a moment, with the removal of the muffle, he
seemed dazzled by the change from dark to light; then, as command of
his vision returned, he observed Brilliana and made her a courteous
salutation which she returned coldly. She made a gesture of dismissal
to Thoroughgood, who went out, and the Lady of Loyalty was left alone
with her enemy.
There was a moment's silence as the pair faced each other, the man
quietly discreet, the woman openly scornful. She was under the same
roof with a rebel in arms, and the thought sickened her. She broke the
You petitioned to see me. With the sound of her voice she found
new vehemence, new indignation. Do your rebels offer unconditional
The circumstances of the astonishing question brought for the moment
a slight smile to the grave face of the Parliament man.
It was scarcely with that thought, he answered, that I sought for
Though the man's smile had been short-lived, Brilliana had seen it
and loathed him for it. Though the man's manner was suave, it seemed to
wear the suavity of success and she loathed him for that, too.
We waste time, she cried, impatiently, with any other business
than your swift submission.
Then as she saw him make an amiably protesting gesture she raged at
him with a rising voice.
Oh, if you knew how hard it is for me to stand in the same room
with a renegade traitor you would, if such as you remember courtesy, be
brief in your errand.
The man showed no consciousness of the insult in her words and in
her manner save than by a courteous inclination of the head and a few
words of quiet speech.
Much may be pardoned to so brave a lady.
Brilliana struck her hand angrily upon the table once and again.
For God's sake do not praise me! she almost screamed, or I shall
hate myself. Your errand, your errand, your errand!
The enemy was provokingly imperturbable.
You have a high spirit, he said, that must compel admiration from
all. That is why I would persuade you to wisdom. I came hither from
Cambridge by order of Colonel Cromwell.
Brilliana's lips tightened at the sound of the name which the envoy
pronounced with so much reverence.
The rebel member for Cambridge, she sneeredthe mutinous brewer.
Are you a vassal of the man of beer?
There was a quiet note of protest in the reply of the envoy.
Colonel Cromwell is not a brewer, though he would be no worse a man
if he were. I am honored in his friendship, in his service. He is a
great man and a great Englishman.
And what, Brilliana asked, has this great man to do with Harby
that he sends you here?
He sends me here, the Puritan answered, to haul down your flag.
That you shall never do, Brilliana answered, steadily, while
there is a living soul in Harby.
The Puritan protested with appealing hands.
You are in the last straits for lack of food, for lack of fuel, for
lack of powder.
Brilliana made a passionate gesture of denial.
You are as ignorant as insolent, she asserted. Loyalty House
lacks neither provisions nor munitions of war.
There was a kind of respectful pity in the stranger's face as he
watched the wild, bright girl and hearkened to the vain, brave words.
Nay, now he began, out of the consciousness of his own truer
knowledge, but what he would have said was furiously interrupted by a
volume of strange sounds from the adjoining banqueting-hall. There was
a rattle and clink as of many pewter mugs banged lustily upon an oaken
table; there was a shrill explosion of laughter, the work of many merry
voices; there was the grinding noise of heavy chairs pushed back across
the floor for the greater ease of their occupants; there was a tapping
as of pipe-bowls on the board, and then over all the mingled din rose a
voice, which Brilliana knew for the voice of Halfman, ringing out a
The King's health, friends, to begin with.
All the noises that had died down to allow Halfman a hearing began
again with fresh vigor. It was obvious to the most unsophisticated
listener that here was the fag end of a feast and the moment for the
genial giving of toasts. Many voices swelled a loyal chorus of The
King, the King! and had the great doors of the banqueting-hall been no
other than bright glass it would have been scarce easier for the man
and woman in the great hall to realize what was happening, the
revellers rising to their feet, the drinking-vessels lifted high in air
with loyal vociferations, and then the silence, eloquent of tilted mugs
and the running of welcome liquor down the channels of thirsty throats.
This silence was broken by some one calling for a song, to which call
he who had proposed the King's health answered instantly and with
evident satisfaction. His rich if somewhat rough voice came booming
through the partitions, carolling a ballad to which the Puritan
listened with a perfectly unmoved countenance, while the Lady
Brilliana's eager face expressed every signal of the liveliest delight.
This was the song that came across the threshold:
What creature's this with his short hairs,
His little band and huge long ears,
That this new faith hath founded?
The Puritans were never such,
The saints themselves had ne'er so much,
Oh, such a knave's a Roundhead.
A yell of pleasure followed this verse, and a tuneless chorus
thundered the refrain, Oh, such a knave's a Roundhead, with the most
evident relish for the sentiments of the song. Brilliana looked with
some impatience at the unruffled face of her adversary, and when the
immediate clamor dwindled she addressed him, sarcastically:
These revellers, she said, would not seem to be at the last
extremity. But their festival must not deafen our conference.
She advanced to the door of the banqueting-room and struck against
it with her hand. On the instant silence she opened the door a little
way and spoke through softly, as if gently chiding those within.
Be merry more gently, friends. Sure, I cannot hear the gentleman
speak. Though, she added, reflectively, as she closed the door and
returned again to the table she had quittedthough God knows he talks
The Puritan clapped his palms together as if in applause, an action
that somewhat amazed her in him, while a kindly humor kindled in his
Bravely staged, bravely played, he admitted, while he shook his
head. But it will not serve your turn, for it may not deceive me. I
had a message this morning from my Lord Essex. There has been hot
fighting; Heaven has given us the victory; the King's cause is wellnigh
lost at the first push.
Brilliana felt her heart drumming against her stays, but she turned
a defiant face on the news-monger.
I do not believe you, she answered. The King's cause will always
The soldier took no notice of her denial; he felt too sure of his
fact to hold other than pity for the leaguered lady. He quietly added:
My Lord Essex advises me further that reinforcements are marching
to me well equipped with artillery against which even these gallant
walls are worthless. Be warned, be wise. You cannot hope to hold out
longer. For pity's sake, yield to the Parliament.
Brilliana waved his pleas away with a dainty, impatient flourish.
You chatter republican vainly. I have store of powder. I will blow
this old hall heaven high when I can no longer hold it for the King.
Her visitor looked at her sadly, made as if to speak, paused, and
then appeared to force himself to reluctant utterance.
Lady, he said, slowly, though we be opponents, we share the same
blood. Let a kinsman entreat you to reason.
If the civil-spoken stranger had struck her in the face with his
glove Brilliana could not have been more astonished or angered. She
moved a little nearer to him, interrogation in her shining eyes and on
her angry cheeks.
Are you mad? she gasped. How could such a thing as you be my
She had taunted him again and again during their brief interview and
he had shown no sign of displeasure. He showed no sign of displeasure
now, answering her with simple dignity.
Very simply. A lady of your race, your grandsire's sister, married
a poor gentleman of my name and was my father's mother.
Brilliana drew back a little as if she had indeed received a blow.
Involuntarily, she put up her hand to her eyes as if to shut out the
sight of this importunate fellow.
I have heard something of that tale, she whispered, but dimly,
for we in Harby do not care to speak of it. When my grandsire's sister
shamed her family by wedding with a Puritan her people blotted her from
their memory. You will not find her picture on the walls of Harby.
The loss is Harby's, the soldier answered, for I believe she was
as fair as she was good. She married an honest gentleman named Cloud,
whose honesty compelled him to profess the faith he believed in. My
name is Evander Cloud.
He waited for a moment as if he expected her to speak, but she
uttered no word, only faced him rigidly with hatred in her gaze.
Seeing her silent, he resumed:
It was this sad kinship pushed me to a parley wherein, perhaps, I
have something strained my strict duty. But the voice of our common
blood cried out in me to urge you to reason. You have done all that
woman, all that man could do. Yield now, while I can still offer you
terms, and your garrison shall march out with all the honors of war,
drums beating, matches burning, colors flying.
He was very earnest in his appeal, and Brilliana heard him to the
end in silence, with her clinched hands pressed against her bosom. Then
she turned fiercely upon him and her voice was bitter.
Sir, she cried, if I hated you before for a detested rebel, think
how I hate you now, if you be, even in so base a way, my kinsman.
She turned away from him, lifting her clasped hands as if in
Oh, Heaven, to think that a disloyal, hypocritical, canting Puritan
could brag to my face that he carries one drop of our loyal blood in
his false heart.
She turned to him again with new fury.
You are doubly a traitor now, and if you are wise you will keep out
of my power, for my heart aches with its hate of you. Go! Five minutes
left of your truce gives you just time to return to your rebels. If you
overlinger in our lines but one minute you are no longer an envoy: you
are an enemy and a spy and shall swing for it.
She reached out her hand to strike the bell upon the table, while
Evander Cloud, still impassive, paid a salutation to his unwilling
hostess and made a motion to depart. But on the instant both were
chilled into immobility by an amazing interruption. Brilliana's hand
never touched the bell; Evander's hand never found the handle of the
door. For between the beginning and the end of their action came a
sudden rattle of musketry, distant but deafening, followed on the
instant by a whirlwind of furious cries and noise.
IX. HOW THE SIEGE WAS RAISED
The man and the woman glared at each other, each in swift suspicion
of treason. The Lady of Harby was the quickest to act upon impulse. She
snatched up the pistol that lay upon the table and levelled it with a
steady hand at Evander.
Do you use your trust to betray us? she shrilled. It shall not
Even a less-experienced soldier could have seen from the sure way in
which Brilliana handled her weapon that his life was in real peril, but
he paid no more heed to her menace than if she was threatening him with
her glove or her fan.
Fighting outside! he cried. Turning to the woman he asked, with a
fierceness that contrasted with his previous calm, Who is the traitor
His sword was naked in his hand as he spoke and he made a rush for
the door. But before he could reach it it was flung open in his face
and Halfman rushed in, waving his drawn sword, and followed by
Thoroughgood carrying a gun and Garlinge and Clupp armed with pikes.
Inevitably bewildered by the sudden turn in the tide of events,
Evander Cloud gave ground for a moment before the onrush, while
Halfman, staggering like a drunken man, reeled forward towards
There is fighting in the rebel lines. Help has come at last.
Whatever joy the tidings gave to Brilliana, she wasted no words from
the needs of the moment. Pointing to Evander where he stood, irresolute
in surprise, she commanded, Secure that man!
Evander's resolution returned to him with the sound of her voice,
but he was one against too many. While he tried to engage the blade of
Halfman, a swinging blow from the pike of Garlinge knocked his weapon
out of his hand, and in another moment he was gripped in the grasp of
the two young country giants, while Thoroughgood covered him with his
This is treachery, he gasped; but no one paid any attention to his
protest. Halfman, convinced that the Puritan was a sure prisoner,
swaggered up to Brilliana with all the arrogance of a stage herald.
Dear lord, he shouted, dear lady, a company of Cavaliers are
galloping up the avenue, a-shouting like devils for the King.
He was flushed and drunk with exhilaration; he could speak no more;
the timely episode tickled his tired brain like wine; he caught at the
table for support and muttered inarticulately. Thoroughgood, who had
secured Evander's fallen sword, interpolated a word of explanation.
It is Sir Rufus, my ladySir Rufus and his friends.
The interruption had been so sudden, the things that had chanced had
passed so swiftly, that Brilliana still stood as she had stood when she
gave the command to secure Evander. But now all her being seemed alive
with a new life.
I hear them; I hear them! she cried, exultantly. And, indeed, the
sounds came very clearly now of fierce young voices shouting for the
The King! The King! Brilliana cried, in an ecstasy, and as the
loyal syllables died on her lips there came a trampling of near feet,
and then through the yawning doorway rushed a covey of young gentlemen
waving their drawn swords and yelling their cry, The King! The King!
As they flooded into the room, bright foam on the wave of victorious
loyalty, Brilliana knew them all. Sir Rufus Quaryll, her neighbor and
hot lover; the Lord Fawley, who had vainly wooed her for wife; Sir John
Radlett, who had the sense to love her and the sense to hold his
tongue; Captain Bardon, the bold and bluff; and young Lord Richard
Ingrow, with the delicate, girlish face that masked the amazing rake.
She seemed to see them as in some golden dream, seemed to hear a-down
the vistas of dreams the echoes of their gallant cries of God save the
King! Then as the new-comers knelt before her she knew that all was
God bless you, gentlemen! she cried, from a full heart. You are
very well come.
Rufus Quaryll, neighbor and wooer, was the first to speak, looking
up at her with rapture in his eyes of reddish brown.
Imperial lady, the siege of Harby is raised.
Brilliana flung out her hands to him, and as he caught and kissed
them she raised him to his feet.
Your news is music, she said, and her voice was as blithe as a
We are heralds of victory, Rufus said, as he stood and looked into
My Lord Fawley rose from his knees with a whoop.
We have pelted the rebels from Edgehill, he shouted. Sir John
Radlett caught him up. We banged them finely, he trumpeted. Young
Ingrow, with a flush on his fine cheeks, sang out a shrill Hurrah for
Prince Rupert! and bluff Bardon rubbed his hands as he chuckled, He
brushed them into dust.
All the Cavaliers spoke rapidly and eagerly, flinging their phrases
each on top of the other. Rufus summed up all in a single splendid
The road lies plain to London.
Heaven be praised, Brilliana ejaculated, and then, wonder treading
on the heels of thankfulness, she questioned, How came you here so
My Lord Fawley broke into a boisterous laugh which seemed to rattle
among the rafters.
Oh, Lord, the best jest in the world, he bellowed. Bardon clapped
a hand on lad Ingrow's shoulder.
Our Ingrow writes a clerky hand, he asserted. Ingrow, stabbing at
Bardon's stout ribs with slender fingers, riposted:
And our Bardon has a merry invention.
Brilliana looked commands and entreaties at the row of jolly,
Do not play the sphinx with me, she pleaded. Rufus immediately
made himself interpreter of the mirth.
Why, between us we forged a letter from my lord high damnable
traitor Essex to your enemy here, advising him of reinforcements,
assuring him of the King's defeat.
Yes, chirruped the Lord Fawley, and the gull-gaby swallowed the
When we rode up but now, Radlett interposed, his rascals received
us with open arms.
Rufus smiled sardonically as he completed the story of the
They took us for Essex men because of our orange-tawny scarves, but
they found out when too late that we were right-tight Cavalier lads and
no crop-eared curmudgeons. Why, we were in the thick of them with sword
and pistol before they had stayed from snuffling their psalms of
Brilliana held out her hand again for her cousin's hand and clasped
How rich is the ring of victory in your loyal voice, she sighed.
My last public news was of the King's stay at Shrewsbury. Then these
curmudgeons raced hot-foot from Cambridge to pull down my flag. But
'This is Loyalty House,' says I, and 'Go to the devil,' says Iforgive
me, sirs, if I raged unmaidenlyand I slammed the door in their sour
faces. Then came such a tintamar, rebels firing on us, we firing on
rebels, and so in such noise and thunder we have been eclipsed out of
the world these weary days.
Never were such days better lived through since the world began,
said Rufus. You do well to call this Loyalty House which has held out
so well against the King's enemies.
Brilliana now turned to where Halfman stood apart, his hands resting
on the hilt of his sword, and the shadow of a frown on his forehead as
he eyed the babbling gallants.
That Loyalty House should hold out so long as it could was from the
first my purpose, she said. But that it was able to hold out so long
as it did was greatly due to the courage and the counsels of this brave
As she spoke she pointed to Halfman, whose dark face flushed with
pleasure as he gave back the stares of the astonished Cavaliers who up
to now had left him unnoticed.
Gentles, she went on, this is Captain Halfman, who warned me of
my danger, who helped me in my peril with his soldier's knowledge and
his soldier's sword, and who was of my own mind rather to die than to
Halfman strode forward with a studied grace. He felt like
Faulconbridge; he felt like Harry at Agincourt; he felt like
Coriolanus; he felt exceedingly happy.
Gallants, he said, with a magnificent salutation, to have served
this lady makes a man know how it had seemed to serve Alexander or
Cæsar. Wherefore, a soldier of good-fortune salutes you.
Rufus, who had watched him with something of a sullen eye from the
moment of Brilliana's introduction, now answered him with a clearer
We greet you, sir, he said, gravely, with great gratitude and
great envy, for, indeed, there is none among us who would not have
given his life to be lieutenant to this lady. He accorded the beaming
Halfman a military salute, and then, turning to Brilliana, continued:
Bright Brilliana, your servants and swains yearned to ride to your
help when we heard of your peril, but we could not leave the King in
the beginning of his enterprise. He gave us glad leave after the
victory. 'Tell the brave lady,' he said, 'she shall be our viceroy in
Brilliana's cheeks blazed with pleasure. Oh, the dear man, she
cried, with clasped hands of rapture. But there was more to come.
I think, continued Rufus, it is more than likely that his Majesty
will visit HarbyI should say Loyalty Houseere he rides to London.
Brilliana thrilled with pridewith pleasure. The air about her
seemed to swoon with music, to be sweet as roses, to be spangled with
X. PRISONER OF WAR
I rejoice, she answered, in a voice unsteady with happinesssuch
might have been the voice of Semele at the coming of her godI
rejoice that Loyalty House boasts a roof to shelter his Majesty. For I
was minded to blow the place to pieces rather than yield it to this
gentleman who would so speciously persuade me to surrender.
As she spoke she glanced disdainfully in the direction of Evander
Cloud, who now for the first time since the irruption of the Cavaliers
became in any sense an object of public interest. None of the
new-comers had paid any heed to the sombre-habited prisoner; Halfman
had forgotten his captive in his jealous study of the men who had
raised the siege; Thoroughgood, with the Puritan's sword resting idly
on his left arm, was as absorbed in the converse of Sir Rufus and his
comrades as were his subordinates Garlinge and Clupp, who, though they
gripped their prisoner tightly, were as indifferent to his existence as
if he had been the turbaned dummy of a quintain. But now on the instant
every glance was turned on Evander, and Sir Rufus, eying him with much
disfavor, asked of Brilliana, Who is your prisoner?
Evander made a step forward unrestrained by his guards, and answered
for himself composedly.
I am Captain Cloud, of the parliamentary army, snared under a flag
He was so well restrained in his speech and carriage, so quiet a
contrast to the heated gentlemen who glared at him, that to an
uninformed observer he might very well have seemed the judge rather
than the one on trial. Rufus snapped at him like an angry dog.
Well, you tub-thumper, you see that the gentlemen of England are
more than a match for pestilent pennyweight rebels.
Evander surveyed his truculent opponent with a tranquil contempt
which had its effect in increasing the irritation of the Cavalier.
You play the valiant braggart to a captive, he commented, quietly.
Then he turned to Brilliana as one who had no further desire for treaty
with a fellow of this kind.
Let me remind you, lady, that I came here under a flag of truce.
Brilliana had forgotten Evander in the exhilaration of her relief.
But now that he had come into her mind again, so with his image had
flooded in again all the prejudices he provoked, the scorn, the hatred.
That plea cannot release you, she answered, hotly. Your time was
up, your sword was drawn; I am very sure you would have joined your
Evander, whose arms were now released from bondage by Garlinge and
Clupp, made a gesture of absolute acquiescence.
I am very sure I should have joined my men, he answered, calmly.
Brilliana rounded on him triumphant.
Then you are a prisoner of war, fairly taken. Let me have no more
As indifferent to her words as to the angry carriage of the
Cavaliers, Evander stepped tranquilly back to his place between his
I have no more words to waste, he said, with a scorn in his voice
that stung Brilliana's cheeks to crimson. She turned hurriedly to the
little knot of Cavaliers, who chafed at having to witness what they
held to be the presumption of a Puritan in daring to bandy words with a
lady of quality.
Gallants, she said, this merry meeting calls for its baptism of
wine. As she spoke she struck upon the bell, shrewdly confident that
her wishes would be met. Wine, she added, the more precious that it
is wellnigh the last in our cellars.
As the Cavaliers came about her applauding with word and look, the
doors of the banqueting-room parted and Mrs. Satchell entered, full of
pomp and apple-red with pleasure, followed by Shard bearing a tray of
glasses, and by pretty, dimpling Tiffany bearing a goodly flagon of
wine and observing with demure approbation the covey of King's
Mistress Satchell swam like a gall on towards the Cavaliers, her
great, red, spoon-shaped face damp with satisfaction. Playing at
heroine behind bombarded walls was all very well, but greeting of
timely gentry who had set heroines free was infinitely better.
Heaven bless you, merry gentlemen, she chirruped. Here is a cup
of comfort for you.
Heaven bless you, merry matron, Bardon answered, as soberly as he
could, for indeed the sight of Mistress Satchell in her Sunday best and
in her most coming-on humor was not of a nature to strengthen sobriety.
Lord Fawley gasped as the virago swaggered towards his companions, and
young Ingrow popped his handkerchief into his mouth and bit at it while
he stared with eyes of nursery wonder at the dame. Radlett winked as if
dazzled by the whimsical apparition, and Sir Rufus, familiar with Mrs.
Satchell and her vagaries, was the only member of his party who kept
his countenance unchanged on her entrance.
Brilliana was sympathetically swift to explain her astonishing
Gentles, she said, this is Mistress Satchell, who queens it in
times of peace over my kitchen, but who has proved herself my very
valiant adjutant during the siege.
The dame bridled with pride.
I can handle a pike, my lords, I promise ye, she asserted; and
then, turning to Halfman for confirmation, Can I not, Master Halfman?
Halfman slapped his thigh approvingly and answered to the Cavalier
with grave voice and smiling eyes.
Never was pike so handled before, I promise ye.
The tone of his voice mimicked Mrs. Satchell's manner even as the
words of it aped her matter, but the dame was too pleased with herself
and the world to heed what it was that set the gentlemen laughing.
So, so, Radlett hummed approval. Mrs. Satchell, will you ride
with me to the King?
Mrs. Satchell dipped him a swimming reverence, but she shook her
Your honor means well, but I cannot leave my lady. The Roundheads
might come again.
The Lord Fawley had by this seen his glass filled by Tiffany and was
staring boldly into her pretty face, much to the exasperation of honest
Thoroughgood, chafing in the background.
Do you handle a pike, prettikins? Fawley asked. Prettikins dropped
him a courtesy and shook her curls.
No, my lord, she whispered, I am not very soldierly.
It was now Ingrow's turn to have his glass filled and to stare
admiration at the pretty serving-woman.
If you have a mind to enlist, he said, temptingly, you shall be
ensign in my troop and we'll carry your kirtle for a flag.
Whether Mrs. Satchell considered that Tiffany was like to be
embarrassed by the attentions of the gentry, or whether she considered
that those attentions diverted too much notice from herself as the
heroine of the servants' hall, she certainly came to the rescue, edging
her bulk between the girl and Ingrow.
She is too green for your grace, she insisted. You need a fine
woman like me for your flag-bearer.
Even Ingrow's readiness found him something at a loss for an answer.
He looked as if he feared lest dame Satchell might take him in an
embrace. Brilliana, now that all the glasses were charged, decided that
the company had tasted enough of Mrs. Satchell's humors.
I thank you, Mistress Satchell, she said, quietly, and Mrs.
Satchell, rightly reading in the tones of her mistress's voice
permission to retire, withdrew in good order, beaming and bobbing to
all the gentlemen and followed by Shard and Tiffany, who, with lids
demurely lowered, avoided recognition of the admiring glances of Fawley
Brilliana turned to her company and lifted her glass.
Drink, gentles, she summoned. Drink 'The King!'
All the Cavaliers shouted the loyal toast so that the words The
King! seemed to ring in every nook of the great hall; then every
Cavalier drained his glass.
Ah, sighed Lord Fawley, as he set down his empty vessel, I could
drink the King's health forever.
I swear it would sweeten sour ale, Bardon declared.
Young Ingrow took him up. When it floats on such noble tipple I am
a god-swilling nectar. Halfman slapped his chest.
Come, lads! he cried; when Cavaliers drink the King's health they
should sing the King's song, and in another moment his mellow voice
was setting his friends a sturdy example. Gallants of England, he
Gallants of England, shall not the King land
Safely in town to knock Parliament down?
Shall we not ever strive to endeavor
Glory to win for our King and our crown?
Shall not the Roundhead soon be confounded?
Sa, sa, sa, sa, boys, ha, ha, ha, ha, boys,
Then we'll return home in triumph and joy.
Then we'll be merry, drink sack and sherry,
And we will sing, boys, God save the King, boys,
Cast up our hats, and sing Vive le Roy.
XI. AT BAY
Brilliana and the Cavaliers, stirred by the enthusiasm of Halfman's
stanza, caught up the cry commanded and sent it rolling through the
Vive le Roy! God bless the King! they shouted, with the loyal
tears in their eyes. Brilliana gave Halfman a grateful smile.
Well sung, well done, she approved. Halfman glowed. Sir Rufus
frowned a little. Turning hurriedly to his companions, he said:
Friends, I have another toast for you. I give you the King's sweet
warrior, Oxfordshire's blithe viceroy, 'The Lady of Loyalty House.'
Never a better toast in the world, Halfman shouted. Drink,
Brilliana crossed her fingers before her face. Through the living
lattice her eyes peeped brightly.
I protest you make too much of me, she pleaded, while Halfman and
the Cavaliers quickly filled their glasses again and lifted them high
in air. A chorus of The Lady of Loyalty House! rang out, and again
the toast was honored.
I thank you with all my heart, Brilliana panted, blushing and
excited at the tumult and the praise. There was a moment's silence.
Everything worth saying seemed to have been said, everything worth
doing to have been done. Suddenly, in that silence, Bardon caught sight
of Evander where he stood apart, disdainful, between his guards, and
the sight pricked his wits. Turning to his mates, he thumbed at the
prisoner over his shoulder.
Should we not make the crop-ear yonder pledge the Lady of Loyalty
House? he questioned. Radlett rubbed approving hands.
Well thought. Let him honor his conqueror, he began. The Lord
Fawley tripped him up with a new proposal.
Stop, stop; not so fast, he protested. The fellow has not pledged
the King yet. Let him drink the King's health first and be damned to
The others applauded, but Ingrow, noting a certain sterner
tightening of Evander's mouth, interrupted.
I'll wager he will not drink, he said, looking maliciously from
the flushed faces of the Cavaliers to the pale face of the Puritan.
Rufus's temper blazed instantly.
Will not drink, say you! he cried. This mewcant shall pledge at
our pleasure or taste our displeasure.
He strode to the table, filled a cup of wine, and set it down on the
corner nearest to Evander.
