Hopitutuqaiki

The Hopi School

PO Box 56
Hotevilla, Arizona 86030

928-734-2433
www.hopischool.net

Scholar’s Library


Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Test

Title: A Queen of Nine Days
Author: Brown, Margaret Wright
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Queen of Nine Days" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Frontispiece: "WE MUST HIDE HERE A LITTLE WHILE," SAID MY RESCUER]



  A QUEEN OF NINE DAYS


  BY HER GENTLEWOMAN

  MARGARET BROWN



  EDITED AND DONE INTO MODERN ENGLISH

  BY

  EDITH C. KENYON



  LONDON
  THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY
  4 BOUVERIE STREET & 65 ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD, E.C.



  _Made and Printed in Great Britain by_
  Butler & Tanner Ltd.,
  _Frome and London_



CONTENTS

CHAPTER

Prologue

I Leaving Home

II My Champion

III Hiding from the Enemy

IV Better Happenings

V Lady Caroline talks with Me

VI Papistry or Protestantism

VII Sir Hubert and I

VIII Lady Jane Grey

IX Plato

X Queen of England

XI By the River

XII In the Tower

XIII At St. Paul's Cross

XIV The Crown Resigned

XV At Sion House Again

XVI In The Power of Sir Claudius

XVII The Prisoner in the Dungeon

XVIII On the Point of Being Wed

XIX Escaping from the Enemy

XX A Trying Experience

XXI Queen Mary's Boon

XXII With Lady Jane

XXIII Wyatt's Insurrection

XXIV Lady Jane's Death Sentence

XXV Some of Lady Jane's Last Words

XXVI Lady Jane's Execution

XXVII Conclusion.  Home Again

Epilogue



PROLOGUE

It has been laid upon me as a very solemn duty by the late Lady Jane
Dudley, or Grey as she is usually called, to whom I owe obedience and
fealty born of love, which is all the more insistent because she is
no longer here to claim it, that I should set forth, in the best
language possible to one of my limited education, the stirring events
that my eyes have witnessed and the true story, as it is known to me,
of the short, sad tragedy of her life and death.  And this being so,
I will make no excuse for my boldness and presumption in attempting
work which might well be left to learned and authoritative
historians, especially as I remember that my dear lady said to me,
Margery, others may write more learnedly on the matter, but _loving
eyes see further and more truly_ than those of the mere critic, and I
would fain be represented to posterity as I am rather than as I am
supposed to be.  And, fear not, child, for though you are weak and
humble in your own eyes, His grace and help are to be had for the
asking, Who gives power to the faint, and to such as have no might
increases strength.'  For my lady knew that this is a righteous task
which she was setting me--the representation of truth, as we know it,
is always righteous--and to those who do the like His promises never
fail.

MARGARET BROWN.



CHAPTER I

Leaving Home

It was in the month of May, in the year 1553, and I was a young girl,
only seventeen, when my dear father--my mother being dead--astonished
me beyond measure by disclosing the fact that I was to leave my home
in Sussex and proceed to the city of London, there to become
gentlewoman to a lady of high degree.

That was not the sort of life I should have chosen by any means, for
my freedom was as dear to me as to any of God's creatures of earth,
or sea, or sky.  Having no mother, and with a most easy-going father
and a brace of madcap young brothers, I had run wild all my life, and
could ill brook the idea of being confined within four walls for the
most part of my days, attired in the fine clothing of a grand lady.
What compensations should I have for such joys as lying for hours on
the soft turf of the Downs, looking up to the blue sky and making out
pictures in the white clouds flitting across it, whilst I listened to
the singing of the skylarks, or sitting beneath an overturned boat on
the seashore, hearing the lapping of the waves and gazing across the
Channel, with wondering speculations of the lands beyond those fair
blue waters, or, on the other hand, rowing out upon the sea with my
brothers, or riding with them at breakneck paces over hill and dale?
What would they do without me, little Hal with his endless scrapes
and foolhardy schemes, and Jack with his love of fighting and
passionate essays to assert the manhood latent in him?
Notwithstanding my wildness, I was a softening influence in their
lives, for there was in me ever, even then, the consciousness which
is not very far from any of us that there is a Higher Law than even
the sweetest promptings of our own fond wills.  I never talked about
it--father used to say, 'Many words show weakness in a cause'--much
less preached to the boys, but I knew it was so and they were aware I
knew it, and that was quite enough.  They were good lads, and, as the
serving men and women said, I had them at a word.

I did not like the thought of leaving my brothers, or my father, or,
as I have said, my freedom and the skylarks, turf, sky, clouds,
seashore and mystery of wild sea-waves, with the unknown lands
beyond, but never thought of opposing my father's will, and,
easygoing though he was, dared not question it; however, I went down
to the parsonage to speak to Master Montgomery, our curate, of the
matter, and, after listening to all I had to say, and cheering me
with descriptions of wondrous sights to be seen in London, he uttered
wise words, which stilled my trouble mightily.

'Child,' he said, laying his hand gently on my head, 'listen to me.
This call which has come to you is not of your own seeking, therefore
it must be from Him Who alone was found worthy to hold the Book of
Life--the lives of His people--in His hands.  He Who called Rebekah
from her water-pot and David from his sheep, Elisha from his
ploughing and the praying women of Jerusalem to follow Him to the
Cross, is surely calling you to do some special work.  It may be
lowly in its nature, or it may be great, but whatever it be, it is
surely work that you and no one else can do.  Like the little maid
who was carried away into captivity and did great things for her
master Naaman, the Syrian, so, it may be, you, too, may carry help
and healing to some afflicted one amongst those whom the world calls
mighty.  And remember,' he added very earnestly, 'remember that you
can do nothing in your own strength, but that with the help of the
Holy Spirit, which is given to those who ask for it, all things will
be possible.'

I went away, feeling very solemn and almost more frightened than
encouraged, and it was a relief to my over-charged heart when, as I
was going home with great soberness, I encountered Hal, bareback on
his black pony, tearing along like wildfire, and calling to me to
follow, as there was a ship passing in the Channel, and so I ran
after him down to the beach; and what with one thing and another, I
did not give Master Montgomery's words their full consideration until
the time came when, being far away from him, I found my thoughts
recurring to them.

Before I set off to London City there was great to-do amongst the
women servants in making me sufficient garments for a lady's
wardrobe, and it was a wonderful sight to see the things they got
together and the way they wished to dress me.  I did not like it very
much, for I did not think I should ever be able to skip and play and
ride bareback attired in that fashion, but my father said I was a
child and knew nothing about it, and they were women and ought to
know what they were doing; so we left it all to them, and I put off
the thought of wearing their handiwork as long as possible.

The day before I went my father informed me about those to whom I was
going.  It seemed the Duke of Northumberland, knowing my father, Sir
Henry Brown, with whom he had been in battles in their younger days,
had sent for me to come and be one of the gentlewomen of his
daughter-in-law, the young Lady Jane Grey, newly married to his
fourth son, Lord Guildford Dudley, in London City.  My father said
that it was a great distinction for me to be selected out of scores
of other country maidens for the work, and that if ever I had speech
with the noble duke I was to thank him heartily for his favour
towards us--this I promised readily, not knowing what manner of man
that was whose doings were afterwards an enormous factor in working
dire woe to those I loved.  And then my father went on to say that
business of importance would prevent his going with me on this my
entrance into the big world--oh, father!  I saw through that, for was
it not from you I inherited the nature which loved home and freedom
better than the life among great people of exalted rank?--but he said
he would send me with old and trusty servants, who would take me
safely in a horse-litter from our town of Brighthelmstone[1] on the
south coast, all the long way to Sion House, in Isleworth, near
London City, where my Lady Grey was residing at that time.


[1] Now called Brighton.--ED.


And the next day, after a troubled leave-taking from all I loved so
dearly, I suffered him to bestow on me his blessing, which he did
with many words of touching kindness, and put me in the litter.

I must confess that I did not perceive very much of the road we went
over during the first part of my journey, owing to a weakness which
came on in my eyes and a sickness and dejection of spirit such as I
had never previously known, and my good maid Betsy proved to be very
annoying for talking over much, which was indeed her wont when
excited, and making doleful laments about the dangers of the way and
the roughness of the roads that, without doubt, somewhat impeded our
progress.

But afterwards, after a long while, I felt better and could think
less miserably of my father's tender blessing and of the sudden
breakdown and loud crying of poor Jack and the afflicting
disappearance of Hal, who I knew had hidden himself in order that he
might get over the parting in secret, and the crying of the woman
servants we left behind, and solemn faces of the men and the waving
of Master Montgomery's old hat as we passed the parsonage, so that by
the time we neared a neighbouring castle I could even look admiringly
upon it.  We stayed that night at Horsham, in a queer little inn kept
by a monstrously fat innkeeper and his exceedingly thin wife, who at
another time would have amused me greatly by her fussiness and
servility.

And the next day we proceeded on our way, passing many strange and
curious places, but meeting with no brigands and no mishap at all
until it chanced that, on the King's highway, we came upon a group of
unruly, wild-looking men and boys, who were dragging a poor old
woman, with great violence, towards a large pond.

'What is the matter?  Oh, Betsy, see!' I cried.  'What are those men
doing to that poor old woman?  Look! they are dragging her to that
pond!  Poor creature!  They will hurt her!'

'Mistress, 'tis only a witch!' cried Betsy, who had been told to call
me Mistress now that I was going to be a great lady.  'Suchlike do
much harm,' she continued.  'They sell their souls to the devil for
gold; they meet each other on broomsticks riding through the air, and
plot mischief.  From such may we be delivered!' she went on
fervently.  'They had better be drowned!' she concluded.

'No, no.  'Tis cruel!  Tell Humphrey to stop.'  And I myself called
to the men to stay the horses bearing my litter, and looked out full
of sympathy with the poor old creature.  Was there no one to stand up
for her, no one to stay this rough horse-play which was going on?
Master Montgomery had always taught us to treat the aged with
reverence, and therefore it seemed truly shocking to me, as also most
alarming.

'Forsooth, Mistress Marg'et,' said Joseph, my lacquey, coming to my
litter, ''tis the country roughs that are just wild to drown yon old
witch.'

'But they shall not!' declared I vigorously; 'they shall not!  Stop
it, Joseph!  Stop it at once!'

'Mistress, I cannot!  The men are just mad!  Hark at their shouts!
They are wild to do it.'

'They shall not do it!' cried I.  'Tell them, Joseph, that Mistress
Margaret Brown forbids it.'

Joseph and Timothy, the head man, and John, the other lacquey, looked
timidly towards the crowd of excited men and boys who were shouting,
gesticulating and urging on each other to drag along the old woman
with cuffs and kicks.

I got out of my litter and looked round.  It was such a beautiful
country, on one side great woods just bursting into leaf, on the
other green meadowland, threaded by a silvery stream and studded here
and there with blossoming hawthorn trees.  Nowhere could I see a
house, yet some there must be not far distant, judging from the crowd
of men and boys.  Alone, with my few servants, what could I do?  Who
would have suspected that in such a lovely place there could be
doings so outrageous?

'I must speak to them, Betsy,' I said, and across my mind flashed the
thought that perhaps Master Montgomery was thinking of some such work
as this when he spoke of that to which he believed I was being
called.[2]


[2] Young people are usually in haste.  They always aim to reach the
end of things at once; they cannot wait.--ED.


'Oh, no, mistress!  You must not, indeed you must not interfere!'
cried the terrified woman.

'Hold thy tongue, Betsy,' said I.  'I shall go to them and speak,'
and in my heart I prayed for help where Master Montgomery said it
would never be denied.

And then I advanced towards the roughs, who turned to look at me in
amazement.

In a tone and in a manner of authority, for my father always said
that it was no use speaking otherwise to knaves, I bade them cease
from persecuting a poor old woman who might be innocent of all
offence, and passionately adjured them to refrain from violence.

The effect of this was marvellous.  Releasing their victim, they fell
back, and she, poor soul, knelt on the grass before me, crying out
for mercy and catching hold of the border of my gown.

'What has she done?' I asked.

A Babel of voices answered.  The old woman had brought disease on
Farmer North's cattle.  She had turned her evil eye on a young woman
who had straightway sickened and died.  She had looked on a man as he
rode to market and his horse had run away, thrown him off and killed
him.  Last of all she had spirited away her own orphan grandson, a
boy of great promise, who had been committed to her care by his
deceased parents and of whom she had professed to be very fond.  This
young man was believed to have been sent through the earth to the
abodes of the lost.

'I did not do it, lady!  I did not!  Saul was the darling of my old
age.  I know no more than they where he has gone.  I am no witch.
Ask the minister; he knows.'

This and much more cried the poor old dame in quavering tones.

'Listen to her.  She is innocent,' I said authoritatively to the
rascals, who were recovering themselves and again holding out
threatening hands.  'She is a poor old woman, very lame and infirm.'

That did not touch them, so I seized a weightier argument.

'Have you not heard,' I said, 'of One Who laid His hands upon the
sick and lame and made them whole?  Jesus had compassion on the
multitude.  He took pity on the infirm.  He laid His hands on them
and blessed them.  He----'

'He sent the devils into the swine, so that they ran into the sea,'
interposed a man's voice grimly.

'The devils?  Yes.  But not the man out of whom they were driven.  He
sat at Jesus' feet, clothed and in his right mind.'

'True! true!' cried several voices.

It really seemed as if mercy were going to win the day.  But at that
moment, with a tremendous noise, a number of men and boys came round
a bend in the road, dragging forward a wretched object whose head was
hidden in a man's jacket.

'A witch!  A witch!' yelled the newcomers, brandishing their sticks.

'And we have another!  Ha! ha! ha!' laughed and shrieked the men and
boys beside me.

Then I perceived that the newcomers were led on by as evil-looking a
young man as you could see anywhere.  His dress showed him to be a
knight, but anything more unknightly than his manner and his conduct
could not well be found; he seemed just like the knaves who formed
his company, and an ill-looking lot they were, with scarcely a whole
garment among them.

'Oh, mistress,' said Timothy, who had left his horses that he might
have speech with me.  'Yon is Sir Claudius Crossley, who is said to
be your father's sworn enemy.  I pray you make haste and get into the
litter before he recognizes you.  Then we will drive away as fast as
the horses can take us.'

'Save me!  Save me, lady!' cried the old woman, clinging to my feet,
as my hands tried to drag her away.

How could I desert her?  It was hard on my servants, but I would not
listen to their advice.  For I saw nothing, heard nothing but that
pitiful old woman, with her despairing cries to me to save her, and
the menacing crowd of villains thirsting for her life.



CHAPTER II

My Champion

I began to speak again to the villains, repeating much that I had
said before, with even greater earnestness.

Sir Claudius Crossley stared at me, and listened for a moment or two
with a bewildered air.  Then perceiving the drift of my words, he
rudely shouted to me to shut my mouth, and, signing to his men, they
caught up the old woman at my feet and bundled her along to the side
of the other victim, interposing several of their broad backs between
me and the poor old creatures.

The road being now completely blocked by the shouting men and boys,
my servants closed round me and literally carried me back to the
litter.  In truth they were themselves of the opinion that the old
women were witches, who had sold themselves to the devil for a term
of years, and ought therefore to be put to death.

I was perforce obliged to sit in my litter, but it could not proceed
because of the crowd which blocked the way.  I would not look towards
the wretched scene, but Betsy would not refrain from telling me every
detail of what was taking place with the supposed witches and their
enemies.

'Both old women are witches, mistress,' she cried.  'I thought so,
and now I know it; they are ugly as sin.  The men are making them
confess.  The way they do it is to pull their hair and screw their
wrists until they say for what sum the devil has bought their souls,
and for what length of time they have bound themselves to serve him.
No, mistress, Timothy will not allow you to interfere.  He promised
Sir Henry that he would take you safely to Sion House, near London,
and he means to do it.  Now, mistress, they are tying the witches'
thumbs together--the two of them are being tied together by the
thumbs, I mean--and now they are going to throw them into the water.
If they do not sink, they will know they are witches, and will force
them under; if they sink, they will drown, so there will be an end of
them in any case.'

'Oh, this is terrible--terrible!' I cried.  Putting my head out of my
litter, I called to the ruffians to cease their cruelty.  'It is
murder,' I said; 'it is nothing but murder!  "Thou shalt do no
murder."'

But I might as well have spoken to the wind, which was beginning to
rise in fitful gusts.

The mob--for by this time the crowd had become a howling mob--was in
no mood to be stayed from proceeding to extremities.  A shower of mud
and stones was flung at my litter and its attendants, one of the
men-servants receiving a blow upon the shoulder, which might have put
it out of joint, being most violent.

'Wait till we have drowned the witches, then we will come for you!'
shouted Sir Claudius cruelly.

'Ay, ay, sir!' chorused many voices.

This was alarming.  My servants put their heads together, muttering
their fears.  I overheard them saying that they had seen the witch
looking hard at me as she begged for mercy, and that I might be
doomed, and what could three men and a woman do against more than a
hundred ruffians?

'Mistress,' said old Timothy to me at length.  'We can do nothing
against so many, and unfortunately we have already incurred their
anger.  Far better would it be, therefore, for us to turn and flee
whilst they are occupied in drowning the witches.'

'Flee!  Do you mean that?' exclaimed I.

'Yes.  Yes, mistress dear.  And quickly--quickly!  It is our only
chance.'

And Timothy looked affrightedly at the angry faces of the mob.

'Nay.  But that is cowardly!' I cried, 'to run away and think only of
our own skins when the weak and old are being murdered!'

'We shall be murdered ourselves in a few more minutes if we stay
here,' muttered the old man.  'Child,' he said, forgetting my new
dignity, which indeed profited me nothing just then, 'it is to save
our lives--_yours_, the most precious of all.  How could I face Sir
Henry again if you were killed?'

And his voice shook.

'Killed!  Killed?  Are they threatening that?  Oh, but, Timothy, we
have never done them any harm.'

'Ay, but you have!' cried the loud, domineering voice of Sir
Claudius, as he thrust himself forward to get between Timothy and me.
'You have tried to stop our sport!'

'Sport!' cried I, with the most mighty contempt I ever felt in all my
life.  'Sport!  Call you it sport to torture and kill poor feeble old
women?'

Angered by my words, the miscreant was about to lay hold of me with
his great hands, when the lacquey Joseph gave him a blow of the fist
which sent him staggering into the midst of his men.