Come, you Roundpoll, he continuedcome, you Geneva mumbler, here
is a cup for you to wash down the dust of your dry thoughts. Drink, I
give you 'The King.'
Evander gazed steadfastly at the irate gentleman and made no motion
to take the wine. Brilliana, from where she stood, watching him
curiously, wrestled with a reluctant admiration of his carriage. Ingrow
commented, smoothly, maliciously:
You see, the gentleman does not drink.
Ingrow's words fanned the Cavalier fire.
Damn him for a disloyal rat! Radlett shouted. Halfman elbowed his
way past him and addressed Rufus.
Sweet Sir Rufus, he said, I have lived in places where a little
persuasion has often led folk to act much against their personal
inclinations and desires. Out swords and force the toast.
As he spoke he drew his sword with his best Mercutio manner, and the
suggestion and the naked steel carried contagion. Every gentleman
unsheathed his sword; all advanced upon Evander, a line of shining
Bait him, bait him! Bardon shouted.
Ingrow shrilled, Tickle him, prick him, pink him till he drinks!
Though Evander surveyed his enemies as composedly as if they had
been children threatening him with pins, Brilliana knew that the spirit
of mischief was alive and that the Cavaliers would not boggle at
cruelty, six to one, for the sport of making a Parliament man honor the
King against his will. She hated the man, but she would not have him so
handled. Instantly she stepped between Evander and the Cavaliers, who
fell back with lowered points before their hostess.
Wait, sirs, she ordered, let me see if my entreaties will not
make the bear more gracious.
She took up the cup where Rufus had set it down, and, coming close
to Evander, held the vessel to him with her sweetest smile, the smile
which, she had been assured a thousand times, would tame a savage and
shatter adamant. Will you not pledge the best gentleman in England?
she asked, with a voice all honey.
Very courteously Evander took the proffered cup from her fingers and
gave her back her smile. Brilliana's heart thrilled with pleasure at
this new proof of beauty's victory.
I will drink at your wish, he said, looking at her with a quiet
smile and speaking as if he and she were alone together in the great
hall. I will drink at your wish, but with my own wit. Still looking
into the gratified eyes of Brilliana, he lifted the cup.
I drink, he cried, loud and clear, to the best man in England. I
drink to Colonel Cromwell.
He drained the glass and sent it crashing into the fireplace. Then
he folded his arms and faced his antagonists.
Brilliana's heart seemed for a second to stand still. So beauty had
not triumphed, after all. Dimly, as one in a dream, she could hear the
fury of the Cavaliers find words.
You black Jack, I will clip your ears, Rufus promised.
Blood him. Blood him, bawled Fawley.
Slit his nose, Radlett suggested.
Duck him in the horse-pond, suggested Bardon.
Set him in the stocks, Ingrow advised.
Halfman, seeing how Brilliana leaned against the table, her face
pale as her smock, raged at her daring denier. He stretched out his
sword as if to marshal and restrain the passions of the Cavaliers.
Would it not be properer sport, sirs, he asked, to tie him in a
chair, like Guido Fawkes on November day, and take him through the
village that loyal lads may pelt a traitor?
Once again Halfman's pleasant invention pleased the fancy of his
Well said, assented Rufus. Fetch a rope, some one.
Brilliana, hearing, moved a little forward. She had failed and felt
shamed. Yet this thing must not happen. She could not leave her enemy
thus to the mercy of his enemies. But what she would have said was
stayed by a sudden diversion.
Interest in all the events that had so swiftly passed before them
had gravely relaxed the vigilance of Evander's guardians. Garlinge and
Cluppa strong Gyas and a strong Cloanthesopen-eyed and
open-mouthed, were open-handed also and clawed no clutch upon their
prisoner's shoulder. Thoroughgood, confused between jealous thoughts of
Tiffany and envious admiration of the manner in which Halfman handled
the gentry, was as heedless as his inferiors, and was therefore taken
too much by surprise to offer the slightest resistance when Evander,
suddenly springing from between his guards, snatched from his supine
arms the captured sword that had been intrusted to his keeping. Before
he or any other of the astonished spectators could take any action
Evander had leaped lightly into the alcove of the window, and, dragging
by main force the heavy table in front of him, so as to blockade his
corner, showed himself snugly intrenched behind a rampart which his
single sword might well hope to hold at least for some time against the
swords of half a dozen assailants.
You will find me a spoil sport, he cried, cheerily, as he stood on
guard behind the massive bulk of oak. Dogs, here is a hart at bay;
beware his antlers.
Bravely done, rebel, Brilliana cried, aloud, as if in spite of
herself, as she beheld the reckless deed, and Bravely done, rebel,
Halfman echoed, in his reluctant turn, as he heard his lady's words and
saw the light of praise on his lady's face. Though he hated the Puritan
as cordially as if he had been a King's man all his days, he could not
deny his courage, and his scene of effective action made him wish
himself in Evander's place, taking the stage so skilfully and
dominating the situation. But above all this, if Brilliana applauded
the rebel's act, then the rebel's life was of some value, and until he
received his lady's orders the rebel's life should be sacred to
Halfman. So he struck up with his sword the pikes that Garlinge and
Clupp levelled, clumsily enough, and were preparing to thrust at
Evander over the interposing barrier. At the same moment Rufus, for a
very different reason, restrained the action of his comrade Cavaliers,
who were making ready for a combined rush, sword in hand, upon their
enemy. Rufus saw instantly how well intrenched their enemy lay; it
would be hard for any sword to reach him across that width of oak, and
even push of pike, when delivered by such loutish fingers as now
governed those weapons, might easily be parried by a swordsman so
skilful as he guessed Evander to be. But there was no generosity
towards a brave adversary in Rufus's action. In his hot ferocity he
merely wished to make sure of his quarry as quickly as possible.
You shall be no hart-royal, he answered, fiercely, taking up the
hunter's challenge. You shall not escape. We shall sound the mort of
the deer in a moment. Give me your gun, fellow.
This last command was addressed to Thoroughgood, who had brought his
musketoon to the ready and was waiting irresolute for command. Sir
Rufus snatched the weapon from him and was about to aim at Evander
when, to his rage, Brilliana stepped between him and his mark.
Stay your hand, Sir Rufus, she commanded, with a frown on the fair
face to which the color had now returned. It is for me, and for me
only, to give orders here. This is my prisoner, and were he ten times a
Roundpoll he should have honest handling.
Sir Rufus would fain have protested, would fain have carried his
point, but he saw that in the face of her whom it was his heart's
desire to please which reduced him to sullen obedience. He shrugged his
shoulders. As you please, he muttered, as he returned the gun to
Thoroughgood and, turning on his heel to hide his vexation, joined his
comrades, who seemed all to share, discomfited, in his rebuke, and to
deprecate the anger of Brilliana. Brilliana went up to the table, and,
poising herself against it by pressing the palms of her hands on its
surface, looked with gracious entreaty into the grave eyes of Evander,
who lowered his sword in respectful greeting.
XII. A USE FOR A PRISONER
Sir, said Brilliana, if you give me your parole you shall have
the freedom of Harby.
Evander made her a ceremonious bow.
Lady, you seem to me to be the only true gentleman on your side of
this quarrel, so I will give you my word and my sword.
Holding his sword by the blade, he extended it across the table to
Brilliana, whose hand caught its hilt with the firm grasp of one to
whom the manage of arms was not unfamiliar. As she stepped back with
her trophy Evander pushed the table aside to afford him passage from
his alcove, and, saluting the lady, took his former place between his
warders. Brilliana returned his salutation with a murmured It is
well. Rufus, disengaging himself from the knot of discomfited
Cavaliers, moved towards her and addressed her with faintly restrained
In Heaven's name, he begged, set this Cantwell on one side if you
tender him so precious. I have private news for you.
Brilliana's face wore something of a frown for her presuming friend.
Indeed! she answered, coldly. Then turning towards Halfman she
tendered to him Evander's sword, which he hastened to take from her,
kneeling as he did so.
Captain Cloud is in your care, she said. Pray you, withdraw your
prisoner a little.
Halfman rose, bearing Evander's sword, and went to Evander.
Will you come this way? he bade his captive, courteously enough.
If Brilliana chose to trust a Roundhead's word, her will was Halfman's
law. Evander again saluted Brilliana and followed Halfman to the
farther part of the hall. Here in a window-seat, out of ear-shot of the
other's speech, he seated himself to commune with his melancholy
reflections, while Halfman, after stationing Thoroughgood at a little
distance as a nominal guard upon the prisoner, dismissed Garlinge and
Clupp from the room and rejoined the Cavaliers. Brilliana, who had
still been standing with Sir Rufus, now addressed the others.
Gentlemen, she said, you must need sustenance after this
morning's work. You will find such poor cheer as Harby can offer in the
banqueting-hall. Captain Halfman, will you play the host for me?
The Cavaliers, who were, indeed, sharp-set and ever-ready
trenchermen, welcomed the proposal each after his own fashion.
Indeed, averred the Lord Fawley, I would say good-day to a
pasty. Ay, assented Radlett, well met, beef or mutton. Ingrow
euphemized, I shall be well content with bread and cheese and dreams,
as he glanced admiration at Brilliana. Bardon grunted, I would sell
all my dreams for a slice of cold boar's head.
Halfman addressed them in the character of Father Capulet. We have
a trifling foolish banquet towards. He turned towards the doors of the
banqueting-room with the famished gentlemen at his heels; then,
noticing that Sir Rufus remained with Brilliana, he stopped and
questioned him. You, sir, will you not eat?
Rufus answered him with an impatience that was almost anger. No,
no, he said; I have no hunger. Stay your stomachs swiftly, friends.
He turned again to Brilliana, and stood opposite to her in silence
till Halfman and the Cavaliers had quitted the hall. Then Brilliana
Well, good news or bad?
Bad, Rufus answered. Your cousin Randolph is a captive.
Brilliana gave a little cry of regret.
Bad news, indeed! How did it chance?
In the battle, Rufus answered. The King's standard-bearer was
slain and the King's flag fell into the rebel hands.
Brilliana clasped her hands with a sigh, and would have spoken, but
Rufus stayed her, hurrying on with his tale.
That could not be endured, dear lady. So in the dusk Randolph and I
put orange scarfs about us that we might be taken for rogues of Essex's
regiment, and so, unchallenged, slipped into the enemy's camp. Dear
fortune led me to the tent of Lord Essex, and there I found his
secretary sitting and gaping at the precious emblem. I snatched it from
his fingers and made good my escape, gaining great praise from his
Majesty when I laid the sacred silk at his feet.
Brilliana's eyes swam with adoration. Oh, my gallant friend! she
cried, and held out her hands to him. He caught them both and kissed
them, whereat she instantly withdrew them and moved a little away. He
followed her, speaking low, passionately.
Your words mean more than the King's words to me. You know that.
Brilliana did not look vastly displeased at this wild speech, but
she forced a tiny frown and set her finger to her lips.
Hush! she said. What of Randolph?
Less fortunate than I, Rufus resumed, in calmer tones, he ran
into the arms of a burly Parliament man, that Cambridge Crophead Mr.
Cromwell, who made him prisoner.
Truly, said Brilliana, thoughtfully, it is hard luck for him just
after his first battle. But 'twill be soon mended. They will exchange
Even as she spoke she seemed surprised at the gloomy look that
reigned on Rufus's face. His tone was as gloomy as his face as he said,
He was wearing the orange scarf of Essex.
What then? Brilliana questioned, still surprised; then, as
knowledge flashed upon her, she cried, quickly, Ah, they will say that
he was a spy.
Ay, Rufus answered, hotly, the King's spy, God's spy upon enemies
of God and King, but still a spy in their eyes.
But what is to be done? Brilliana gasped.
I would that I knew, Rufus answered. His Majesty has interceded
for him and has gained him some days of grace. It is certain that my
Lord Essex, if he had his own way, would yield him. But he has not his
own way, for this stubborn Cromwell fellow clings to his prisoner.
Why is he so stubborn? Brilliana asked. Rufus smiled sourly.
Partly because, like all new-made soldiers, he is punctilious of
the rules of war. Partly because he hopes to turn his capture to some
account. Poor Randolph had upon him a letter in cipher from the King to
a certain lord. Randolph may buy his life with the key to the cipher.
He will never do that, Brilliana said, in proud confidence of the
courage of her house. She was silent for a moment; then she gave a
little cry of joy. I think I can save him, she exclaimed. Rufus
stared at her as if she had lost her wits.
Why, what can you do? he asked, astonished. Brilliana answered
with a glance of profound wisdom. I think I know a way, and she
nodded her head sagely. Then she turned and moved a little space across
the hall in the direction of that window-seat where Evander sat
ensconced. When she had advanced two or three paces she called to him:
Captain Cloud, pray favor me with your company for a few moments of
Evander's consciousness swam to the surface of a pool of gloomy
thought at her summons. He rose on the instant and came down the hall
I am at your service, lady, he said. Brilliana watched him closely
as she questioned.
You say you are a friend of Mr. Cromwell?
Evander seemed surprised at the interrogation, but he answered,
simply, I am so favored.
Does he cherish you in affection? Brilliana pursued, still
watching him closely.
He loved my father, said Evander. If I dared to think it I should
say he loved me, too. Truly, he has shown me much regard.
Brilliana struck her palms sharply together with the air of one who
has solved a difficult problem.
Your Mr. Cromwell has taken prisoner a cousin of mine whom he
threatens to kill as a spy. We will exchange you against Mr. Cromwell's
Evander looked steadily back at her with a hint of mild amusement at
the corners of his mouth.
Colonel Cromwell will never exchange a spy, he responded,
Rufus, who was listening to the conference, nodded his head in
gloomy assent. That is like enough, he agreed. Brilliana stamped a
foot and her eyes snapped vexation.
We shall see, she said, sharply. She turned away from the two men
and moved to a small table against the wall that carried writing
materials. Seating herself thereat, she took up a goose-quill and began
to write rapidly on a large sheet of paper. When she had finished she
looked round, and beckoned Rufus to her side that he might hear what
she had written. She read it aloud, with her eyes fixed on Evander's
To Colonel Cromwell, serving with my Lord Essex in the
Parliamentary army lately at Edgehill. My cousin, Sir
Randolph Harby, is a prisoner in your hands. Your friend,
Mr. Evander Cloud, is a prisoner in mine. I will exchange my
prisoner for your prisoner; but the life of Mr. Evander
Cloud is answerable for the life of Randolph Harby. Such is
the sure promise and steadfast vow of his cousin and the
King's true subject, Brilliana Harby.
As she read, the dour face of Rufus brightened, and he rubbed his
hands in satisfaction at the close.
By the Lord, an honest thought, he chuckled. Swing Randolph,
Evander smiled disdainfully.
I am no spy, he asserted, firmly, and by the laws of war you have
no right to my life.
Brilliana turned on him tauntingly.
You were taken a rebel in arms and your life is at my mercy.
Then, said Evander, calmly, add to your letter my wish that
Colonel Cromwell take no thought of me.
Brilliana stamped impatiently.
I am not your secretary, she said, sharply.
It does not matter, Evander answered, smoothly. Colonel Cromwell
will follow the laws of war.
I am sorry for you if he do, Brilliana declared. We shall test
the strength of Colonel Cromwell's love. She called, loudly, John
Thoroughgood advanced to her from where he stood removed.
Ride with a white flag, Brilliana went on; ride hard to my Lord
Essex's army, wherever it may be. Where is my Lord Essex, Rufus?
They have retired, I think, upon Warwick, Rufus said, doubtfully.
Well, Brilliana continued, to the rebel army, wherever you can
find it. Deliver this letter into the hands of Colonel Cromwell. Bring
back his answer swiftly. Ride as if you were riding for your life.
Thoroughgood saluted, took the letter, and turned to go. Brilliana
First quarter Captain Cloud in the west room, and see him well
I thank you, he said, and followed Thoroughgood out of the room.
Brilliana turned to Rufus.
I trust you will all feast here to-night.
Rufus shook his head sadly.
Tears in my eyes and heart, but not possible. We join the King
to-night for Banbury. He came close to her and spoke low. Bright
Brilliana, will you not give me your golden promise ere I go?
You must not ask that yet, Brilliana pleaded. I must know my own
Sir Rufus banged his hands together.
By God, I know mine, and my mind is to win you if I have to kill a
regiment of rivals.
Brilliana pretended to shudder at his ferocity.
Lord! you are a very violent lover.
Rufus did not deny her.
I am a very earnest lover, a very desperate lover.
Brilliana made a gesture of protest.
Fie, this is no love-talk time, when the King is fighting. Ride,
gallant Rufus, come back with loyal laurels and the flags of canting
rebels, and see how I shall welcome you.
Rufus caught her hands.
Must I be content with this? he asked, hotly.
You must be content with this, Brilliana replied, coolly. Here
come your brothers-in-arms.
The doors of the banqueting-hall opened, and Fawley, Radlett,
Bardon, Ingrow, and Halfman came in, all brighter for wine and food.
'Tis boot and saddle, Rufus, Fawley cried.
I am yours, Rufus answered. He bowed over Brilliana's fingers.
One and all they turned and left her, and as they tramped into the
air the chorus of the Cavalier song came back to her happy ears.
And we will sing, boys, God bless the King, boys,
Cast up your hats, and cry Vive le Roy.
XIII. A GILDED CAGE
Evander awoke in a strange world steeped in lavender. It was long
since he had lain so soft, long since he had drifted out of dreams to
breathe lavender. His pleased senses, less alert for very ease and
pleasure, denied him immediate knowledge of his whereabouts. He saw a
fair room, well appointed; he welcomed the morning sunlight through
delicate, unfamiliar curtains; he questioned the insisting
deliciousness of lavender. Where was he? What was this chamber of calm
panelled in pale oak? It was not Leyden, it was not Cambridge; then in
a flash he knew. It was the west room at HarbyHarby where he lay a
prisoner on parole, Harby which he had tried to take and which had
ended by taking him. He leaped from his bed instantly, well awake, well
alive, and gaining the window peeped through the parted curtains. He
looked out across the moat on the terrace to the rear of Harby, beyond
which lay the spacious gardens for which Harby was held famous. His men
had held that terrace twenty-four hours earlier; now they had vanished
as if they had never been, save for the testimony of the trampled
grass. In their place a solitary figure sat on a baluster drinking
smoke contemplatively from a pipe of clay. Evander knew him for
Halfmanknew, too, that Halfman watched there for him, for the moment
the curtains parted the sitter rose and, advancing towards the edge of
the moat, waved and voiced salutation to Evander.
Give you good-morning, gallant capitano, he called. Jocund day
stands on the top of yon high eastern hill. Will it please your
worthiness to be stirring?
Very willingly, Evander called back. Have I overslept?
Halfman made a gesture of protestation.
Nay, nay, he answered. Your time is your own nag here, to amble,
pad, or gallop as you choose. Have I your permission to wait upon you
in your apartment?
On Evander's assurances that nothing would afford him greater
pleasure, Halfman favored him with a military salute, and, crossing the
moat by the now restored bridge, disappeared inside the house. Evander
hastened to clothe himself, a task which he had but partially
accomplished when the drumming of a pair of hands upon the door
informed him that his custodian waited at the threshold. He opened the
door, and Halfman walked in wearing for the occasion a manner in which
good-fellowship and condescension, with the consideration of a noble
victor for a noble vanquished, were artfully blended and emphatically
interpreted. He held out his hand for Evander's and gave to it a
A soldier should ever be abroad betimes, he asserted. Wherefore I
applaud your rising.
Evander inquired again, somewhat anxiously, if he had been expected
to appear before, which again Halfman denied.
Since you have passed your parole, he affirmed, Harby Hall is
Liberty Hall for you as far as to the park limits. I would have
battered at your door ere this, but I respected your first sleep in a
strange bed, wherein often a bad night makes a late matins. Can you
break your fast?
Evander answering that he could, Halfman called upon him to follow,
and led the way into an adjoining room, which was, so he assured
Evander, set at his disposal during the period of his stay. The room,
like the bedchamber, was panelled of oak, was handsomely furnished, and
its long windows, which occupied almost the entirety of one wall,
afforded the same view of terrace and garden that Evander had already
seen. Much had been newly done, so Evander could see, to brighten and
cheer the place. A bowl of royal roses stood on the buffet, and Evander
smiled at the delicate defiance. In the alcove of the window-seat a
number of books were piled, books that had patently been newly dusted,
and Evander, glancing at these, found that they were all theological,
an attention which made him smile. A table decked with lily-white linen
and silver furniture bore preparations for a meal.
Here, sir, said Halfman, cheerfully, for some few hours of flying
time, you are, in a word, king of the castle. These rooms are yours to
eat in, read in, pray in, sleep inwhat you please. None shall disturb
your privacy without your leave.
Evander guessed that his hostess had found this way of treating him
well and yet keeping her from his presence. There was bitterness in the
thought that she must needs hate him so deeply. It may be that
something of the bitterness of the thought asserted itself on Evander's
face, and that Halfman misread it thinking he read the prisoner's
Do not think, he proceeded, that you are cabined and cribbed to
these walls. All Harby Park is your pleasant paradise when you are
pleased to walk abroad, and after you have broken your fast I shall be
pleased to guide you through its glories. And now, will you that I eat
with you? I have kept myself fasting, or wellnigh fasting, till now,
but if you would rather break your bread in solitude say, without
offence given, what I shall hear without offence taken.
Evander assured his companion that he desired his company of all
things. Indeed, had Halfman been other than he was, Evander would have
preferred any companionship that kept him from his melancholy thoughts.
And already Halfman attracted him, or at least interested him. His
fantastical manner, his fluent speech, his assurance, and that note of
something foreign, odd, as characteristic, as conclusive, as the scorch
of foreign suns upon his face, appealed to the curiosity in Evander
which ever made men books for him. Halfman's manner grew more expansive
at Evander's ready acceptance of his offer. He was now the magnificent
host, soldier still, but soldier at his ease, and he played at Lord of
Harby with enthusiasm.
You are in the right, he said. It is ill for man to sit alone at
meat, for it encourages whimsical humors and the mounting of crudities
to the brain. A flagon is twice a flagon that is shared by camerados,
and who can praise a pasty to himself with only dumb walls to echo his
plaudits? And here in good time come flagon and pasty, both.
The door had opened as he spoke, and Mistress Satchell came into the
room, followed by a brace of serving-men who bore on trays the
materials for an ample repast. Halfman eyed the viands with approval,
while Evander returned gravely Mrs. Satchell's florid bobs and
I saw to it last night, he went on, that Harby was revictualled.
You pinched us, sir, you pared us; our larder was as lean as a stork's
leg, but to-day we can eat our fill.
And, indeed, the table now being spread by Mrs. Satchell's
directions bore out the assertion of Halfman. Jolly, white loaves, a
grinning boar's head, a pasty with a golden dome, a ham the color of a
pink flower, and a dish of cold game tempted hunger where flagons of
white wine and red wine tempted thirst. Halfman dismissed Mrs. Satchell
and her satellites affably.
We can wait upon ourselves, he averred. We shall be more private
so, and he motioned Evander to a seat and took his own place opposite.
Yes, he said, resuming the thread of his thought, as he piled a plate
for Evander, you did your best to starve us; we must not do the like
Evander smiled as he stayed the generosity of his host's hands and
accepted from his reluctance a plate less lavishly charged with viands
than Halfman had proposed to offer him.
Yet, he said, I think I heard, no later ago than yesterday, much
clatter of dishes and much rattling of cups and all the sounds of
Halfman hurriedly bolted a goodly slice of ham lest it should choke
him while he laughed, which he now did heartily, lolling back in his
chair. He was honestly amused, and yet it seemed to Evander as if there
were something in his strange friend's mirth which was carefully
calculated to produce its effect. Indeed, Halfman, as he laughed, was
thinking of Sir John Falstaff's full-bodied thunders over some ticklish
misdoings of Bardolph or Nym. When he had enough of his own
performance, he allowed the laughter to die as suddenly as it had
dawned, and gave tongue.
That was the best jest in the world, he chuckled. Clatter of
dishes, say you, and rattle of cups. Once, when I was in Aleppo, I
heard an old fellow in an Abraham beard telling a tale to a crowd of
Moors. I had not enough of their lingo to know why they laughed, but
one who was with me that had more Moorish told me the tale. It was of
one who invited a poor man to his house and pretended to feed him
nobly, naming this fair dish and that fine wine, and pressing meat and
drink upon him, while all the while, in very mockery, there was neither
bite in any platter nor sup in any bottle. Well, excellent sir, our
table of yesterday was in some such case.
Evander nodded. I guessed as much, he commented. But, indeed, it
was bravely done.
It was bravely devised, Halfman asserted. It was my lady's
thought. She would never let a rascally RoundheadI crave your pardon,
she would never let an enemydream that we were in lack of aught at
Harby that could help us to serve the King.
Your lady is a very brave lady, Evander said, quietly. Halfman
caught at his words with a kind of cheer in his voice.
Hippolyta was not more valiant, nor Parthian Candace, nor French
Joan. She is the rose of the world, the fairest fair, the valiantest
valor. There is no wine in the world that is worthy to pledge her, but
we must do our best with what we have.
He filled himself a spacious tankard as he spoke and drained it at a
draught. Evander listened to his ebullient praises in silence. He did
not think that the Lady of Harby should be so spoken of and by such an
one. Over-eating and especially over-drinking were ever distasteful to
him, and he took it that Halfman was on the high-road to becoming
drunk. But in this he was wrong. When Halfman set down his vessel he
was as sober as when he had lifted it, but of a sudden a shade graver,
as if Evander's silence had shadowed his boisterous gayety. He pushed
the beaker from him with a sigh, and then, seeing that Evander's plate
was empty, offered to ply him with more food. On Evander's refusal he
pushed back his chair. Well, he said, if your stomach is stayed, are
you for a stroll in the gardenswill you see lawns and parks of
Evander willingly acquiesced, and the strangely assorted pair rose
and quitted the chamber. They met Mistress Satchell on the threshold,
and Tiffany hiding slyly behind her highness. Evander smilingly
complimented Mistress Satchell on the excellence of her table, to the
good dame's great gratification. But much to Tiffany's indignation he
paid little heed to her pretty face.
XIV. A PASSAGE AT ARMS
The vane of Halfman's attitude towards the captive had veered
strongly in the past half-hour. He had been ready to treat him well,
for such was Brilliana's pleasure; he was willing to make friends and
taste the agreeables of the magnanimous victor. But the conquered man
had gained no ground that morning in the heart of one of his
conquerors. He ate little, which Halfman pitied; he drank little, which
Halfman despised; and it was with a much-augmented disdain that he
beheld Evander dash his solitary cup with water.
Craftily qualified, curse him, he thought; the fellow's a damned
Cassio, and will be fumbling with his right hand and his left in a
In this he was disappointed; Evander's draught wrought no havoc in
his speech or demeanor; Halfman was more disappointed that the prisoner
took so coldly his laudations of his lady.
The Roundpoll is so mad to be mastered by a woman that he has not
enough gentility in his thin wits to spur him to a compliment.
His hostile thoughts brewed in his heated brain-pan till their fumes
fevered him. As he led the way by stair and corridor, his mood for
quarrel grew the keener that he knew his choler could find no hope of
ventage with a prisoner committed to his care. And even as he thought
this, chance seemed to furnish him with some occasion for satisfaction.
They were passing by the open door of a room which had long been used
as a place of arms at Harby, and its walls were hung with weapons of
the time and weapons of an earlier generation. Halfman had passed much
time there with the brisker fellows of the garrison, breaking them in
to feats of weapon-play, and he smiled at the memory and the magnitude
of his own dexterity. He paused for a moment at the threshold and
looked round at Evander.
Here, he said, with a smile that was half a leer and an intonation
that was little less than a sneerhere is a spot that will scarce
have enough attraction for your worship to merit your worship's stay.
Evander, who had been following his guide almost mechanically,
enveloped in his own gray reflections, took surprised note of his
companion's changed bearing. Up to now he had been civil enough, even
if his civility had not been of a quality greatly to Evander's liking,
yet now his blustering good-humor gave place to something akin to
deliberate offence. But he might be mistaken, and it was not for a
prisoner to snatch at straws of quarrel. Therefore he protested,
Why should you think that a soldier takes no interest in a
Halfman gave a shrug to his shoulders that might or might not be
intended to annoy.
Your worship is too raw a soldier to know much of these same
tickers and tappers. Let us rather to the library for volumes of
This time the intention to affront was so patent, so patent, too,
that Halfman's temper was getting the better of whatever discretion he
possessed, that Evander's face hardened, and yet for his own reasons he
still spoke mildly enough:
There is no need to call me worship, for I can claim no such title.
But I think I know something of these trinkets, and with your leave
will examine them.
He passed by Halfman as he spoke and entered the room, where he
immediately busied himself in the examination of some of the weapons
displayed there, and apparently ignoring Halfman's existence. Halfman
watched him with a scowl for a moment and then followed him into the
Your honor, he saidsince you will not be called worshipyour
honor really has a use for these toys of gentlefolk?
Evander had taken a handsome Italian rapier from its case against
the wall, and, after glancing at its blade, was weighing and testing
the weapon in the air. As he gave Halfman no answer, the latter took up
the talk again, provocatively:
I cannot deny that your honor showed fight briskly enough yester
evening, but then it seemed little less than fight or die, and even a
rat, if you corner him, will snap for dear life. Moreover, you were
well ambushed, and there was a gentle lady present who would not see a
rat butchered unnecessarily.
Evander, still weighing the fine Italian blade, turned to Halfman
and addressed him with an exasperating composure.
Friend, he said, I have told you that I am not unacquainted with
arms. When I am a free man I enforce belief in my word. As it is
He left his sentence uncompleted, and with a contemptuous shrug of
his shoulders proceeded on his journey round the room, still carrying
the Italian rapier in his hand. Under his tan Halfman's face blazed and
his eyes glittered, but he spoke with a forced calm and a feigned
Say you so much? Why, I believe your honor, surely. Yet, as they
say, seeing is believing, and if you are in the vein for a gentle and
joyous passage with buttoned arms, I that am here to entertain your
honor would not for the world's width gainsay you.
Evander eyed him quietly. Are you ready at fence? he inquired. I
shall be pleased to take a lesson from you.
Halfman's heart warmed at his words. The coney creeps towards the
gin, he thought, exultantly; then he answered, aloud:
Why, if you have a stomach for it you shall not be crossed. Here be
two buttoned rapiers, true twinslength, weight, workmanship. I will
beleather them in a twink. I promise you I would not hurt your honor.
You are very good, Evander answered, gravely. Halfman was already
busy tying two large pads of leather the size of small oranges onto the
buttoned blades. While he was at work Evander occupied himself with the
contents of the room until Halfman, having finished his job, advanced
towards him with the weapons extended. Suddenly he paused.
Stop! he said. Let us make a wager on our game. I always play
with more heart so. Here is my stake.
He began to fumble at his doublet, and presently produced from an
inner pocket a great thumb-ring with a ruby in it.
I gained that, he said, at the sacking of a Spanish town. 'Tis
worth a pope's ransom. Set what you please against it.
Evander lifted the ring from the table where Halfman placed it and
took it to the window to look at it closely. Presently he laid it on
the table again.
It is a goodly ring, he observed. The setting is old and curious,
and the stone, though it has a slight flaw in it, as you have been
doubtless told before now, is worth more than any poor possessions I
have about my person. Wherefore I would rather we contended for love.
Halfman shook his head. He was a thought dashed by Evander's
discovery of the blemish in the stone, and he carried off his
discomfiture by bravado.
Nay, nay, he answered; there is my stake. Set what you please
against it, were it no more than a silver groat. I do not ask to be
paid well for my lesson.
Evander said nothing, but drew his purse from his pocket and laid it
on the table. Through the meshes Halfman could see the gleam of a few
pieces of gold, and the gleam cheered him, as it always did. He was
ever greedy of gold, and thought the death of Crassus not unkingly.
Choose your blade, he said. Evander, with a quick glance at the
two weapons, selected the one nearest to him, flung his hat onto a
chair, stripped off his doublet, and quietly waited for his adversary.
Halfman did not keep him long. He flung his hat and doublet on the
floor and advanced.
Are you ready? he asked. Evander saluted in silence, and in
another moment the antagonists engaged and the mock duello began.
Halfman expected that it would be short, but it proved much shorter
than he expected. He was far too good a swordsman not to know when he
had encountered a better. The thing had not happened to him very often;
it happened very flagrantly now. In less than five minutes Evander had
placed the muffled button of his blade three times on Halfman's
persononce upon either breast, and the third time fair on the
forehead, just between the eyes. The last blow was so surely delivered
that had it been given with greater force it might have knocked the
receiver senseless. As it was, however, it was given with such
deliberate delicacy that, though Halfman's head hummed for the moment
and his eyes saw stars, he rallied quickly enough to stare at Evander
where he stood with lowered point and to tender him a salutation of
Great Jove of glory! he gasped; who was it that ran liquid steel
into your spare body?
Evander smiled at the new change in his chameleon companion.
I learned a little fencing when I was in Paris, he admitted. I
fear I was over-inclined for the pastime.
A little fencing! Halfman ejaculated. A little fencing! Why, man,
that botte between the eyes would have done for me, even if you had not
spitted both my lungs first. No one can ever say of you that you held
your sword like a dancer. Give me your handby God! I must grip your
Sir, said Evander, as the pair clasped hands with the hearty clasp
of true combatants, you overpraise me; yet for your friendly praises I
have a favor to ask of you.
Name it and it is done, Halfman asseverated, with an oath, were
it to pluck a purple hair for you from the beard of the Grand Cham
'Tis no such matter, Evander answered. I do but entreat you of
your courtesy to take back your ring, for which in very truth I have no
Halfman protested a little for form's sake, then gave way, glad
enough to pouch his jewel again.
You are a gentleman, he declared. Come, let us taste the air in
XV. MY LADY'S PLEASAUNCE
The gardens of Harby were captain jewels in the crown of
Oxfordshire. From the terrace they spread in spaces of changeful beauty
over many acres of fruitful earth. Evander had seen to it that no
further harm was done to these lovely spaces than was inevitable for
the conduct of the siege. There were some in his company, hissing hot
zealots, who were all for laying violating hands upon the temples of
Baal and the shrines of Ashtaroth, by which Evander rightly interpreted
them to mean the pleasaunces of clipped yews, the rose bowers, the box
hedges, and the generous autumnal orchards. They were eager to show
their scorn of the Amalekites by the lopping of ancient trees and the
treading of colored blossoms under the heel of Israel. But Evander was
as firm as these were frantic, and the gardens of Harby smiled through
familiar process of sun and rain and dew, untroubled by the daily
rattle of musketry and the nightly tramp of sentinels.
Evander reaped a reward for which he had not labored in his chivalry
to a belligerent and besieged lady. For the gardens that a conqueror
had preserved were now very fair indeed for a conquered man to walk in.
The October sun shone as if the royal triumph, yonder at Edgehill and
here at Harby, had rekindled summer on the chilling altar of the year,
and the hues of the lingering flowers flamed in the celestial fires.
If Evander's thoughts were sable, he did not allow them to stain the
fair day and his companion's gayety. Halfman swam now in the
extravagance of admiration for so miraculous a Puritan. Halfman loved
the apostles best on spoons of silver in a sea-bag swollen with loot,
but of the men he had the best word for Peter, who could use a sword on
occasion. And here was one of the saints on earth playing his rapier as
bravely as if he had been a gentleman born or gentleman adventurer
made, and had skimmed the seas and kissed and killed and pilfered.
He plied Evander, as they paced, with questions of swordsmanship and
schools of arms and masters, of the Italian method and the Spanish
method and the French method, and never caught his new Hector tripping
over a push or a parade. They moved over danceable lawns or under the
canopies of dim avenues, chattering of arms, till the soft October air
tingled with the names of famous fencers, and Halfman was in fancy a
lubber lad again at his first passado.
But his wonder grew with their wanderings. They paused at the
bowling-green and played a game which Evander won. They visited the
stables where the horses now were rallied, that had lived hidden in
farm-yard and cottage garden during the siege. Here Halfman learned
that Evander liked hawks and loved horses, and knew their manage better
than himself. Had Evander proclaimed himself a whisperer, it would not
now have astonished Halfman.
Again, as they passed by the orchard where Luke Gardener was busy,
Halfman must needs bring Luke and Evander acquainted, whereupon the
pair set straight to talking of garden talk and airing of weather
wisdom in speech long since to him as unfamiliar as Hebrew. Here
Evander's science wearied him, and he fairly dragged his captive away,
declaring that there was yet much to see more honorable than herbs or
brambles. Evander obeyed very contentedly, but they had not moved many
paces when Luke came hobbling after, and, catching Halfman, drew him by
the arm apart.
Is yonder truly a damnable Roundhead? he questioned. Halfman
nodded his head.
Well, continued Luke, for that he deserves to be hanged, and yet
he has taught me a trick of grafting roses which he says the Dutch use
that might serve to save a worser man from the gallows.
Without a word Halfman shook his arm free and rejoined Evander, who
was moving slowly along a pathway leading towards an enclosure of
fantastically clipped yews. Hearing the footsteps behind him, Evander
halted till Halfman joined him.
How the devil came you to fathom flower knowledge? Halfman asked.
Evander smiled faintly.
I would rather you unsaddled the devil from your question, he
answered, rebuking in his mind a woman; but I have always loved
gardens. You have one here who is skilled in topiary, and he pointed
towards the trim yew hedge they were approaching.
Those are the green walls of my lady's pleasaunce, Halfman
answered, and the learned in such trifles call them mighty fine. But
all I know of woodcraft is hatcheting me a path through virgin forest.
Where, indeed, your topiarist would be ill at ease, Evander
answered. But I pray you let us retire, lest we intrude upon your
Never fear for that, said Halfman. My lady is busy enough
in-doors to-day, setting her house to rights, and you should not miss
the comeliest nook in all the domain.
As he spoke he passed under an archway of clipped yew, and, Evander
following, the pair came upon a grassy space entirely girdled with yew
hedges, the sight of which instantly justified to Evander the praise of
his companion. The enclosure made a circle some half an acre in size of
the greenest turf imaginable, orderly bordered with seats of white
marble and belted all about with the black greenness of the yew-tree
hedge, which was fashioned like an Italian colonnade. The arches
afforded vistas of different and delightful prospects of the park at
every quarter of the cardwoodland, savanna-like lawns,
flower-gardens, kitchen-gardens, and orchards in their pride.
This is a lovely place, protested Evander. One might sit here and
dream of seeing the shy wood-nymphs flitting through these aislesif
one had no better thoughts for one's idleness, he added. Halfman
There peeped out the Puritan, he said. I had lost him this long
while, but run him to earth in my lady's pleasaunce. Yet you are a
queer kind of Puritan, too. You can fence like a Frenchman, you can
play bowls as Father Jove plays with the globes of heaven, and you can
ride like Diomed, the jolly Greek, who knew that horses could be
stridden as well as driven.
Evander, who had seated himself and had been tracing cabalistic
signs on the grass with his staff, looked up into his companion's face.
Are not you rather a queer kind of Cavalier, he asked, if you
think that a Puritan must needs be a fool?
Halfman laughed back at him, and as he laughed he showed his teeth
so seeming white by contrast with his sunburned cheeks, and he seemed
to Evander more than ever like some half-tamed beast of prey.
You are no fool, Puritan, Halfman shouted, or Heaven would not
have wasted its time in gracing you with such skill at sports. So great
with the rapier, so wise on the bias. No, no; you are no fool. I am
almost sad to think you quit us so soon, enemy though you be.
While Halfman had been babbling, Evander had again been busy with
his staff. Halfman had paid no heed to his actions, being far too deep
in his own phrases. Had he been attentive he might have noticed that at
first Evander wrote on the green grass, as vainly as he might have
written in water, a word, a name: Brilliana. Had he been attentive he
might have noticed that Evander now wrote another word that was also a
name and more than a name: Death. But he did not notice, and as he
ended with his odd tribute to his enemy, Evander looked up at him with
a calm face.
I shall not quit you so soon, he said, in an even voice. I have
come to stay at Harby.
Halfman looked at him, puzzled.
Stay at Harby, he repeated. Nonsense, man; what are you thinking
of? You will be riding hence in three days' time, when Sir Randolph is
Evander shook his head.
Sir Randolph will not be released, he said. The quiet positiveness
in his tone staggered Halfman. Stooping, with his hands resting on his
knees, his unquiet eyes stared into Evander's quiet eyes.
Sir Randolph will not be released! Why the devil will Sir Randolph
not be released?
Evander rose from his seat and rested his hand for a moment lightly
on Halfman's arm, while he said, impressively:
Say nothing of this to your lady, for Sir Randolph is her kinsman,
and I think she holds him dear. Let ill news come late. But if Colonel
Cromwell has taken a spy prisoner, that spy will very surely die.
Halfman stiffened himself. His eyes had never left Evander's, and he
knew that Evander spoke what he believed. He gave a short laugh.
And very surely if Sir Randolph be shot over yonder you will be
shot down here.
That, said Evander, still smiling, is why I say that I have come
to stay at Harby.
You take your fate blithely, Halfman commented, scanning Evander
with curiosity. He was familiar with the sight of men in peril of
death; in most men he took courage for granted, but it was courage of a
gaudier quality than the composure of the young Puritan, who had fenced
with him and played bowls with him that very morning and talked so
learnedly of roses with Luke, the gardener. Was there really something
in the Puritan stuff that strengthened men's spirits? Evander answered
his words and unconsciously his thoughts.
I should not have taken up arms if I held my life too precious. It
will need three days to get the answer, the inevitable answer, and in
the mean time the autumn air is kind and these gardens delightful.
Halfman stared at him in an ecstasy of admiration, and then dealt
him an applauding clap on the shoulder.
Come to the kitchen-garden, philosopher, he cried. A fellow of
your phlegm should find pleasure in the contemplation of cabbages.
It is a sage vegetable, Evander answered. But I fear I tax your
time. There must be much for you to do.
I have done much already, Halfman replied. But, indeed, these be
Then, protested Evander, when I have stared my fill at your
meditative cabbage I shall entreat no more of your kindness but that
you convoy me to the safe port of the library, where I shall be content
As you please, Halfman responded. I was never a bookish man; I
care for no books but play-books and these I carry here, and he beat
his brown forehead. But you may nose out some theologies in odd
corners, as a pig noses truffles.
I shall rout out something to fill my leisure I doubt not, Evander
Then hey for the kitchen-garden, cried Halfman, taking Evander's
arm, and the two men, passing through a yew arch opposite to that by
which they had entered, left my lady's pleasaunce as solitary as they
had found it.
XVI. A PURITAN APPRAISED
It did not remain solitary long. Unawares, the steps of Halfman and
Evander had been dogged ever since they crossed the moat and set out on
their pilgrimage through the gardens. Crouching behind hedges,
lingering in coppices, peeping through thickets, two persistent
trackers had pursued the unconscious quarry. Scarcely had the shadows
of Evander and his companion vanished from the grasses of the
pleasaunce than the pursuers emerged from the shelter of a yew screen
and ran into the open, staring after the departing pair. Yet these
pursuers were no stealthy enemies, but merely creatures spurred by an
irresistible curiosity. One was stout and red faced and inclined to
breathe hard after the fatigues of the chase. The other was slim and
smooth, with ripe cheeks and bright eyes, lodgings for the insolence of
youth. In a word, the hunters were Mistress Satchell and pretty
Tiffany, who had found their Puritan prisoner and visitor a being of
Mistress Satchell turned a damp, shining face and a questioning eye
Is not he a dashing lad for a Puritan? she gasped, patting her
ample chest with both hands as if to fondle her newly recovered breath.
Tiffany, who was bearing her mistress's lute, shrugged and pouted.
I see little to like in him, she snapped. This was not at all
true, but she was not going to admit as much to Mistress Satchell, or,
for that matter, to herself. Mistress Satchell snorted fiercely, like
an offended war-horse.
Because he has not clipped you round the waist, pinched you in the
cheek, kissed you on the lipssuch liberties as our rufflers use. But
he is a man for my money.
She spoke with vehemence. Pretty Tiffany made a dainty grimace as
I think I am pleasing enough to behold, yet he gave me no more than
a glance when he gave me good-day.
Mistress Satchell's ample bulk swayed with indignation.
He is a lad of taste, I tell you. Why should he waste his gaze on
such small goods when there was nobler ware anigh? He smiled all over
his face when he greeted me.
Tiffany was sorely tempted to smile all over her face as she
listened, but Mistress Satchell's temper was short and her arm long, so
she kept her countenance as she answered, shortly:
He is little.
This Mistress Satchell swiftly countered with the affirmation:
He is great.
Tiffany thrust again.
He is naught.
Again Dame Satchell parried.
He is much, she screamed, and her face was poppy-red with passion,
but Tiffany, retreating warily and persistent to tease, was about to
start some fresh disclaimer of the Puritan's merits when she caught
sight through a yew arch vista of a gown of gold and gray, and her
Our lady, she whispered to Mistress Satchell, who had barely time
to compose her ruffled countenance when Brilliana came through the yew
arch and paused on the edge of the pleasaunce surveying the
belligerents with an amused smile.
What are you two brawling about? she asked, as she moved slowly
towards the marble seat. Tiffany thrust in the first word.
Goody Satchell will vex me with praise of the Parliament man.
By this time Brilliana had seated herself, observing her vehement
shes with amusement. She turned a face of assumed gravity upon the
So, so, Mistress Satchell, have you turned Roundhead all of a
Mrs. Satchell shook her head at Brilliana and her fist at Tiffany.
Tiffany is a minx, but I am an honest woman; and as I am an honest
woman, there are honest qualities in this honest Puritan.
Brilliana knew as much herself and fretted at the knowledge. It cut
against the grain of her heart to admit that a rebel could have any
redemption by gifts. But she still questioned Mistress Satchell
smoothly, thinking the while of a man intrenched behind a table, one
man against six.
What are these marvels? she asked.
Mistress Satchell was voluble of collected encomiums.
Why, Thomas Coachman swears he is a master of horse-manage, and he
has taught Luke Gardener a new method of grafting roses, and Simon
Warrener swears he knows as much of hawking as any man in Oxford or
She paused, out of breath. Brilliana, leaning forward with an air of
infinite gravity, commented:
It were more to your point, surely, if the gentleman had skill in
Mistress Satchell was not to be outdone; she clapped her hands
together noisily and shrilled her triumph.
There, too, he meets you. After breakfast this morning, when I
asked him how he fared, he overpraised my table, and he gave me a
recipe for grilling capons in the Spanish mannerwell, you shall know,
if you do but live long enough.
The ruddy dame nodded significantly as she closed thus cryptically
her tables of praises. Brilliana uplifted her hands in a pretty air of
The phoenix, she sighed, the paragon, the nonpareil of the
buttery. Instantly her smiling face grew grave.
Well, it is not for us to praise him or blame him while he is on
our hands. See that you give him good meals, Mistress Satchell.
Dame Satchell stared at her mistress in some amazement.
Will he not dine in hall, my lady?
Brilliana frowned now in good earnest.
Lordamercy! do you think I would sit at meat with a rebel? Have I
not set him a room apart, to spare myself the sight of him? Serve him
in his own rooms, but look you serve him well.
Dame Satchell wagged her head with an air of the deepest
I warrant you, she muttered, he commended my soused cucumbers.
And so nodding and chuckling she moved like a great galleon over the
green, and soon was out of sight. The moment her broad back was well
turned, Tiffany permitted herself to utter the protests which had been
boiling within her.
To listen to Dame Satchell, one would think that no man had ever
seen a horse or known one dish from another before this.
Brilliana gave her handmaid a glance of something near akin to
I think you all talk and think too much of the gentleman. I see
little to praise in him save a certain coolness in peril. Let us have
no more of him. We must use him well, but he will soon be gone, and a
good riddance. Is my lute tuned, Tiffany?
Tiffany answered Ay, and her lady took up the lute and picked at a
tune, yawning. The world seemed to have grown very tedious all of a
sudden, and it did not seem so pleasant as she deemed it would prove to
sit again in the yew circle and sing. She began a song or two, to leave
each unfinished with a yawn, and, because yawning is contagious,
Tiffany yawned too, discreetly behind her fingers. It was while Tiffany
looked away to conceal a vaster yawn than its fellows, too vast for
masking with finger-tips, that she saw a soldierly figure coming across
the garden towards the pleasaunce.
My lady, she cried, turning to Brilliana, here comes Captain
Halfman. Let us ask him his mind as to the Parliament man.
Brilliana's face brightened. Here was company, and good company. She
had believed him too busy to be seen so soon, for she had bade him see
about raising a troop of volunteers in the village, and she turned
round readily to greet her companion of the siege.
Through the yew portal Halfman came, gravity reigning in his eyes
and slaking their wild fire. He saluted Brilliana with the deep
reverence he always showed to his fair general. Brilliana turned to her
Master Halfman, Master Halfman, she cried, how do you measure our
Halfman's gravity lightened amazingly at the thought of his
I take him, he answered, emphatically, for as proper a fellow as
ever I met in all my vagabond days. Barring his primness he would have
proved a gallanthe was going to say pirate, but paused in time and
said seaman. God pardon him for a Puritan, he went on, for he has
in him the making of a rare Cavalier.
Brilliana turned to Tiffany, whose cheeks were very red.
Hang your head, child, she cried; for you are outvoted in a
parliament of praise. Beat a retreat, maid Tiffany.
The crimson Tiffany fled from the pleasaunce.
Where is your prisoner? Brilliana asked.
I have envoyed him over park and garden, Halfman answered, and
brought him to port in the library.
Alas! I pity him, sighed Brilliana; it holds few books of
divinity. But come, recruiting-sergeant, what of our volunteers?
So pleases you, my lady, Halfman said, our troop is swelling
fast, and the sooner we clap them into colored coats the better.
Brilliana's curls danced in denial.
Alas! friend, I have sad news for you. Of cloth for coats I can
indeed command a great plentyshe paused doubtfully.
Why this is glad news, not sad news, Halfman said. So may you
serve it out with all despatch.
Brilliana dropped her hands to her sides and her lids over her eyes,
a pretty picture of despair; but, Alas! 'tis all white, she
confessedwool white, snow white, ermine white. You must needs have
patience, good recruiting-sergeant, till I can have it dyed the royal
Halfman pushed patience from him with outspread palms.
Shall the King lack hands for lack of madder? he questioned, with
humorous indignation. Not so, I pray you; let us cut our coats from
your white cloth. I promise you we will dye it ourselves red enough in
the blood of the enemy. Brilliana sprang to her feet rejoicing.
Bravely said; so shall it be bravely done. I will give orders at
once for the cutting and sewing. I will back our white coats against
Master Hampden's green coats, or Essex's swarm in orange-tawny. Have
you conveyed my message to my two miserly neighbors?
I sent Clupp to Master Hungerford, Halfman answered, and Garlinge
to Master Rainham, bidding them to your presence peremptory. But I warn
you, my lady, from all I hear, that if you hope to raise coin for the
King's cause from either of the skinflints you will be sadly at a
At least I must try, Brilliana declared. Am I not the King's
viceroy in Oxfordshire, and are not the two money-bags my proclaimed
adorers? It will go hard with me but I compel them to swell the King's
You have done marvels, Halfman admitted. Can you work miracles?
With all due reverence, I doubt. But we shall soon see, for here comes
Tiffany tiptoe through the trees. I'll wager it is to herald one of the
As he spoke, Tiffany tripped in pink and grinning.
My lady, said she, Master Paul Hungerford has ridden in and seeks
Brilliana clapped her hands.
Go, bring him in, Tiffany; and, Tiffany child, if Master Peter
Rainham comes, as I shrewdly expect, keep him apart, on your life, till
I know of his coming.
Tiffany vanished. Brilliana turned to Halfman.
Stay with me, captain, and aid me to trap these badgers.
Halfman smiled delight. I will help you extempore, he promised. I
will eke out my part with impromptus.
He stood a little apart, grim mirth in his eyes, as Tiffany ushered
into the circle a lean, shabby country-gentleman, whose habit would
have shamed a scarecrow. Tiffany disappeared and the new-comer made
Brilliana an awkward bow. Sweet lady, you sent for me and I come,
XVII. SET A KNAVE TO CATCH A KNAVE
Brilliana had much ado to keep from laughing in the face of the
uncouth genuflector, but she kept a grave face and uttered grave
Master Hungerford! Master Hungerford! They tell me sad tales of
you. Though you are as wealthy as wealthy you will not mend the King's
Master Paul gave vent to such a wail as a dog makes when one treads
unaware upon his tail, and clapped his hands about piteously.
I wealthy! Forgive you, lady, for listening to such tales. I am not
so graced. I am little bigger than a beggar.