Alas, that was, as it were, a signal for hostilities to commence.
Men and boys rushed on us from all sides.  My men-servants were
seized by overpowering numbers and hurled to the ground, and I myself
was lifted bodily out of the litter and set on a bank by the
roadside, so that all might see me.

The two old women were drowned now--their murderers thirsted for more
blood, and Sir Claudius, smarting from the treatment he had received
from the hands of my good Joseph, yearned above all things for
revenge.

'Eh, lads!  What shall we do to my lady?' he asked mockingly,
pointing to me.

'Drown her also,' suggested one, with a hoarse laugh.

'Strangle her,' cried another.

'Carry her away to some remote country place, and then get money from
her friends before we will tell them where she is,' said a third.

Cries of approval and many alternative suggestions arose from the mob.

Looking from one to the other, I could see no pity, no relenting
anywhere, least of all in Sir Claudius.  I spoke to him.

'I am a lady,' I said; 'where is your chivalry?'

The man had not any, but I thought it as well to cry out for what
ought to have been there.

'You tried to save those witches,' he began.

'And you will try to save me, will you not?' I asked, looking at him,
with the vain hope that I should see something which was not there.

'That I will not!' cried the churl.

'Shall we drown her, Sir Claudius?  Shall we drown her, too?'
demanded many voices.

'Help!  Help for a lady!  Help for Mistress Brown!' shouted the
lacquey Joseph with his loud, stentorian voice.  The honest fellow
had been bound hand and foot; he had nothing left but his voice with
which to serve me, and the next moment it was silenced with a blow
and a gag; but it had done good work.

Noiselessly over a soft fallow field a little group of horsemen had
approached, and at the sound of that loud, manly cry of my poor
Joseph's they charged into the mob, calling out lustily:--

'Disperse, in the King's name!  In the King's name I say disperse!'

Bullies are cowards all the world over.  The men who had drowned old
women and were threatening a defenceless girl with a like fate, took
to their heels with one accord, knocking down each other and falling
over each other in their flight, whilst, alarmed and struck, first on
this side and then on that, my horses set off galloping, and dashed,
with the litter, amongst the crowd, treading down some and crushing
others.  The damage they did was appalling.  Curses, shouts, groans
and screams filled the air on every side.

In a few moments none of the roughs remained near me, and I was
enabled to look up at my deliverer.

He was a handsome knight of medium size and frank, soldier-like
deportment and bearing; as I found afterwards, he was scarcely
twenty-six, yet he looked much older, having seen service in the
profession of arms from his boyhood.  He was dressed in crimson
velvet, very worn and travel-stained.  Indeed, both he and his horse
bore traces of a rapid journey across country, as did also his
followers and their horses.

'How shall I thank you?' I said gratefully.  'Sir, you have saved my
life.'

'I thank God that I came in time,' he said.  'I fear those rascals
have terrified you much.'

'I fear they have hurt my good serving-men,' I said, looking round
for them.

My champion, desirous of serving me still more, picked up my poor
Timothy, who, having been thrown down and trampled upon, was in no
little pain.  He breathed better, however, when his arms were freed
and his legs unbound, and began to lament the loss of the horses and
litter, which made us think he was coming round finely.  We left him,
therefore, to look to Joseph, who was in a desperate state, having
been almost smothered by the gag which was tied over his mouth and
nostrils.  His face, swollen and discoloured, was fearful to look
upon, but I took his poor head on my lap and endeavoured to induce
him to drink from a flask my rescuer had put in my hand.

The good knight stood by me, with the kindest eyes it seemed to me
that I had ever seen.

'Give him time,' he said; 'give him time.  There is no hurry.'

It seemed to me, as I glanced at him, that he would have stood there
all day with great content, so long as he could watch me doing
things, and no doubt he was tired, having ridden far.

'But look after the others, please,' I said, feeling anxious about
Betsy and John.

'They are all right,' he answered.  'They have picked themselves up
bravely.  And your man is coming round.'

Then one of his followers came up to him, saying, 'Sir Hubert, we do
wrong to linger here.  Those villains will return with greater
numbers, bent upon wreaking vengeance.  There was one amongst them of
good birth, and a knight, but of low nature, who is notorious for
crime.  He will return, if no one else does; and the lady----'

The rest of the sentence I could not hear, but it seemed to mightily
excite my brave deliverer.

Joseph was sitting up whilst this was going on, and begging my pardon
for the liberty he had taken in lying down with his head on my lap.
At the same moment John and Betsy declared themselves recovered.

'Lady,' said the knight, ''tis necessary that we hurry on.  Say,
could you ride my horse?  Or stay, Smith,' turning to one of his men,
'you have a quiet nag; bring her here for the lady.'

'Is there no hope of recovering my litter?' I asked, adding, 'I am
going all the way to Sion House, near London, where the Duke of
Northumberland's daughter-in-law awaits me.'

'The litter is lost to you,' was the startling answer.  'If we wait
here for its return, or pursue those runaway horses, we shall be lost
too.  Madam,' the knight bent his head to speak softly in my ear, 'I
will not hide it from you.  These are fearful times for a lady to be
travelling alone with so small a retinue.  Lawless men, such as those
that have just been routed, might carry you off where your friends
would never hear of you again----'

'Why frighten us?' I interrupted, but had no time to say more, for
the noise of brawling again broke upon my ear.

The knight turned to his men, saying, 'They are coming.  They are
many, we are few.  We must ride back the way we came, across the
fields.  Take up the lady's men and woman.'

And with that he lifted me hastily from the ground, and, placing me
upon his own horse, vaulted lightly into the saddle behind me.

'Hold fast, madam,' he said in my ear.  'Put your arms round my neck;
so.  That is it.  Now, Sultan, good horse, gallop thy fastest!'

Whinnying low, the horse tore off across the fallow fields, and away
we went like the wind, but I did not know even so much as the name of
the valiant knight to whom I was clinging as for life.



CHAPTER III

Hiding from the Enemy

I had been carried off in such haste as left me no time to look back
and see if my servants were equally well mounted, and for some time
all I could do was to cling to my cavalier.  I felt his heart beating
as I did so and his warm breath fanning my cheeks.  Moments seemed
hours as they passed.

And now shouts and the sound of pursuing horsemen entering the fields
in full career after us sounded in our ears, and, looking back, we
saw a company of riders as well as foot-runners.

'Hold tight, madam; we take the fence.  Hurrah! old Sultan has done
it!' cried my knight, and we were over and speeding across a meadow
long before any one else had reached the fence.

Presently I heard shooting, and, looking back, perceived that my
knight's men, hampered by the wounded servants and unable to leap the
fence, were obliged to turn and fight.  This kept back the pursuers
and gave us a better chance of escape.

My cavalier drew rein and looked back across the meadow.  Alas, four
horsemen, having separated themselves from the others, had just
leaped the fence and were galloping after us.

'Sultan, good horse!' cried my knight encouragingly, and his steed
answered with a low whinny, and galloped along as before.  'Cling to
me, madam.  Hold tight!'

Again I clung to him convulsively, not venturing to speak about my
fears for my poor servants and our own perilous position.

Another higher and thicker fence was leaped, not quite so
successfully this time, for poor Sultan was just done and,
floundering, caught his hoof in a long hawthorn branch.  Down he fell
upon his knees, and I saw stars and thick darkness.

When I came to myself, I found I was being carried in the strong arms
of the good knight.  I said nothing, for indeed what could I say?
What he was doing for me that day I should never forget, never in all
my life.  But I could not speak of it.

Presently I could see that we were passing through a plantation of
young trees, on a path so narrow that my rescuer had much difficulty
in carrying me through it.  He was exceedingly careful lest I should
receive a knock from some too prominent bough or tree-trunk, yet I
noticed he bruised his own hands more than once in his endeavour to
protect me.  I thought I should never feel the same about those hands
again; they had suffered for me.  Once as he carried me on I tried to
wipe off the blood that flowed from a scratch on his neck with my
neckerchief, torn off for the purpose, much to his concern.

'Do not,' he said.  'It does not matter about me.'

But I persisted that it did, and bound his neck with the neckerchief,
begging him to permit the liberty I was taking.

He looked at me then very kindly, saying, 'No one ever took so much
trouble about me before,' and that seemed to me the most
extraordinary shame that ever was.

When we were through the plantation we found a wooden shanty, or
covered shed, in the field at the other side of the trees.  The door
of the place was not locked, and my knight set me down upon my feet
and opened it.  Then he led me in, and we found there was an old cart
in it, full of cut grass.

'We must hide here a little while,' said my rescuer.  'Perhaps our
pursuers will not come to this side of the trees.'

'I am afraid they will,' returned I, 'if they saw us entering the
wood.'

'Then we must hide,' said he.  'Madam, can you get into the cart?'

'Easily,' I answered.  'My name,' I added shyly, for it was awkward
for us not to know each other's names, 'is Margaret Brown.'

'Mistress Margaret Brown,' said he, pronouncing the words so
beautifully that it seemed to me my cognomen had never sounded half
so well before.  Then he added, 'And mine is Hubert Blair.'

'Sir Hubert Blair?' said I thoughtfully, thinking what a very nice
name it was and how well it seemed to suit the man.

'Yes,' answered he with a smile.  'But now, Mistress Brown, please to
get into the cart and lie down.  Then I will cover you with the cut
grass which half fills it.'

'Will you hide yourself too?'

'Aye, aye.'

He assisted me into the cart and piled the grass over me, even
putting a thin layer of it over my head.  Then, perceiving a heap of
grass in the corner of the shed, and, thinking he could conceal
himself more quickly in it, he told me that he was going to do so,
beseeching me, whatever happened, to make no sound, but to lie still
where I was hidden.

'You may rely upon me,' I said.  'You, Sir Hubert, are the captain of
this adventure, and I know how to obey.'

Sir Hubert then hid himself as well as he could in the heap of cut
grass in the corner of the shed, and scarcely had he done so when the
noise of men and horses was to be heard outside.

Presently a man pushed the door open and entered.

'What's in here?' he said aloud.  'A queer sort of a shed!  Better
call the others.  But no, it seemeth empty, except for this grass.
What have we here?'

He had approached the cart, and was peering in cautiously.

'Bad farming to leave so much stuff in a cart!' he went on, poking
the grass a little with his stick, or weapon.

I trembled, and was fearful that my trembling would cause the grass
to move.  Indeed, he must have seen something of the sort, for he
said in a low tone, 'Thou needst not fear.  As sure as my name is
Jack Fish, I will keep the other men out of this place.'

With that he went away, returning, however, in a moment to add, 'Thou
hadst best keep here a little while longer before thou attemptest to
go away.  I am a true man.  I will keep thy secret.'

With that he crossed over to the heap of grass in the corner of the
shed, behind which Sir Hubert was hidden.  Then, being of a playful
humour, he began to poke the grass heap gently with his foot,
blustering a little as he did so.

'Hullo!' said he, ''tis strange how men and grass become mixed in
these days!  Easy now, don't show thyself!  I am a truthful man, and
I want to say I have seen no one.  Thou needst not fear.'

'Thanks.  You are a good man.'

The words came out of the grass with weird effect.

'I'll get the others away from here directly; I really joined them to
prevent their doing mischief.  But do not stir for half an hour or
so.  Then keep well to the right and thou wilt regain the high road,
and perchance find thy litter awaiting thee.'

Now Sir Hubert was so delighted to hear this, and so certain that the
man was a friend, that he threw the grass off him and sat up, but was
instantly almost smothered with the quantity of green stuff the other
immediately threw over him.

The next instant another voice at the door inquired: 'Is any one
hidden here, Jack Fish?'

''Twas a fancy of mine to search the shanty.  However, I might have
known those fugitives would not have ventured to stay here,' returned
Master Fish.

'Well, there is no place to hide in here, unless it be the cart.
Have you looked into that grass on it?'

'Aye, aye.  I've poked about it rarely, but nothing bigger than a
mouse ran out of it.'

'Well, come on then, if there is nothing here,' cried the other
impatiently.

They left the shed, Jack Fish lingering a moment to close the door
and to say noisily to those within and those without, 'All right!
All right!'

We were still for the next ten minutes, which seemed an age; then Sir
Hubert said:

'He was a good old fellow yon, and I liked his hint about your
litter.  It will be a fine thing indeed if we can find it on the high
road when we get there.'

'Yes indeed,' I said, 'and my servants too, which last is a matter of
more importance, for they are very dear to me.'

I had raised my head out of the grass, and was sitting up.

'Do you think I can get out of the cart now?' I asked.

'Not yet.  Wait a little longer where you are.  I will look round
outside;' and shaking off the grass sticking to him on all sides, Sir
Hubert proceeded to the door, at which he listened cautiously before
attempting to open it.

The next moment he stepped back quickly to his place in the corner,
saying, 'Some one is coming.'

Then he hid himself under the grass as before.

An old man entered, with a large two-pronged hay fork in his hand.

'They will have stolen my cart, I'll be bound!' he said aloud.

He looked suspiciously around, but gave a grunt of satisfaction upon
seeing the cart.

Approaching it, he was about to plunge his fork into the grass, when
Sir Hubert sprang up, caught hold of the tool and wrenched it from
his grasp.

'Your pardon, master,' said the knight hastily to the man.  'But I
have placed something in your cart which you might unwittingly have
damaged had you plunged your fork into it.'

'Cannot a man do as he likes in his own shed?' cried the old
countryman.  'And who art thou,' he demanded, 'and what business hast
thou here?'

'I am Sir Hubert Blair, of Harpton Hall, in Sussex.  I was travelling
in these parts with but a few retainers, when I met with a lady and
her servants set upon by roughs and in danger of their lives.  I
carried the lady on my own horse across the fields until a mischance
happened to my horse in leaping the last fence before we came to the
wood close by.  He fell down on his knees, throwing us off; the lady
fainted and I carried her through the wood, and then in here.  She is
in your cart.'

I sat up in the cart, smiling at the old farmer's astonishment.

'Well, well,' he said, leaning on his fork and looking hard at me.
'These are troublous times!  Vagabonds roam the country, and we never
know what they will be up to, and a knight and a lady hide in an old
cart-shed.  The King, God bless him, is young and not by any means
strong, but it is to be hoped he and Parliament will do something to
make the highways safer.'

'Did you see any signs of the ruffians as you came here?' asked Sir
Hubert.

'Nay, not I.  But then I was not looking for them.  I was thinking of
the new calf that came this morning.  Do you not know, young sir,
that what we are thinking of, that is what we see?'

'Aye, aye.'

Sir Hubert looked at me, and I knew he was reflecting that he could
see little else for thinking of me and my unfortunate plight.

'It seems a sorry tale for a knight to be running away from low
country rabble,' muttered the old farmer.

Sir Hubert coloured.

'I feel ashamed of myself,' he said.  'But it was for the lady's
sake.  How would it have been with her if I had been killed?  I was
obliged to think of her precious life.'

'Well, well.  I'm thinking you must both be pretty hungry.  Will you
come with me to my house, where my wife shall give you food?'

This was too good an offer to be refused, and we thankfully accepted
it, and accompanied the old man to his farmhouse.

It was but a poor place, yet we were as glad to find ourselves in it,
with the door bolted to keep out vagrants, as if we were in a palace.
And very thankful we were to the farmer's wife when she placed milk
and meat before us.  I felt almost ashamed of the wonderful appetite
I had; but indeed I was very, very hungry when I sat down to the
table.

Sir Hubert helped me to everything before he would touch food
himself, and I felt a wonderful happiness when his big, strong
hands--which had been bruised for me--were serving me.  Sweet it was
to be so tenderly cared for by him, with words and manner showing the
most reverent esteem.  I had never experienced aught like it before.
At home I was treated by my father as a child and by my brothers as
if I were one of themselves; the servants were more deferential, but
then they were poor folk, not like this fine gentleman, who seemed to
lift me higher than himself that he might look up to me with a sort
of loving worship.  It was very delightful and very, very beautiful.
I felt ennobled.

Sir Hubert seemed to be extremely happy, and would like to have
lingered talking over the meal, but the old man grew uneasy and
fidgetty.

'It would well nigh ruin me,' he said, 'if those rascals who attacked
you should come over here and find you on my premises.  They might
sack the house and possibly maltreat us too.  My old woman is not
very strong, and there's a young serving-lass also.  Of course I
don't mind for myself, but----'

'We will go,' I said, rising at once.  'You have been very kind, and
we should be sorry to bring you into trouble.'

Then I stopped short.  Where could we go?  It was all very well to
say we would depart, but we had not even Sir Hubert's horse to convey
us away.  The knight aroused himself to look the situation in the
face.  He seemed somewhat dazed, for the fact was, as he told me
afterwards, he had been so extraordinarily happy sitting at the same
table, ministering to my wants, and watching the colour return to my
face and the light to my eyes, that he had forgotten all else.

'Supposing I leave the lady here a little whilst I go to try and find
her coach?' he said to the farmer.

But the latter answered sharply, 'Nay, sir, nay.  Thou art not going
to leave her on our hands, just to bring the wrath of the
country-side upon us----'

'If you go, Sir Knight, she must go too,' interrupted the old
farmer's wife.  'It is bad enough for us to have to shelter you both
when you are here to help to fight if the rascals come, but without
you!  Why, they might string us up to the rafters, and leave us
hanging like dried herrings, as easy as anything.  My old man has not
any fight in him, bless you!  When he thought there was a thief in
the house the other night, he made me go first to look for him!'

'Well, well,' said the old man.  'I'm getting old, and am not much
stronger than thee, Susannah.  But thou canst scream rarely, and 'tis
a weapon of a sort, which sometimes is unexpectedly powerful.'

Sir Hubert laughed.  Then he turned to me, saying with rare
tenderness, 'I could not leave you, Mistress Margaret, with these
people.  Will you come with me?'

I said I would, and indeed I felt as if I could go with him anywhere,
anywhere in the world, and he a knight whom half a dozen hours before
I had never seen.

'Come then,' he said, and after throwing some silver on the table to
pay for our meal, he offered me his arm, and we went out together
into the night, now fast coming on.

'The darkness is our friend,' said Sir Hubert, 'for it will hide us
from our enemies.'

'Yes,' returned I, with great content, for I had no fear of darkness
when he was by my side, holding me with his firm, strong arm.