Brilliana wagged her curls.
Why, now, Master Hungerford, you have a great estate.
Master Hungerford's whine rose higher, and he paddled at the air as
if he sought to come to some surface and breathe free.
Great land, ladygreat land, if you will, but little cash. My land
holds every penny I get together. Why, 'tis well known in the country
that I buy land for a thousand pound every year, wherefore I can never
boast more than a guinea in ready money.
Brilliana frowned on the floundering squire.
This is a sad business, Master Hungerford, for the King is in need
and will oblige hereafter those that oblige him now. His Majesty has
made me a kind of viceroy here in Oxford. I begin to think that you
incline to the Parliament, Master Paul. If I thought that, I would hold
you a traitor and make perquisitions at your place.
Master Hungerford groaned dismally:
Lordamercy! he moaned. I am the loyalest knight in England. Nay,
now, if you talk of perquisitions there is my neighbor Peter Rainham. I
know him for a skinflint who will deny the King. Yet I know of a chest
of his that is stuffed with gold pieces. Were he a true man he would
shift his treasure into the King's sack, as I would if I had such a
A fantastic possibility danced into Brilliana's brain. She glanced
to where Halfman stood moodily ruminating on the method he would employ
to loosen Master Hungerford's purse-strings if he had him at his mercy
in a taken town. Brilliana could not read his thoughts, which was as
well, but she gave him a glance which stirred him to alertness as she
resumed her interrogatory of her niggardly neighbor.
Why, then, Master Hungerford, if he be as you say, he is little
better, if better at all, than a Parliament man, and, therefore, our
Master Paul rubbed his lean hands in delight.
It is indeed as you say, he affirmed, with a sour smile that sat
very vilely on his yellow face. Brilliana leaned forward, and,
governing his shifty eyes, spoke very impressively.
Now meseems you might win great credit in the King's eyes, at no
cost to yourself, if you were to lay hands on this treasure in the
Master Paul's alarm asserted itself in a shriek.
Lordamercy, lady, what of the law of the land? Would you have me
turn footpad, house-breaker?
His jaws shook, his joints twitched, he was abject in alarm.
Springing to her feet, Brilliana spoke impatiently.
A Parliament man is outside the King's law; his goods are forfeit,
and to confiscate them as legal as loyal. I thought you might choose to
serve the King and please me. This last was said with an accent of
disdain which made the unhappy squire shiver. I was in error, so no
more words of it. Good-day to you.
And my Lady Brilliana made Master Paul a courtesy so contemptuous
and a gesture of dismissal so decisive that Master Hungerford's terror
deepened. If the King's cause were to go well, if the lady indeed had
favor with his Majesty, to offend her would be verily a piece of mortal
folly. He came nigh to falling on his knees as he pleaded.
Nay, nay, never so hot, now; I am your suitor, in faith, I am your
very good servant. I would serve your will in this if I could but march
with the law.
Brilliana jumped at his concession. She saw Tiffany in the distance
crossing the garden towards her and guessed that she came to announce
the arrival of the other miser; so she was eager to clinch the business
with Master Hungerford.
Why, so you ever shall, with the King's law. What more easy? I
represent the King in this district; this fellow is a suspected rebel;
I give you leave to search his house for arms.
Master Paul pricked his ears. Ah, so, for arms, you say?
Tiffany paused in the archway and jerked her thumb over her shoulder
in the direction of the house. Brilliana shrugged her shoulders,
impatient of Master Paul's denseness.
If you find gold in your search for steel, so much the better.
Come, come, this is your happy time, for I am told Master Rainham is
She gave a glance for confirmation at Halfman, who lounged forward.
That he is, he asserted, briskly. He has gone a-marketing.
Then to it at once! Brilliana cried, eying the waverer
encouragingly. Take such of my people as you will. You will find some
at the stables yonder, and as she spoke she pointed in the direction
opposite to the house. Master Rainham's miserliness keeps but a small
retinue. You will meet with no resistance. Go forth, my knight.
Master Paul almost skipped with delight and he cracked his fingers
vigorously. He seemed even less pleasing merry than terrified.
You call me your knight. He turned and took Halfman to witness.
She calls me her knight. I'll do it. I'll do it, he voiced,
Brilliana, with strenuous self-restraint, seemed to applaud his
Bravely said, Chivalry! she cried. Let it be done, and well done,
Master Paul quavered before her in an ecstasy of delighted
I fly, enchantressI fly! he chirruped. Then, as he turned to go,
another thought struck him, and he entreated, grotesquely languishing,
Prithee, your hand to kiss first.
Brilliana denied him affably.
By-and-by, maybe, as the prize of your triumph. Farewell.
After sundry strange scrapings, Master Hungerford took his departure
in the direction of the stables. As soon as his back was turned,
Brilliana questioned her maid.
Well, Tiffany, is it Master Rainham?
Ay, my lady, Tiffany answered, demurely. She knew there was some
manner of mystification forward and yearned for the key to it. He
chafes in the music-chamber.
Send him here top-speed, Brilliana commanded. With a whisk of
flying skirts Tiffany scuttered back to the house, and Brilliana turned
to Halfman, the laughter in her eyes seeking and finding the laughter
Well, she said, our angling prospers blithely. We have tickled
one fish. Now for the other chub.
Halfman, who had been swaying with silent merriment ever since the
departure of Master Paul, suddenly grew steady again and looked
He asks for another kind of angling, as I gather, he suggested.
Brilliana looked daintily wise.
As I bait the hook I believe I will land him. It will be rare if I
can make Paul rob Peter while Peter plunders Paul. How dare they be so
close-fisted while the King's flag is flying and England's honor in
If she said this with any idea of palliating the possible
lawlessness of her action in the eyes of her companion, she wasted her
words. Halfman had not been so happy since his return to England, not
even in the briskest days of the siege, as he was now in the staging of
this lawless comedy. The old pirate jigged in him at this fair maid's
By St. Nicholas, he swore, they should be bled white for a brace
of knaves! This, I take it, is your other honor-bankrupt atomy.
XVIII. SERVING THE KING
It was indeed Master Peter Rainham whom Tiffany now brought into the
presence of her mistress, and left there standing and staring. Master
Peter, eyed and appraised by the searching scrutiny of Halfman,
resolved himself into a thick-set, boorish fellow, whose flying
forehead, little, angry eyes, and assertive, yellow teeth made him, to
Halfman's mind, resemble nothing in the world so much as a boar's head
on an ale-house sign. Yet the fellow stood his ground sturdily enough,
and stared at Brilliana with no sense of distress at his dirty homespun
or his dirty hands.
You sent for me? he challenged. Have you changed your mood? I am
ever of the same mind, and will wed when you will.
The wolf look leaped into Halfman's eyes, and the loutish squire's
life was, all unawares, in the greatest peril it had ever fringed. But
Brilliana, intent only on her purposes, beamed on her blunt suitor as
if he had scattered flowers at her feet.
You are a wonderful wooer, she protested. But whatever admiration
of your person I may, without unbecoming effrontery, confess, I would
have you to know, plain and square, from this moment, that I will
hearken to none but a King's man.
The boor's little eyes glinted and the boor's rusty fingers rasped
at his stubble chin as he answered emphatically:
Then I am a King's man, root and branch.
But his face showed less loyal confidence at Brilliana's next words.
Then you must know his Majesty is in straits for ready money. Will
you, who are reputed rich, come to his aid with a round sum?
Master Peter showed his teeth in a snarl and flung up his hands.
Reputed rich! Oh, what a bitter thing is a bad reputation. I am
Job-poor; both ends will not meet, I tell you. If I had for
lending-money a guinea in one pocket, why, I should lend it to the
Why do you woo me if you be so poor? Brilliana asked, with a fine
show of heat, and Halfman nodded his head as much as to say, Ay, ay,
answer me that, if you can.
Master Peter strove to answer, lamely enough.
Poor in pennies, lady, poorer in shillings, poorest in guineas. I
may own half the country-side and have no coin to clink against the
Brilliana scoffed at his protest.
Why, 'tis not so long ago Master Paul Hungerford told me you were a
Master Peter clinched and unclinched his horny hands as if he were
coming to grips with his traducer.
Master Hungerford told you that? I would I had my hands knotted
about his lying throat. He that is as rich as a Jew, that has a
treasure of gold plate in his sideboard that would keep the King in
arms and men for a month of Sundays, he so to slander my poverty.
Brilliana heaved a sympathetic sigh.
I fear he is but a bad man. Do you think he cherishes the King's
Master Peter flamed with virtuous indignation.
He, the black heart! Never think it. He is a rank Parliament
scoundrel and worships Mr. Pym.
Is it so? cried Brilliana. A rebel, a renegade. Why, now, Master
Rainham, I see a pretty piece of loyal work for you.
Master Peter glowered at her suspiciously.
Anything for you, anything for the King; except give what I have
In the King's name, said Brilliana, heroically, go forth and
ransack this rebellious gentleman's house for arms.
Master Peter snorted sceptically.
Arms! I think he hath none but an old rusty fire-lock and a breast
and back that have seen better days.
Brilliana beamed on him, a yielding sphinx.
But then, supposing you should pick up some plate on the way, some
gold plate by chance
Master Peter rubbed his grimy hands.
Why, it were fine, he admitted, gleefully; then added, with
cunning, Are you sure he is a Roundhead?
I am very sure he is your enemy, Brilliana answered, sharply, for
he makes you his daily jape.
The ugly boar-head looked uglier as it growled:
Does he, the dog! I'd jape him if I gad my two hands upon him.
Why, Brilliana asserted, now in the full tide of make-believe, if
you are a King's man, he will be of the other side, he hates you so. I
cannot think how you have earned his hatred, unless, indeed and she
broke off suddenly and looked aside. Halfman would have given a
shilling for a lonely place to laugh his fill in.
Well, madam, well? Master Rainham questioned, eagerly.
Brilliana faltered her answer.
unless he believes you stand higher in the graces of a certain
lady than he can ever hope to stand.
Master Rainham's smile gave Halfman the feel of goose-flesh.
Brilliana's face was, happily, averted.
Madam, assure me 'tis so, grunted boar's-head.
I must not say much, Brilliana protested, no more than this, that
in this enterprise, if you but achieve it, you will win great credit
with the King at no cost to yourself, you spoil a rival, andbut this
is very privateyou will give great pleasure to that same nameless
Master Peter shouted, Why, then, all's well. I will pick him as
clean as a whistle. Again caution overcrowded cheer. But I must pick
my time, look you.
On this, Brilliana became emphatic.
No time like the present. It is to my certain knowledge that Master
Paul is away from home to-day. Again she looked to Halfman for
support, and again Halfman yielded it blithely.
Ay, he has gone hawking, he declared; he will not be home this
Halfman's confirmation decided Master Peter.
Why, I go at once. When the cat's away! I will be back within the
Then, said Brilliana, pray you go to the house and gather in my
name from the servants' hall such men as you may need for your
enterprise. Use despatch, for indeed I long for your return.
Master Peter paid her what he believed to be a courtly bow.
That same nameless lady shall praise me, he chuckled, and,
turning, made for the house with all speed. When they were alone,
Brilliana and Halfman looked at each other with the mirth of children
who have successfully raided an orchard.
I have netted them, Brilliana said. If it do but happen pat, we
shall have served the King and punished two cozening faint-hearts. For
the best of it is that neither can complain. Each is neck-high in the
mire of lies, each has plundered the other, and must be dumb for shame
of his knavery.
It will be brave to spy their faces, Halfman commented, when they
smell out the snare.
Look to it, Brilliana suggested, that they be kept apart when
they come here. The jest must not spoil. How these old hawks will fly
at each other when we unhood them.
Trust me, lady, said Halfman. I have been a play-actor and know
how to stage a pair of gabies to the show.
He saluted her and made to depart. She had learned to like his
company through the long days of siege, and this dull day of quiet she
felt lonely. Moreover, she was grateful to him for having helped her so
well in her plot against the niggards.
Come again when you have taken order for this, she said. There is
still much to do, much to think for.
The man saluted anew, intoxicated with pleasure. He knew that she
liked his company, and whatever was well in him burgeoned at the
knowledge. His play-actor passion had bettered him, if it had not
accomplished the impossible and transmuted the pirate of body into the
pure of soul. It would not be true to say that he never thought lewdly
of her; he would have thought lewdly of an angel or a vestal maid; that
was ingrain in the composition of the man; but he thought well of her
as he had never thought well of women before since he first scorched
his stripling's fingers, and he would have killed twenty men to keep
her from hearing a foul word. Sometimes when he talked with her, ever
in his chastened part of the rough old soldier, he laughed in his
sleeve at the difference between part and true man. The nut-hook humor
of it was that both were realities, or, perhaps, that neither were
As he quitted the pleasaunce he countered Mistress Tiffany, and saw
at a distance, standing by the laurels, a foppish, many-colored, portly
personage negligently twirling a long staff. Halfman guessed the name,
grinned, and went on his business. Tiffany burst wellnigh breathless
into her lady's presence.
My lady, she gasped, here is Sir Blaise Mickleton, who entreats
the honor to speak with you.
Brilliana's face darkened for a moment, for she bore no kindness
just then to the laggard in war. Then her face cleared again.
Admit him, she said. He will divert me for want of a better.
Back ran Tiffany to where the visitor lingered, bade him enter the
pleasaunce, where he would find her mistress, and having delivered her
errand, ran again to the house, leaving him to his adventure.
XIX. SIR BLAISE PAYS HIS RESPECTS
Sir Blaise Mickleton was, in his own eyes and in the eyes of the
village girls of Harby, a vastly fine gentleman. If they had ever heard
of the sun-god, Phoebus Apollo would have presented himself to their
rusticity in some such guise as the personality of the local knight.
Sir Blaise had been to Londononcehad kissed the King's hand at
Whitehall, and had ever since striven vehemently to be more Londonish
than the Londoner. He talked with what he thought to be the town's
drawl; he walked, as he believed, with the town walk over the grasses
of his grounds and on the Harby high-roads. He plagued the village
tailor with strange devices for coats and cloaks; many-colored as a
Joseph, he strutted through bucolic surroundings as if he carried the
top-knot of the mode in the Mall; he glittered in ribbons and trinkets,
floundered rather than swam in a sea of essences, yet scarcely
succeeded in amending, with all this false foppishness, the something
bumpkin that was at the root of his nature. He was of a lusty natural
with the sanguine disposition, and held himself as much above the most
of his neighbors as he knew himself to be below the house of Harby. He
was no double-face, friendly with both sides; he was rather for peeping
from behind the parted doors of the temple of peace upon a warring
world without, and making fast friends with the victor. He had very
little doubt that the victor would be the King, but just enough doubt
to permit his surrender to a distemper that kept him to his bed till
Edgehill proved the amazing remedy.
Sir Blaise peacocked over the lawn, delicate as Agag. He murdered
the morning air with odors, his raiment outglowed the rainbow; one hand
dandled his staff, the other caressed his mustaches. He strove to smile
adoration on Brilliana, but mistrust marred his ogle, and a shiver of
fear betrayed his simper of confidence. Brilliana watched him gravely
with never a word or a sign, and her silence intensified his
discomfiture by the square of the distance he had yet to traverse.
Coxcomb, she thought, and coward, she thought, and cur, she
He could not read her thought, but he could read her tightened lips
and her hostile eyes, and he wished himself again in bed at Mickleton.
But it was too late to retreat, and he advanced in bad order under the
silent fire of her disdain till he paused at what he deemed to be the
proper place for ceremonious salutation. He uncovered, describing so
magnificent a sweep of extended hat that its plumes brushed the grasses
at her feet. He bowed so low that his pink face disappeared from view
in the forward fall of his lovelocks. When the rising inflection shook
these back and the pink face again confronted her, he seemed to have
recovered some measure of assertion.
Lady, he said, sighingly, I kiss your mellifluous fingers and
believe myself in Elysium.
The languishing glance that accompanied these languishing syllables
had no immediate effect upon the lady to whom they were addressed.
Still Brilliana looked fixedly at her visitor, and still Sir Blaise
found little ease under her steady gaze. He blinked uncomfortably; his
fingers twitched; he tried to moisten his dry lips. At length, out of
what seemed a wellnigh ageless silence, the lady spoke, and her words
were an arraignment.
Why did you not come to Harby when Harby needed help?
Sir Blaise felt weak in the knees, weak in the back, weak in the
wits; he would have given much for a seat, more for a sup of brandy.
But he had to speak, and did so after such gasping and stammering as
spoiled his false bravado.
I came to speak of that, he protested, forcing a jauntiness that
he was far from feeling. I feared you might misunderstand
Indeed, interrupted Brilliana, I think there is no
Sir Blaise made an appealing gesture.
Hear me out, he pleaded. Hear me and pity me. The news of his
Majesty's quarrel with his Parliament threw me into such a distemper as
hath kept me to my bed these three weeks. My people held all news from
me for my life's sake. It was but this morning I was judged sound
enough to hear of all that has passed. How otherwise should I not have
flown to your succor? I could wish your siege had lasted a while longer
to give me the glory of delivering you.
The sternness faded from Brilliana's gaze. She was not really angry
with this overcareful gentleman; she would only have been grieved had
he proved the man to serve her well. He was no more for such
enterprises than your lap-dog for bull-baiting. Ridiculous in his
finery, pitiful in his subterfuge, he was only a thing to smile at, to
trifle with. So she smiled, and, rising, swept him a splendid
I am your gallantry's very grateful servant, she whispered, having
much ado to keep from laughing in his face. The fatuous are easily
I hope you do not doubt my valor? he asked, with some show of
Indeed I have no doubt, Brilliana answered, with another courtesy.
The speech might have two meanings. Sir Blaise, unwilling to split
hairs, took it as balsam, and hurriedly turned the conversation.
Well! well! he hummed. You seem nothing the worse for your
I am something the better, she said, softly. Perhaps Sir Blaise
did not hear her.
Is it true, he asked, that you harbor a Crop-ear in this house?
Indeed, Brilliana confirmed, I hold him as hostage for the life
of Cousin Randolph. You know that he is a prisoner?
I heard that news with the rest of the budget, Sir Blaise
answered. And what kind of a creature is your captive? Does he deafen
you with psalms, does he plague you with exhortations?
Brilliana laughed merrily.
No, no; 'tis a most wonderful wild-fowl. My people swear he is
mettled in all gentle arts, from the manage of horses to the casting of
Sir Blaise shook his staff in protest of indignation.
Is it possible that such a rascal usurps the privileges of
He carries himself like a gentleman, Brilliana answered. More's
the pity that he should be false to his king and his kind.
Sir Blaise smiled condescendingly.
Believe me, dear lady, you are misled. A woman may be deceived by
an exterior. Doubtless he has picked up his gentility in the servants'
hall of some great house, and seeks to curry your favor by airing it.
He has persuaded those that are shrewd judges of men to praise
Again Sir Blaise laughed his fat laugh.
Ha, ha! Shrewd judges of men. I will take no man's judgment but my
own of this rascal. Had I word with him you should soon see me set him
Brilliana's glance wandering from the pied pomposity who strutted
before her, saw a sharp contrast through the yew-tree arch. A man in
sober habit was moving slowly over the grass in the direction of the
pleasaunce, moving slowly, for he was carrying an open book and his
eyes were fixed upon its pages. Truly the sombre Puritan made a better
figure than her swaggering neighbor. She looked up at Sir Blaise with a
pretty maliciousness in her smile.
You can have your will even now, she said, for I spy my prisoner
coming hereand reading, too.
Sir Blaise swung round upon his heels and stared in the direction
indicated by Brilliana. He saw Evander, black against the sunlit trees,
the sunlit grasses, and he smiled derisively. He was very confident
that there was no courage as there could be no wit in any Puritan.
These things were the privileges of Cavaliers.
His brains are buried in his book, he sneered. If a stone came in
his way now he would stumble over it, he's so deep in his sour studies.
'Tis some ponderous piece of divinity, I'll wager, levelled against
He thought he was speaking low to his companion, but his was not a
voice of musical softness, and its tones jarred the quiet air. Evander
caught the sound of it, lifted his head, and, looking before him over
his book, saw in the yew haven Brilliana seated and a gaudy-coated
gentleman standing by her side. He was immediately for turning and
hastening in another direction, but Brilliana, for all she hated him,
would not now have it so. Perhaps she had been piqued by Sir Blaise's
too confident assumption of superiority to the judgment of her people;
perhaps she thought it might divert her to see Puritan and Cavalier
face each other before her in the shadowed circle of yews. Whatever her
reason, she raised her hand and raised her voice to stay Evander's
Sir, sir! she cried. Mr. Cloud, by your leave, I would have you
come hither. Do not turn aside.
Thus summoned, Evander walked with slightly quickened pace to the
place where Brilliana sat and saluted her with formal courtesy.
I cry your pardon, he declared. I would not intrude on your
quiet, but I read and walked unconscious that there was company among
Brilliana answered him with the dignity of a gracious and benevolent
Do not withdraw, sir; you have the liberty of Loyalty House, and I
would not have you avoid any part of its gardens.
Evander bowed. Sir Blaise broke into a horse-laugh which grated more
on Brilliana's ears than on Evander's. Brilliana was at heart rather
angry that for once Puritan should show better than Cavalier.
You are a vastly happy jack to be used so gently, he bellowed.
Some would have stuck such a hostage in a garret and done well
Evander still kept his eyes fixed on the lady of the house and
seemed to have no ears for the jeering Cavalier. With a lift of the
hand that indicated and saluted the prospect, he said, smoothly, You
have a very gracious garden, lady.
Mirth shone discreetly in Brilliana's eyes as she gave the Puritan a
bow for his praise. The Cavalier, a viola da gamba of anger, pegged his
string of bluster tighter.
Did not the fellow hear me? he cried, and this time his noise won
him a moment of attention. Evander gave him a glance, and then,
returning to Brilliana, said, with a manner of amused contempt, You
have a very ungracious gardener.
Sir Blaise's pink face purpled; Sir Blaise's hand swung to the hilt
of his sword. Evander seemed to have forgotten his existence and to
await quietly any further favor of speech from Brilliana. My Lady
Mischief, much diverted, judged it time to intervene.
Lordamercy! she cried, as she rose from her seat and moved a
little way towards Sir Blaise. Let me bring you acquainted.
The Cavalier caught her hand and stayed her before she could speak
Wait, wait, he whispered. Watch me roast him.
He swung away from her and swaggered towards Evander. Tell me,
solemn sir, he questioned, have you heard of one Sir Blaise
I have heard of him, Evander answered. His tranquil indifference
to Sir Blaise's bearing, to Sir Blaise's splendor of apparel, pricked
the knight like a sting. He tried to change the sum of his irritation
into the small money of wit.
You have never heard that he snuffled through his nose, turned up
his eyes, mewed psalms and canticles, and dubbed himself by some such
name as Fight-the-Good-Fight-of-Faith, yea, verily?
Sir Blaise talked with the drawling whine which he assumed to be the
familiar intonation of all Puritan speech. Like many another humorless
fellow, he prided himself upon a gift of mimicry signally denied to
him. Even Brilliana's detestation of the Puritan party could not compel
her to admire her neighbor's performance. Evander's face showed no sign
of recognition of Sir Blaise's impertinence as he answered:
No, truly, but I have heard some talk of a swaggering braggart,
prodigal in valiant promise, but very huckster in a pitiful
performance; in a word, a clown whose attempt to ape the courtier has
never veiled the clod.
Brilliana found it hard to restrain her laughter as she watched the
varying shades of fury float over Sir Blaise's broad face at each
successive clause of Evander's disdainful indictment. Yet she was sadly
vexed to think that her side commanded so poor a champion. Sir Blaise
tried to speak, gasped out a furious Sir! then his passion choked
him, and he gobbled, inarticulate and grotesque. Evander went
He is rated a King's man, and would serve his master well if much
tippling of healths and clearing of trenchers were yeoman service in a
time of war. But his sword sleeps in its sheath.
Now, by St. George Sir Blaise yelled, raising his clinched
fists. Brilliana feared at one moment that he would strike her prisoner
in the face; feared in the next that he would fall at her feet dead of
an apoplexy. She sailed between the antagonists and addressed Evander.
Serious sir, will it dash you to learn that you are speaking to Sir
Evander's countenance showed no sign either of surprise or of
dismay. Sir Blaise, still turkey-red, managed to gulp down his choler
sufficiently to utter some syllables.
I am that knight, he gasped; then, turning to Brilliana, he
whispered behind his hand, Mark now how this bear will climb down.
Brilliana, watching Evander, was not confident of apologies. Her
prisoner made a slight inclination of the head towards Sir Blaise in
acknowledgment of the fact of Brilliana's presentation, and said, very
Why, then, sir, such a jury as your world has empanelled have
misread you, for if they summed your flaws aptly in their report of
you, they clapped this rider on their staggering verdict, that Sir
Blaise Mickleton did, at his worst, do his best to play the gentleman.
Smiles of satisfaction rippled over Sir Blaise's face. He did not
follow the drift of Evander's fluency but took it for compliment.
Handsomely apologized, i' faith, he beamed to Brilliana. Brilliana
laughed in his face.
Why, poor man, he flouts you worse than ever, she whispered.
Sir Blaise knitted puzzled brows while Evander, having made the
effective pause, continued, suavely:
In the which judgment they erred, for he does not merit so
creditable a praise. Sure they can never have seen him who couple in
any way the name of Sir Blaise Mickleton with the title of gentleman.
Even Sir Blaise's dulness could not misinterpret Evander's meaning,
and rage resumed its sway.
You crow! You kite! he fumed. His wrath could find no more words,
but he made a stride towards Evander, menacing. Brilliana stepped
dexterously between the two. As she told Tiffany later, she felt as if
she were gliding between fire and ice.
One side of me was frozen, and the other done to a crisp. She
lifted her hand commandingly.
We will have no bickering here, she protested. Evander paid her a
salutation, and, moving a little aside, resumed his book. He would not
retire while Sir Blaise was in presence, but he guessed that the lady
wished for speech with her friend. Sir Blaise did not find her words
consolatory, though she affected consolation.
The bear licks with a rough tongue, she whispered. Sir Blaise
slapped his palms together.
You shall see me ring him, you shall see me bait him, if you will
but leave us.
How shall I see if I leave? Brilliana asked, provokingly. But
'tis no matter.
As she spoke she thought of Halfman, and a merry scheme danced in
Gentles, I must leave you, she cried, with a pretty little
reverence that included both men. Then in a moment she had slipped out
of the pleasaunce and was running down the avenue. In the house she
found Halfman. Quick! she cried, breathlessly. Sir Blaise and Mr.
Cloud are wrangling yonder like dogs over a bone.
Do you wish me to keep the peace between them? Halfman questioned.
Brilliana did not exactly know what she wished. She was fretted at the
poor show a King's man had made before a Puritan; if Sir Blaise could
do something to humble the Puritan it might not be wholly amiss. So
much Halfman gathered from her jerky scraps of sentences; also, that on
no account must the disputants be permitted to come to swords. Halfman
nodded, caught up a staff, and ran full tilt to the pleasaunce. The
moment his back was turned Brilliana, instead of remaining in the
house, came out again, doubled on her course, and dodging among the
hedges found herself peeping unseen upon the enclosure she had just
quitted and the brawl at its height.
XX. SIR BLAISE PAYS HIS PENALTY
When Brilliana quitted them the two men had regarded each other
steadily for a few seconds in silence. Then Sir Blaise spoke.
You made merry with me just now in ease and safety, a lady being
Evander shrugged his shoulders.
Had no lady been by I should have been more merry and less tender.
Sir Blaise scowled.
I am ill to provoke, my master. Those quarrels end sadly that are
quarrels picked with me.
Again Evander shrugged his shoulders.
I pick no quarrel, sir. You asked me very straightly what I knew of
Sir Blaise Mickleton, and very straightly I tended you my knowledge. It
is not my fault, but rather your misfortune, that you happen to be Sir
Sir Blaise dropped his hand to his sword-hilt.
You Puritan jack, he shouted, will you try sharper conclusions?
In a moment and involuntarily Evander's hand sought his own weapon.
It was in that moment that Halfman burst into the pleasaunce.
Why, what's the matter here? he cited, wielding his staff as if it
had been the scimitar of the Moor. Hold, for your lives! For Christian
shame put by this barbarous brawl.
The disputants greeted their interrupter differently. Evander paid
Halfman's memory the tribute of an appreciative smile. Sir Blaise
turned to him as to a sympathizer and backer.
This Puritan dog has insulted me, he cried.
Halfman nodded sagaciously. And you would let a little of his
malapert blood for him. But it may not be.
He addressed Evander. You are a prisoner on parole, wearing your
sword by a lady's favor, and may not use it here.
You are in the right, Evander answered, and I ask your lady's
pardon if for a moment I forgot where I am and why.
Yah, yah, fox, grinned Sir Blaise, who believed that his enemy was
glad to be out of the quarrel. But Halfman, who knew better, smiled.
There are other ways, he suggested, pleasantly, by which two
gentlemen may void their spleen without drawing their toasting-irons.
Why should we not mimic sword-play with a pair of honest cudgels?
Blaise slapped his thigh approvingly, for he was good at rustic
sports. Halfman turned his dark face upon Evander.
Has my suggestion the fortune to meet with your approval? he
asked. Evander nodded. Then let Sir Blaise handle his own staff, and
you, camerado, take mine'tis of a length with your enemy'sand set
Halfman watched Evander narrowly while he spoke. Skill with the
rapier did not necessarily imply skill with the cudgel. He bore Evander
no grudge for overcoming him at fence, but if Sir Blaise proved the
better man with the batoon, there would be a kind of compensation in
it. He had heard that Sir Blaise was apt at country-sports and now Sir
Blaise vaunted his knowledge.
Let me tell you to your trembling, he crowed, that I am the best
cudgel-player in these parts. I will drub you, I will trounce you, I
will tan your hide.
That will be as it shall be, Evander answered. He had taken the
staff that Halfman had proffered, and after weighing it in his hand and
carefully examining its texture had set it up against the seat, while
he prepared to strip off his jerkin. Halfman assisted Sir Blaise to
extricate himself from his beribboned doublet, and the two men faced
each other in their shirts, Evander's linen fine and plain, like all
about him, Sir Blaise's linen fine and ostentatious, like all about
him, and reeking of ambergris. Evander was not a small man, but his
body seemed very slender by contrast with the well-nourished bulk of
the country-gentleman, and many a one would have held that the match
was strangely unequal. But Halfman did not think so, seeing how
deliberately Evander entered upon the enterprise, and even Sir Blaise's
self-conceit was troubled by his antagonist's alacrity in accepting the
If you tender me your grief for your insolence, he suggested, with
truculent condescension, you will save yourself a basting.
Evander laughed outright, the blithest laugh that Halfman had yet
heard pass from his Puritan lips.
I must deny you, pomposity, he answered, gayly. It were pity to
postpone a pleasure.
You are in the right, commented Halfman. Come, sirs, enough
words; let us to deeds. Begin.
The sticks swung in the air and met with a crack, each man's hand
pressing his cudgel hard against the other's, each man's foot firm and
springing, each man's eyes seeking to read in the other's the secret of
his assault. Suddenly Blaise made a feint at Evander's leg and then
swashed for his head.
Have a care for your crown, he shouted, confident in his stroke;
but Evander met the blow instantly and wood only rattled on wood.
I have cared for it, he said, quietly, as he came on guard again,
making no attempt to return Sir Blaise's attack. Sir Blaise reversed
his tactics, feinted at Evander's head, and swept a furious semicircle
at Evander's legs.
Save your shins, then, he cried, and grunted with rage as he again
encountered Evander's swiftly revolving staff and heard Evander answer,
I have saved them.
Inarticulate fury goaded him. I will play with you no longer! he
growled, and made a rush for Evander, raining blow upon blow as quickly
as he could deliver them, and hoping to break down Evander's guard. But
Evander, giving ground a little before his antagonist's onslaught, met
the attacks with a mill-wheel revolution of his weapon which kept him
scatheless, and then suddenly his cudgel shot out, came with a sullen
crack on Sir Blaise's skull, and the tussle was over. Sir Blaise was
lying his length on the grass, very still, and there was blood upon his
Brilliana in hiding gave a little gasp when she saw her neighbor
fall; she could not tell whether to laugh or cry at the defeat of the
Cavalier. She saw Halfman bend over the fallen man and lift his head
upon his knee. She saw Evander advance and look down upon his
I hope you are not hurt, Evander said, solicitously.
Halfman glanced up at the victor. No harm's done, he said. He was
stunned for the moment; he is coming round.
And in confirmation of his words Sir Blaise opened his eyes, and
then with difficulty sat up and stared ruefully at Evander.
Gogs! he said, first rubbing his head and then looking at his
reddened palm. Gogs! That was a swinging snip. I am as dizzy as a
Let me help you to rise, Evander said, courteously. Blaise shook
his aching head.
I am none too fluttered to find my feet, he asserted, ignoring the
fact that his rising from the ground to an erect posture was entirely
due to the combined efforts of Halfman and Evander, one on each side,
and then, when he did get to his feet, he was only able to retain the
perpendicular by leaning heavily upon Halfman as a steady prop. From
under his bandaged forehead his pale-blue eyes regarded Evander with no
trace of enmity.
Your hand, Puritanyour hand! he cried. 'Tis just that we clasp
hands after a scuffle.
Puritan and Cavalier clasped hands in a hearty grip. I am at your
service, Evander said, gravely. Shall we continue? Sir Blaise shook
his head again.
I have had my bellyful, he grunted. There was breakfast, dinner,
supper in your stroke. I must to the house to find vinegar and brown
paper to patch my poll.
Can I aid you? Evander offered. I have some slight skill in
Leave him to me, Halfman interposed. I have botched as many heads
as I have broken.
Sir Blaise, leaning heavily on Halfman's arm, replied to Evander's
offer in his own way.
I will not have you mend ill what you have marred well. Come,
crutch, let us be jogging. We will meet again another time, my fighting
Evander made him a bow. At your pleasure, he replied, and stood
till Sir Blaise, leaning on Halfman, had hobbled out of the pleasaunce
and limped out of sight. Then he drew on his jerkin again with a smile
and a sigh.
Truly, he thought, for a man who has but three days to live, I
cannot be said to be wasting much idle time. With that he took up
again the book he had laid down and was soon deep in its study.
XXI. A PUZZLING PURITAN
So deep was Evander in his book that he did not hear a lady's
footfalls on the grass. When the discomfited Sir Blaise had quitted the
arena Brilliana held herself unseen and then swiftly sped back to the
pleasaunce. She stood for some seconds on the threshold of a yew arch
watching the reading man and wondering why it had pleased Providence to
make a Puritan so personable and skilful, wondering why she of all
women should take any interest either in his person or in his skill,
wondering how long he would remain buried in his tiresome book
unconscious of her presence. She decided that she would slip away and
leave him ignorant of her coming, and having decided that, she coughed
loudly, at which sound, of course, he turned round, saw her, and rose
respectfully to his feet.
I fear I trespass in your paradise, he said, wistfully.
My honor, no! Brilliana cried, pretending to look about her
anxiously. But where is Sir Blaise? I hope you two did not quarrel.
No, no, Evander protested; we parted on clasped hands. Some
pressing matter called him to his quarters.
Did you pay him apology for your equivocal wit? Brilliana asked,
Evander answered gravely: He professed himself satisfied.
Brilliana feigned a cry of horror.
I trust you did not eat your words.
Evander shook his head.
I am not so hungry. Have I your leave to go?
He made as if to depart; Brilliana met his motion with a little
Are you so eager? she asked, in a voice in which regret and
petulance were dexterously commingled.
Evander answered her gravely. Yesterday you said that a Puritan
presence was hateful.
Brilliana laughed blithely and her curls quivered in the sunshine.
You must not harp on a mad maid's anger. Yesterday you were my
enemy, a thing of threats and treason. To-day all's different; to-day
you are my guest. Soon you will ride hence, and we will, if Providence
please, never meet again. But for a span of hours let us make believe
to be friend and friend, till Colonel Cromwell send my cousin and your
Evander was tempted to quarrel with himself for being so ready to
welcome this overture. But yesterday this woman had spattered him with
insults, snared him on a strained plea, bargained away his life for the
body of a spy. Yesterday she had shuddered at the thought of any link
of kinship between them, as she might have shuddered at kinship with a
wronger of women, a killer of children, a coward. Yet to-day, as she
stood there, sunshine on her hair, sunshine in her eyes, a fairy lady
standing in that circle of solemn yews, he could find in his heart no
regret for anything that had brought him to her presence. He would take
gladly what she offered gayly, two days of friendship with so radiant a
maidand then? He left that thought unanswered to reply to Brilliana.
Madam, he said, with a very ceremonious bow, I will pretend that
we are going to be friends till the end of my life.
Brilliana clapped her hands like a child that has been promised some
You are brave at make-believe. In the mean time let us keep each
other company a little. Surely it is dull for a man of action to be a
prisoner, and for my own part I mope sadly now that my little war is
She had seated herself as she spoke, and she motioned to Evander to
take his place by her side. When she paused he asked:
Are you so strenuous an amazon?
She answered him very earnestly:
I miss the splendid music of the siege, the stir of arms, the
bustle of giving order, the alertness of expectation. I did not think a
woman's life could be tuned to so high a diapason. Just think of it!
Yesterday, and for many yesterdays, I was a leaguered lady, a priestess
of battles; I stood for the King; existence was one fierce ecstasy. To
drop from that brisk spin and whetted edge of life into this
housewife's twilight is all one with being some sea-old admiral and
drowning in a canal.
The daughters of Israel could not have thrown more sadness into
their voice, Evander thought, as they sang by the waters of Babylon. If
her face was fair in animation, it seemed still more fair in sadness.
Has the Lady of Harby no employment, he asked, gently, to spur
the trudging time?
Brilliana laughed rather cheerlessly.
Oh, mercy, yes! Can she not overwatch the gardener to see that he
planteth the right sort of herbs and flowers at the new of the moon, at
moon full, and at moon old? She can chat with Mistress Cook of sallets
and fricassees and fritters; she can count the linen; she can preserve
quinces; she can distil you aqua composita or imperial water, or water
of Bettony, against she grow old; she can be dairy-wise, cellar-wise,
laundry-wiseoh, there are a thousand thousand things she can do if
she want to do them, but the plague of it is, since I have burned
powder, these decent drudgeries no longer divert me.
She gave a little sigh as she ended her enumeration of a housewife's
tasks, and then banished the sigh with a smile. Evander found himself
thinking that a man might count himself happy for whom this lady should
sigh so at parting and smile so in welcome. But what he said was:
Against your next distillation I can give you a very praisable
recipe for a cordial. It is a Swedish fancy and much favored by the
ladies of the North.
Brilliana looked him full in the face and laughed very merrily, and
he felt his cheeks redden at her gaze and her mirth.
Was there ever such a man-marvel? she asked. All my people praise
you for some different accomplishment. A horseman, a gardener, the best
at fence, the best, too, with a cudgel
Ah, madam, Evander interrupted, apologetically, pray how has that
come to your ears?
Never mind how it came, Brilliana answered, so that it has come
and that I owe you no ill-will for teaching a foolish gentleman a
lesson. But you can shoot, it seems, and play games, and are apt in
out-door arts and wise in out-of-doors wisdomfor all the world like a
Madam, I am, as I hope, a gentleman, and as for the country
knowledge, I have lived its life in many lands and learned something by
And now, Brilliana bantered on, you boast some science of the
still-room, and Mistress Satchell speaks of a Spanish manner of
grilling capons. Are you, perhaps, a herald as well as a master cook,
and do you know something of the gentle and joyous craft of the
Evander took her in her humor and bandied back the ball of
I can prick a coat indifferently well, he responded, solemnly,
and if such trifles delight you, I can blaze arms by the days of the
week or the ages of man or the flowers of the field, though I hold that
a true herald will never stray beyond colors.
Brilliana nodded her head with an air of profound approval. Better
and better, she murmured. Evander went on with his catalogue of
And as for my woodcraft, I can name you all the names of a male
deer, from hind calf, year by year, through brocket and spayed, and
staggard and stag, till his sixth year, when he is truly a hart and has
his rights of brow, bay, and tray antlers. I am skilled in the uses of
falcon-gentle, gerfalcon, saker, lanner, merlin, hobby, goshawk,
sparrow-hawk, and musket
Brilliana interrupted him with an impetuous gesture of command, and
Evander made an end of his display.
Enough, enough! she cried. I feel like Balkis when she came to
sip wisdom from Solomon's goblet. If I question you further I may find
that, like my Lord Verulam, you have taken all knowledge for your
province. This is something uncanny in a Puritan.
Why should a man deny the arts of life because he finds strength in
the faith of the Puritans?
I know not why, Brilliana answered, but so it is generally
believed among us who are not Puritans.
There are fanatic fellows with us as in all causes, Evander
admitted, and some, it may be, who wear moroseness to gain favor. But
these are no more than the fringe of a stout cloak. I am no exceptional
Puritan, I promise you. Colonel Cromwell himself
Brilliana interrupted him with a frowning imperiousness.
Let us not talk of Colonel Cromwell, she commanded.
I wish you would let me speak of Colonel Cromwell, Evander
pleaded. He has long been my dear friend, and
Let us not talk of Colonel Cromwell, Brilliana repeated, with a
peremptory stamp of the foot. I want to talk of you and your curious
Puritanism. I thought you were all too hypocritically devout to have
any care for the toys and colors of life.
To be devout is not to be hypocritical, Evander urged, gently.
And, to speak for myself, I hope I am devout, but I do not find my
faith weakened by honorable enjoyment of honorable pleasures. Yet,
indeed, what poor accomplishments I can lay claim toand to afford you
diversion, I have somewhat exaggerated their scope and numberare due
directly to my being a Puritan
You are pleased to be paradoxical, Brilliana asserted. Evander put
the suggestion aside with a head shake.
To my being a Puritan and to my being of your kin. When I was a boy
I learned of that kinship, learned how her marriage with a Puritan had
earned for a woman of your race the scorn, indeed the hatred of her
family, or those who should most and best have loved her.
You do not understand how strongly those who think as we think feel
on such a matter, Brilliana urged, one-half of her spirit angry that
she was speaking almost apologetically, the other half vexed that the
first half was not more angry.
Forgive me, said Evander, but I do understand; I understand very
well; I made it my business to understand. And, therefore, I resolved
that so far as in me lay I would show those who scorned my people and
my creed that a Puritan might compete with his enemies in all the arts
and graces they held most dear, and not come off the worst in all
That was a brave resolve! Brilliana's eyes and voice applauded
him. He flushed a little as he went on.
It was a kind of oath of Hannibal. God was gracious in the gift of
a strong will, and I stuck to my purpose. I mastered arts, acquired
tongues, forced myself to dexterity in all manly exercises. I had a
modest patrimony which allowed me to travel after I left Cambridge, and
so gain that knowledge of the world which is so dear to English
gentlemen. And always in my thoughts it was: some day I may meet some
son of the house that cast us out and show him that a Puritan might
fear God and yet ride a horse, fly a hawk, and use a sword with the
best of his enemies.
Instead of which, said Brilliana, as he paused, you meet a
daughter of the house and play your well-practised part to her. Her
voice was stern now and her eyes shone fiercely as she leaned forward
and continued in a low voice, Was this the cause of your coming to
No, Evander answered. I should never have come to Harby of my own
accord. But news came to Cambridge of your flying the King's flag. The
example was dangerous; Harby was a good house for either side to hold.
Colonel Cromwell commanded me to march with the volunteers I had raised
at Cambridge to secure Harby in the name of the Parliament.
And you were very glad to obey, Brilliana said, bitterly, and
again Evander shook his head.
I was very sorry to obey. But I had no choice. Colonel Cromwell was
my father's friend; he knew the story of my people; he set it upon me
as a special seal for righteousness that I should do this thing. 'Kin
shall be set against kin in this strife,' he said, 'father against son,
and brother against brother. Go forth in the name of the Lord and pluck
the banner of Baal from the wall of Harby.' And I went.
Brilliana, lifting her head, looked over the green wall of yews to
where, in the cool, gray-blue of the October sky, the royal standard
fluttered its gaudy folds in the wind. She said nothing, but her smile
spoke whole volumes of victories; the panegyrics of a thousand triumphs
gleamed in her eyes. Evander read smile and gleam rightly.
True, I failed, he admitted. Yet I may not say that I am sorry,
for if I had not failed I should have lost a friend.
He looked admiringly at her, but Brilliana drew herself up stiffly
and regarded him coldly.
You may be my kinsman without being my friend, she said, with a
sourness which had the effect of making Evander laugh like a boy.
Why, lady, he protested, it is not ten minutes since that you
proffered me your friendship.
Did I so? Brilliana asked, puckering her brows as if in doubt,
though she had not the least doubt upon the matter.
Indeed, madam, said Evander, very earnestly, friends for a
lifetime. Brilliana snapped contradiction.
No, no; it was you who said that. I admit the friendship for three
And I assert the friendship of a lifetime, Evander persisted. His
voice and his eyes were very merry, but there came an unconquerable
gnawing at his heart that, in spite of the fair place and the fair face
and the sweet discourse, life for him meant no more than a space of
three days. Well, then, he would live his three days bravely, brightly.
He lifted his eyes to the lady.
Are you of Master Amiens' school? he asked
'Most friendship is feigning, most love is mere folly.'
She made no reply to his question, but its matter surprised her and
prompted her to another.
Do you go to Master Shakespeare's school? she asked; and even as
she spoke she leaned forward to look at the book he had laid down and
to which, till that moment, she had paid no heed. She drew it towards
her and saw what it was.
Why, here are his plays. Can you affect him when 'tis known that
the King loves him?
I would the King had no worse counsellors, Evander said, gravely.
Brilliana had lifted the big book onto her lap and was turning the
pages tenderly, pausing here and there with loving murmurs.
Had I been a man, she said, softly, I should have turned player
for the pleasure to speak such golden words.
Evander, watching her fair, lowered face under its crown of dark
hair, thought of all that Imogen might mean, or Rosalind or Juliet, did
each of these dear ones show on the stage like this lady. He gave the
odd thought form in speech.
It is strange, he said, almost to himself, that a Cavalier world
is content without women players.
Brilliana lifted her face from the book, and there was a look of
astonishment and even of pain upon it.
Oh, that is quite another matter, she said, quickly. That could
never come to pass.
Evander's Puritanism, recalled to recollection of itself, felt
compelled to assent.
I trust not, he said, gravely. He was looking at Brilliana with
eyes that were honestly admiring. She rose from her seat.
I must dismiss you now, she said, for I have much to do ere
dinner. You will dine with me, I pray.
Evander made her a not uncourtly bow.
If I be not unwelcome, he suggested.
Brilliana shook her head very positively.
We are pledged friends for the time, and friends love to break
There was no countering this argument. Evander took up the folio and
made its owner another bow.
I will attend you at the dinner-hour, he said. This treasure I
restore to its home.
As the Parliament man moved away across the grass, his image very
dark against its green, Brilliana looked after him, nursing her chin in
her palm and her elbow on her knee. As he entered the house with the
big book under his arm she took out her pretty handkerchief, and with
much deliberation tied a small knot in one corner of it.
Master Puritan, Master Puritan, she murmured, I must tie a knot
in my handkerchief to remind me that you and I are enemies.
XXII. MASTER PAUL AND MASTER PETER
At the dinner-hour Halfman came for Evander, where he sat in the
library, and told him that Lady Brilliana awaited him. The meal was
served in the banqueting-hall, a splendid, panelled room with
deep-embrasured windows, from which the defences had now been removed
and through which the inmates could have noble views of the lawns and
gardens beyond the moat. The little company of three seemed, as it
were, lost in the vastness of the chamber as they sat at meat together
at the oak table by the hearth at one end of the room, Brilliana at the
head, with Halfman at her right and Evander at her left as the guest
and stranger. It proved a vastly pleasant meal to Evander, for the talk
was brisk and entertaining, and there was no allusion made to those
civil and religious differences which in distracting the country had
their curious effect, so unimportant to the country, so important to
themselves, of bringing that oddly assorted trio together. Brilliana
gave a gracious equality of attention to her companions; showed no
keener interest in her new visitor than she had found in the
conversation of her old acquaintance, and thus made both men very
happily at their ease. Indeed, Halfman was at his best that afternoon,
playing the genial, ripe, mellow man of the world to perfection, so
that Evander found him a most entertaining board-fellow.
They were at the fruit, and Halfman showing them tricks of carving
faces in October apples, when Tiffany skipped into the room a-twitter
My lady, she cried, here is come Master Paul and two of our
people bearing a great box. And I can spy Master Peter and his party
with another at the turn of the road.
Halfman laughed loudly; Brilliana laughed softly; Evander wondered
what there was to laugh at.
Lodge them apart and bring them in by turn, Brilliana gave order.
Master Paul first and then Master Peter. This is rare. Bring them in,
bring them in.
Tiffany fluttered out and Evander rose from his chair.
Shall I leave you, lady? he asked, thinking that she would be
private. But Brilliana would not hear of this and motioned to him to
keep his seat.
Nay, sir, stay, she said, if you would see some sport.
Even as she spoke Tiffany returned, ushering in Master Hungerford,
followed by two men in Brilliana's livery, bearing with pains a chest
which they set down with a deep breath of relief. Tiffany, who was now
in the secret, pretended to be busy at a sideboard so as to stay in the
room. Master Paul rubbed his lean fingers together and scraped to the
You have been swift, Master Hungerford, Brilliana said,
approvingly. Master Hungerford smiled furtively.
Who would not use despatch in the King's cause and yours. 'Tis as I
said: the pestilent Roundhead had a chest full of broad-pieces stuffed
under his bed. And here it now is at your feet. And he pointed
victoriously at the spoils of war. Brilliana applauded as if she had
been at the play.
You have done well, she said, with the tears in her eyes for
laughter. Halfman kept a grave face and Evander wondered.
Call me your knight, Master Paul pleaded, with a languishing look.
You have done well, my knight, Brilliana repeated; then, turning
to Tiffany, she bade her see that the chest was set in a place of
safety. The two men took up their burden again and followed Tiffany out
of the room. But in a jiffy the maid was back again and whispering in
her mistress's ear.
Brilliana turned her amused gaze upon Master Paul.
Master Hungerford, she entreated, will you be so good as to wait
awhile in the next chamber. I have some immediate business to deal
with, but I would be loath to part company with you so soon if you have
the leisure to wait.
Master Hungerford, protesting his readiness to attend upon her
pleasure, was promptly ushered by Halfman into an adjoining room, where
he left him, and having closely shut the door, came back shaking with
suppressed laughter to Brilliana. Evander, looking from the mirthful
man to the mirthful maid, felt constrained to question.
Why are you so merry?
You will know ere the sun is much older, Brilliana answered,
composing her countenance, for here comes the other.
As she spoke Tiffany returned, ushering in Master Peter Rainham and
a fresh brace of Brilliana's servants, staggering, like their
predecessors, under the weight of a great chest. The certainty that
some astonishing jest was towards set Evander on the alert as he
scrutinized the forbidding form and features of the new-comer.
Welcome, thrice welcome, Master Peter Rainham, cried Brilliana.
You have made good speed.
Master Peter proffered her an uncouth salutation and pointed to the
chest on the floor significantly.
Lady, he said, I have done the King a good turn. There are gold
plates there, gold dishes, gold ewers, that will change in the
melting-pot to many a troop of horse for the King's cause.
I thank you with all my heart, Brilliana said, quietly.
Master Peter leered cunningly at her, and earned the cordial dislike
Do you give me your heart with your thanks? he asked, with what he
believed to be gallantry.
Brilliana made a little fanning motion at him with her hand.
You are too hot, she said. Then ordered Tiffany, See these
treasures despatched to the King under guard.
As before, the serving-men took up the chest, which seemed even
heavier than the former box, and were convoyed by Tiffany out of the
room. Then Brilliana turned to Master Peter, who stood apart biting his
Master Rainham, she said, you have shown rare discretion and made
brave despatch. I would thank you at greater length were it not that I
have company. There is one in the next room who waits to see me.
Entreat the gentleman to enter, Captain Halfman.
Halfman went to the nigh door, and, opening it, summoned with
beckoning finger its tenant to come forth. Master Hungerford emerged
radiant. For a moment neither squire saw the other. Then Master
Rainham, looking away from Brilliana, saw Master Hungerford; and Master
Hungerford, looking away from Halfman, saw Master Rainham.