And in my heart I prayed to our Father in heaven to protect us both
and bring us in safety out of all danger.



CHAPTER IV

Better Happenings

In all the vicissitudes of my lot the memory of that first walk with
Sir Hubert Blair through the Sussex lanes was ever one of unalloyed
sweetness.

The stars came out one by one in the heavens, glimmering down upon
us, and a young moon arose, whilst a soft night wind stirred the
hedgerows, making the slumbering violets breathe forth their
sweetness.  I could scarcely help leaning on my companion, for I had
been much shaken that day, and far from resenting it, as Jack and Hal
would have done most heartily, he begged me to lean more heavily,
declaring that he was very strong and not at all fatigued, as he
sought tenderly to conduct me over the smoothest places.

Very soon, however, we reached the high road and had scarcely begun
to walk upon it when, to our joy and satisfaction, we heard the
tramping of horses and were presently overtaken by my horse-litter,
conducted by my men, Timothy, John and Joseph.  Betsy was seated
inside, and they all cried for joy when they discovered me with Sir
Hubert Blair, entirely unhurt and in the best of spirits.

We had a great deal to say to each other; but scarcely had we begun
to explain how we came there, and to relate our experiences, before
Sir Hubert Blair interrupted by bidding us defer the talk until we
had reached a place of safety.

'I strongly advise you, Mistress Margaret,' he said, 'to press
forward at once, lest those ruffians who attacked you should again
come in your way.'

'And you?' I said, as he put me into the litter, 'will you not come
with us, too?'

'I wish that I could,' he answered.  'But it is not for me to ride at
my ease by a lady's litter.  I have other work to do.'

'But--but,' faltered I, for at the idea of losing him a feeling of
despair came over me, 'you are a true knight, Sir Hubert, and as such
will not desert a lady in her need----'

'Certainly not in her need,' returned he.  'But, madam, you have your
own trusty servants back again and your litter, and the villains who
molested you have gone.'

'Still, I fear,' I said, 'I fear much that Sir Claudius, with his
odious followers, may again find us.  His father and my father are at
enmity, and he may carry on the feud against me.'

'There is no knowing what such a cur may do,' rejoined Sir Hubert
Blair.  'He will lose his knighthood if he goes on as he is doing.
But are you really afraid, Mistress Margaret?'  And then he added, 'I
thought you were so brave.'

Thereupon I did a very foolish thing, but one which was perhaps
natural considering my youth and the rough experiences I had just
passed through--I began to cry, as if my heart would break, hiding my
face against Betsy's shoulder and giving way completely.

'Oh!  Do not!  Do not weep!' cried Sir Hubert, his resolution
vanquished by my tears.  'I will escort you to your destination,
indeed I will, if only you will not weep.'

'Hearken, mistress, hearken.  The noble gentleman will accompany us,'
said Betsy in my ear.

And still I wept, for having given way I gave way utterly and could
not stop my tears.

'Poor child!  Poor child!' I heard Sir Hubert say.  And then he
turned to Timothy, and began some talk about the horses.

When I felt a little better I heard Timothy telling the knight that
his men had captured his horse and were seeking him in all directions.

When he heard this Sir Hubert whistled three times, and then waited,
listening intently.

In the distance we heard a faint sound as of whistling in answer.

Then Sir Hubert came to my coach door and spoke to me.

'Mistress Margaret Brown,' he said, 'I am pleased to find that I can
escort you as an outrider, as far as you are going.  When my men come
up with my horse, which they have recovered, we will ride by your
coach.  Then I think, even if that scoundrel, Sir Claudius, and his
men encounter us again, we shall be equal to them.'

I was overjoyed at that, and I don't know what I answered, but he
seemed quite satisfied, and presently his men came up with Sultan,
whom they had captured, and he and they rode before and alongside our
coach, to my extreme content and satisfaction.

Betsy chattered on about the escape she and the men had been able to
make, whilst the rabble fought with Sir Hubert's men.  She could not
fight, having no weapon, and therefore, when they were brought to a
standstill in the field and the fighting commenced, she slid off the
horse on which she had been placed and ran away as fast as her feet
could carry her; upon which John, who was her cousin, could not
refrain from following, and Timothy and Joseph being dropped by the
men who had taken them up and feeling too ill to fight, crept away
into the shelter of a hedge, where the other two found them after all
the combatants had gone.  They could not discover me, and therefore
returned to the high road, where presently they came upon the litter
and horses, the latter feeding on the grass by the wayside.  Then
they drove up and down, hoping that I should find my way back to the
road, and that the enemy would not again appear.

I fell into a doze at last, lulled by the sound of Betsy's untiring
voice and the steady trampling of the horses' feet, and when I awoke
again the moon was shining brightly down upon Sir Hubert riding by
the litter, making the small gold cross he wore upon his breast gleam
in its light.

He seemed to know in a moment when I awoke.

'Are you better, Mistress Margaret?' he asked, with such tender,
chivalrous feeling in his voice as made my heart bound with delight.

'Yes,' I answered shyly, and meant to have thanked him, but could say
no more, for thinking of the tears he had seen me shed and that I was
too small a person and too babyish to be lifted up so high as he was
lifting me above himself.

'I am glad of that,' he said.  'I want to tell you something.  We are
coming to a castle, where a friend of mine dwells.  He will give us
lodging for the night, and indeed I think we had better stay a day or
two for you to rest.'

'Will you stay, too?' I asked, as simply as a little child.

He bent his head over his horse and appeared to be busy examining the
bridle.  I could not see his face and began to fear that I might have
said something wrong.  But he did not blame me when he spoke again.

'Sir William Wood,' he said, 'who lives at this castle we are
approaching, is a great friend of mine, and indeed it was to stay
with him that I came into this neighbourhood--we had certain business
of importance to discuss----' he broke off, and began again, 'He was
in Spain with us, when I went there with some friends on an embassy,
and he and I were knighted at the same time.  He has a fair young
wife, Lady Caroline, who will be good to you.'

'I should like to go to them for the night,' said I, 'for I am
weary.'  And I could not prevent a sob from escaping from my breast.

'Poor child!  I _know_ you are,' he answered, with infinite
compassion.

Betsy began to vociferate that my father had bidden them to conduct
me straight to Sion House, London, with no lingering on the way, but
Sir Hubert silenced her.

'Some lingerings are needful,' he said.  'Your young mistress is worn
out, and unless she rest upon the way she may never reach her
destination.'

'I wish we could let my father know,' I said; 'but it would take a
couple of days to reach him,[1] and a couple for his answer to return
to me, even if I sent one of the men, and by that time I should have
stayed the full time for which I craved his leave.'


[1] How slow were all modes of sending messages in those days may be
gathered by the fact, recorded in history, that when Queen Mary died,
the news was not known in York, until four days after her death in
London,--EDITOR.]


Sir Hubert smiled.

'We shall have to do without it,' he said.  Then he added more
seriously, 'You will act upon my advice, will you not, and rest
awhile with these friends?'

'Certainly I will,' said I, for I felt sure Sir Hubert was one of the
wisest and best of men.

We seemed a long while getting to the castle after that, for the way
led up a steep hill, and I was again overpowered by sleep; but I have
a dim recollection of waking up to find myself being welcomed by a
fair and gracious lady, whilst a big young man shook Sir Hubert by
the hand as if he would never let him go, and many servants moved
silently about, and Betsy was too overawed to speak and did nothing
but what they bade her.

Soon I was lying on a huge bed, the posts of which were reaching up
to the ceiling of my room, and then I fell asleep and knew no more.



CHAPTER V

Lady Caroline Talks With Me

I slept soundly that first night of my stay at Woodleigh Castle,
being altogether worn out and in the utmost need of Nature's kind
restorer, and it was very late on the following day when I awoke to
find Betsy at my side with hot broth and bread and sundry other
articles of food.

'Mistress,' said my woman, 'you must eat and drink, for there are
great happenings here, and you will need your strength, aye and your
wits about you, too.  Timothy says he does not like you to be alone
amongst strange leaders of whom your father may not approve, and he
hopes that you will not be led to feelings which will unfit you for
being the companion of the high and noble lady to whom your father is
sending you, though indeed I think he might have come with you
himself if he had known how dangerous it was.'

I could not help smiling at Betsy's speech, as I sat up to take the
refreshment she brought me.  The first part of her speech was
laboured and unnatural, as if she were the unwilling mouthpiece of
poor old Timothy, but the last bit was certainly her own, for it bore
Betsy stamped all over it.

'Yes, mistress, you can smile now that the danger is over,' said my
maid, much aggrieved, 'but I can tell you we have had a narrow
escape, a very narrow escape indeed.  The people here say that we
might have been all killed, as likely as not, by the highwaymen whom
Sir Claudius consorts with and leads.  They say that he got knighted
by mistake, and that he is to be unknighted again--the knowledge of
which makes him desperate.  And they say, too, which indeed our men
and I think also, that you brought all our misfortunes upon us,
mistress, by interposing to save those witches, which was directly
interfering with Providence that was about to send them back to where
they came from.'

'I never did think you were wise, Betsy,' said I, 'but now I know you
are most foolish.  And I will not listen to you any more.'  And with
that I turned my back upon her, and took my food looking the other
way, with the vague feeling that I would not cast the pearls of my
wiser thoughts before the swine of Betsy's foolishness.

Betsy, however, was not to be suppressed.  She went on talking as she
looked over my dress, repairing it in places where it had been torn
and making it ready for me to put on.  And, by-and-by I heard her say
words which caused me to turn round and ask, 'What is that?  What did
the men say Sir Claudius cried as he rode off?'

'He vowed,' she cried, 'he vowed that he would have you yet.  Aye, he
said that he would never rest until he had won you for his own, that
he might vanquish your proud and haughty spirit!'

I was rather frightened, but endeavoured not to show it.

''Tis a little cock,' I said, 'that crows the loudest.'

Then Betsy approached the bed, and fell down on her knees before me.

'Mistress,' she said imploringly, 'promise me that you will not
interfere with witches and such like again.  It is that which gives
the Evil One power over you, and makes you take rank with his
creatures----'

'Fie upon you, Betsy!' I exclaimed indignantly.  'I know what you are
thinking.  In your naughty thoughts you are limiting the power of our
Heavenly Father to take care of me His child, and you are believing
that Satan is as mighty, or mightier than He.'  Then, as she was
silent, I went on, 'Don't you remember that Master Montgomery used to
say, "There are no people common or unclean now, since the Gentiles
are called to salvation, and our Heavenly Father cares for us all
with the utmost tenderness."  You know, Betsy, even those poor old
women you despised were His dear children.  And Master Montgomery
said, too, which indeed we know well, that, strong though Satan may
be, there is One who is stronger than he.'

Betsy was silenced then.  She arose, wiped her eyes and turned meekly
away to her work, and I saw it was better to instruct and teach her
right notions than to be so contemptuous as at first I was in heart,
and told myself I must remember that Master Montgomery said, 'A
Christian should always be gentle and "apt to teach."'

Scarcely had I settled that in my mind, when the door opened to admit
Lady Caroline Wood, who approached me with great kindness, asking how
I had slept and if I were recovered from my fatigue.

When I had answered that my night's sleep was good and my health as
well as usual, she asked if my woman might withdraw as she wished to
converse with me in private.

'Certainly,' I replied, a little wonderingly, and then I bade Betsy
leave the room; and Lady Caroline, who was not much older than
myself--though by wearing a large head-dress and elaborate garments
she looked so--sat down on the edge of my bed, and talked long with
me.

'I have heard,' she began--'Sir Hubert has told us--what a brave girl
you were yesterday in withstanding alone, with your few servants, the
cruelties a crowd of men and boys were practising on two old women.
It was noble of you, Mistress Margaret, and I honour you for it with
all my heart.'

Thereupon she took up my right hand and pressed it for a moment to
her lips.

'You are a heroine,' she said, 'and I admire and love you.'

'Indeed it was nothing,' I rejoined; 'moreover I was powerless to
avert their cruel death,' and the tears rose to my eyes as I thought
of what those poor old women endured.

But Lady Caroline, stooping over me, kissed my tears away.

'You did your best,' she said, 'and may well trust that the good God
would receive them through that painful--if haply short--gate into
His glorious kingdom.'

She was silent for a moment or two, and my heart warmed to her, for I
recognized that she loved Him whom I served, and thought not small
things of Him, but the very best.

Then she began again--

'They were taken away from the evil, and your precious life was saved
for further and it may be greater work.  You are going, I hear, to
attend the noble lady who has married Guildford Dudley, the Duke of
Northumberland's fourth son?'

'Yes,' replied I, 'Lady Jane Grey, to call her by her maiden name.
Do you know aught about her, Lady Caroline?' and there was some
anxiety in my tone, for indeed it mattered much to me what sort of a
lady that was to whom I was making so long and hazardous a journey.

'Indeed I do.  She is a very, very great lady.  Some think she will
even become queen when our King Edward dies.'

'Queen!' exclaimed I, 'but the king has sisters.  Princess Mary will
be our sovereign after him.'

Lady Caroline sighed deeply.

'That would be very sad for England were it to happen,' she said.
'Princess Mary is a Papist, you know, and if she became queen she
would plunge the kingdom into papistry and persecutions, so that
rivers of blood would flow----'

'And the good curates, and Master Montgomery,' I asked, 'what would
become of them?'  For my thoughts had flown to the limited circle in
which I had been brought up and the good old man from whose teachings
I was fresh.

'They would be martyred--perchance he would be burned at the stake,'
said Lady Caroline.

'No, no,' I cried.  'God would not allow it.'

'God often works by means of man,' the lady answered solemnly, 'and
it may be in the power of the more enlightened of the people of
England to prevent those calamities from happening.'

'May it?  But how?' I asked, my eyes opening wide with wonder.  'What
power in the world can prevent Princess Mary from becoming queen upon
the death of our young king?'

'Some of the wisest of our nobility, and our poor sick king himself,
have thought upon a way,' replied Lady Caroline, adding, 'Mistress
Brown, it may be in your power to help to bring it about.'

'How?  How?' I cried.  'Explain.  Explain.'

Then Lady Caroline explained.  She said that to save the country from
horrors innumerable, which would fall upon it in the event of a
Papist succeeding to the throne, it was deemed expedient that the
king should be induced to make a will, or sign letters patent, to
appoint that after his death the crown should be placed upon the head
of his young relative, Lady Jane Grey, in which case the Princesses
Mary and Elizabeth would be pronounced illegitimate and would
therefore be passed over.

I did not know what to say to that.  It did not seem to me to be
quite right, and yet Lady Caroline said it in such a manner as showed
that she was completely convinced it was so.

'The king is very ill now,' she continued, after a slight pause, 'and
the Duke of Northumberland is with him.'

'Is the duke one of those who favour Lady Jane Grey's being made
queen?' I asked.

'Yes.  And I will tell you why.  He sees so clearly what devastation
and woe will come upon this kingdom if a Papist is again upon the
throne; and on the other hand how blessed and prosperous it will
become under good Protestant governance.'

'Lady Jane Grey is a Protestant, then?' I asked.

'Certainly, and withal so wise and virtuous as to stand out far above
all other women in the world.'

I thought if that were so she would not like to step before the
Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, but I dared not say it, for, with all
her sweetness there was something imperious about Lady Caroline so
that I felt she would not brook dissent from a young girl like me.

She seemed to be a little piqued with my silence, and getting off the
bed, stood beside it to say, as if closing the discussion--

'For the enlightenment of the people in our neighbourhood and to
instil the truth into their minds my husband has invited Sir Hubert
Blair here, purposely to speak to a congregation to-night, which he
intends getting together, of our tenantry and people in the
neighbourhood.'

That touched me more nearly than the other matter, and I felt myself
colouring deeply.  'Has Sir Hubert skill thus to speak?' I asked.

'Certainly; he is a very able man, and always speaks out manfully for
the right.  In Spain, when he went with his friend, Sir Thomas Wyatt,
who accompanied his father on an embassy, he saw much of the horrors
of papistry and the terrible Inquisition, and he is going to tell the
people about it to-night, that every one present may be stirred to do
his utmost to keep it far from our land.'

She paused.

'I should like to hear what he has to say,' I said.  'Are you going
to be present, Lady Caroline?'

'Yes, yes,' she said, 'and I will take you with me; indeed, we think
you ought to come to it--for you ought to know everything, then you
can tell Lady Jane all that you have heard.'

I was rather alarmed at the idea of doing that, not knowing then that
she was even sweeter and more easy to get on with than Lady Caroline
herself.  But I have often noticed that the higher up in the scale of
society a person is so much the more courteous and gentle we are sure
to find him or her.  For it is ever the greater man, the greater
courtesy.

After Lady Caroline had gone I dressed and went downstairs into the
large hall, where she came to me again, and the rest of that day was
spent very quietly with her alone, none of the gentlemen coming near
us, as they were all busy preparing for the meeting and riding far to
bid folk come to it.  I was constantly hoping to see Sir Hubert Blair
again, and I think Lady Caroline discovered this, for she said not
unkindly--

'You cannot see Sir Hubert until the meeting, which is to be held in
the courtyard after the ringing of the curfew bell.  And there you
will not be able to speak to him--at least not until the gathering is
over--but you will hear all he has to say.'

Then, I began to long exceedingly for the time of the meeting to
come, as I wished, above all things, to see my brave champion again,
and hear the words he had to say.



CHAPTER VI

Papistry or Protestantism

It was a strange weird sight, that large assembly, crowded together
in a fore-court of the fine old Castle, in the gathering gloom of
night.  All sorts and descriptions of people had been gathered in
from every side, both rich and poor, high and low, gentle and simple,
good and bad, wise and unwise, those that were handsome and those
that were uncomely.  They stood together in a mass, eager to hear of
matters of vital importance to them all, and heeding little the petty
class distinctions about which at another time their feelings might
be rancorous.

Here and there the light of a lantern or a flaming torch enlivened
the scene; but nearly all the torches and candles that could be got
together were grouped at one end of the court, where, upon a roughly
made platform, the chief landowners and the clergy were gathered
around Sir Hubert Blair, who was dressed richly in velvet and lace,
as befitted his rank, and who seemed to be the cynosure of all eyes.