To those who watched the comedy the silence was intense, and
throbbing with possibilities as summer air throbs with heat. Brilliana
heard Master Rainham say, What a devil, Master Hungerford, and
Halfman, for his part, averred later that Master Hungerford, too,
greeted his neighbor's presence with an oath. The spectators wondered
what would happen: it was plain as noon that each squire for an instant
believed that the other had discovered larceny and had posted to avenge
it. But while each man knew of his own guilt neither could guess or did
guess at the other's theft, and neither reading anger in the other's
visage, each concluded that the meeting was a piece of chance, and each
resolved to make the best of it, laughing heartily in his sleeve at the
other's catastrophe. So Good-morrow, neighbor, nodded Master Paul,
and Good-day, good-day, responded Master Peter, and Brilliana thought
her bodice would burst with her effort to keep her appreciation a
Why, sirs, she cried, this is a good seeing, a pair of neighbors
under my roof.
What does this fellow here? Master Paul asked behind his hand of
Halfman, who answered, very coolly,
He comes to pay court to our lady.
At the same moment, beneath his breath, Master Peter was questioning
Brilliana, Why is that disloyal rogue here? Brilliana answered, with
a pretty toss of the head:
Would you ever believe it? He came to assure me of his devotion to
me and his zeal for his Majesty.
Master Peter, in wrath, looked more porcine than ever.
The lying knave, he grunted. What are his words to my deeds?
What, indeed, answered Brilliana, demurely. I pray you persuade
So that I may return alone?
Thus Master Peter interpreted Brilliana, and the minx gave him a
glance which might well be taken as justifying his interpretation. At
this moment Master Paul broke in upon their colloquy.
A word with you, I pray you, he said, sourly, if my good neighbor
will give me good leave.
Master Rainham withdrew a little way his self-satisfaction and
himself, while Master Paul whispered to Brilliana:
You know me now: I am proved your friend. Prithee get rid of that
Brilliana desired nothing better. She gave him the same advice that
she had given his neighbor, and was mischievously delighted to find
that he interpreted it after the same fashion. It did her heart good to
see how the two squires approached each other with many formal
expressions of good-will, each persuading the other to depart, and each
warmly proffering companionship on the homeward road. In the end they
went off together arm in arm, each endeavoring to convey to Brilliana
by nods and winks that he proposed to return alone very shortly.
As soon as they were fairly gone Brilliana and Halfman allowed
themselves to laugh like school-boy and school-girl, and then Brilliana
commanded Halfman to take order that neither gentleman was to be
admitted again. When he had gone on this business she turned to
Well, she said, have you found the key to the riddle?
You have made these two neighbors plunder each other? he hazarded.
Brilliana nodded gleefully, and then, guessing at disapproval in his
gravity, she asserted, defiantly:
It was for the King's cause. Everything is right for the King's
At this flagrant enunciation of Cavalier policy Evander could not
How will it end? he asked. He was to learn that very soon, but
first he was to learn other things of greater import to himself.
XXIII. A DAY PASSES
A day is twenty-four hours if you take it by the card, but the
spirit of joy or the spirit of sorrow has the power to multiply its
potentialities amazingly. Both these spirits walked by Evander's side
during his second day at Harby. The one that went in sable reminded him
that his horizon was dwindling almost to his feet; the other, in rose
and gold, hinted that it is better to be emperor for a day than beggar
for a century. And truly through all that day Evander esteemed himself
happier than an emperor. For he had discovered that Brilliana was the
most adorable woman in the world, and, knowing how his span of life was
shrinking, he allowed himself to adore without let or hinderance of
hostile faiths and warring causes. He did not, as another in his
desperate case might have done, make the most of his time by using it
for very straightforward love-making. There was a fine austerity in him
that denied such a course. Were he an undoomed man his creed and his
cause would forbid him to philander; being a doomed man, it could not
consort with his honor to act differently. But he was radiantly happy
in her constant companionship, and the hours fled from him iris-tinted
as he relived the age of gold.
But if Evander trod the air, there was another who pressed the earth
with leaden feet and carried a heart of lead. Halfman read Evander's
happiness with hostile eyes; he read, too, very clearly, Brilliana's
content in Evander's company, and he raged at it. He had grown so used
to himself as Brilliana's ally that he had come to dream mad dreams
which were none the less sweet because of their madness. He had
rehearsed himself if not as Romeo at least as Othello, and if Brilliana
was not in the least like Desdemona that knowledge did not dash him,
for he thought her much more delectable than the Venetian, and he
thanked his stars that he was not a blackamoor. He had not pushed his
thoughts to a precise formula; he had been content to delight during
the hours of siege in the companionship of a matchless maid, and now
the maid had found another companion, and he knew that he was fiercely
in love and as foolishly jealous as a moon-calf. Brilliana was as kind
to him as ever, but she gave her time to the new man, and Halfman,
inwardly bleeding and outwardly the magnificent stoic, left the pair to
themselves and absented himself at meal-times on pretext of pressing
business with the volunteer troop. But his temper grew as a gale grows
and would soon prove a whirlwind.
The garden-room at Harby was one of its many glories. Its panelled
walls, its portraits of old-time Harbys, its painted ceiling, were
exquisite parts of its exquisite harmony. On the side towards the park
the wall was little more than a colonnadeto which doors could be
fitted in winter-time, and here, as from a loggia, the indweller could
feast on one of the fairest prospects in Oxfordshire. Across the moat
the gardens stretched, in summer-time a riot of color, flowers glowing
like jewels set in green enamel. In the waning autumn the scene was
still fair, even though the day was overcast as this day was, from
which the weather-wise and even the weather-unwise could freely and
confidently prophesy rain. Brilliana dearly loved her garden-room for
many things, most, perhaps, because of its full-length portrait of her
King, an honest copy from an adorable Vandyke, to which, as to a
shrined image, Brilliana paid honest adoration. She knew more about the
picture than anyone else in Harby, and used sometimes to wonder if the
knowledge would ever avail her. In the mean time, ever since the
troubles began, she always bent a knee whenever she passed the
portrait. She had never seen her King, yet she felt as if she saw him
daily, visible in the living flesh, so keenly did her loyalty seem to
quicken color and canvas. Brilliana was not the only soul in England
whose loyalty gave the King a kind of godhead, but if she had many
peers she had none, nor could have, who overpassed her.
On the morning of the third day of Evander's stay at Harby, Halfman
sat on the edge of the table in the garden-room and stared through the
open doorway into the green beyond. He was alone, and he had flung off
the stoic robe and was very frankly an angry man and very frankly a
dangerous man. What he saw in the garden maddened him; his eyes
glittered like a cat's that stalks its prey. He had no room in his
thoughts for the cottage of his earlier dreams, with its pleasant
garden and its lazy hours over ale and tobacco. He thought only of a
woman quite beyond his reach, and his heart lusted for the lawless days
when your lucky buccaneer might take his pick of a score of women by
right of fire and sword and tame his choice as he pleased.
To this mood fortune sent interruption in the person of Sir Blaise
Mickleton. Sir Blaise had opened the door expecting to find in the room
Brilliana, whom he had come with a purpose to visit, and instead of
Brilliana he found this queer soldier swinging his legs from the table
and scowling truculently. From what Sir Blaise had already seen of
Halfman he found him very little to his mind, but he reflected that he
had come on a mission, that Brilliana was nowhere in sight, and that
Halfman, who had served her during the siege, might very well direct
him where he should find her.
As Halfman took no notice whatever of him, Sir Blaise deemed it
advisable, in the interests of his mission, to attract his attention.
So he gave a politic cough and followed it with a Give you
good-morrow of such sufficient loudness that Halfman could not choose
but hear it. He did not change his attitude, however, or turn his face
from the window, as he answered, in a sullen voice,
I should need a good-morrow to mend a bad day.
Sir Blaise had not the wit to let a sleeping dog lie, but must needs
prod it to see if it could bark. So he very foolishly said what were
indeed obvious even to a greater fool than he.
You seem in the sullens.
The sleeping dog could bark. Halfman turned a scowling face upon the
knight as he answered, malevolently:
Swamped, water-logged, foundering. You are a pretty parrakeet to
come between me and my musings.
The tone of Halfman's speech, the way of Halfman's demeanor were so
offensive that the knight's cheap dignity took fire. He swelled with
displeasure, flushed very red in the gills, and cleared his throat for
Master Majordomo, you forget yourself.
Halfman proved too indifferent or too self-absorbed to take umbrage.
He stared into the garden again with a sigh.
No, I remember myself, and the memory vexes me. I dreamed I was a
king, a kaiser, a demigod. I wake, rub my eyes, and am no more than a
Sir Blaise was patronizingly forgiving. He was thirsty, also the
morning was chilly.
Let us exorcise your devil with a pottle of hot ale, he suggested.
Halfman shook his head wistfully.
I should be happier in a sable habit, with a steeple hat, and a
rank in the Parliament army.
It was plain to Sir Blaise that a man must be very deep in the dumps
who was not to be tempted by hot ale.
Lordamercy, are you for changing sides now? he asked.
As Halfman made him no answer but continued to stare gloomily into
the garden, Blaise concluded that the interest lay there which made him
thus distracted. So he came down to the table and looked over Halfman's
shoulder. In the distance he saw a man and woman walking among the
trees. The man was patently the Puritan prisoner, the woman was the
chatelaine of Harby. The pair seemed very deep in converse. As Sir
Blaise looked, they were out of sight round a turning. Halfman gave a
heavy groan and spoke, more to himself, as it seemed, than to his
Look how they walk in the garden, ever in talk. Time was she would
walk and talk with me, listen to my wars and wanderings, and call me a
Are you jealous of the Puritan prisoner? Blaise asked, astonished.
Halfman answered with an oath.
Oh, God, that the siege had lasted forever, or that she had kept
her word and blown us sky high.
Blaise began to snigger.
'Ods-life! do you dare a love for your lady? he said. He had
better not have said it. Halfman turned on him with a face like a
demon's and the plump knight recoiled.
Why the red devil should I not, Halfman asked, hoarsely, if a
bumpkin squire like you may do as much?
Blaise tried to domineer, but the effort was feeble before the
fierceness in Halfman's glare.
Are you speaking to me, your superior? he stammered. Halfman
answered him mockingly, with a voice that swelled in menace as the
taunting speech ran on.
Will you ride against me, cross swords with me, come to grips with
me any way? You dare not. I am well born, have seen things, done things
'twould make you shiver to hear of them. Come, I am in a fiend's humor;
come with your sword to the orchard and see which of us is the better
Sir Blaise was in a fair panic at this raging fury he had conjured
up and now was fain to pacify.
Soft, soft, honest captain; why so choleric? I would not wrong you.
But surely you do not think she favors this Puritan?
Oh, he's a proper man, damn him! Halfman admitted. He has a right
to a woman's liking. And he must love her, God help him! as every man
does that looks on her.
Blaise looked pathetic.
What is there to do? he asked, helplessly. Halfman struck his
right fist into his left palm.
I would do something, I promise you. He is no immortal. But we
shall be rid of him soon. If Colonel Cromwell do not surrender Cousin
Randolph we are pledged to his killing, and if he do, then our friend
rejoins his army; and I pray the devil my master that I may have the
joy to pistol him on some stricken field.
Sir Blaise thought it was time to change the conversation.
Let us leave these ravings and vaporings, he entreated, wheedling,
and return to the business of life. And 'tis a very unpleasant
business I come on.
Halfman drew his hand across his forehead as a man who seeks to
dissipate ill dreams. Then, with a tranquil face, he gave Blaise the
attention he petitioned.
How so? he asked. Any business were a pleasing change from his
Why, I am a justice of the peace for these parts, Sir Blaise said,
and I am importuned by two honest neighbors to process of law against
Halfman laughed unpleasantly.
The Lady Brilliana's wish is the law of this country-side, I
He grinned maliciously and fingered at his sword-hilt. Sir Blaise
felt exceedingly uncomfortable. Here was no promising beginning for a
solemn judicial errand. But the knight had a mighty high sense of his
own importance, and he felt himself shielded, as it were, from the
tempers of this fire-eater by the dignity of his office and the majesty
of the law. So he came to his business with a manner as pompous as he
Master Rainham and Master Hungerford are exceedingly angry, he
Halfman flouted him and his clients.
Because she bobbed them so bravely? The knaves came raving to our
gates when they found how they had been tricked into picking each
other's pockets. But I made them take to their heels, I promise you.
You should have seen their fool faces at the sight of a musket's
Sir Blaise looked righteously indignant.
Sir, sir, he protested, muskets will not mend matters if these
gentlemen have been wronged. They came hot-foot to me, and in the
interests of peace I have entreated them hither. They wait without in
the care of two of your people to keep them from flying at each other's
Halfman heard the distressing news with equanimity.
Why not let them kill each other? he suggested, blandly. Blaise
lifted his hands in horror.
Friend, he said, in this mission I am a man of peace. Will you
acquaint your lady?
Halfman grunted acquiescence.
Oh, ay; bring in your boobies.
He turned on his heel and swung out through the doorway into the
Sir Blaise looked after him for a moment disapprovingly, then he
went to the door by which he had entered, and, opening it, called
This way, gentlemen, this way.
XXIV. A HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
There was a loud, scuffling noise without, as of the trampling of
many feet and the inarticulate growlings of wild beasts. Then Clupp
entered the room, clasping in his mighty arms the long body of Master
Paul Hungerford. He was followed by Garlinge, who was performing the
like embracive office for the short body of Master Peter Rainham. The
two angry gentlemen plunged and struggled impotently to free themselves
from their guardians and hurl themselves at each other's throats. They
might as well have tried to free themselves from clamps of iron. To the
master-muscled Garlinge and Cluppa strong Gyas, a strong Cloanthes,
no lessthey were no more difficult to restrain than would have been a
brace of puling babes. Even their speech was not free to make amends
for their captivity, for they were so brimful of choler and had so
roared and shrieked their rage ere this that the torrent of their fury
spent itself in vacant mouthings and splutterings. Sir Blaise eyed the
brawlers with exceeding disfavor.
Gentlemen, gentlemen, he entreated, be calm, I beg of you.
At the sound of his voice the disputants found theirs, or rather
found themselves restored to command over human speech. Each turned
towards Sir Blaise, swaying over the clasped arms of his captor.
Sir Blaise, screamed Master Paul, in the King's name I call upon
you to commit this thief to jail.
Set that footpad in the pillory, Sir Blaise, yelled Master Peter.
Then they turned upon each other again.
You rogue, cried Master Paul.
You rascal, answered Master Peter.
In a second they were again struggling to get at each other, and
were, as before, imperturbably held asunder by Garlinge and Clupp.
Again Sir Blaise protested.
Good friends, be calm, I entreat you.
I'll cut his heart out, Peter vociferated, stabbing a dirty hand
in the direction of his enemy.
I'll make him mincemeat, Paul promised, sawing at the air.
Sir Blaise, turning away in disgust, saw how in the garden Brilliana
was making for the house. He frowned on the malcontents.
Hush, here comes the lady.
Even as he spoke Brilliana entered from the garden, followed by
Evander and Halfman. The girl looked as bright as sunlight as she
greeted the company.
Good-morning, Sir Blaise; good-morning, my masters.
Then she burst out laughing at the furious faces and helpless
gesticulations of the irate claimants. Her laughter was very delightful
for most men to hear, but it goaded the squires to frenzy.
Sir Blaise, cried Master Paul, I call you to witness that the
lady laughs at us.
Sir Blaise, cried Master Peter, there stands our undoing.
Brilliana frowned a little and turned to Halfman.
Friend, she said, will you see order here.
Very blithely, Halfman answered. He commanded the servants.
You, Garlinge and Clupp, see that your prisoners keep silence.
Master Paul and Master Peter began to protest in chorus.
We are no prison But they got no further, for Garlinge and Clupp
silenced them by clapping huge hands over their gaping mouths.
Brilliana gave a little sigh of relief at the welcome quiet.
Now, Sir Blaise, she asked, why are these gentlemen here?
Sir Blaise made salutation and answered, Truly, most paradisiacal
lady, these gentlemen make grave allegations that you did insidiously
incite them to the commission of a felony.
Brilliana looked from Sir Blaise to the muffled, grappled plaintiffs
and made mirthful decision.
I represent the King here. I will try this matter.
Blaise felt bound to lodge protest against this monstrous
Perhaps, most Elysian of fair ladies, it would be, as one might
say, more seemly if I, as a justice of the peace
Brilliana daffed him down.
Sir Blaise, we are at war now, and by your leave I will handle this
matter after my own fashion.
I must protest, Blaise bleated, but Brilliana would not listen to
You must do nothing, she insisted, but help me to set chairs. One
here for me, one there for you, my brother justice; one there for
Captain Cloud, who, as a stranger of distinction, shall have a seat on
I thank you for the honor, said Evander, watching the scene with
much entertainment. As Brilliana talked she, with Blaise and Halfman,
had been busy placing seats as she directed at the table.
Captain Halfman, Brilliana went on, you write a clerkly hand. Sit
you here; you shall be our clerk. Arraign the prisoners.
By this time all were seated as Brilliana had disposed; Sir Blaise
had completely surrendered his dignity to her spell. Even Halfman found
pleasure in the grotesque sham trial.
Garlinge and Clupp brought their charges down to face the newly
formed tribunal. Halfman spoke.
Here, my lady, we have two hobs who have come to loggerheads as to
which is best disposed to the King. Garlinge, let Master Hungerford
speak. Garlinge removed his massive hand from his prisoner's mouth,
and Paul, after gaping like a fish for some seconds, gasped out,
Lady, you know well enough how you have befooled us.
Brilliana stared upon him, bewitchingly unembarrassed by the charge.
Manners, master, cried Halfman, angrily, or I'll manner you.
Brilliana daintily deprecated his heat.
Wait, wait, she said. First of all, are you a loyal subject of
Master Paul rubbed his chin dubiously. That is as it may be, he
Brilliana tapped the table. Faint hesitation is flat treason, she
cried. Turning to Halfman, she commanded, Write him down for a
Master Paul clawed towards her excitedly.
No, no; pray you not so fast, he entreated. I am a good King's
Brilliana condescended approval.
He amends his plea, she noted to Halfman. Master Paul went on,
But that does not make me love to be plundered.
Brilliana rose and, resting the tips of her fingers on the table,
addressed Master Hungerford sternly.
Master Hungerford, one of two things. Either you are a Roundhead,
in which case you have no rights in loyal, royal Oxfordshiresay I not
well, Sir Blaise?
Marvellous well, Sir Blaise assented.
Ergo, Brilliana continued, having no rights you have no goods,
having no goods you cannot be plundered.
Yet I was plundered, Master Paul protested. Brilliana exorcised
We shall convince you to the contrary. If you are no Roundhead then
you are a stanch Cavalier, and in the King's name you confiscated
certain gear of your fellow-prisoner.
Now, while Paul was being interrogated Clupp had removed his hand
from Master Peter's mouth and contented himself with holding him fast.
Master Peter now saw an opportunity to assert himself.
I am not a prison he began, but was not suffered to speak
further. Instantly Clupp's palm closed again upon the parted jaws and
reduced him to silence once more, while Brilliana went on.
In doing which you deserved well of his Majesty.
Ay, all was well so far, Master Paul grumbled; but he played the
like trick upon me at your instigation.
Brilliana would not hear of it.
You misuse speech. 'Tis no trick to serve the King. As I
understand, each of you accuses the other of robbing him.
Master Paul agreed. Master Peter, gagged behind Clupp's hand, nodded
dismally. Brilliana went on.
This is at first blush a dilemma, but our wit makes all clear. Each
of you, avowedly in the King's name, did descend upon the dwelling of a
disaffected rebel and make certain seizures there which have been duly
sent to his Majesty. Each of you is, therefore, proved to be a loyal
subject and honorable gentleman. So far you are with me, Sir Blaise?
Surely, surely, the knight agreed.
Yet, on the other hand, continued Brilliana, each of you accuses
the other of robbing him. Now to rob is to offend against the King's
law, to be, therefore, an enemy to the King; and an enemy to the King
is a Roundhead. Is not this well argued, Sir Blaise?
Socrates could not have bettered it, commended Sir Blaise.
We arrive, therefore, at the strange conclusion, said Brilliana,
judicially, that each of you is at the same time an honest Cavalier
and a dishonest Roundhead. Now, as no man living can be in the same
breath Cavalier and Roundhead, it follows as plainly as B follows A
that whichever one of you complains of the other is avowedly the King's
enemy and a palpable rebel.
Master Paul scratched his head.
I do not follow your reasoning, he mumbled. Brilliana appealed to
the justice of the peace.
Yet it is very clear. Is it not, Sir Blaise?
Limpidity itself, Sir Blaise approved, complacently. Brilliana
One or other of you is a traitor and shall be sent to Oxford in
chains, to await the King's pleasure and his own pain. I care not which
You have set me in such a quandary, Master Paul protested, my
head buzzes like a hive.
Brilliana directly questioned him.
You, Master Hungerford, are you a King's man?
Master Paul was vehement in asseveration.
I am a King's man, hook and eye.
Then, Brilliana assumed, 'tis Master Rainham must fare in chains
Master Rainham, staring at her over Clupp's paw, had such appealing
terror in his eyes that Brilliana pitied him.
'Tis your turn now, she said. Let him give tongue, Clupp.
Clupp withdrew his hand and Master Rainham gurgled:
I proclaim myself a faithful subject of the King. Let that dog trot
You matchless basilisk! screamed Master Paul at him, and You
damnable mandrake! retorted Master Peter. The pair would have flown at
each other if they could have wriggled free. But as they could not they
perforce resigned themselves to hear what Brilliana would say next.
Why, then, it stands thus, Brilliana summed up. This court
decides that you are both servants of the King; that you have both done
the King good service, willing and yet unwilling. I think I shall have
some little credit with the King, and I shall use it with his Majesty
by entreating him to grant the grace of knighthood to two honest
friends of mine and two honest lovers of hisMaster Hungerford and
Master Paul looked at Master Peter; Master Peter looked at Master
Paul. Master Paul smiled. Master Peter smiled.
Master Peter mumbled the word lovingly. Master Paul blew a kiss
Then I shall be indeed your knight, he simpered.
Are you content? Brilliana asked, gravely, and the two squires
answered in union,
We are content.
Then this worshipful court adjourns sine die. Captain Halfman, see
that our friends be refreshed ere they depart.
Halfman rose, and with a Follow me, sirs, made for the door. Sir
Blaise stooped over Brilliana's finger-tips.
Farewell, my lady wisdom. Solomon was not more wise nor Minos more
I thought you would uphold me, Brilliana replied. Farewell.
Sir Blaise saluted Evander, who returned the salutation and quitted
the room. Master Paul, taking leave of Brilliana, whispered,
When I am knight, you shall be my lady.
When you are king, diddle-diddle, I shall be queen, Brilliana
laughed at him, making a reverence. He joined Halfman at the door and
Master Peter approached Brilliana.
When I wear my new title, I will lay it at your feet, he promised,
Can you not keep it in your own hands? Brilliana questioned. She
made him a reverence, he made her his best bow and went to the door,
where Master Paul waited with Halfman. Here a point of ceremony arose.
After you, Sir Peter, Master Paul suggested. Master Peter fondled
Sir Peter! It sounds nobly. Nay, after you, Sir Paul, he
protested. They were at this business so long that Halfman lost
Stand not on the order of your going, he growled between his
teeth, then grasping with an air of bluff good-fellowship an arm of
either squire, he banged them somewhat roughly together.
Nay, arm in arm, as neighbor knights should, he suggested, and so
jostled them out of the chamber and conducted them to the buttery,
where for the next hour he diverted himself by making them very drunk
XXV. ROMEO AND JULIET
Brilliana turned to Evander.
Well, Captain Puritan, are you displeased with me?
Evander disclaimed such thought.
Why should I be displeased that you, a King's woman, serve the
Brilliana was pertinacious.
If you were a King's man would you applaud me?
If I were a King's man, Evander confessed, I could not choose but
But being a Puritan? Brilliana persisted.
Why, said Evander, being a Puritan, I must ask you, were you just
to your victims?
Brilliana swept them away disdainfully.
Each would have cheated the King in an hour, when, to all who think
with me, to cheat the King is little better than to cheat God. But your
scrupulosity need not shiver. If the King do not knight my misers I
will requite them, little as they deserve it.
Evander admired her.
You are a brave lady.
Brilliana gave a sigh.
No, I am not brave at all; I am newly very timid. I am frightened
of the real world now, and feel only at my ease with shadows.
Shall we journey into shadow-land? Evander asked.
By what path? Brilliana questioned. Evander touched a brown, torn
Shall we read again in Master Shakespeare's book?
For indeed they had read much in his pages that morning. Brilliana
Yes, indeed. Let us go into my paradise.
She looked into the garden and came back with a shiver.
Ah, no, it is raining. It rained when the King raised his standard
at Nottingham. Well, well, we can read here.
Evander was turning the leaves.
What shall we read? Comedy, history, tragedy?
Brilliana was for the solemn mask.
Let it be tragedy. I have laughed so much this morning that my mind
turns to melancholy.
Evander looked up at her with his finger on a page.
Shall we read 'Romeo and Juliet'?
I know that play by root of heart, Brilliana said.
Truly, so do I, said Evander.
Brilliana was silent, pensive, a finger on her lip, considering some
project. Then she said, doubtfully:
You spoke the other day of women players, a thing that seemed to me
incredible. Shall we see how it would seem here for us two? Let us
while away a wet morning by playing a stage play.
Evander's heart leaped.
With you for the sweet scene in the garden, he cried.
In a moment Brilliana was busy in the setting of her scene. She
pulled round a heavy, high-backed chair and leaped into it, leaning
over the back and looking up as if the painted ceiling glowed with the
stars of an Italian night. Then the words flowed from her, the
'O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name:
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.'
Evander said his line a little stiffly; he was awkward, being a man.
'Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?'
Brilliana flowed on:
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face. O be some other name
Belonging to a man.
What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes,
Without that title.Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.'
Evander put heart now into his part as he moved towards her.
'I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.'
Brilliana affected to peer into the darkness of a green garden.
'What man art thou, that thus bescreened in night,
So stumblest on my counsel?'
Evander answered, very earnest now:
'By a name
I know not how to tell thee who I am:
My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,
Because it is an enemy to thee:
Had I it written, I would tear the word.'
Brilliana's voice faltered as she took up the tale.
'My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words
Of thy tongue's uttering, yet I know the sound.
Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?'
Evander was quite near now to the chair and the fair maid perched
upon it, and the words trembled on his lips.