As I saw him there, so young, yet looking wiser than his years would
warrant, and so handsome, yet humble withal, and remembered how he
had saved my life but yesterday, bearing me in his arms as if I were
a child, and bruising his own hands rather than suffer me to touch
the trees, my heart glowed within me and a wordless prayer rose from
it that his friendship for me and mine for him might be blessed and
strengthened mightily.

Just for a moment he caught my eye, as his keen glance swept over the
audience, and I could not be sure, but I thought a wave of colour
passed over his pale, proud features.  Yet he turned his eyes
resolutely away from me, and I knew that just then, for the time
being, he existed only for the people with whom he was about to plead
and for whose sake he was there.

I did not hear much of what the first speaker, a white-haired
venerable old bishop, was saying, for his voice was feeble, and Lady
Caroline, who stood near me, whispered that it was only because of
his age and high position that the opening speech was apportioned to
him.

But, after having spoken a little while, the people listening at
first with reverence and then beginning to show signs of some
impatience, he seemed to call upon the audience for a hymn, for
suddenly, in most excellent voice, the whole assembly began to sing
the psalm--

  To Sion's Hill I lift my eyes,
    From thence expecting aid;
  From Sion's Hill and Sion's God,
    Who Heaven and earth has made.
  Then thou, my soul, in safety rest,
    Thy Guardian will not sleep;
  His watchful care that Israel guards,
    Will Israel's monarch keep.

And so on to the finish--

  At home, abroad, in peace, in war,
    Thy God shall thee defend;
  Conduct thee through life's pilgrimage
    Safe to thy journey's end.


The last words had scarcely died away when a stout curate, with a
fine, clear voice, began to speak about the Reformation, relating in
brief its history and the gross errors from which it had freed the
people, causing the abolition of so much that intervened between
themselves and God, for instance the jurisdiction of the Pope, the
doctrine of trans-substantiation, the withdrawal of the Holy
Scriptures from the people, the refusal of liberty to worship in a
tongue understood by the people, confession to a priest, penance and
the like.

I did not understand it all, not by a long way, but Timothy's graphic
comment--for he had found his way to my elbow--enlightened me not a
little.

''Tis just,' said he, 'as if those monks and cardinals of old had
busied themselves with setting up a lot of stone walls between folks
and their Maker, so that they might keep their distance; and it was
the same sort of thing the disciples of our Lord wanted to do when
they tried to keep the children off Him that the mothers brought.
"Go away," said they, "you are troubling the Master."  But what did
He do?  He called the little ones to Him and laid His hands upon them
and blessed them.  That is _His_ fashion, and I reckon He is the same
now as He was then.'

And then, after that introductory speech, Sir Hubert Blair stepped
forward; and looking down upon the crowd with shining eyes, and it
seemed to me a light upon his face, he began to speak, at first
slowly and with laboured distinctness, but presently more rapidly,
with glowing words, and, ever and anon, gestures of great
significance.

'I have been,' said he, 'to a land where the blessings of the
Reformation do not exist, and I will tell you what sort of thing is
going on there.  Bigotry, intolerant bigotry, holds the kingdom of
Spain in adamantine fetters.  There, where the healing breath of the
Reformation, with its God-sent tolerance has not come, cruelty, death
and desolation are stalking through the land, leaving behind them a
track of blood and tears, broken hearts and mourners weeping for
their dear ones, whose innocent lives have been plucked from them by
the cruel and relentless hands of torture----'  He broke down for a
moment or two, covering his face with his hands, and shuddering
violently as if at some awful recollection, and a whisper went round
among the more intelligent of the audience to the effect that he was
speaking about the Inquisition, which was rampant in Spain, and of
which traders and diplomatists had brought home many rumours.

'Yes, it is the Inquisition of which I am speaking,' Sir Hubert
continued, 'and God grant that it may never come to this country of
ours!  I will tell you what it is.  In brief, it is a court, or
tribunal, established in a Roman Catholic country for the examination
and punishment of heretics--heretics meaning persons holding or
teaching opinions repugnant or opposite to the Roman Catholic faith.
The way in which it is actually worked is like this: Many thousands
of people, called familiars, are employed as spies and informers, to
find out and inform the Holy Inquisition, as it is named, if they
know any one, living or dead, present or absent, who has wandered
from the faith, or who observes, or has once observed, the Jewish
laws or even spoken favourably of them, or any one who follows, or
has followed, the teaching of Martin Luther, or any one who has
formed an alliance with the devil, or who possesses a heretical book,
aye, even the Bible in the Spanish language, or, finally, any one who
has harboured, received, or favoured heretics.  It is a wide field,
you see, my friends, as wide as the views of the Inquisitors are
narrow, and the thousands--some of high rank--who are acting as spies
do so on account of the privileges connected with the office.'

He paused a moment or two, and then went on to draw a graphic picture
of an honest man pursuing his daily avocation, and then, on his way
home to his wife and family, being seized by the officers of the
Inquisition and carried away, there and then, and from that moment
being entirely cut off from the world.

The prison into which the unhappy man would be thrust he described
vividly, as one who had seen it.  'In the upper cells of these
prisons of the Inquisition,' he said, 'a dim ray of light falls
through a grate, the lower cells are smaller and darker.  Each
dungeon has two doors, the inner one, bound with iron, having a grate
through which food is introduced for the wretched prisoner.  A
prisoner of the Inquisition is allowed no visits from relatives nor
friends, and is not permitted to have books, but is compelled to sit
motionless and silent.  Unless for the purpose of obtaining evidence,
only one prisoner is placed in each cell.

'At his trial there is no hope for the prisoner of the Inquisition.
If he says he is innocent, he is threatened with torture, indeed he
is often subjected to torture in order to extort a confession.  Those
who escape death by repentance and confession are obliged to swear
they will submit to all the pains and penalties the court orders.'

Then Sir Hubert described some of these fearful punishments, and
they, he said, were not the worst, but they were sufficiently
dreadful to make the audience groan and cry 'Shame!  Shame!' whilst,
as for me, I felt as if I should faint.

Sir Hubert next went on to describe what the Spanish call the Holy
Auto-da-fé, which takes place on a Sunday, between Trinity Sunday and
Advent.

'When sentence of death is pronounced on a man,' said he, 'the
Auto-da-fé is ordered, and at daybreak the big bell of the cathedral
is tolled, and people come in crowds to see the fearful procession.

'The Dominicans walk first, with the banner of the Inquisition.  Then
come the penitents, who are to be punished in various ways, and after
them, a cross is borne, following which walk the condemned men.  The
effigies of those who have fled, and the bones of the dead who,
having been condemned after death, are not allowed to rest in their
graves, but are brought in black coffins, are carried next.  Then
more monks and priests follow, and the dreadful procession passes on
through the streets of the city to the church, where a sermon is
preached and the sentences are pronounced.  And then follow other
dreadful ordeals, which end in death by being strangled or burned
alive.

'My friends'--Sir Hubert glanced at me for the first time since he
began to speak--'I am cutting short the awful details, for I see that
some of you have not strength to endure the hearing of them.  If it
is so, what must it be to live in a land where such doings are
customary, and where the condemned may be our own familiar friends or
loving relations?  My friends, this is a danger which is menacing
England.'  He paused.

'Menacing England!'  The cry was caught up by many voices.  'England!
How can that be?  England is now a Protestant country.'

'This island of ours--this happy England,' said Sir Hubert earnestly,
'if one of the firmest lands in the Continent of Europe to resist
papistry and the Inquisition, is in danger of yielding to that which
will bring in both, with all their attendant evils and all their
gruesome horrors.'

'But how?' cried the people.  'How can that be?  The Reformed Church
is now our Church.  King Edward VI., our dear young king, is for the
reformed faith.'

'Yes.  Yes.  So he is.  But my friends'--Sir Hubert lowered his voice
as one who spoke of secret matters--'you must know this: Edward, our
king, is very ill, far gone in consumption, and even now dying.'

'Dying!' cried the people with deep groans.  'Dying?  Edward, our
king, dying?  Oh, say not so! say not so!' they wailed.

'It is a fact.  I come from Hampton Palace, where, the other day, I
had an interview with him in his bedroom.  "I am very young to die,"
he said, and he looked so sad I could have wept for him, but, the
doctors having said I was to keep a cheerful countenance, I
restrained myself.  However, he is dying, I saw it plainly.  Edward
VI is dying.'

'Edward is dying,' echoed the audience, and then such lamentable
sighs, groans and sounds of weeping ensued as touched me strangely,
whilst Lady Caroline sobbed upon my shoulder.'

'And after he has gone,' Sir Hubert asked in grievous tones, 'what
will become of England, if his Roman Catholic sister, Princess Mary,
succeeds to the throne?'

In an instant the sound of weeping ceased, and an angry murmur passed
like a wave through the dense crowd.

'A Papist!  To rule over us?  Never!  Never!' cried a voice, which
recalled to my mind all at once the smell of newly cut grass and the
aspect of an old covered shed and a big roughly made cart within it,
whilst again, I trembled, yet breathed more feebly because of the
kindness of the tones.

Jack Fish it was indeed, and he continued to ejaculate--

'A Roman Catholic Queen!  God forbid we should come to such straits
as that!  A Papist!' and such like, until the people caught it up and
cried with one voice, 'A Papist?  To rule over us?  Never!  Never!
Never!'

'What do you mean?' asked Sir Hubert.  'Is this only sentiment?  Or
does your heart go with your cry?  Answer me.  Yes or no.'

'Yes!  Yes!  Yes!' shouted all, or almost all.

'It is well,' said Sir Hubert.  'It is well for you, people of
England, that you feel like this.  With Mary for its queen this
country would be plunged back into Roman Catholicism.  Perchance Mary
would wed the King of Spain----'

He was interrupted by angry and excited cries.

'We will not have Mary to reign over us!' shouted loud voices.  'We
will not!  We will not!'

When they were a little calmer Sir Hubert said--

'I rejoice that your voices ring true and that your hearts are in the
right place, while your intellects recognize the enormity of the
affliction into which this country would be plunged if a woman
steeped in Papistry and so benighted, so bigoted that Edward, our
king, tried in vain to win her to the true Faith, were to ascend the
throne.  Let me tell you that there are good and great statesmen
round our king who will do all in their power to secure the
succession to a true Protestant who, like yourselves, abhors Papistry
and all its attendant evils.'  After saying that, being thoroughly
exhausted, he sat down.

And the people cried with one voice, 'A Protestant, and none but a
Protestant, shall rule over us!'

Jack Fish and other countrymen then made short emphatic speeches,
which so stirred the audience that they began to grow overpoweringly
noisy, whereupon my men and Lady Caroline's made a way through the
people for us, and we retired into the castle, leaving the gentlemen
to close the meeting in the best way they could.

I did not see them return to the castle that night, for Lady Caroline
would have me go to bed at once, declaring that I looked thoroughly
worn out.  I therefore went to my room, and suffered Betsy to take
off my fine clothes and replace them by a warm gown, after which I
sent her away, and sat by the lancet-shaped window looking out into
the night, listening to the distant shoutings of the people and
watching their lanterns and torches presently leaving the courtyard
and glimmering away into the darkness beyond.  They were going to
their homes, carrying with them big thoughts, pregnant with meaning,
given to them chiefly by Sir Hubert Blair; and soon I, too, should be
gone to a very different sphere, near London, taking with me also new
ideas imparted by him and Lady Caroline, and what would be the end of
it all?

I could not tell.  But it seemed to me that I had left my childhood
behind me in my father's house, with Hal and Jack, and was entering
into the new untried life of a woman, in times which bid fair to be
troubled and tempestuous, and I felt afraid.

But just then, from the garden below my window, proceeded the sound
of a sweet-toned lute, played so exquisitely that I could have wept
for joy.

I leaned out of a window and looked down upon the player, and he
looked up to me, the while he played even more beautifully than
before.  And I felt soothed and comforted, for, whatever had happened
and was going to happen, there was Sir Hubert Blair, and he was my
friend and I his, and I prayed in my heart for him--for him and for
myself--that God would bless us, and bless our friendship, so that
nothing but good might come of it.  When he had gone away, which he
did in a few minutes after playing for me that lovely strain, I went
to bed; and the feeling of happiness which that music had brought to
me was such that I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow,
and knew no more till it was time to rise the next morning.



CHAPTER VII

Sir Hubert and I

What a wonderful thing is love--the love, I mean, of man for woman
and woman for man!  It is so bewitching and alluring, yet withal so
tyrannical and imperious.  No wonder that it has been the theme of
poets and historians in all times, and will be as long as the world
remains.  Love enters so largely into our lives, for weal or woe,
that to ignore it is to wilfully shut our eyes to facts and blind
ourselves to one of the greatest realities of existence, which must
be reckoned with and allowed for, whatever else is omitted.  The
story of the love of man and woman commenced in the Garden of Eden,
runs all through the pages of history, sacred and profane, and is to
be seen in all the haunts of men.  It is only the very young into
whose thoughts and calculations it does not enter, until they wake up
suddenly to find themselves its subjects.

I was wandering about in Lady Caroline's garden, within the castle's
precincts, the next day--her ladyship had left me to amuse myself
whilst she was busy with the steward of her household--thinking about
Sir Hubert Blair, when he came to me, saying wistfully, as he took my
hand in his--

'May I have a little talk with you, Mistress Brown?  We may not have
such a good opportunity again.'

A sudden shyness fell upon me, as glancing up, I caught the look in
his dark eyes, and I could not answer in words, though he must have
read my meaning, for he thanked me very much, and we walked on side
by side, stooping ever and anon to look into a flower, or smell an
early rose, but scarcely speaking at all, until he began in feverish
haste--

'Lady Caroline sent me to talk to you of matters political and
religious.  You heard what I said at the meeting yesterday, and she
wishes me to enlighten you still further about the desires and
intentions of the boldest and perhaps the most farseeing statesmen
near our dying king.  But methinks, though politics may be of
importance, and kings and queens demand our unswerving allegiance and
devotion, yet there is something nearer my heart just now, something
which affects mine own self more closely----'  He broke off, and
began again: 'Mistress Margaret, this is a rare opportunity for a
quiet talk with you, and I must seize it'----He paused.

'Yes,' I said, trying to help him on, 'you must seize it!'

'Exactly,' he rejoined.  'Oh, but you may think it intolerable
presumption on my part.  And yet I cannot help it.
Margaret--Margaret, I love you, I love you with all my heart.'

He took my hands in his, and held them to him.

I fancy sometimes, after all the far different aspects in which I
have seen his dear face and fine figure, that never did he look so
handsome and so lovable as then, when he was telling me for the first
time of his dear love, and my heart bounded with joy as I realized
that he to the full reciprocated my tender affection.

Perhaps he read my answer in my face--I have often been told it is
like an open book that he who runs may read--or perhaps he perceived
the difficulty I had in finding words, and wished to spare me, for he
went on, without awaiting for any rejoinder, to tell me that ever
since we first met--he spoke as if that were years and years ago,
though it was barely fifty hours before--he felt convinced that I was
his affinity, his kindred soul, his wife that ought to be.  'We have
been made for each other,' he said, and much more to that effect,
whilst I listened as if I were in a happy dream, and thought that it
was all too good and beautiful to be true.

And then, long before it was time for her to return--to my thinking,
at least--Lady Caroline came into the garden, and, hastening up to
me, inquired of what I thought of all Sir Hubert had been telling me.

I felt myself blushing as I answered rather falteringly--

'It is very nice--very--very nice.'

'My dear Mistress Margaret,' she said in a puzzled tone.

'I mean--I mean it is beautiful,' I hastily corrected myself.

'Why, Sir Hubert,' exclaimed Lady Caroline, 'what have you been
talking about to her instead of telling her all that I enjoined upon
you to say about our poor young king and his successor?'

Sir Hubert looked rather confused.  'The fact was,' said he, 'this
garden of yours is so beautiful.  We admired the flowers, and
conversed of them until----'

'You admired each other and conversed of that instead,' she
interrupted merrily.  'Oh!  Sir Hubert, fie!  You a diplomatist!  You
a soldier!  You a lover of your country----'

'I am a lover of one in it, if you like, madam,' he said, and
forthwith we took Lady Caroline into our confidence and confessed
that we were in love.

'I am delighted to hear it,' said Lady Caroline, adding: 'By your
valour in defending Mistress Margaret Brown the other day, and
perchance saving her life, Sir Hubert, you have earned the right to
aspire to her hand; still I think you must remember that her father
ought to be consulted before you become really betrothed to her.'

'Her father!' cried Sir Hubert, taken aback.  'Where is he?'

I explained where my home was, adding dutifully that my father said
business of importance prevented his personally conducting me to
London, yet I could see, even as I said it, that my companions
thought it very remiss of him to leave the care of me on the long
journey to servants, however trustworthy, and not wishing them to
blame him, I went on to say that he was somewhat delicate and his
life was a very valuable one.  They seemed to think better of him
after that, and not by any means worse of me, and I have ever noticed
that judicious praise of and speaking up for others endears ourselves
to those to whom we speak.

Lady Caroline went away presently, and Sir Hubert and I spent a
blissful hour or two in that quaint little garden amongst the
primroses and early wallflowers, violets and wood anemones.

Our happy time together came to an end only too soon, for we were
summoned to dinner, and afterwards Sir William himself came to me and
Lady Caroline as we sat in the drawing-room, and carefully instructed
me as to the way in which, should opportunity occur, I was to talk to
Lady Jane Grey, touching the matter of her possible succession to the
crown.

'You must tell her,' said Sir William, 'that the welfare of English
Protestants all over the kingdom rests in her hands.  There will be
no religious freedom if Princess Mary becomes queen.  Tell Lady Jane
she must not think of herself, for, student as she is, no doubt the
cares and the pomps and ceremonies of royalty will be distasteful to
her; but she must be willing to sacrifice her own wishes to the good
of the people.  Yes, that is the way you must put it; for they tell
me she is exceedingly good and kind, self-denying and merciful.'

I agreed that, if able to do so, I would repeat all this to my
mistress when I joined her, and then I was further instructed upon
the difference between a Roman Catholic Government and a Protestant
one, and the great superiority of the latter.

I listened to everything that was said and endeavoured to give my
mind to it, whilst yet longing much to have a further talk alone with
Sir Hubert.  However, it seemed that could not be, and I retired to
bed early; and with the hope of hearing him play once more, sat by
the window in the moonlight after Betsy had left me for the night.