'Neither, fair maid, if either thee dislike.'
He put out his hands and caught hers for a moment. Then she drew
them free and jumped down. She went to the open space and looked into
the wet garden with a hand to her head and a hand to her heart. Evander
Ah, me, she said, love was a heady god in Verona. Here in England
he could not solder such hostilities.
Evander answered her passionately.
Here in England love is a more glorious god yet, for he can fling a
Puritan soldier at the feet of a Cavalier lady.
Brilliana still stared straight before her.
We have drifted from the land of shadows.
Evander spoke from his heart.
We have drifted into reality. I love you. I cannot change my faith
for that, I cannot change my flag. But believe this, remember this,
that in the Parliament's army one Puritan is as true your lover as all
the Cavaliers who worship you.
Brilliana turned and looked at him now, very steadfastly:
You do not speak by the book.
No, only by my heart, Evander answered, simply. I tell you my
soul's truth. I love you, I shall love you to the end, whether the end
come in a battle on a windy heath, or in an oblong box of a bed.
Brilliana's eyes were bright and kind.
You do not know what you are saying. I do not know what you are
saying. The world would have to change before I could listen with
patience to words of love on the lips of a rebel.
Evander answered her bravely.
I know that. I did not hope; but I had to set my soul free. To the
end of ends I shall cherish you, live for you, die for you: very
lonely, well content.
Brilliana turned away. The heart of Juliet within her was big almost
The rain ceases; I must go into the air.
Even as she spoke, the door opened and Tiffany ran in.
My lady! she cried; my lady, John Thoroughgood rides up the
avenue on a foundering horse!
Brilliana gave a great cry and went ghost-white.
Dear God, the letter! I had forgotten the letter!
Tiffany slipped from the room. Evander answered Brilliana's cry very
For the second, so had I. But, indeed, dear lady and friend, I know
You cannot be sure, Brilliana whispered.
I am sure, Evander replied. I know Colonel Cromwell.
The door opened again and Thoroughgood entered, splashed with mud
and carrying a letter in his hand.
My lady, said Thoroughgood, I have ridden hard and long to find
the rebels. I have killed two horses; I had to wait on Colonel
Cromwell's leisure; I was fired at thrice as I rode. At long last and
through many perils here is the letter.
I thank you, Brilliana said. You are a faithful servant. Seek
wine and food and rest.
Thoroughgood saluted her and went out. He looked fagged to
exhaustion. In the passage he found Tiffany, kissing-kind. Brilliana
opened the letter and read it slowly. Then she gave a cry.
Pray you read, lady, Evander said, composedly. Brilliana complied
in a hard, set voice.
MADAM,The prisoner with whom you claim kinship was
sentenced to be shot as a spy this morning. My loving
greetings to my very dear friend, Mr. Cloud, who, if you
chose enough to murder him, will, I know, meet death as a
Christian soldier should.
The wicked villain, Brilliana cried.
Nay, lady, Evander argued tranquillyhe must carry himself well
nowthe true captain doing his duty. It hath cost him a pang to
sacrifice me; he would have sacrificed his son Henry or his son Richard
in the like case.
Brilliana clasped and unclasped her hands.
I care nothing for his son Henry or his son Richard.
You care nothing for me? Evander affirmed, slowly.
I do care, she said, hotly. We have broken bread together, played
games together, masked at friendship till the sport became reality.
Lady, said Evander, I thank you for the kindness you imply. Our
friendship has been brief, but passing sweet. I shall die on a divine
Why, sir, she gasped, you do not think I could kill you now?
You vowed I should die if your cousin died, he reminded her. I
think you must keep your word. It is the fortune of war.
The fortune of war! Brilliana gave a bitter laugh. I would not
have you die to saveOh, I must not saybut fly, sir, fly! Ride hot
and hard to Cambridge, where you will be safe. You shall have the best
horse in my stable. You are my prisoner. I give you back your parole.
Only, for God's sake, go! My friends would kill you if they caught you
Evander begged a boon.
May I kiss your hand before I go?
Brilliana tried to smile.
A Cavalier would not have asked.
I am Puritan, ingrain, he asserted.
You are a dear gentleman.
She sighed and held out her hand. As he stooped to salute it the
door was dashed open and a man booted and spurred flung into the room.
As he stood for a moment amazed at what he saw, Brilliana, turning,
recognized Sir Rufus Quaryll. She disengaged her hand from Evander's
and moved a little towards him. Evander instinctively felt for his
sword. Sir Rufus's face was a great blaze of red.
In the devil's name, what does this mean? he shouted.
Brilliana drew herself up.
You forget yourself, she said, haughtily. Rufus barked at her with
You have forgotten yourself; in the arms of a doomed traitor.
Civil words, sir! Evander cried, moving on him. Brilliana motioned
him to hold back.
This gentleman is no traitor.
An open letter lay at Rufus's feet. He pounced on it and read. He
was pale now, the white heat of anger.
Gentleman! Oh, I know much, guess all. Randolph is dead there
yonder, and this rogue, who should be dead and ditched here, lives.
Faugh! But he dies now.
On the word he had drawn his sword and advanced upon Evander, whose
own sword was no less swiftly out. Brilliana came between the two men.
If you kill him, you kill me, she said.
By God, you deserve to die! was Rufus's answer.
In the headiness of their brawl none of the party had noticed how
the door had opened again and how a man stood at gaze in the doorway. A
slender man of middle height, in travel-stained riding-habit of black;
a man with a comely, melancholy face and sad eyes; a man who seemed
very weary. He wore a jewelled George. For a moment the new-comer stood
unheeded, then he advanced into the room. Sir Rufus heard him, turned,
and cried, The King! Evander sent his sword back into its sheath.
Brilliana knelt in reverence. This was the hero, almost the divinity,
the monarch she worshipped, the sovereign she had never seen.
Gentlemen, what is this? the King asked. He turned to Brilliana.
Lady, why did you not come to greet me?
Your Majesty she began, but Rufus interrupted her hotly.
Forgiveness, sire. I dashed ahead to warn her of the great honor
you offered, halting here from Banbury, only to find her slobbering on
a Roundhead gallows-bird.
Brilliana looked steadfastly at the King. She was very pale but not
at all afraid.
Your Majesty, this man slanders basely. This gentleman is
Honorable! Rufus repeated, in derision.
Silence, sir! Charles commanded. Who are you? he asked of
Evander. Evander saluted.
Captain Evander Cloud, of the Parliamentary army.
How come you here? the King inquired.
Brilliana answered for him.
Your Majesty, he was taken prisoner treacherously, though the
treachery was mine, three days ago. I offered his life in exchange for
the life of Randolph Harby.
And Randolph Harby is dead, said Rufus, shot as a spy by the
devilish rebel of Cambridge. See, siresee!
He offered the letter to Charles, but the King put it from him. His
face was inscrutable as Evander urged his case.
Your Majesty, I am no spy, and my life could not be pawned for a
Charles's sad eyes travelled to Brilliana.
Randolph Harby was no spy, he said. You held this gentleman
hostage for your cousin's life?
I did make that offer, Brilliana admitted. The King frowned now.
And yet he still lives. I thought this was called Loyalty House.
Disloyalty House it should be called now, Rufus taunted. Brilliana
turned upon him fiercely.
You lie! you lie! you lie! she hurled the words at him, hating
him. Charles held up his hand.
Peace! This is not the welcome I expected here. We did not think to
find rebels tendered so delicately. Sir Rufus, we give you charge of
Harby and of this gentleman. We will consider his claim presently, for
we would deal honestly even with our enemies.
He looked at Evander.
But we can give you little hope, sir. Prepare to die.
Fretfully he addressed Rufus.
I am very weary. I must break my fast. He glanced coldly at
Lady, we shall not need your attendance.
Brilliana made her master a deep reverence.
I take my leave, your Majesty. She went close to Evander.
Can you forgive me? she begged. Evander looked into her wet eyes
Read in my heart that I thank God to have known you, loved you.
Brilliana laid a hand for a moment on his shoulder and spoke in a
soft, even voice.
You have been my enemy; you have been my friend; you are now the
one man in all the world for me. Read in my heart that I thank God to
have known you, that I thank God that I love you. Remember, I love you,
Then she saluted the King and went slowly out of the room without
Some hours later Rufus Quaryll sat alone in the garden-room,
writing. It was coming on dusk; candles had been lit, the fire was
ruddy on the hearth. Rufus, as he wrote, was well content with the turn
of things. He raged at Brilliana, but she should marry him all the same
when the Puritan dog was dead. He had, as he believed, convinced the
King at meat that the plea Evander raised was valueless, that Evander's
life was rightly forfeit. Evander was under close guard; so, indeed,
was Brilliana, for he had stationed a sentry at the door of her
apartments: he was determined that she should not see the King again.
Now the King lay in the inner room, sleeping; when he rose it would be
easy to get the order for Evander's death. Furious in his hate, furious
in his love, he would neither spare Evander nor surrender Brilliana.
She should be his wife, if he had to drag her before an altar.
As he thought and wrote, the door opened and Halfman entered the
room. Rufus, lifting his head, faced him with a finger on his lips
while with the other he pointed to the door of the inner chamber.
Hush! he whispered; the King sleeps. But all is well. He has as
good as promised the Puritan shall die.
All is not so well as you think, said Halfman, sardonically. Here
comes one more pleased to see you than you to see him.
He went to the door again and ushered in a man who had waited
outside, a man muffled in a cloak, and his face hidden by the way his
hat was pulled over it. The man advanced slowly towards the surprised
Rufus, and suddenly dropping his cloak and throwing back his hat
uncovered a youthful, jovial face. Rufus gaped at him in despair and
gasped a name:
Randolph Harby dropped into a chair and chuckled.
No wonder you stare as if you faced a spectre. But I'm flesh and
Rufus, trying to collect himself against this staggering blow, again
raised a warning hand.
For Heaven's sake speak lower! The King is asleep yonder. How do
you come here?
Randolph leaned over and whispered, giggling, into Sir Rufus's ear.
Halfman watched with grim amusement. If he loved Evander little, come
to think of it he loved Rufus less, all said and done; so he grinned at
A wonder, Randolph said. When they had the time to try me, their
fools' court-martial, thanks to that damned Cromwell, settled me for a
spy and sentenced me to be shot. But the jailer where I lay had a
daughter. Need I say more? We Harbys are invincible. Any way, there was
no prisoner when the shooting-party came to claim me, and here I am, in
time, I hope, to save the life of that poor Puritan devil.
Sir Rufus's wits were busy hatching mischief. He looked with
aversion at the smiling, self-complacent ass whose resurrection tangled
his plan. But his voice was very amiable as he asked:
Do any in the household know of your return?
Devil a one, the youth answered, cheerily, and Sir Rufus would
have liked to drive a knife into him for his mirth, though his spirits
rose at his answer. I thought to take my cousin by surprise, scare her
with my ghost, maybe. So I came skulking through the park and ran on
this good sir, who nabbed me. He indicated Halfman with a wave of the
hand. I explained to him, so that my joke should not spoil, and he
smuggled me in here to surprise you. Where is Brilliana?
Rufus looked at him thoughtfully.
Are you fresh enough to ride? he asked.
If need be, Randolph replied, astonished.
Rufus talked rapidly, writing a letter as he spoke.
Then you may save your Puritan yet. We sent your hostage to Oxford
for safe-keeping. News came of your death, and but now the King sent an
order to have the fellow shot. But you can overtake the order, outstrip
it. Here is a reprieve for the prisoner.
Rufus folded the paper, sealed it, and handed it to the bewildered
Pick what horse you please, and ride for the honor of our cause.
May I not see the King?
Rufus refused him firmly.
Impossible. His Majesty sleeps.
My cousin Brilliana? Randolph asked. What of my joke?
Rufus spoke very solemnly.
The one thing now is to save a man's life. Ride hard, and God speed
you. Randolph yielded cheerfully.
Well, well, I should be sorry the rebel dog should die wrongfully.
You will justify me to the King for not attending him?
I will justify you to his Majesty.
And not a word to Brilliana, Randolph iterated. I will have my
joke on my return. Farewell.
He muffled himself again and went out quickly. Rufus sat biting the
end of his quill. Halfman stepped forward and made him a series of
extravagant salutations, which parodied the most elaborate congees of a
dancing-master. Rufus glared at him.
What is the matter with you? he asked, savagely. Halfman leered
apishly at him.
You are a splendid scoundrel, he vowed. Do not frown. I have
lived with such and I speak in praise.
Rufus struck his hands upon the table.
I will have this Puritan devil, he swore, if the King do not play
Halfman winked at him, diverted by his heat and hate.
Say that more softly, for I think I hear him stirring.
The two listened in silence. The curtains of the inner room were
parted and Charles entered the room. He still looked haggard, ill at
Was any one here? he asked, as the two men rose respectfully.
Rufus answered, glibly:
No, your Majesty. We spoke in whispers to respect your rest. Did
your Majesty sleep well?
Ill, very ill, Charles answered, drearily. I had bad dreams and
could not wake from them. Leave me, sirs.
Rufus solicited his eyes.
And the prisoner?
Charles looked at him vaguely.
The rebel hostage for murdered Randolph Harby, Rufus reminded him.
Charles looked vexed.
Oh yes, I suppose he must die. Surely he must die. His plea is
specious, but Randolph Harby is dead.
Brave, murdered Randolph. Rufus's regret was pathetic. Shall I
give order for the firing party? He made as if to write. Charles
You are over-zealous, sir; I have not made up my mind.
Rufus read obstinacy in the royal face and knew that it were useless
to argue further then.
As your Majesty please, he submitted.
The King seated himself heavily at the table and fixed his eyes upon
an open map. Behind his back Rufus shrugged his shoulders and left the
room. Halfman followed, a very Jaques of meditations, touched by the
pathos of the tired King, grimly diverted by the ruffianism of Rufus. A
XXVII. THE KING'S IMAGE
The melancholy King sat in the great room alone. His eyes were fixed
on the map, but his mind was far away, over yonder in Holland where she
wasshe, the Queen. The thought of her beauty troubled him; her soft
voice seemed to be whispering at his ear in her pretty broken English.
Some lines in a play he knew came into his mind, lines uttered by a
king who, like himself, had known the horror of civil war, lines which
said that it were better to be a shepherd and tend sheep than to be an
English king. He sighed and his handsome head drooped upon his breast,
and the brown hair that was graying so fast hid his cheeks. His eyes
were wet and he could not see the map; it was all a blur of meaningless
criss-cross lines. This would not do; he must think, he must plan, he
must decide; but his head remained bent and the map remained a
The image of himself, which faced him as he sat, that picture of a
king, royal, joyous, unchallenged, seemed to move a little, as if the
bright figure on the canvas sought to approach and reassure the
dejected man who crouched over the map of a divided kingdom. It did
move, the serene Van Dyck portrait; it moved a little, and a little,
and a little more; moved sideway as a door moves, yawned a foot of
space between frame and wall, and through that foot of space Brilliana
slipped into the room.
Your Majesty, she said, softly.
The King gave a little start as he lifted his head and looked at
her. She thought she had never seen so pitifully a weary face as the
face of her King, and her heart ached for him, but it ached most for
Charles rose to his feet, flawlessly courteous, much wondering.
How did you come here, mistress? he asked, and she sighed at the
tired sound of his voice. I understood from Sir Rufus that you were
for the time
He paused, and Brilliana calmly finished the sentence.
Confined to my apartments. Yes, that was Rufus's plan. But though
Rufus calls himself captain of this castle he does not know it so well
as I do. There are ways of getting hither and thither that he does not
You are a determined young woman, the King said, with a faint
smile, if you think so lightly of the privacy of your King.
Brilliana flung herself on her knees in a moment, her hands clasped,
her eyes shining with honest tears.
Your Majesty! she cried; your Majesty, I would never have dared
this if I were not a woman very deep in love, if my lover were not in
danger, and if
And if? Charles echoed, his fine, irresolute face neither smiling
nor frowning. Finish your sentence, lady.
And if I had not heard that your Majesty was a very perfect, true
lover, Brilliana went on. Your Majesty's love for the gracious lady
now in France is the admiration of your subjects.
A faint color glowed on the King's pale cheeks. He was indeed the
perfect, true lover of Henrietta Maria, and the greatest sorrow of all
the clustering sorrows that the civil war had brought him was her
absence from his side.
It would be strange indeed if I did not love such a lady, he said,
gently; but that lady is my queen, my wife, my comrade, my loyal
friend, while he you plead for is but an acquaintance of a few days,
and, moreover, in all thoughts and deeds your enemyand mine.
Brilliana had now risen to her feet and she faced the king
valiantly, for she knew that she would have to plead hard and well.
Your Majesty, she answered, as for the acquaintanceship, one of
our poets has said, 'Whoever loves that loves not at first sight?' and
though indeed at first sight I was far from giving this gentleman my
love, I saw in him at once those qualities which in a man deserve love.
As for his enmity, we are told that we should love our enemies.
A frown overspread the King's face and Brilliana faltered.
I cannot claim for myself that wealth of charity, Charles said,
that would make me love those that by rebellion and contumacy have
plunged poor England into war.
Sire, sire, Brilliana sighed, if you will but pardon this
gentleman I will promise you that I will never love another of your
I do not like your loyalty. Why do you plead for the life of a
I am your servant, none loyaller, Brilliana answered, boldly; but
I am a woman, and I plead for the man I love.
If you were truly loyal, Charles commented, you could not love a
Brilliana pressed her hands tightly against her breast and her face
Captain Cloud is not a traitor. He is honest before God.
Charles admired her pertinacity. Here was a woman who would not
lightly lose heart or change purpose.
I will not wrangle with you, he said. I think the gentleman
deserves death. But because I know very well what it is to love truly,
why, I will let you save him if you can.
Brilliana's voice was charged with gratitude. Oh, your Majesty is
always noble. But how?
Charles looked at her fixedly, touching his chin with the feather of
his quill. Thuswiseonly thuswise. You will persuade Captain Cloud to
return to his allegiance.
Brilliana's gratitude ebbed and her voice hardened. I know he will
never change sides.
An enigmatic smile passed over the fretful face of the King. I
think so, too, he agreed, and turned again to his papers. But
Brilliana was not to be so rebuffed. Coming a little nearer to Charles,
she fell on her knees and extended her hands in supplication. Sire, my
Charles, who had lost nothing of her actions, though he affected to
be wholly absorbed in his business, looked round and down at her with
much assumption of surprise.
You are still there? You are a pertinacious maykin.
Sire, in the Queen's name! Brilliana pleaded. The King sighed.
Well, one more concession, this is the lastthe very last.
Charles prided himself on his firmness, and he struck the table as he
spoke to emphasize his unalterable resolve. If you win me his word of
honor to take no more part in this war, to remain neutral till King
humble Commons or Commons murder King, why, it is enough; he lives.
Brilliana shivered at the King's alternative. Your Majesty cannot
believe that the worst of your subjects would aim at your sacred life?
The King's fine eyes were more than usual melancholy, and he opened
and clasped his long fingers nervously.
I cannot choose but believe it. Their words are wildthat is
trifling. But long ago, when I was young, there was a man, one Arthur
Dee, a wizard and the son of a wizard, he had a magic crystalah,
Father in heaven!
Charles gave a groan and hid his face in his hands, Brilliana
thrilled with compassion. Your Majesty! she cried; your Majesty!
Charles drew his hands away from his face. He rose, and, as he
spoke, he stared fixedly before him as if he saw the sight he was
In that sphere I saw a platform hung with black. On it I seemed to
see myself staring at a sea of hateful faces. One with a mask stood by
my side who carried an axe. I have never forgotten it.
He stood rigid, with clasped hands. Brilliana shuddered at his
Sire! sire! this was some lying vision.
With an effort the King controlled himself; his features softened to
their habitual melancholy, his hands relaxed their clasp, and he seated
himself again by the table.
Belike, belike; I am unwise to think upon it, he said, in a low
voice. Leaning across the table, he struck a bell sharply. The door
opened and the soldier in immediate attendance upon the King entered.
Tell Sir Rufus to attend us, the King said. The soldier bowed and
withdrew. Charles looked up at Brilliana. Sir Rufus will be loath to
lose his prey, he said. He is a fierce hawk that clings to his
He was once my friend, Brilliana said, sadly. The King smiled his
If I were in his place, he said, gravely, I think I might be
tempted to play his part. You are a very fair maiden.
Brilliana shook her head. The love that makes a man base is no good
love. He will never be my friend again.
Here, as I think, he comes, Charles said. The door opened and Sir
Rufus entered the room. He was so amazed at facing Brilliana that for a
moment he forgot to render salutation to the King. Charles's eyes
brightened as they used to brighten at the playhouse. Here was a living
play being played before him, tragical, comicalman and woman fighting
for a man's life.
Sir Rufus, he ordered, send to our presence the prisoner, the
Rufus glanced at Brilliana's stern, averted face; he read something
like mockery on the thin, royal lips. For an instant he ventured to
But, your Majesty he began, but he got no further. The King
checked him with a frown and a raised hand. It was easy to make him
obstinate in crossing a follower.
You have heard my commands, he said, sternly.
Sir Rufus bowed his head and retreated. There was nothing else for
him to do. He just glanced at Brilliana as he went out. If Brilliana
had seen the glance she would have read his rage and hate in it. But
she did not see it, for her head was still averted. The King saw it,
however, and he felt that the situation was alive. He turned to
I am a complaisant monarch, as I think, he said. Now, lady, do
your best to make your sweetheart see reason. Honestly, I do not think
he is worth so many words, but you think otherwise, and for your sake I
wish you a winning tongue.
Brilliana bowed deeply. I humbly thank your Majesty, she said, and
felt that the King had done much for her. From offering the impossible
he had come to offering the possible. It seemed a little task to
persuade a lover committed to a wrongful cause to lay aside his sword
and wait the issue.
The King's eyes had fallen on his papers again, and he did not lift
them thence nor take heed of Brilliana again until the tread of feet
was heard in the corridor. In another moment Evander, escorted by two
royal troopers, entered the room. There was a sudden gladness in his
eyes at the sight of Brilliana, but he at once saluted the King in a
military fashion and stood quietly at attention waiting the royal word.
Charles rose from his chair, and for a moment his melancholy eyes
travelled from the beautiful girl standing by the window to the gallant
soldier standing by the door. The face of Evander pleased his scrutiny
far more than the face of Rufus, and it came into his mind that he
would gladly enroll Evander under his standard and hand over Rufus to
the Crop-ears. Truly the Puritan soldier and the Lady of Loyalty House
made a brave pair.
Sir, he said, quietly, this lady desires speech with you, and has
persuaded me to permit an interview. He turned to the troopers.
Wait outside the door, sirs, he commanded. When they had obeyed he
looked again towards Brilliana, and there was a smile on his tired
face, a smile partly whimsical, partly pitying, as if encouraging to an
adventure yet doubtful of the result. Then he gave her a gracious
salutation, and, without further notice of Evander Cloud, passed into
the adjoining room and left the lovers alone.
XXVIII. LOVER AND LOVER
Evander turned to Brilliana with question in his eyes; Brilliana
advanced towards Evander with question on her lips.
Are you very sure you love me? she queried. Evander made to take
her in his arms, but she stayed him with a lifted hand of warning.
Sure, he answered, fervently, and surety shone in his eyes.
Brilliana leaned against the table at which the King had sat and
faced him gravely.
More than life, more than all things in the wide world?
Evander's answer came as flash to flint.
More than life; more than all things in this wide world there
was a momentary fall in his voice; then he added, save honor.
A little sudden fear pricked at Brilliana's heart, but she tried to
deny it with a little, teasing laugh.
Oh, that wonderful word 'honor,' she mocked. I thought we should
pull that out of the sack sooner or later.
Evander watched her with surprise. What is coming next? he
wondered. He began to fear as he answered, simply:
You would not have me neglect honor?
Brilliana's face was set steadfastly towards him; Brilliana's eyes
were very bright; Brilliana's cheeks were as red as the late October
Here is what I would have you do, she said, breathlessly, and then
pausedpaused so long that Evander, watching and waiting, prompted her
with a questioning Well?
Brilliana still seemed to hesitate. That word honor had frightened
her for Evander, had frightened her for herself. She now groped
uncertain, who thought to tread so surely.
Will you do as I wish if I tell you? she asked, trying to mask
anxiety with a jesting manner. And when Evander responded gravely, If
I can, she pressed him impetuously again.
Nay, now, make me a square promise. She looked very fair as she
All that a doomed man can do Evander replied, smiling somewhat
Brilliana shook her head vehemently and her Royalist curls danced
round her bright cheeks.
You are no doomed man unless you choose, she asserted, hotly.
Evander moved a step nearer to her.
What do you mean? he asked. Brilliana was panting now. He knew she
had somewhat to say, and newly found it hard in the saying. She spoke.
His Majesty the King will grant you your life. Her words and looks
told him temptingly that your life meant also my life to her.
On what condition?
He knew there must be a condition, knew that the condition troubled
Brilliana. She answered him swiftly.
Oh, no condition at all. There came a catch in her voice and then
she ran on:
Or almost none. All his Majesty asks is that you refrain from
taking any further part in this unhappy war.
She paused and eyed him. Evander's face was unchanged.
No more than that? he commented, so quietly that, reassured, she
rippled on, volubly:
No more than that. We can be wed, dear love. We can go away
together to France, Italy, where you please. I have always had a mind
to see Italy. And when England is quiet again we can come home, come
here and be happy.
She felt as if she were flinging herself at his feet, shamelessly
offering herself, to tempt him, to dazzle him, conquer him that way; to
witch his promise out of him before he had time to think. Yet for all
her vehemence there was a chill at her heart and a cloud seemed to
hover over her sunny words. Unwillingly she looked away from him, but
she held out her hands in appeal.
The grave, sweet voice sounded on her ears as the knell of hope. But
she faced him again with a useless, questioning glance.
Why talk of what cannot be? Evander asked, sadly.
Brilliana denied him feverishly.
What can bewhat must be! she cried. The King has promised.
I am a soldier of the Parliament, Evander asserted. I cannot
abandon my cause.
Brilliana almost screamed at him in her anger and despair.
You are a prisoner under sentence of death. If you die, what gain
has the Parliament of you, and I must live a widowed woman. She was
close to him now and very suddenly she flung her arms about him,
clasping him to her, her eager face close to his.
Promise, she panted; promise, dear love, promise. Your Parliament
loses nothing, you gain your life, my love. Promise, promise!
Evander's flesh fought with his spirit, but his face was calm and
the arms that yearned to enfold his lover lay by his side. He turned
his face away lest he should kiss her on the mouth, and, kissing,
surrender his soul.
I cannot, he said, as if from a great silence. He would not see
the passionate, beautiful face; he sought to fix his mind upon the
faces of those whose faithful soldier he was sworn. The girl unloosed
her arms and swayed away from him, wild anger in her eyes.
Do you call this true love, she sneered, that is so scrupulous?
The truest love in the world, Evander answered, looking full at
her. He could look at her now; he had no fear to fall. He was losing a
joy beyond all thought, but at least he would die with a white soul.
Do you think it is nothing to me to die thus losing you? But you
have served soldier; you have a soldier's spirit; you would not have me
do other than I am doing. You do not understand my cause, to think it
should be easy to persuade me from it. But if I were of the King's
party and in such peril so tempted, would you wish me to abandon my
royal master to win life or love?
Brilliana's cheeks flamed a furious scarlet; then the fierce blood
ebbed and left her face very pale, but her eyes were shining very
bright. She steadied herself against the table and tried to speak with
a steady voice.
You are in the right. You could not do other than you are doing.
But it is very hard to bear.
She reeled a little, and he, thinking her about to faint, made to
support her, but she stiffened again, and he stood where he was. She
bent forward, speaking scarcely above a whisper.
There is a way of escape from this chamber, a secret passage. You
can get from it to the park, and so into the open country and safety.
You are my prisoner. I release you from your parole. Fly, while there
The loyal lovers were so absorbed in their honorable contest that
they did not heed how the door of the King's apartment opened, first a
little inch, then, slowly, wider and wider, allowing Charles Stuart to
see and hear. A curious smile reigned over the delicate face as
Brilliana made her proposal, and lingered in whimsical doubt for the
The response came quickly. Again Evander was saying Brilliana nay.
I cannot that, neither, dear woman, for to do this would be to make
you disloyal to your King.
Oh, you split straws! she cried, wildly. A plague upon your
preciousness which drives you to deny and die rather than admit my
wisdom! You are no prisoner to the King. You are my prisoner. I took
you, I hold you, and as my prisoner I command you to follow me, that I
may convey you to some place of surety more pleasing to my mind than
From behind the door ajar there came a clap of hearty laughter which
made harassed maid and man jump more than if their discussion had been
interrupted by volleying musketry. The door was wide open now, and the
King was in the room, his face irradiated with honest mirth.
XXIX. THE KING MAKES A FRIEND
Oh, good sir, he gasped, dabbing with his kerchief the merry tears
from his smiling eyes, you had better do as this lady urges, for, by
St. George! she employs the most irresistible logic.
Evander and Brilliana, blown apart, as it were, by the breath of the
King's merriment, regarded the monarch with very different feelings.
Though he stood upon the edge of peril's precipice, at the threshold of
death's temple, Evander could not scrutinize without vivid and
conflicting emotions the face of the man because of whom the solid
realm of England seemed to be dissolving into anarchy. This was the
King of ship-money, the heart's-brother of Buckingham, the betrayer of
Strafford, the doer to death of Eliot, the would-be baffler of free
speech, the baffled hunter after the five members. To Brilliana he was
simply the King, not even the whole hero and half-martyr King for whom
she had held Loyalty House so sturdily, but simply the only man living
graced with power to save the man she loved. She turned to him at once
with a petulant expression of impatience.
Your Majesty, she sighed, I wish you would speak to this proud
gentleman. I cannot make him listen to reason.
The almost infantile simplicity of her address stirring the King to
renewed merriment, served her cause better, in its very
inappropriateness to the situation, than the most impassioned or the
most calculated appeals to pity or to justice. The audacity with which
the Loyalty lady coolly enlisted the King as her advocate against the
King's interests seemed to the sovereign so exquisite, so grotesque, as
to merit calling irresistible.
Truly, he said to her, smiling that sweet Stuart smile which made
all who ever shone in it adore him, the man must be named Felicissimus
who is loved by such a lady.
Then he turned his gaze upon Evander, and the smile grew graver, the
eyes more imperious.
So, sir, he said, you are so certain sure of the righteousness of
your side in this quarrel that you cannot, for your life's sake, for
your love's sake, consent to stand neuter and look on, Captain
Evander faced the slightly frowning interrogation bravely. He
saluted soldierly, conscious of the subtle Stuart charm, understanding
it would conquer men and women, glad to find himself unconquered.
Your Majesty, he said, let me answer you as I answered this dear
lady. If one of those gentlemen, those Cavaliers who rallied to your
flag at Nottingham and drew their swords for you at Edgehill, were made
prisoner of the Parliament, and accepted his life on the condition that
he stood aside and left you to fight without his aid, would you count
him a loyal subject, would you call him a faithful friend, could you
admit that he was an honest soldier?
Charles looked at Evander curiously. There were some of his friends,
he thought, who might not stand the trial too well. He brushed the
thought aside, for he knew that most of the Cavaliers would act as
gallantly as the young Puritan before him, and he could not but
applaud, even while he wondered at so stiff a constancy in one whom he
regarded as a rebel.
Well, well, he said, if this incomparable lady could not persuade
you, how could a poor King hope to succeed? We must not break this
lady's heart, sir, between us, for 'tis something of a rare jewel, and
so you shall go back to your own people, and when I win the day I shall
remember to be clement to you. Try and come out of the scuffle alive,
for the sake of your sweetheart.
The King was so winning in his grace, in his dignity, in his
tenderness, that Evander felt his heart in his mouth and he tried not
to falter in his words.
I humbly thank your Majesty.
As for Brilliana, she fell on her knees with tears in her eyes, but
the King would not have her kneel. In his courtliest manner he lifted
her, raised her right hand to his lips and kissed it, and then
signifying to her with a gesture to go to Evander, he seated himself at
the table and wrote rapidly for some seconds, while the two lovers
stood side by side, silent in hope and joy.
When the King had finished writing he shook the powder over the
paper and let it slide back into the standish, drying the ink as it
slid. Then he turned and held the paper to Evander, who advanced and
took it kneeling.
This safe-conduct, said Charles, will insure you from ill
treatment or delay at the hands of any loyal subjects, in arms or
otherwise. He leaned forward and struck upon the bell. To the soldier
on guard who entered he gave order that he wished to see Sir Rufus
Quaryll immediately. When the soldier had left, he turned in his chair
a little, so as to survey Evander and Brilliana standing before him in
silence, and there was a light of mockery in his eyes.
Young people, he said, affecting mirthfully an exhortatory manner,
you have played the first act of your love-play. How it is to go with
you hereafter it is for all to hope, albeit for none to guess with
discretion. But in a little while this land distracted will be calm
again, and it may well be, Mr. Cloud, that I shall be glad to see you
The King's manner was mild, the King's voice benign; he was really
very well pleased with himself for his clemency, and very well pleased
with the man and woman for affording him an opportunity of justifying
his character of benevolent autocrat. He would have said more, but at
this moment the door opened and Sir Rufus entered the room, looking as
fierce and angry as he dared to look in the presence of his royal
master. He knew well enough that Brilliana's interview with the King
was likely to mean mischief to his schemes, and his rage and hate tore
at his life-strings like wild beasts.
An impish malice lurked on Charles's lips. This discomfiture of the
truculent Rufus supplied for him the comic element of his
entertainment, and came just in the nick of time to prevent its heroics
and its sentimentalities from palling.
Sir Rufus, said the King, gravely, we ride at once to Oxford, our
loyal, loving Oxford. Take order for this on the instant. The Lady
Brilliana resumes her command of Loyalty House, with our royal thanks
for her man's spirit and our royal sympathy for her woman's heart. As
for the stranger within our gates, we have of our clemency given him
full leave to go hence in all freedom, not without some private
supplications that Heaven may be pleased to lift a misguided gentleman
into a better way of life.
Sir Rufus opened his lips as if to speak, and then closed them again
without speaking. He knew well enough how stubborn the King could be on
occasion, and that there was no hope for him to win his game with the
King's help. He saluted the King and left the presence with fury in his
The King turned to Evander.
Go, sir, he commanded, and make ready for your departure, which
should follow promptly upon mine, for I do not think the atmosphere of
Oxford will be sweet breathing for gentlemen of your inclining from
this out. I give you half an hour from my riding to say your adieus to
your sweet saint here. Farewell.
Evander fell on one knee.
Your Majesty, he pleaded, permit me to kiss your hand. The King
smiled whimsically, yet a thought wistfully.
You are a gentle rebel, he said, and held out his fine, white hand
for Evander's salutation. Then the young soldier rose, and with one
look of love to Brilliana, left the room. Charles stood with his grave
eyes fixed on his hostess, smiling.
What a thing is civil war! he sighed. How it rips through the
pretty web of workaday life, dividing sire from son, sundering brother
from brother, parting lover from lass! But I was forced to itI was
forced to it.
It will end soon, sire, Brilliana suggested, tears in her eyes at
the sadness in his. The King seemed to catch at her speech.
Ay, he agreed, more cheerily. That's it, that's true. 'Tis but a
walk to loyal Oxford, 'tis but a march on disloyal London, and all's
London will prove loyal when your Majesty enters in triumph,
Brilliana cried. A bright look came over the King's worn face. As in a
dream he saw himself, the rose of that triumphant entry, flowers at his
feet, flags in the air, loyalty abroad in its bravest, huzzaing its
loudest, and all grim, sour-hearted fellows safe out of sight under
lock and key. Exultantly he held out his hand for Brilliana to salute.
Farewell, Lady of Loyalty.
Nay, Brilliana protested, I must bring your Majesty to the gate.
If the fitting welcome were missing, you shall not lack the ceremonial
'God speed you.'
I thank you, madam, gravely answered Charles. Brilliana dipped him
a reverence, and then, opening the door, conducted her royal guest out
of the chamber. In the corridor they found Halfman waiting to kiss the
King's hand. Charles felt for a moment for his purse, and then swiftly
and regally changing his mind, he drew a ring from his finger.
Wear this for me, friend, he requested, graciously, in memory of
Halfman rose from his knees and drew himself up as if on parade.
God save the King! he thundered, and with that loyal music in his
ears the King followed Brilliana down the great staircase over which
the carven angels kept watch and ward. Halfman, leaning over the
rail-way, saw the pair pass through the hall, then he turned and
entered the apartment that Charles had left, and stood there, rigid in
XXX. RUFUS PROPOSES
Rufus stepped stealthily out of the dusking garden into the lighted
room, and moving noiselessly across the floor, laid his hand on
Halfman's shoulder. Halfman did not look round.
Well, Sir Rufus, he asked, as calmly as if the sudden touch had
been some recognized, awaited signal.
You are not to be taken by surprise, my good friend, Sir Rufus
said. Halfman shrugged his shoulders.
It would need more than the clap of a man's paw on my back to take
me by surprise; and, besides, I saw you coming. There is a mirror near,
good Sir Rufus, and even in yonder owl-light I could pick you out of
the mist. Moreover, I thought you would come.
Why did you think I would come? Sir Rufus asked, with a frown.
Just because I thought it, Halfman answered, indifferently. And,
you see, my thoughts were true thoughts.
Sir Rufus came closer to him, speaking in his ear.
I hope you hate all Roundheads, he said. All damned rebels.
Halfman's only answer was to whistle very softly the first few bars
of a roaring Cavalier ballad. The grasp on Halfman's shoulder
There is one damned Roundhead here who vexes me, Sir Rufus said,
I think his name is called Cloud, said Halfman.
Sir Rufus swore a round oath.
I wish he were dead, he said.
If wishes were coaches, Halfman observed, sententiously, beggars
He would have been dead ere this if she had not wheedled the King
out of his wits. His Majesty is in a forgiving disposition to-day, and
forgets his friends at the prayer of a pretty face. I wish this rebel
were dead, friend.
He will die in time, Halfman commented, philosophically. Sir Rufus
You are as dull as mud. It would be money in your pocket, friend
Halfman, ay, money running over your pocket-holes, if this rebel were
to be your quarry.
Halfman shook his head, and a knowing smile twisted his mouth awry.
Nay, Sir Rufus, with your favor, you must do your own killing, he
Why, so I will, Rufus answered, angrily. I will call up the
household, lay hands on the rascal, back him to the wall, and bang a
fusillade into him.
Halfman laughed derisively.
Call up the household! he crowed. Do you think they would come at
your call? Do you think they would serve you against my lady? Why, they
would fling you into the fish-pools if she bade them do so.
The face of Sir Rufus showed that through all his fury he still
retained sufficient command of his reason to know that what Halfman
said was more than true. Halfman went leisurely on:
You cannot employ your own men on the business, neither, for they
must march to Oxford with the King. In little it comes to this: if you
want a thing done, do it yourself.
You are in the right, Sir Rufus agreed, gloomily. This fellow was
doomed long since. It is no more than common justice to put him out of
the way. But I ride with the King.
You need not ride very far, Halfman suggested. A little way on
the road you can slip aside unseen and get back here by a bridle-path.
Watch at the western gate of the park. His horse will be waiting for
him there to carry him to Cambridge. After his tender leave-taking he
will come to his exit a clear mark on the white garden-path for a
steady hand holding a pistol. So you can whistle 'Good-night, cuckoo,'
as you haste to o'ertake the King.
'Tis an ingenious scheme, Sir Rufus mused. Halfman laughed grimly.
Oh, I am a pattern of strategy; this is but a simple ambuscado, a
tame trap. You are a sure shot, I know; you cannot miss your bird. You
need waste no time in making sure that he is stark. I shall be at hand
to make sure, and will soon stick him in a ditch to wait for judgment.
Sir Rufus clapped Halfman on the shoulder.
Your wit has a most pleasant invention, he approved. She will
soon forget this whining wry-face.
Halfman disengaged himself from the pressure of his companion's
It is so to be hoped, he said, drearily; it is so to be believed.
Woman's love-memory is a kind of quicksand that can swallow a score or
so of gallant gentlemen and show no trace of their passage.
A curse on your poppycoddle, Sir Rufus grumbled. I must be
stirring. I should like him to know that I killed him.
If I find any breath in him I will tell him, Halfman affirmed.
Your honor over-refines your pleasant purpose. The pith is that he be
killed. Remember the western gate.
In another moment Halfman was alone, listening to the sound of
spurred heels on the stairway, as Sir Rufus hastened to join the King.
Love of woman leads us to strange issues, he said to himself, with
a wintry smile. Cavalier, Puritan, and poor Jack here, we all love the
same lady, and here be two of us clapping palms together to kill the
XXXI. HALFMAN DISPOSES
Brilliana came in from the garden. Halfman heard her step and
turned. She was pale with many emotions; he never had seen her more
The King has gone, friend, she said; God bless him for his
My heart does not sing because a Puritan lives, Halfman answered,
sourly. He stared into the fire again and saw burning towns between the
dogs. Brilliana paused for a moment and then came a little closer to
We have ever been friends, she said, softly. There was a note of
timidity in her voice, new to Halfman, and he turned in surprise.
Indeed, he said, roundly.
We have been fellow-soldiers, Brilliana went on, still with that
curious hesitancy that sat so strangely upon her. We have shared a
siege. I have a secret to tell you.
Halfman felt a sudden uncanny warning of danger. A secret, he
repeated, staring at her.
Brilliana was outblushing all things redpeony, poppy, flamingo,
You have always loved me, Hobbin? she asked, half timorously.
I have always loved you, he answered, slowly, with a rigid face.
Then you will be glad of what I have to tell, she said. There
will be no change here. For I love this gentleman even as this
gentleman loves me, and we are to wed when this meddling war is ended.
You love him? Halfman echoed, dully. You wed an enemy to the
Love is the greatest power in all the world, she said; greater
than kings, greater than emperors, greater than popes. But I will wed
no enemy to the King. If these wars were to endure forever, then
forever my dear friend and I would remain unwed and bear our single
souls to heaven.
Her voice was low and dreary; suddenly it brightened.
But these wars will not endure forever. The King will be in London
in a few days; the Parliament will be at his feet; my friend will be no
more a rebel, for all rebellion will have ceased to be.
How if your friend be killed before the King reaches London?
Halfman asked her, hoarsely. The wheels of war do not turn from the
path of a lover.
If he be killed, she said, simply, I do not think I shall long
outlive him. My heart does not veer like a vane for every breath of
praise or passion. First and last, I have found my mate in the world;
first and last, I will be loyal while I live. But if he die, I hope God
will deal gently with me, nor suffer me to grow gray in sorrow.
She turned away from Halfman that he might not see the tears in her
eyes, and so turning did not see the tears that stood in his. She moved
towards the harpsichord and dropped into the chair that served it. Her
fingers fluttered over the keys and a tinkling music answered them and
underlined the words she sang:
You ride to fight, my dearest friend,
I bide at home and sigh;
God only knows what God may send,
To test us, by-and-by.
If 'tis decreed that you must die,
So comes my world to end;
And I will seek beyond the sky
The features of my friend.
Come back from fight, my dearest friend,
The idol of my eye,
That hand in hand ourselves may bend
Before God's altar high.
If death consent to pass you by,
How sweetly shall we wend
To the last home where we shall lie
Together, friend and friend.
As Brilliana sat at the harpsichord playing the brave Cavalier
ballad, Halfman, watching her, found his eyes dim with most unfamiliar
water. Fierce memories of his life seemed to come before him sharply,
vivid succeeding pictures, rich in evil. In a flash he tramped across
forests, sack and battle and rapine new painted themselves upon his
brain; deeds long dead and forgotten suddenly became instant agonies.
He seemed like a prisoner before an invisible judge, and his startled
spirit sought wildly and vainly for some good deed it might offer in
plea for pity. If only he had spared that girl, that child unripe for
love, who never dreamed of brutal hands. He seemed to see her in the
room where he ran her down, her staring eyes; he seemed to hear her
screams; he remembered how hot his blood was then, though now it ran
like ice at the memory. If only he had not helped to torture the old
Jew in San Juan; if only he could blot out his share in all those acts
of lust and blood. And through all his horrid thoughts came the sweet
voice of Brilliana singing the sweet, brave words, and he saw her curls
sway as she sang, and he thought of her love for her kinsman which she
had told him so simply, and he thought of his own mad love for her,
which she would never know, which no one would ever understand. And
then he thought of that grim sentry at the western gate whose hate was
black, whose aim was fatal.
A fantastic purpose came into the man's thought. His mind was ever
like a stage with the lights lighted and the curtains drawn, upon whose
boards himself played a thousand parts and played them to the top. Here
was the part he had never played, the noblest, the most heroic, chiefly
perhaps in this, that it was also the loneliest. The purpose had hardly
pricked before he seized it, hugged it to his breast, made it
incorporate with his being. Mingled with his tender pity for Brilliana
there was now a splendid pity for himself, the noblest Roman of them
all. But the purpose must not cool. His thoughts were all a-jumble. One
of them seemed to assert to his feverish fancy that this way meant
atonement; the quenching of his torch some measure of compensation for
the candles he had puffed out.
Unseen he stretched his hands as if in benediction towards
Brilliana, and then went noiselessly out of the room. On the stairs he
met Evander descending to say farewell to his hostess, his hat in his
hand and his cloak over his arm. Halfman stopped him. She waits you in
the garden-room, he said; I will hold your cloak and hat for you here
while you make your adieus. A lover should not be cumbered. Evander
thanked him, surrendered cloak and hat, and entered the garden-room. He
did not hear what Halfman said, though Halfman spoke it aloud, with all
the lovers of all time for audience: There goes the blessedest man in
all the world. Then, with Evander's cloak about him and Evander's hat
upon his head, Halfman went out into the garden.
At the sound of Evander's step Brilliana turned and rose to greet
My dear! she cried, her eyes luminous, her breast heaving.
My riding-time has come, he said, sadly. He stood apart, but she
came near to him and put her hands on his shoulders.
You found me in tears, but you must think of me as smilingsmiling
for joy in my lover, smiling at the thought of his return.
He caught her in his arms, clasped her close to him, and kissed her
lips. It seemed to him as if that moment consecrated him forever. She
was simply glad that the man she loved had kissed her.
These are evil days, he said. Who knows when we shall meet
At least we have met, she answered. I shall thank God for that,
morning and night. Nothing can change that, if we do not meet for
months, for years, if we never meet again.
These wars must end soon, Evander said, confidently. Brilliana
caught at his hands.
You will never hurt the King, she cried. Promise me that. You
will never hurt the King.
I will never hurt the King, Evander promised. And now, dear
He could not say farewell.
There was a moment's silence as they stood facing each other,
holding hands, the woman trying to smile. The silence was suddenly,
brutally broken by the loud, clear report of a shot. Brilliana
stiffened with the start.
What was that?
It seemed a pistol-shot in the garden, Evander answered.
Who should fire now?
I will go see, Evander said, turning towards the open space.
Brilliana restrained him.
Oh no, dear love, my heart misgives; there may be danger.
Evander gently released himself.
And when are you or I afraid of danger?
Brilliana accepted this.
Then I go with you.
Instantly Evander paused.
No, no, he said.
Brilliana repeated his words.
Why, when are you or I afraid of danger?
There was a noise of running feet in the garden, and then
Thoroughgood sped across the moat and into the room.
Captain Halfman has been shot, he gasped.
Oh, by whom? Brilliana wailed, her eyes wide with horror.
Is he killed? Evander asked.
Thoroughgood answered both in a breath.
Badly wounded. They bring him here.
As he spoke, Garlinge and Clupp entered from the garden, bearing
Halfman between them, wrapped in Evander's mantle.
The man of gallant carriage, of swaggering alacrity, seemed to lie
horribly limp in the men's arms. Evander hurriedly made a couch of
chairs and bade them lay their burden on it, that he might examine the
wound. Brilliana bent over him.
Oh, my dear friend, she sobbed.
The sound of her voice seemed to awaken Halfman. He opened his eyes.
Lift me up, he said, feebly, to his supporters. He looked at
Brilliana. Lady, you have been deceived. Sir Randolph escaped from his
enemies. A snare was set for Captain Cloud he paused.
By whom? cried Brilliana, the woman eager for her lover.
Something like a smile came to Halfman's face.
That I may not say. I was privy to the plot. But I walked into the
trap myself. I fear, sir, you will find a hole in your mantle.
You wore my cloak? Evander asked, in wonder. You died for me?
Ah, why did you not warn? Brilliana cried.
Halfman moved his head feebly.
I did not want to live.
But you shall live, Brilliana insisted, prayed.
Halfman laughed very faintly.
I do not think so. I am an old soldier, andah!
He gave a great gasp. Then suddenly lifted himself a little and
saluted Brilliana as if on parade.
Here, my sweet warrior, he said, clearly. He looked fixedly at
Brilliana and declaimed, I did hear you speak, far above singing.
Then his chin dropped; his head fell back on the supporting arms.
Evander touched him, turned to Brilliana.
Alas! he's sped.
The only sound in the silent room was the weeping of Brilliana in
Master Marfleet in his Diurnal hides in his prolixities some
particulars interesting to us. Thus we learn incidentally from some
reflections on the wickedness of the great, that while the King reigned
in Oxfordto Master Marfleet he is always the Man of Blood when he
is not NebuchadnezzarLady Brilliana Harby was in such favor at the
court and with the Queen as to obtain patents of knighthood for two
neighbors of hers, one Paul Hungerford and one Peter Rainham. We
further learn that Brilliana accompanied the Queenin whom Mr.
Marfleet traces a remarkable likeness to Jezebelto France in 1644,
after which flight of kites, crows, and other carrion fowlthe words
are Mr. Marfleet'sthe estate of Harby came, through the good offices
of General Cromwell, into the hands of Colonel Evander Cloud, much to
Mr. Marfleet's satisfaction, a satisfaction which the school-master did
not live long enough to lose.
Of Colonel Cloud's honorable military career we find a brief but
eminently satisfactory account in Corporal
Blow-the-Trumpet-against-Jericho Pring's pamphletnow more than
scarceentitled The Roll-Call of the Regiments of Zion.
From a letter of Colonel Cloud's, preserved in the Perrington Papers
(Historical Manuscripts Commission, vol. XCIX., B), we learn
that after Naseby the writer found among the dying the person of Sir
As God may forgive me, he writes, I had sought for this man in
encounter after encounter, with black thoughts of vengeance in my
bosom. But as he lay there I felt constrained by divine impulse to
forgive him, though he made me no answer but to curse horribly at me
and at the fool who took my place; and so passed away, as I fear, very
After the surrender of the King by the Scots, and the end, as it
seemed, of the civil war, Colonel Cloud, with the permission of his
great chief, retired from active affairs and made his way to France, to
Paris, where, in the early spring of 1647, he was married to Lady
Brilliana Harby. Some of the French writers of the time make rather
merry over this romantic union and the five years fidelity of squire
and dameStrephon and Chloe, as they are pleased to call them. But the
laugh is rather on the wrong side of the face, for it is well known
that there was bitter disappointment in the hearts and on the lips of
many French gallants who had tried their best to win the beautiful
English girl, and greatly resented her reservation for this solemn
gentleman. One or two efforts, however, to make this resentment plain
to the English soldier resulting uncomfortably, after a brisk morning's
work, in the temporary disablement of one aggressor and the repeated
disarming of another, in the end the homme à Cromwell was left to wed
in peace. Oddly enough, his best man was his old acquaintance Sir
Blaise Mickleton, who, having realized his property in good time, had
settled in Paris since 1644 and had almost forgotten his native tongue,
which he spoke, when he did speak, with a little broken French accent,
very pretty to hear. He had once tried to renew his pretensions to the
hand of Brilliana, and had been so startlingly rebuffed that he never
repeated the effort and was content to remain her very good friend.
Evander was in England once or twice during the years 1647 and 1648,
but after the death of the King, against which he vainly protested,
with his famous friend he settled down in France, in the Loire country,
for many happy years.
After the Restoration, Harby Hall passed by mutual arrangement into
the hands of Sir Randolph Harby, who had cheerfully ruined himself in
the service of his King. Through him the name still persists in
Maryland, in America. Harby itself was destroyed by fire early in the
eighteenth century. It was not rebuilt; the moat was filled up, and no
trace of Loyalty House remains to-day. In Harby church-yard there is an
ancient stone, set there by Brilliana's order. It bears the name of
Halfman, the date of his death, and after that date the words, I did
hear you speak, far above singing.