And again Sir Hubert came under my window with his lute, and played
so excellently that his lute seemed to speak to me of love until,
enraptured, I leaned out of the window towards the player.  Then in a
moment the playing ceased and a small tightly folded note was thrown
into my lap.

'Good night!  Good night!' said Sir Hubert softly, yet so distinctly
that his words were plainly audible, and then he went away and I read
my first love letter.

'Queen of my heart,' it said; 'my dearest love, as soon as I have
escorted you safely to Sion House I will travel to your father's
house, and tell him of your welfare and beseech him to allow me to
become betrothed to you.  I think he will, for I can take him letters
from people of importance testifying to my prowess in battle and my
worthiness of character, and I can show him that I possess no mean
share of this world's goods, together with my estate and Hall of
Harpton in Sussex.  But, the best of all, I would have you, my love,
write to him, with your own hand, and that is to say that I am not
wholly uncared for by you.  Such a letter, written and sealed, I
would carefully deliver into his hand.  Then, if he consents to our
betrothal, I will return to you in all haste to acquaint you with the
good news.'

The letter ended with some most fond terms of endearment and
assurances of undying affection, and I slept with it under my pillow
that night--as many a girl has done with her lover's letters before
and since--and I dreamt of Sir Hubert Blair, but how he looked and
what he said I must reserve for myself, it being of a purely personal
and private nature.  I can only add that I was very happy when I
slept, and still happier when I awoke, and knew that the best of what
had happened was not a dream, because there was the letter under my
pillow, a tangible, visible proof of its reality.  And I thanked God
that He had heard my prayer and was causing something very good
indeed to result from our friendship and love for each other.  For I
believed then, as indeed I believe still, that two are better than
one, and that man and woman united are better than man and woman
separate, if they be rightly mated and their feet are treading in the
same direction, whilst the golden cord of love binding heart to heart
binds each one also to the mightier heart of God.



CHAPTER VIII

Lady Jane Grey

The next day I recommenced my journey to London with my servants, Sir
Hubert accompanying us as an outrider.  He was well-armed and
followed by his men, also equipped with arquebusses, and that was
well, for we had not long left Guildford before we encountered Sir
Claudius, with a number of his rascally followers.  However,
fortunately for us, Sir Hubert and his men were able to beat them,
insomuch that they were compelled to retreat most ignominiously.

Betsy, who had keen ears, asserted that she heard Sir Claudius vow,
as he retired from the field, that he would not let the grass grow
under his feet before he gained possession of the haughty madam,
whose house and his had been for many years at loggerheads, that he
might humble her pride and lay her low in the dust; which affrighted
me for a while.  But Sir Hubert, when I told him, said that the words
were but the vain babbling of an empty-headed braggart, and that I
was to take them for what they were worth, which was less than
nothing; moreover he bade me rebuke Betsy for endeavouring to
affright me, which I did, though timidly, or I should never have
heard the last of it--the woman has such a tongue.

After that we went on unmolested through Esher, Kingston and to
Isleworth, in which town Sion House, a magnificent riverside
residence, is situated.

There Sir Hubert Blair had to take leave of me for the time being,
but before going away he pointed out the great river Thames, to the
banks of which he bade me often resort.  'For,' said he, 'when I am
in London 'tis a very great amusement of mine, and a most pleasant
way of passing the time, to take a boat and two or three men and row
up stream.  I have been,' said he, 'as far as Hampton Court Palace,
which was built by Cardinal Wolsey and given by him to King Henry,
our King Edward's father, and even twice I went past there as far as
Staines, and once beyond that, even to Windsor Castle.'

I had read of those places in history, and I knew they were some
distance from London, and thought Sir Hubert must have rare fun in
rowing so far with a few men in a small boat; and then I began to
wonder if I should ever see him in his boat passing up the river.

'I shall be lonely sometimes, I doubt not,' said I, 'when my
servants, all except Betsy, have gone home, and every one else will
be strange to me here.  It would be nice to see you passing by.'

'I will come,' he said.  'You will see me in my boat, rowing up the
river.'

'Ah, how glad I shall be!' I said.

'And I--ah! how glad I shall be when I see you coming sauntering
along the footpath by the river!  Shall I tell you what I shall do?'

'Yes.'

'I shall come up to the bank and hold out my hand, you will give me
yours, and then you will step into the boat and I shall take you for
a row!'

I was delighted.  ''Twill be a rare pleasure,' I said.

'And perhaps'--he lowered his voice--'perhaps the day will come when
I will take you away in my boat and never, never bring you back.'

After he had gone--carrying with him a short letter from me to my
father--and he was perforce obliged to leave me soon, for it would
not do to keep the servants waiting--I treasured the memory of those
last words of his in my heart, and thought of them many times when
feeling homesick or afraid of the troublous days to come.  They
comforted me, too, when my menservants left me and went home with the
horses and litter, which seemed like burning my boats behind me.

I was received with kindness by Lady Jane's servants and others of
the household of the Duke of Northumberland, her father-in-law.  For
he was the owner of the house, although he was allowing his son, Lord
Dudley, and Lady Jane to live there.  Particularly Mistress Ellen,
Lady Jane's other gentlewoman, was good to me and welcomed me right
heartily as her fellow lady-in-waiting.  Mistress Ellen was older
than I was, and much older than Lady Jane, who was a few months my
junior, which I was rather glad of at the time, thinking that then
thought, I need not be afraid of her.

Mistress Ellen would not allow me to see lady Jane that first night;
she said I was too tired and too much overcome by the vastness of the
house and its grandeur to appear at my best before her mistress.
'Sleep will restore your strength,' she said, 'and give you the quiet
confidence, which perhaps more than anything else betokens a true
gentlewoman, who knows what she is, although perhaps others do not at
the time.  And I should like you to stand well, child,' she said
kindly, 'in the regard of Lady Jane, for she has few friends of her
own age, being so learned and bookish as to find little sympathy
amongst other girls--and, although she is married, she is but a girl,
poor young thing!' and she sighed.

Mistress Ellen, I should think, was thirty years old, and looked
older, because of her manner of dress, which was handsome but
exceedingly cumbrous, especially in regard to her coif, or bonnet,
which concealed a large portion of her face and head.  She was very
kind to me, and when I cried that first night, being so weary and
thinking of my father and the boys so far away, and Sir Hubert gone,
too, for a while, she comforted me with loving words, saying I was to
take courage, for the future might have great things in store for me,
and the past was past and I should never again have that first
bitterness of homesickness to live through, as every day of my new
life would make it easier for me.

And when I fell asleep that first night at Sion House, I dreamt about
Sir Hubert coming for me in a boat, which I saw gliding, gliding
through the water, ever nearer, ever nearer, yet, alas! never coming
quite up to the bank on which I stood, waiting with outstretched
arms.  They say it is unlucky to dream about water, and I felt rather
low spirited when I awoke, but not so much because of that as
because, with my first waking thoughts, my homesickness and
loneliness returned, and I turned my face to the wall and cried a
little, wishing I was a child again at home with Hal and Jack and my
father and good old Master Montgomery at the parsonage near by, to
say nothing of the serving men and women.

But I never felt like that again in her home after I had once seen
Lady Jane Grey, as she was still often called, although her married
name was Dudley.

I remember so well the first time I saw her.  She was sitting in her
favourite corner of the great drawing-room, with a book in her hand,
waiting for her husband, Lord Dudley, to go out with her, and was
richly dressed in black velvet and white satin.  Her skirt, which was
very full, was bordered down the sides with ermine, as was also her
bodice, which was pointed at the waist and square in the neck, with a
chemisette of satin quilted with pearls.  She wore a close honeycomb
ruff at the throat and a velvet coif, pointed and bordered with
pearls, and long hanging velvet sleeves over tighter ones of white
satin, with ruffles of cloth of gold, whilst the richest jewels added
lustre to her handsome clothing.  But she was not thinking of her
dress, for her sweet and lovely countenance was poring over her book
so closely that she did not hear me approach or heed the murmur of
Mistress Ellen's voice saying to me aside, 'She is reading Plato.
'Tis a work for which she has an immense liking.'

I dared not speak, but looked wistfully at the beautiful girl whose
thoughts were so riveted on the book she read that she had none to
spare for a poor young stranger, and then I sighed deeply, and that
aroused her, who had always a tender ear for the suffering of others.

She raised her eyes slowly from the open page, and, as they rested on
my face, gave a little cry of glad surprise.

'My new gentlewoman!' she exclaimed.  'And one so young and pretty!
Oh, this is a pleasure!' and she held out both her hands and kissed
me, saying, 'We shall be great friends, you and I.'

I thought so too, for my heart went out to her then as it never did
before or since to one of my own sex, and I felt that she was worthy
of my love, and that all I could do for her would be too little to
express the loving service I should like to offer.

Mistress Ellen went away and left us together--in that showing her
usual discretion--and my dear lady asked me many questions relating
to my home and kindred, the long journey I had come upon and the
dangers of the way.  I answered readily, experiencing a rare pleasure
in finding her responsive nature understand, appreciate and
sympathize with everything I said.

'Oh,' said she, when at length I had told her all that I could think
of just then--except indeed what I had heard at Woodleigh Castle
relating to her future, which I dared not mention--not omitting the
valiant deeds that Sir Hubert Blair had done for my assistance, 'how
I have enjoyed hearing you talk!  What you have told me is so
different from anything that has ever happened to me.  It is all so
interesting and so like a poem, only more real and life-like than any
poetry, and it is true, that is the best of all.'

'Yes; it is true,' I said.  'And I could not talk like that to any
one else.  There is something in you, madam, which draws out my
innermost thoughts.'

Lady Jane smiled, and told me that in that case I should have to be
very careful always to have good thoughts, adding that I ought to
read much in the Bible and in such books as the one she was perusing,
and also that I ought to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me unto
all truth.

I was going to inquire about the book she was reading when we were
interrupted by the entrance of a gentleman richly dressed in crimson
velvet embroidered with gold, and silk stockings.

'Dudley, this is my new gentlewoman,' said Lady Jane, turning to him,
and then formally introducing her husband to me.

The young man, who was handsome, manly, and withal most courteous in
manner and bearing, spoke a kindly word or two to me, and then
requested Lady Jane to allow him to take her to her litter which was
waiting at the door.

'I shall see more of you to-morrow, Margery--I may call you Margery,
may I not?' she said prettily, and, upon my assenting with pleasure,
gave so sweet a smile that it seemed to linger after she had gone,
filling me with a strange new happiness.  I was fascinated with my
dear lady, and stood in the empty room looking at the place where she
had been and the chair where she sat, as if I were in a dream.

My eyes fell upon the book which she had left upon the table and I
picked it up.  But, alas! the words contained in it were written in a
strange language and I could not read a line.  But I raised the
little volume to my lips and kissed the place where her dear eyes had
rested.



CHAPTER IX

Plato

I was wonderfully fascinated by the whole personality of Lady Jane,
her youth, beauty, sweetness of disposition, charming manner, and
last but not least, her richly cultured mind and the true religion
revealed not so much by what she said as by her every act and deed.
Indeed this new love of mine bid fair to outrival even my recently
sprung-up affection for Sir Hubert Blair, and I did not go down to
the river bank to look out for him for several weeks owing to the
great content with which the presence of my mistress filled me and
the enjoyment I felt in her society.  It was not so much that I was
with her every minute, for her husband and other relations often
engaged hours of her time, but it was my duty and my pleasure to
linger near, that if by any chance she wished for me, or the others
left her alone, I might be close as hand and ready to bear her
company.[1]


[1] We have all of us seen, occasionally, the fascination with which
an older, or more gifted young woman has over a girl of similar
inclinations but less ability, and so can understand this new and
ardent attachment of Margaret Brown's.--ED.


I remember so well and vividly what she said to me one day about her
beloved Plato.  We were in the garden, seated in an arbour shaded by
pink and white hawthorn trees in full flower, the scent of which came
to us pleasantly as we talked, whilst our eyes rested on the
well-kept lawns and the trees in the park with the mighty river
beyond flowing silently on its way.

'Is your book so very interesting?' I asked, for her eyes fell often
upon it while we conversed as if it were enticing her back to its
pages.

'Yes, dear,' she answered, 'it is most interesting, for it deals with
the great truths of life.  You will have to learn to read it for
yourself, Margery, and you will like it, too.'

'But it is written in Greek,' said I with a sigh, 'and that would
take such a lot of learning.'

'I would help you,' said Lady Jane kindly, 'and you would soon learn.'

But I shook my head.

'Why should I be at so much trouble,' said I, 'when you can tell me
all about it--what it says, you know?'

'What we acquire without trouble does not do us much good,' was the
gentle answer.  'However, you must know Plato was the founder of a
great school of Greek philosophy.  He was a disciple of Socrates.
You have heard of him?'

'A little,' said I.  'Master Montgomery, our good curate, told me he
was a man who taught truths which the people were not educated enough
to receive; therefore they killed him.'

'Yes; they killed him, much as others killed Christ our Lord, because
they could not receive His teaching.  Killing the body is the
_extreme penalty of the law_,' and Lady Jane shuddered.  ''Tis a
cruel thing,' she said, 'for men to crush out and destroy the life
they cannot give, and 'tis a savage idea to murder the body for what
they imagine is a crime of the mind.'

I thought of her words long afterwards, when her own fate gave to
them a mournful significance.  At the time I could not bear to see
sadness in her face, and therefore, to change the subject, asked--

'When did Plato live?'

'In the fifth century before Christ.  He was a great teacher----' she
paused.  How could she explain it all to one so ignorant as me?

'Tell me,' I said earnestly, 'tell me one thing that he said?'

A wistful expression came into the sweet face on which I looked, and,
turning over the leaves of her book, she seemed to seek for something
suitable for me.  It was not, however, until she reached the last
page of her volume that she opened her dear lips to translate, in
quaint sweet accents, these words of Plato's--

'"If the company will be persuaded by me, accounting the soul
immortal--_we shall always hold to the road that leads above, and
justice with prudence we shall by all means pursue_, in order that we
may be friends both to ourselves and to the gods, both whilst we
remain here and when we receive its rewards, so we shall, like
victors, both here and there enjoy a happy life."  It is like our
dear Lord's teaching,' she said, 'though it was uttered more than
four centuries before He came to live as a man on earth.'

'They are good words,' said I, 'and I wish that I could remember them
always.'

'I will write them out for you,' said Lady Jane.  'And you must learn
them by heart, and never, never forget them.'

And she was as good as her word, and wrote them out for me in her
beautiful handwriting, and I learned them every one, so that
sometimes when we were sitting together in the gloaming, before the
candles were lighted, I could say them to her without a book; and she
would talk about them, telling me, too, what her dear old tutors,
Master Ascham, and Master Aylmer, afterwards Bishop of London, used
to teach about prudence, justice and kindred virtues.

One day the latter gentleman came to see her, to her intense delight,
and I was much struck with his fine scholarly appearance and gentle
manners.  Lady Jane hung upon his lips, and treasured up everything
he said, to discuss it with me afterwards and think over it many and
many a time.

These tutors had indeed a great claim upon my dear lady's devotion,
for they had instructed her so well that she spoke and wrote with
correctness Greek, Latin, Italian and French, and also understood not
a little of Hebrew, Chaldee and Arabic; moreover, she was, with all
that learning, so modest and humble that you might have thought her a
very simple ignorant maid at first sight, though, speaking for
myself, I have ever noticed that large-minded people who are cultured
and educated finely are more chary in expressing their feelings and
meeker in their bearing than the empty-headed braggarts who think by
much speaking and loud boasting they will carry all before them.
''Tis an empty whistle that makes most sound,' my father used to say,
and he knew much of life, though he had buried himself latterly in
the country.

It was very quiet at Sion House for a month or six weeks after I went
there, and the life that we led would have seemed, though stately,
tame and monotonous after the wild freedom of my home and the lively
companionship of my young brothers if it had not been for the great
beauty and fascination with which Lady Jane endowed it.  Following
her about, listening to her footsteps when she was absent, looking at
her when she was present, wondering what I could do to please her,
studying to comfort her when she was cast down--for she had troubles,
even then, owing to the severity of her parents who, though she was
married and apart from them (they lived at Sheen House at the other
side of the Thames), by no means showed her kindness and
consideration--so filled my time and thoughts that every moment of
the days was full of interest and sped by with lightning speed.

Then, on the ninth of July, all at once, as a storm breaks out after
a calm, or a tumult after a time of torpor and almost unnatural
quiescence, the peaceful quietude of Sion House was broken up by the
arrival of an illustrious company with their followers.

Mistress Ellen brought the news to Lady Jane, with whom I was sitting
in the drawing-room, that the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquis of
Northampton and the Earls of Arundel, Huntingdon, and Pembroke had
arrived and were desirous of seeing her.

'What does this portend?' exclaimed my dear lady in the utmost
dismay, and methought she had some idea of the truth, for she turned
as pale as a corpse and wrung her hands.  The Duchess of
Northumberland, her mother-in-law, had dropped some hints in her
letters of wonderful good fortune in store for her, and Lady Jane had
spoken of it to me.  But I had never ventured to acquaint her with my
knowledge of the schemes of those who meant to place her on the
throne when anything happened to our king.  I felt instinctively that
anything of that sort would distress her infinitely, and there was,
besides, a dignity about her and a gracious reserve which caused me
always to allow her to take the lead in our conversations.  My heart
smote me now, however, that I had not striven in some sort to prepare
her mind for what was manifestly in store for her, and I wished that
I had kept my promise to Lady Caroline Wood and had spoken of all
that I had seen and heard at Woodleigh Castle in relation to
Protestantism and Papacy, the kingdom and herself.  It was too late
now to say anything; I could only whisper to her to take courage and
hope for the best.

'But, Margery,' she said, 'I fear this visit of noble dukes and lords
betokens no good.  I would that I were a simple country maid,' she
added wistfully, 'that I might be left alone with my books and
studies.  However,' she pulled herself together, 'whatever happens,
"I must hold to the road that leads above, and justice with prudence
always pursue,"' and, with those words of her beloved Plato on her
lips, she went forward to meet her fate and the visitors who were its
harbingers.



CHAPTER X

Queen of England

I and Mistress Ellen stood in the background of the great hall as
Lady Jane advanced with quiet dignity to meet her guests.  Her fair
young face was troubled, but she smiled pleasantly as she looked up
at her father-in-law and his companions.

'To what,' she inquired, 'to what do I owe the honour of this visit?'

'We are a deputation,' said the Duke of Northumberland, whom I saw
for the first time--he was a handsome man, with fine strongly marked
features and a gallant, soldierly bearing, and he was richly
apparelled in black velvet.

'A deputation to whom?' queried my mistress as he paused.

'To you, madam,' was the instant response.  'You see here,' waving
his hand towards those that accompanied him, 'the Marquis of
Northampton and the Earls of Arundel, Huntingdon and Pembroke.  We
have come to announce to you the sorrowful tidings of the death of
the king, your cousin.'

'Dead!  Is he dead?' exclaimed Lady Jane sadly.

'Yes, madam, he is dead.'

'Ah! poor Edward!  Kings as well as paupers have to die.'  The tears
came into her eyes.

'Yes, madam,' said the Marquis of Northampton.  'Death comes to all
alike.  High and low, rich and poor, good and bad, all have to die.'

'Death is the last enemy,' observed the Earl of Arundel sententiously.

'I like better to think of him as a friend,' said Lady Jane, 'who
comes when all others fail us, like a nurse saying, "My child, lie
down and sleep.  You are tired now, therefore all goes wrong.  You
will awake by and bye to a new life where everything is well."'

Her voice became lower and lower as she spoke, and a beautiful look
shone in her face, as of one whose faith is great.  One or two of the
gentlemen seemed impressed, but the Duke of Northumberland frowned
impatiently.

'We have no time to stand sentimentalizing here,' he said.  Then,
addressing Lady Jane more particularly, he continued, 'Madam, we have
much to say to you, and there are great matters to consider.  The
king is dead, but there is the kingdom.'

'True.  Our dear England.'

'For which the late king did so much,' said the Earl of Pembroke.
(Mistress Ellen whispered their names or I should never have known
one from the other.)  'Strengthening the Protestant cause and
abolishing Roman Catholicism from the land.'

'Yes, indeed,' assented Lady Jane.

'Before he died,' said the Duke of Northumberland, 'the king was in
great concern that the Church should continue in the form and spirit
in which it now is.'  He paused, looking meaningly at my mistress.

If I had only prepared her mind, as I had been told to do, she would
have understood, but, as it was, she looked startled and bewildered.

'Surely,' she said at length, seeing that they waited for her to
speak, 'surely nothing can disturb our Church, which in its present
form is so deeply rooted in the affections of all Protestant people?'

'Of all Protestants, yes,' said the Duke of Northumberland.  'But
what of the Papists?  You know, madam, there are many Papists in
England who are waiting, longing, and watching for an opportunity to
restore their creed and ritual to the whole land.'

'But they can never do that,' said Lady Jane.  'England would not
tolerate it now.'

'Our late king,' continued the Duke of Northumberland solemnly, 'was
well aware that if his sister, Princess Mary, who is a bigoted
Papist, were to succeed to the throne, all his efforts for the
established Church would be annulled and overthrown.  Feeling this
deeply, and knowing well what misery and woe would come upon his
people if this happened, he took steps, whilst yet he was alive, to
put aside his sisters, who had indeed been declared illegitimate by
Act of Parliament, and secure the succession to one whose
Protestantism is beyond dispute.'  He paused.

Lady Jane started and looked at him with widely opened eyes.  No
word, however, escaped from her pale lips.

'Madam,' said the duke, 'actuated by that reason and also by the wish
to preserve the kingdom from the disputes the illegitimacy of his
sisters might occasion, our late monarch made his will, passing them
over and bequeathing the crown to his true legitimate heir who, he
was well aware, held the true faith.  He, therefore, in his will
ordered the Council to proclaim you queen.'

Every vestige of colour left my dear lady's face, and she looked
round affrightedly as if for some way of escape, making a gesture of
dissent, though no word fell from her lips.

She was only sixteen years of age, and anything more opposed to her
disposition and love of retirement and study could not well have been
proposed.

'And in the case of your having no children your sisters Catherine
and Mary are to succeed you,' went on the Duke of Northumberland.

Still Lady Jane said not a word, but the look in her eyes made me
press forward nearer to her, saying in my heart, 'If I had only
prepared you for this!'

The attendant nobles fell upon their knees, declaring that Lady Jane
Grey was queen, and vowing that they would defend her rights to the
death, if necessary.

It was such a sight as you have never seen, all those high-born lords
upon their knees before a slim young girl, who only a year before was
a child, and she staring at them with wide eyes out of a
fear-stricken, pallid countenance.

The tension only lasted a few moments and then, with a piercing cry,
my dear Lady Jane fell to the floor.

I was on my knees by her side before any one else, and was trying to
raise her head when there was another commotion in the hall caused by
the entrance of her mother, the Duchess of Suffolk, who had come over
from Sheen House, on the other side of the river, accompanied by the
Duchess of Northumberland and the Marchioness of Northampton.  These
great ladies swept down upon us, and would have ordered me away,
there and then, if looks could have done it, but I would not leave my
mistress to their tender mercies, and continued to support her head
on my lap, so that I could not be removed without disturbing her.

In a little while she came round out of her swoon, and then, seeing
her mother and mother-in-law, began to entreat them and the Duke of
Northumberland very pitifully not to lay the burden of royalty upon
her, declaring herself to be a most unfit person to reign in Edward's
place, and saying over and over again that, in spite of all that had
been said, the Princess Mary and, after her, the Princess Elizabeth
were the rightful heirs to the throne.

It was in vain that the duke and duchess urged considerations of the
harm which would befall Protestantism if Princess Mary reigned, and
of the dissensions which might rend the land if the legitimacy of the
queen were doubtful; the Lady Jane only said--

'Other wrongs do not make a wrong right.  I am sure Princess Mary is
the rightful queen, and I should be a usurper if I were to take her
place.'

Again and again she said the same thing, praying and beseeching them
not to force her to become queen.

'Think you,' she said, 'that the great God who made heaven and earth
cannot take care of Protestantism and this beloved England of ours
without the help of a young girl like me?  Do you think that by doing
what my conscience tells me is wrong I can advance the cause of the
High and Holy One?'

But it was all in vain.  They would not listen to her.  Their minds
were set upon making her queen, more for their own advancement than
for the good of their country, and in their eyes she was a child who
was to be made to do the thing that they pleased.

When she became ill with terror and distress and crying we took her
to her bedroom, and when she implored that they would leave her there
alone with me the Duchess of Suffolk said, 'No, I shall stay with you
myself.'

'And so shall I,' said the Duchess of Northumberland.

Then they turned me out of the room, together with Mistress Ellen,
that they might the better take poor Lady Jane in hand, and we heard
a pitiful cry from her as the bolt of the door was slid, leaving us
on the outside and her within alone with them.



CHAPTER XI

By the River

My heart was wrung with seeing my dear lady's affliction, and when
the Duchess of Northumberland and the Duchess of Suffolk, her mother,
peremptorily turned me out of the bedroom, scarcely knowing what I
did I ran downstairs and out of the big house by a side door.

A great longing to escape from those wealthy hard-hearted magnates,
who for ambition were willing and even wishful to sacrifice the
happiness of the sweetest being on earth, made me flee from their
presence and, what was almost worse, the presence of their proud and
haughty retainers.  In the garden I thought I should have solitude,
but, alas, it was already thronged with lords and ladies, talking
together in groups, and meaner folk gossiping as they went hither and
thither at their masters' bidding.  Seeing that I must go further
away if I would be alone, I hurried across the park to presently find
myself amongst the willows by the river side.

There was a slight breeze, and it stirred the leaves and even
branches, making a soft sound which seemed to whisper to me some
message which yet I could not catch.

Leaning back against a tree, I gazed wearily across the water
gleaming so brightly in the sunshine, feeling worn by the strong
emotions I had been through and scarcely knowing what I was looking
for; I knew, however, when it came, for even as I stood there,
silently up the river glided a boat in which a young man was seated.

Sir Hubert Blair it was, and he gave a start of glad surprise upon
seeing me there, and then waved his hat in the air, and called out a
hearty greeting and an earnest entreaty that I would stay where I was
until he landed.  For my first instinct was to flee like a startled
fawn, and that although I had the strongest wish to be with him once
more and tell him all my trouble.

With the utmost possible speed my lover sculled across to the little
landing-stage and made fast the painter of his boat.  Then he climbed
the bank until he stood by my side and was holding my hands and
looking down into my face with the tenderest love.

'What is it, sweetheart?' he asked, reading trouble in my eyes, and
then, as I could not immediately answer him, he went on to tell me
that he had been past Sion House several times in his boat, but
without seeing me.  'I looked for you, dear.  But you were not here,'
he said.  'However, all is well that ends well, and now that I have
you at last I shall not spoil the time by regretting what is past.'

He paused.

And still I could not talk, having enough to do to keep from breaking
down and weeping.  He therefore continued, 'I have been to your home
in Sussex, and have asked your father's permission to become
betrothed to you, and, after he had heard all I had to say, he
willingly gave it and said that he would write to you.  Has he
written?'

'No,' said I, shaking my head.  'But he is ever slow to write about
anything.  He promises, and then he puts off doing it, for writing is
ever irksome to him.'

'Ah, well, it does not matter, does it, sweet one?  We understand
each other, and he has consented to our betrothal, and that is quite
enough,' and he pressed my hand.

'Enough truly,' said I.  'But oh!----' and I stopped short, sighing
heavily, for indeed it did seem most heartless of us to be settling
up our own happiness, as it were, when my poor mistress was in such
dire distress.

And again Sir Hubert, reading my trouble in my face, besought me to
tell him all that was distressing me.

I told him everything, not omitting my own negligence in failing to
prepare my mistress for what was in store for her upon the king's
death.

He knew of the latter sad event, and of course regarded the matter of
Lady Jane's unhappiness quite differently from what I did.

'They are right,' he said, 'who want to make Lady Jane queen instead
of the Papist Mary.  Think of the horrors that would befall this land
if Roman Catholicism prevailed.  Have you forgotten all I told you
about the awful Inquisition?  Consider what it would be if
established here in England.  No one would be safe.  You might be
talking to me one half hour and the next that which is worse than the
grave might have swallowed me up for ever, or perchance you.  No one
is secure where secret deaths and tortures pervade the land.  Oh, the
misery, the weeping of loving relations for their friends who have
vanished from them in that way!  You have no idea what it is like.
And even,' he continued earnestly, 'even if Lady Jane does not want
to be queen, it is expedient that one should suffer a little rather
than many a great deal.  And she ought to be glad,' he concluded
zealously, 'she ought to be glad that she is chosen to do a great
work for England.  As a true-hearted woman, she will be ready and
willing to sacrifice herself for others.'

'Yes,' said I, 'she will, I know, if she can be brought to look at it
in that way.  No discomfort to herself will in her mind militate
against doing the thing that is right.'

'Therefore she will do it.'

'But the question is, would it be right for her to accept the crown?'
said I.  'She has a great love of justice, and she thinks the
Princess Mary ought to be queen.'

Sir Hubert, upon that, gave utterance to the usual arguments about
the alleged illegitimacy of the royal princesses, and said, moreover,
that to his mind the last will and testament of King Edward, making
Lady Jane Grey heir to the crown, settled the matter.  Yet I was not
convinced that my mistress would accept such reasoning, and, although
I hesitated to say so, my lover read that also in my face, and looked
disappointed.

'They say a woman never can be convinced against her will,' he said
at length, adding, 'Would that I could talk to her on the subject!'

'That would be best,' said I, 'for you have such a wise way of
putting it, Sir Hubert.'

'Oh, you must not call me Sir Hubert,' said he, and then a little
fond, affectionate lovers' talk ensued, which I am not so foolish as
to write down here.  For, though it is the loveliest language to
those concerned, it spelleth out ridiculously to the critical ears of
others, who wholly lack the key to unravel its correct meaning.

And then, all too soon, we had to part, Sir Hubert to mingle with
some lords and knights on the great lawn, there to await the Duke of
Northumberland's commands--for to the latter all men's eyes were
directed of those who hoped for a Protestant succession--whilst I had
to hasten back to the neighbourhood of my mistress' bedroom, that I
might take advantage of the first chance of entering it.



CHAPTER XII

In the Tower

The Duchesses of Northumberland and Suffolk did their best to make my
mistress give in to their will and consent to be made queen, but her
pure, brave heart could not be forced by severity and harsh
treatment; those ambitious, callous-hearted women might kill her
body--it was a frail one--but they could not conquer her mind or bend
her spirit; it required another force, the holier one of love, with
its softening, penetrating influence to do that; and love, her love
for her husband, Lord Dudley, and obedience to his commands it was
which finally succeeded where all else had failed.

'I could not resist my dear lord, Margery,' she confessed to me, when
early the next morning I at last obtained access to her bedroom.
'God forgive me if I am doing wrong,' she said.  'But Paul the
Apostle taught us that the head of the woman is the man, and that a
wife's duty is to obey----'  She paused, looking at me piteously, and
I saw that in her own mind, in spite of her words, she was not yet
convinced.

'And it is for the good of the nation, madam,' said I.

'It is for no good I fear, Margery,' said my mistress, sighing
deeply.  'And it is neither prudent nor just.'

I knew that she was thinking of Plato's words, 'Justice with prudence
we shall by all means pursue,' and my heart ached for her.

'How can I wear the crown which lawfully belongs to another?' she
moaned.  'But it will not be for long.  Princess Mary is away from
London just now, having fled for her life, until she can rally her
party.  But she will return, I know, and the justness of the nation
will place her at its head--for it is idle talk about the slur on her
birth.  Her mother was lawfully married to King Henry, and it was
only for his own vicious ends that he put her away.  However,
Margery, we must leave all this, for it is no use dwelling upon it
now that I have promised Lord Dudley to obey his wishes.'

She sobbed again and again, as we dressed her regally for the grand
doings of that day, and every sob went to my heart and made me echo
it, until she ceased weeping to wipe my tears away, and Mistress
Ellen said I was nothing but a hindrance, and began to rate me sorely.

When Lady Jane was dressed for the ceremony--I had almost said
sacrifice--she looked wondrously young and lovely.  Her figure was
tall, slight and well proportioned, giving promise of great beauty.
Her dress--which the duchesses had brought with them for the
occasion--was a gown of cloth of gold trimmed with pearls, a
stomacher blazing with diamonds and other precious stones, and a
surcoat of purple velvet bordered with ermine.  Her train was of
purple velvet and was also edged with ermine and richly embroidered
in gold.  Her slender and swan-like throat was encircled with a
carcanet of gold set with rubies and pearls, from which hung one
almost priceless pearl.  Her headdress was a coif of velvet adorned
with rows of pearls and bound together by a circlet of gold.

I had never seen such grand attire in my life and was feeling quite
overwhelmed by it, when Mistress Ellen said in my ear, 'I like not so
many pearls.  It is said they mean tears, and truly our mistress was
tearful enough in the putting of them on.  God grant that she may not
also take them off in tears!'

Lady Jane lingered a little in her room when we had dressed her, as
if reluctant to quit it.

'I have been often very happy here,' she said wistfully, 'and I know
not what the future may have in store for me.'

I wished then, and I wished often afterwards, that I could have
spoken out and told her all that Sir Hubert would have said to her if
he had had the chance, but could only think of some of his words and
of those Lady Caroline Wood had made me promise to say, and therefore
faltered--

'Dear madam, do not think of yourself now, but only of the people of
England.  You know it is for their good that you are going to
sacrifice your own wishes.'

'For their good!' she exclaimed.  'Oh, Margery, if I could think it
was for their real good I could go cheerfully to death if needs be!'

'Who is talking of going to death on this joyful occasion?' exclaimed
Lord Guildford Dudley, entering the room after a hasty knock at the
door.  'For shame, Jane, to croak in that way at the very moment of
your elevation to the first place in the land.'

Lady Jane flushed a little at the reproof, but instantly smiled with
her usual sweetness, then a look of admiration came into her eyes as
they fell upon her husband.

He was magnificently attired in white cloth of gold, and wore a
collar of diamonds, and his handsome face and manly figure, with the
indefinable air of chivalry which characterized both him and his
father, made him appear to us to look truly regal.

His eyes swept appraisingly over his young wife's beauty and her
gorgeous dress, then, with a little bow and a whispered compliment,
he offered his arm and took her downstairs into the great hall
thronged with highborn gentlemen and ladies.

Mistress Ellen and I were perforce separated from Lady Jane, as our
place was taken by great Court ladies, but when the cavalcade, of
which Lord Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane were the centre started for
London, we formed part of the vast following of servants and
dependants.

So they took my precious mistress in great state, first of all to
Northumberland House in the Strand, the residence of her
father-in-law, where she received the homage of many of her chief
subjects, and afterwards, with her husband and the Duke and Duchess
of Northumberland, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk, and other
magnates, partook of a great State banquet, the grandeur of which
seemed to me truly amazing and like unto a fairy tale.

In the midst of it all, having been overlooked and being bewildered
and afraid, Mistress Ellen and I would perchance actually have
suffered hunger if Sir Hubert Blair and Sir William Wood, who were
among the Duke of Northumberland's following, had not found us out
and got a place for us among some fine Court ladies, with whom, to my
joy, was Lady Caroline Wood.

'This is a great day,' she said, 'Mistress Margaret, for England and
for her,' and she looked across the table to Lady Jane's pale though
beautiful face.

'Yes, indeed,' I rejoined, beginning my repast with all haste, for
many of those present were finishing, and the claims of hunger made
themselves felt.

'It was one to which we were looking forward when you visited our
castle,' she went on, 'and one for which that visit prepared you.'

I coloured a little as I ate my soup, fearing lest she should inquire
if I had done my best to prepare Lady Jane's mind for the part she
was to play, but a true lady is careful not to embarrass another, so
my companion went on chatting pleasantly while I ate and drank, and
it was only when I ended that she inquired if my father's consent had
been obtained to my betrothal to Sir Hubert Blair.  I answered in the
affirmative, and thereupon she fell to praising Sir Hubert with such
zest that I loved her dearly and thought, after my dear mistress, she
was the nicest kindest woman I had ever seen.

And then, the banquet being over, and the Duke of Northumberland
having collected his retinue, the whole cavalcade, of which Queen
Jane, as they now called her, and her consort were the centre,
proceeded in a grand procession to the Tower of London, where it is
customary for the monarchs of England to begin their reign.

I cannot describe all the details of what made the most gorgeous
state-procession that I ever saw, as I only caught glimpses of part
of it from where I had my place beside Lady Caroline Wood and
Mistress Ellen.  But I know a troop of halberdiers, wearing velvet
caps and fine doublets embroidered with the royal blazon woven in
gold, and bearing staves covered with crimson velvet and adorned with
golden tassels, in two long files lined the way from Northumberland
House to the Thames, where the royal barge awaited us, for we were to
go to the Tower by water.  Cloth was laid down between these files of
halberdiers for the procession to walk over, trumpets blew a great
flourish, the sound of which met and mingled with the music of
musicians on the water.  The City Guard, the Garter King-at-Arms, the
Knights of the Bath, in their accoutrements, the Judges in their
scarlet and coifs, the Bishop of Ely who, being Lord Chancellor, wore
a robe of scarlet, the Lord Mayor in crimson velvet, with many more
illustrious, gaily-dressed persons, were followed by two venerable
ecclesiastics, Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ridley, Bishop
of London, in their surplices and snowy lawn sleeves, and then the
Dukes of Northumberland and Suffolk, richly dressed, and the royal
party.

It was a brilliant scene, although the sun was overclouded and the
day gloomy with the signs of an approaching storm, and the air was
full of music and trumpeting and the sounds of movement and revelry.
One thing, however, smote us to the heart, and that was that although
the streets were packed with onlookers no joyful cries of greeting to
Queen Jane, no caps thrown in the air, no waving of hands and
handkerchiefs betokened the joy of a people catching sight of its
sovereign for the first time.  True, murmurs of sympathy and
admiration were to be heard when the youth and beauty of the royal
lady were perceived.  But it was only too evident that she was not
the queen the nation desired.

'The silence of the people is ominous,' whispered Lady Caroline to
me, 'I trust our queen does not observe it.'

'She cannot fail to notice it,' I returned.  'Oh, why could they not
let her remain a private lady as she was before?  Why need they drag
her into this prominent position?  She did not want to be a queen.
She swooned when first the idea was made known to her----'

'But you had prepared her mind,' began Lady Caroline.

I did not heed the interpretation, but went on to describe how, on
coming out of her swoon, my mistress begged and implored that she
might not be made queen.  I only spoke in a whisper, but my
companions, fearful of my being overheard, made haste to stop me, and
I could see that they did not wish to hear what I was telling them,
their hearts being set upon Queen Jane's accession to the throne.

As our barge, following the royal barge, slowly passed along the
river, I was greatly struck by the beauty and grandeur of the mighty
city through which we were passing.  I had never seen London before,
and its gardens and stately palaces, spires and towers of churches,
gateways, towers, drawbridges, houses, mills and chapels, and, last
but not least, the noble old cathedral of St. Paul's,[1] presented to
me a panorama of picturesque and beautiful scenes.[2]


[1] The old cathedral which was burnt to the ground.--ED.

[2] London in the old days must have been strikingly beautiful and
picturesque, the gardens of the fine old mansions and palaces
extending down to the riverside, and the air being clear and clean,
undimmed and unpolluted by smoke.--ED.


It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when Queen Jane arrived
at the Tower, her advent to that fortress being heralded by a
deafening roar of ordnance, coming from the batteries, which was
answered by the guns of several ships at anchor in the river.

Trumpets blew and bells rang, also, as Queen Jane landed, but there
was still the same ominous silence of onlookers, who, in small and
large boats, hovered around.

As the young queen walked into the Tower the Duchess of Suffolk, her
mother, bore her train, the Lord Treasurer presented to her the
crown, and her relations saluted her on their knees.

The thunder crashed, and the storm without spent itself upon the
lingering sightseers, but Queen Jane was in the Tower, and when I
caught sight of her face for a moment I saw that all traces of fear
and sorrow had passed from it, leaving only the calm and lofty
expression of one who, possessing her own soul in patience, 'holds to
the road that leads above' in spite of every earthly distraction.



CHAPTER XIII

At St. Paul's Cross

'Oh, Margery!  Margery!  I am in sore trouble!'

It was the next morning, and Queen Jane turning away from all her
grand Court ladies, seized the first opportunity of being alone with
me to sob out her griefs in my arms, which held her tightly and with
great affection.

I gathered, with a little difficulty, for she would not say one word
against her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, that he, at whose bidding
she was making so great a sacrifice, not satisfied with that, was
becoming even more exacting.  At first all his ambition seemed to be
centred in the desire that his wife should be Queen of Great Britain
and Ireland, and that in spite of her firm conviction that she would
be usurping the throne which rightly belonged to Princess Mary.  But
now, not content with seeing her made queen, he desired to be crowned
also, that he might be king with equal rights to hers.  This,
however, my dear mistress could not agree to, for if she had a
slender claim to the crown, being only the granddaughter of Henry
VII's youngest daughter, Mary, he had even less, being no relation at
all.  It seemed that his father, the Duke of Northumberland, had
persuaded the Council, who being in the Tower were practically in his
power, to say that they would make Guildford Dudley king; but Lady
Jane reminded the latter that she only had the power to confer the
title upon him, adding that it would be impossible for her to do it,
as it would not be right; moreover, the people, who were unwilling to
see her queen, would be actually incensed if a son of the Duke of
Northumberland--who was by no means popular--likewise mounted the
throne.

Lord Guildford Dudley, however, would not perceive the justice of
these asseverations.  He took it ill that Jane, whom he had assisted
to the throne, should dislike the idea of sharing it with him, and,
after quarrelling with her bitterly, departed alone for Sion House,
leaving her to get on as well as she could without him.  Then his
mother was very angry with her, upbraiding and reproaching her, as
did also her own mother, the Duchess of Suffolk.

Poor Queen of England!  Every step of the way was a bitter one for
her.  Was ever a young creature, standing where childhood and
womanhood meet, so sorely tried?  The evening before, at six o'clock,
she had been proclaimed queen in London, the announcement meeting
with sullen silence on the part of the people, one of whom, a
vintner's lad, even daring to vindicate the rights of the Princess
Mary--for which he was afterwards severely punished.

'It was mainly at the desire of my husband that I consented to be
queen,' sobbed my mistress, 'yet he has left me in anger, and his
father and mother are mightily incensed with me.  It is all so
miserable, and my own conscience afflicts me, for all that they have
said to me has not quietened its doubts about the equity of my
position.  I cannot help suspecting--especially after what has just
happened--that my father-in-law's ambition has been the pivot on
which we have all turned.  And in the fierce light which all that has
been occurring has thrown over everything concerning me, I cannot
fail to see that the Duke of Northumberland in causing his son
Guildford to marry me was but preparing for this.  I believe my dear
lord loves me,' she added wistfully, 'but perhaps his father's
ambition hurried on our marriage.'

I thought that was likely enough, having heard much during the last
day or two about Northumberland's ambition, but hastened to assure my
mistress in all sincerity that her charms of person, disposition and
mind were such that no young man could possibly be intimate with her
without being susceptible to the tender passion, whereupon she smiled
through her tears, exclaiming--

'You little flatterer!  But if that be so you must by all means keep
your own chosen lover away from my presence.'

I blushed very much at that, which caused Queen Jane to insist upon
my telling her all about my own love story and the name of the man
who had won my heart; and, when she heard that it was the same brave
knight who escorted me to Sion House when I came to live with her,
she was very pleased, and said that it was a pretty romance in real
life and she trusted that God would bless us and give us a very happy
future together in His own good time.

We were interrupted by the entrance of the Duchess of Suffolk, who
bade her daughter sternly, though in stilted Court language, to
prepare to transact business with her father and the Duke of
Northumberland and the Council.  Indeed, there were many matters for
the young queen to deal with and papers of importance for her to
sign, and she addressed herself bravely to the task of taking up the
burden of royalty at the call of duty.  For, having consented to be
made queen, she knew that she must fulfil the obligations attached to
the high office, to the best of her ability.

'I am happier when I am busily employed,' she said to me later in the
day.  'It is when I have time to think, Margery, that my doubts and
fears return.  Dear one,' she continued, 'I am told that on Sunday
next Dr. Ridley, the Bishop of London, is going to preach at St.
Paul's Cross, and I want you to do me this favour.  You must go and
hear him, that you may tell me everything he says.  I would fain
know, Margery,' she went on very wistfully, 'for it may throw light
on what I am at present unable to see.'

I knew she meant the entire justice of her accession to the throne,
and readily promised that, if I could leave the Tower and go to hear
the bishop, I would tell her every word he said.  I doubted not that
one of my friends, Sir William Wood or Sir Hubert Blair, would escort
me through the crowds which would congregate to hear the eloquent
divine.

In my own mind I was full of uneasiness now about the position of my
dear lady, for a messenger had arrived at the Tower from Princess
Mary, the late king's elder sister, to say that she commanded the
Council to see that she was duly proclaimed, and warning them to
desist from their treasonable purposes.  The Council, with small
courtesy, refused to do this, and scarcely had the messenger gone
when news came pouring in that Princess Mary had taken up her
position at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, where the nobility, gentry
and people were flocking to her standard.  It was therefore necessary
that forces should be sent out to overcome and disperse Mary's army,
and the Council and the Duke of Northumberland were much exercised as
to who should lead them.  It was rumoured amongst us that the Duke of
Northumberland wanted the Duke of Suffolk to go, whilst the Council
wished Northumberland himself to head the expedition.  If he went it
was a question whether the Council, left to themselves, would remain
true to Queen Jane, for they had been coerced and over-persuaded by
him, though secretly, like most of the people, in favour of Mary.
There were intrigues on all sides, and several of the Council so
worked upon my mistress's apprehensions that she begged that her
father might stay with her.  It was therefore settled that
Northumberland should lead an army of 2,000 horsemen and 6,000 foot
soldiers against Mary's forces.

Accordingly, on the thirteenth, after exhorting the Council to remain
true to Queen Jane, he left the Tower for Durham House, where he
stayed a night, and then, on the fourteenth, he and his men marched
out of the city.  We were told by Sir William Wood, who had gone with
many others to see them depart, that the Duke of Northumberland was
heard observing to some one that though numbers watched them go,
there was not one to say, 'God speed you!'

Our hearts were full of apprehension upon hearing this; and also Sir
William's tidings that the silence of the multitude watching the
troops go was something marvellous and most terrifying in its
significance.

And yet again my dear lady said to me--

'Margery, you must go to hear what Dr. Ridley has to say about my
claims, for I should fear nothing if only I were absolutely certain
that they are just and equitable.'

Upon the Sunday, therefore--July 16 it was--I left the Tower with
Lady Caroline and Sir William Wood and went to St. Paul's Cross,
where a very great congregation was assembled to hear the bishop's
preaching.

Sir William found us a place, with some difficulty, where we could
stand without being pushed and hustled by the crowd, but we could
hear nothing at first except the talking and moving about of the
multitude, the cries of those who were hurt or pushed, and the
endeavours of those in authority to induce order and quiet.

When, at length, I was able to hear what the venerable bishop was
saying, I found that his eloquence was being exerted on a theme so
much to my mind that I could have listened all day.  He was speaking
of the virtues and abilities of my dear mistress, and praising her
exceedingly for her goodness and her learning, dwelling much upon the
beneficent effect her Protestant rule would be certain to have upon
the people of England, and maintaining her right and her title to the
throne by the best arguments he could devise--I noticed among these
none that were new, however, which I could carry home to Queen Jane.
The fact was, he said nothing but what had been already employed,
only being an orator, he said it more emphatically and more
beautifully, and being a bishop, his words had to my thinking more
weight, and he spoke them as one having great spiritual authority.

I was listening eagerly, with my eyes fixed on the preacher and ears
intent only upon his words, when a man wrapped in a long
foreign-looking cloak pressed so closely against me that I was pushed
a little way from my companions.  Glancing at the man with
indignation, I perceived that his face was concealed partly by the
collar of his coat and partly by a large felt hat pulled low over his
brow.  It was impossible, therefore, to distinguish his features, and
yet I knew I had seen him before.

'Allow me,' I said, 'to step nearer to my friends.'

The fellow pretended not to hear.  He stuck his hands in his pockets
and straightened his broad back between me and my companions.  I
thought he was a boor, but no worse, and, giving up the attempt to
move him, became speedily absorbed again in the preaching, if
preaching it could be called, which was now a speech inveighing
against the claims of the late King Henry's daughters, and especially
of the Princess Mary, and representing, moreover, that if the latter
succeeded to the throne it would mean certain destruction to the
reformed religion, which, on the other hand, the amiable and pious
Queen Jane would maintain in its entirety.  He spoke, too, of the
likelihood of Mary's contracting a marriage with a prince of the
house of Spain, where the Inquisition, with all its ghastly horrors,
was maintained.  Then he went on to tell of an interview he had had
with Mary before the late king's death.  He had ridden over to visit
her at Hundson, and she invited him to stay to dinner.

After the meal was over he told her that on the Sunday he intended
coming to preach before her, upon which she replied that the Church
would be open to him, but he must not expect to see her and her
household there.  He answered by expressing the hope that she would
not refuse God's Word, to which she replied that she did not know
what they called God's Word now, as it certainly was not the same as
in her father's time.

'God's Word, said I,' cried the preacher, 'was the same at all times,
though better understood and practised in some ages than others.'

On his retiring, the princess thanked him for coming to see her, but
not at all for his proposal to preach before her.

The bishop paused, after relating the anecdote, as if sure that on
hearing of Mary's bigotry his audience would wish to repudiate the
idea of their wanting her to be their queen.

But, once again, silence and unresponsiveness chilled the hearts of
those who loved Queen Jane.

'You see they are convinced that, in spite of everything, Mary should
be queen,' said a woman standing near me.

'The boy who scarcely said more than that the other day was cruelly
maltreated for it,' muttered the man in the long cloak,' and I shall
inform of you, madam, unless you,' he ended by whispering something
into the woman's ear.

Immediately, with a look of terror, she put her arm in mine and began
to draw me away from my friends, the man taking hold of my other arm,
and almost pushing me along.

I called to Sir William Wood, who had his back towards me and did not
hear.  I entreated Lady Caroline for help, but she was whispering
with some ladies, and I could not attract her attention.  Then I
appealed to the bystanders, but the man, looking threateningly at
them, declared that he would knock down the first who interfered.  As
he said the words I recognized his voice.  He was Sir Claudius
Crossley.

And I was in his power, for now we were surrounded by men whom I also
recognized, as they were some of those who had drowned the poor old
women they called witches.

'No harm will be done to you if you come with us quietly,' said Sir
Claudius in my ear.

But I did not believe him, and in desperation struggled to free
myself, and cried aloud for help.

The next moment Sir Hubert Blair rode up, and, dashing towards me
into the crowd, scattered it on all sides, then, springing from his
horse, he seized my adversary in his powerful arms and, hurling him
to the ground, administered not a few blows with the butt-end of his
riding-whip.

This done, he turned to me, but I had already fled towards my friends
and, seeing I was safe, he only smiled and waved his hand, and rode
off in another direction, having evidently business of importance in
hand.

I saw no more of Sir Claudius Crossley that day, but the incident had
shown that he was still my active enemy, bent upon fulfilling his
vow, which Betsy had reported to me, that he would win me for his own
and vanquish my proud and haughty spirit.



CHAPTER XIV

The Crown Resigned

Lady Caroline and Sir William Wood were much concerned when, on my
return to them, I related the misadventure which had befallen me, and
blamed themselves for being so much occupied with others that they
had not heard my cries for succour.  However, they were glad that Sir
Hubert Blair effected my rescue, and were very kind to me and
sympathizing, making me walk and drive between them all the remainder
of the time until we were safely back in the Tower.

A great commotion was going on there, armed men and servants hurrying
about, and lords and ladies making hasty preparations for departure.

'What is it?  What has happened?' cried Sir William, but for some
time no one could or would answer him.

A little later we learned the truth.  The Lord Treasurer had left the
Tower, contrary to the positive order of the Duke of Northumberland
who, before departing, had strictly impressed upon the Duke of
Suffolk the necessity of keeping the whole Council within its walls,
and it was an open secret that this step was the beginning of the end
of what some one irreverently termed 'the miserable farce of Queen
Jane's reign.'

It seemed to me that every one except the queen knew this, and she,
misled by the representations of her father, who was himself duped by
the Council, was wholly ignorant that the downfall which she had at
the first apprehended was really beginning to take place.

I found her in tears, it is true, when I went to her bedroom where
she was lying ill, but that was, as I speedily discovered, because
her mother-in-law had been upbraiding her severely and telling her
that Lord Guildford justly refused to come near after her conduct
towards him.

'And Margery, Margery, put your dear little head quite near to me, I
want to whisper something,' said the young queen pitifully.  'Nearer
still, Margery,' she went on, 'for the very walls have ears.'  And
when my ear was close to her sweet lips, she said low into it, 'I am
so ill, I have such indescribable sensations, like none that I have
ever had in illness before.  Do you think it is possible that they
are poisoning me?'

I told her No.  I scouted the idea as unworthy of her noble mind.  I
vehemently declared that she was giving way to imagination.  I
besought her not to be so childish.  I implored her to think of
Plato's lofty reasonings.  I entreated that she would stay her mind
on God's promises to His dear children.  I began to quote whole
passages of the Bible--the words flew from my lips as fast as I could
think them, whilst my dear lady listened spell-bound, and then,
suddenly I spoilt it all by bursting out into passionate tears and
sobs, in the midst of which I cried, 'They will kill you!  They will
kill you!  They have made you their puppet for a day and set you upon
a throne and crowned you, and then--being unable to keep you there,
and maddened by failure--they _will kill you_!'  And with that I wept
uncontrollably, shaking the great bed on which my dear lady was lying
with the sobs that rent and tossed my whole frame.

'My poor child!  My dear little Margery!'  It was Queen Jane who was
comforting me now and holding me in her arms whilst she tried to wipe
away my tears.  'How you love me!  I believe your love is the
sweetest, next to my husband's, and the most disinterested that has
ever been given me.  Darling one, it was a shame to bring you away
from your happy home in the country to share my troubled life!  But
you are wise, you have spoken of the Bible promises, we will stay our
hearts on them, and in prayer we will implore for grace that we may
be sustained with heavenly consolation and enabled to do our duty
whatever happens.'

In reading the Bible and in prayer, therefore, we sought to find true
help and consolation in our time of trouble, but were not left long
in peace to perform such exercises, there were so many about us,
maids of honour, the Duchess of Suffolk and the Duchess of
Northumberland, besides the queen's younger sister, the Lady Herbert,
and her young sister-in-law, Lady Hastings, to the former of whom she
was tenderly attached.

I cannot describe--for it would make too dismal reading--the way in
which Queen Jane's relations and her husband's relations harassed her
continually--Lord Guildford Dudley, perhaps, by his absence and
treatment of her, the most of all, as he was the best beloved.  For
it is ever those whom we love most who have it in their power to
inflict upon us the bitterest pain.  By our love we give them a key
admitting them into the holiest, warmest recesses of our hearts, and
when they prove unkind they are able to inflict there the most
exquisite suffering.

On the Wednesday of that fatal week the Council, following the
example of the Lord Treasurer, left the Tower for Baynard's Castle,
and upon arriving there they unanimously declared that Princess Mary
should be queen, sending for the Lord Mayor and aldermen of the city
and emphatically declaring to them that Mary should be queen.  The
announcement was received with pleasure, and the gentlemen rode to
St. Paul's Cross, where the Garter king-at-arms proclaimed Mary Queen
of England, France and Ireland.

No dismal silence greeted this proclamation, but cries of triumph and
delight, and the day was ended with bonfires, illuminations and loud
rejoicings.

Immediately after proclaiming the new queen the Council sent word to
the Duke of Suffolk to surrender the Tower, but he did not wait for
these instructions, the shouts and acclamations of the people in the
streets reached the Tower before their messengers arrived, and the
duke went immediately to his daughter's room and imparted the news to
her as gently as he could, adding that she must lay aside the state
and dignity of a queen and must become again a private person.

'This is better for me to bear,' she answered, 'than my former
advancement to royalty.  Out of obedience to you and my mother I have
grievously sinned and hurt my own inclinations.  Now I willingly
relinquish the crown, and trust that by so doing immediately and
willingly the offence that has been committed may be a little
lessened.'

Thus contentedly and even gladly did my dear lady give up the brief
sovereignty which had been to her in every way a most distressing
period.

'We will go home, Margery,' she said to me, when her maids of honour
and the other Court ladies had hurried off to see to the packing of
their finery and the safe escort of their persons out of the Tower.
'We will go home to Sion House, where God grant we may once more rest
in body and mind, enjoying our books and studying from the fair field
of nature, as shown in the lovely gardens, the wide park, and last,
but not least, the glorious river.'

'Yes, yes; let us return to Sion House,' I cried eagerly.  'We were
happy there.'

'Yes; we were indeed.  And my dear lord is there.'  A sweet smile
lighted up her face.  'Me-thinks,' she added tenderly, 'he will
forgive me everything when he sees me once more a private person and
no queen.' And she began to sing a tender little love song, still
with that charming smile upon her face.

She was so beautiful and so good, my love went out to her then in the
hour of her outward humiliation and inward peace, more than it had
ever done before, and I threw myself on the floor at her feet and,
clasping my hands upon her knees, said--

'Madam, we are all kings and priests to God, and yours is the best
royalty of all, for you rule your own spirit with wisdom and grace.
Oh, if you only knew how I admire and love you!'

'Dear!' she laid her hand caressingly upon my head, 'Plato says that
greater is the one who admires than the one who is admired.  You must
therefore be greater than I.  So get up at once--at once, Margery,'
she repeated, 'And let us pack up our things, for we are going home.'

Yes, we were going to her home, and were about to leave the grandeur
and the gloom of those royal apartments in the palace of the great
Tower with far more gladness than we had felt on entering them.

Lady Jane's friends and partisans mourned that she was a fallen
queen, but we, she and I, knew that, far from falling, she had risen
in all that went to make her life more truly happy, beneficent and
noble.



CHAPTER XV

At Sion House Again

Lady Jane returned to Sion House the next day, and her manner of
doing so was as humble and lowly as her leaving for the Tower had
been grand and ostentatious.  She who had been a queen nine
days--which, by the way, is said to have given rise to the saying, 'A
nine days' wonder'--laid down her royalty, as we have seen, without a
sigh, and returned to Isleworth in a hired litter, attended only by
myself and Mistress Ellen, and escorted by a few of the Duke of
Suffolk's followers and Sir William Wood, whom nothing would hinder
from paying his last token of respect and ready service to her
vanished queendom.  The Duke and Duchess of Suffolk followed to Sheen
House, Richmond, later on, the former well nigh distraught with grief
and vexation, and the latter in a state of peevishness and anger,
which boded ill for her daughter when once she was within reach of
her tongue.

But Lady Jane and I rejoiced that, at length, the right was
prevailing and the lawful queen was coming to her own, though I think
if we had known of the misery and bloodshed which she would bring
upon the Protestants in this country, our joy would have been turned
into sorrow.

Isleworth, where Sion House is situated, is about twelve miles from
London City, in a sweet country of green trees and verdant meadows.
It is two miles from Richmond, where the magnificent palace--a
favourite seat of royalty[1]--faces the river and imparts grandeur to
the scene.


[1] This was in 1553.  The palace has been pulled down now.--ED.


The country looked fresh and beautiful to us after the stone walls
and roofs and chimneys of the city, and the air was sweet and
pleasant after the closer atmosphere of the metropolis; though
certainly in the Tower we got breezes from the river as well as the
ill odours of the town.  We thought that now we could return to the
quiet, studious life we led before, and my lady spoke of teaching me
Greek and Latin that I might share her studies--but, alas, such
things were not to be.

Lord Guildford Dudley, though bitterly disappointed at the turn of
events, and anxious for the safety of his father, of whom we had no
certain tidings, became reconciled to Lady Jane, and they spent more
time together than before, which necessarily deprived me of the
society of my dear mistress and threw much idle time upon my hands.

After the stirring events through which we had been passing, and
whilst they were still happening in the great city we had turned our
backs upon, I could not settle down to sewing and embroidering, as
Mistress Ellen would fain have made me, but took to wandering about
the grounds of Sion House and especially down by the river, with
vague yearnings which I scarcely put into clear thoughts; but seeing
that they had their root in witnessing the happiness my mistress felt
in being once more the cherished companion of her lord, and that my
gaze was ever fixed upon the river up which Sir Hubert Blair once
came to me in his boat, it was evident that he was the loved object
of my every thought and wish.  Where was he in the great and exciting
events that were taking place?  I had never seen him since the day of
the preaching at St. Paul's Cross, when he rescued me from Sir
Claudius Crossley's hands.  It seemed strange to me afterwards that
he had not joined his friend, Sir William Wood, in escorting Lady
Jane back to Sion House, but I had not an opportunity of inquiring of
Sir William about him.  And now he stayed away.  What did it mean?  I
spent hours in vague conjectures and in wondering what course he was
pursuing in the present state of affairs.  Of one thing I was
certain.  He would not, like the Council, have gone over to Mary's
side, now that the Duke of Northumberland was away and people were
acknowledging her on all sides.  He was too true a man to forsake the
weaker cause, and too valiant to give in because others were
succumbing, and yet if he did the opposite and kept his standard
raised for Queen Jane, what danger he would be in!  Imprisonment and
even death might befall my prince of men.

I was thinking of this one evening, with tear-dimmed eyes gazing on
the river, brilliant just then with the reflected light of a most
gorgeous sunset, when, hearing the gentle splashing of oars, I turned
quickly and perceived Sir Hubert in a boat being rapidly rowed
towards me by two strong boatmen.  Sir Hubert was sitting in the
stern of the boat, with keen eyes scanning the riverside, and upon
perceiving me he took off his hat and waved it, whilst his face, so
grave a moment before, lighted up with smiles.

He said something to the boatmen, and immediately after, the boat
having been run to our little landing-stage, he jumped out, and they
pulled away, leaving him coming up the steps and walking towards me.

I was so glad to see him, he looked so strong and brave that all my
fears and anxieties regarding his safety disappeared, and with joy I
hurried forward to place both my hands in his.

'Welcome! welcome!' I said, and could say no more of all the words of
love and greeting crying out in my mind for utterance.

He, too, seemed to find a difficulty in speech, but he led me to a
seat near the water, and we sat down, hand in hand, in silence, which
was more eloquent than any words.

After a little while, he told me the news of what had been occurring
in the City and the open field, where the Duke of Northumberland led
the forces, and as he spoke of treachery and cowardice, I scarcely
knew my lover in the pale, indignant man.

'You must know, Margery,' he said to me, 'that the Council, after
proclaiming Mary Queen, sent the herald, Richard Rose, to the Duke of
Northumberland with a message commanding him to disband his army and
acknowledge Queen Mary, under penalty of being declared a traitor.
But, even before receiving these orders, he had himself submitted in
a cowardly, undignified manner.  He had withdrawn from Bury St.
Edmunds to Cambridge, where, on the Sunday, he caused the
Vice-Chancellor of the University to preach a sermon against the
rights and the religion of Mary, and the following day, when the news
arrived from London of the revolution that had taken place there, he
went to the Market place and declared aloud that Mary whom they had
been denouncing, was the rightful queen.  Moreover, he flung up his
cap, as if in joy, whilst tears of mortification and regret rolled
down his face.  "Queen Mary is a merciful woman," he said to the
Vice-chancellor, "and doubtless all will receive the benefit of her
generous pardon."  The Vice-chancellor, however, gave him no hope,
for he said if the queen were ever so inclined to pardon, those who
ruled her would destroy him, whoever else was pardoned.  Immediately
afterwards he was arrested and sent off to the Tower.'

'What a fall for the proud Northumberland!' exclaimed I.

'Proud no longer!' said Sir Hubert.  'His behaviour, when arrested,
was abject in the extreme.  He fell on his knees before the Earl of
Arundel, who arrested him, and begged for his life.'

'Where was his dignity?' cried I, and then, the next instant I asked,
'will they kill him?'

'Yes.  He will be executed for high treason.'

'How dreadful!' said I, adding 'How grieved my dear lady will be,
although he has been so cruel to her!'

'And many others, braver than he, were sent to the Tower,' continued
my lover, 'and amongst them even Bishop Ridley.'

'Bishop Ridley!'

'Yes.  For preaching that sermon at St. Paul's Cross.  They say it is
like to cost him his life.'

'His life!  Will Mary be so wicked as to kill a clergyman because of
what he said in his sermon?' asked I.

'Yes,' answered Sir Hubert.  'She is capable of doing far more than
that.  Did I not tell you what a Papist's rule in England would mean,
Margery?  Rivers of blood will flow.  And they will be Protestants on
whom Mary will wreak her vengeance.  There is no animosity in the
world so bitter, as what is called religious animosity.  Remember
what they did to our Lord.  Think you the Jews of old would have
crucified so cruelly an innocent man if it had not been a matter of
religion that was at issue?'

'True! true!' I said, wondering at the astuteness of my dear one.
'But, alas!' I sobbed, the next moment.  'If Mary will be so bitter
against her Protestant enemies, what, oh! what will be the fate of my
dear Lady Jane?'

Sir Hubert looked very grave.

'I can see no hope for her,' he said, 'if Mary is allowed to reign.'

'Why do you say, if Mary is allowed to reign,' I exclaimed, 'when she
is reigning already?'

'Not yet!' cried Sir Hubert, in confident tones.  'Not yet!  There
are some who will never lay down their swords whilst they can wield
them on behalf of Lady Jane.'

'A few doubtless,' exclaimed I.  'But, oh, what can a few do against
so many, many others?'

'It is on the rightfulness of our cause that we rely,' said my dear
knight.  'There is a saying, Margery, that if you give a man rope
enough he will hang himself, and of course it holds good with a woman
also.  Mary has already pounced on a bishop and imprisoned him--or
her followers have--and soon she will begin to burn Protestants
alive.  Then, by that blaze, the nation will awake to see what they
are doing and the whole of Protestant England will rise as one man,
and deposing Mary, put down papistry with an iron hand.'

'And meanwhile,' I said, 'my dear Lady Jane?  And Master Montgomery,
too,' my thoughts reverting to the good curate, who had taught me so
many lessons of truth and righteousness at home, 'and you, my dear
one, what will become of you?'

'If Mary reigns, the life of Lady Jane hangs on single thread,' Sir
Hubert answered, oracularly.  'If papistry is upheld by the ruling
power, your friend, Master Montgomery's life is not secure for a
single day, or an hour.  And, as for me, I am well aware that by
refusing to submit myself to Mary, I am liable at any moment to be
apprehended for high treason!'

I gave a great cry, for I knew that the penalty for high treason is
death, and it took my beloved some time to quieten me.  When, at
last, I was calmer he said, 'if it were not for you, I should not
care about myself.  But, in any case, I am sure you would not wish to
hold me back from doing my utmost to re-establish Lady Jane as Queen
of Great Britain, France and Ireland.'

'But the thing is beyond you!' I cried.  'You and a few others can
never, never compass it--you will only spend your life, your precious
life in the vain effort.'

And I looked around, with a frantic desire to see some one who might
come to my help and assist me to persuade this dear, hot-headed,
valiant knight not to cast himself into the gulf yawning between my
dear Lady Jane and her crown.

The glory of the sunset was over now, the monarch of the skies having
sunk out of sight, and the radiance of his setting was momentarily
waning.  A slight river mist was rising and stealing over the land,
like a hazy veil obscuring, though not concealing its rich and
brilliant green.  Rooks cawed in the trees hard by, as if they were
having some earnest debate upon affairs of importance in bird-land,
and the distant baying of the watch-dogs up at the house reminded us
that, though apparently alone, we were not far from a big residence.
No one, however, appeared to be in sight on land, and looking across
the darkening water I only perceived a barge, which seemed to be
stationary on our side of the river, a little higher up.  A few men
were upon it, but they were too far apart and too insignificant in
appearance to avail me anything, and I looked up to Sir Hubert, whose
eyes were resting upon me, with a yearning look of love.

'For my sake,' I said, tremulously.

But he shook off the temptation and began--

'Whilst I have power to wield a sword----'

He was interrupted.  An iron hand was laid on his shoulder, and a
voice of thunder demanded--

'Are you for Queen Mary?  Speak.  Answer, yea or nay?'

It was Sir Claudius Crossley's ugly face that leered upon us as we
looked round, and it was his hand that gripped my beloved one's
shoulder, whilst behind him stood a little band of wild, ruffianly
men.

Silently along the riverpath they had come from the barge, creeping
up behind us, whilst we were absorbed in the momentous questions
occupying our attention; and now, shielding himself behind the name
of Mary, Sir Claudius was ready for any deed of violence.

'I do not answer ruffians!' cried Sir Hubert, grasping his sword.

The next moment there was a scuffle; the men, some half dozen in
number, threw themselves upon Sir Hubert and caught hold of me, and
whether from fear, or from some blow that was dealt by a coward, not
above fighting women, I know not, but I immediately lost
consciousness and knew no more.



CHAPTER XVI

In the Power of Sir Claudius

'I will never marry you!  Never!  I would rather die!' I cried
passionately.

Sir Claudius laughed in a very insolent manner.  We were talking in
the big, bare drawing-room of his great hall, near Chichester, where
his two sisters had been keeping guard over me ever since I arrived
the day before.

When I came out of my swoon it was to find myself being carried on a
roughly extemporized litter, and then, in a cart which jolted
horribly.  I was so sick and ill I scarcely cared what was happening
to me, but, by and bye, anxiety for my lover's safety caused me to
ask the man who drove the cart and sat sideways on the cart-shafts,
if Sir Hubert Blair was also a prisoner.  For some time the man did
not answer, but after a while said, 'Yes.'  That was all the
information I could extract, and it made me exceedingly uneasy.  The
country was in a very lawless, unsettled state; the attention of all
the upper classes being concentrated on the Government and the Royal
family.  While it was being settled who should reign over England
there was scanty attention paid to the doings of such rascals as Sir
Claudius Crossley, who, under the mask of a knighthood which he
violated, roved over the country to spoil and ravage it for his own
aggrandizement.  Upon our arriving at Crossley Hall, Sir Claudius
himself came forward and personally handed me over to his sisters,
with the sneering remark that they were to see to it that I did not
escape.  The women were hard-featured and angular.  They resembled
their brother in appearance and character, and obeyed him so well
that I was not left a moment unattended; and, lest I should escape
whilst they slept, even the bedroom door was locked and the key kept
under the pillow of the one who was _pro tem._ my jailer.  When I had
recovered from my sickness and was able to get up and dress, they
took me into the big barn-like apartment they called the drawing-room
that their brother might come to me.  When he entered, they withdrew
to a distant window, whilst he, immediately and without any
preparation, began to assure me of his undying love, and to promise
me my freedom if I would marry him.

It was a strange wooing, and I was so greatly indignant that I
refused him with more haste than politeness, declaring that death
itself would be preferable to living as his wife.

This made him angry, and in anger he was even more detestable than
before; his frown being so terrible that I believed, in spite of his
so-called love, he could almost have laid his hands upon me to wreak
a fearful vengeance.

However he merely said--

''Tis a pity that you cannot love me, Mistress Brown,' and, taking a
chair near me, endeavoured to grasp my hand, which I held back.
'For, let me tell you,' he continued, 'great harm will be done to an
unlucky friend of yours unless you do.'

'Is this a threat?' I asked haughtily, showing no sign of fear,
although my heart was beating quickly and wordlessly, and with
exceeding earnestness a prayer for help and succour ascended from it.

'Call it what you please,' answered he, with a gesture of
irritability.  'I tell you that if you will not marry me, your
precious lover, Sir Hubert Blair--you start!  Had you forgotten that
we took him prisoner, too?--Sir Hubert Blair, I repeat, shall die?'

'How can you say that?' cried I.  'You have no right to kill him.'

And with that I began trembling so violently as to shake the chair in
which I was sitting.

He perceived it, and drew nearer.

'Sir Hubert is in my power,' he said, in low, meaning tones.  'He is
in fact a prisoner in this house, even now lying in our dungeon.
For, let me tell you, we have a dungeon down amongst the cellars.
Aye, and a gallows, too, in the inner yard.  If I hold up my hand,
so----' he made a gesture, 'my men will bear him to the gallows,
where he will die.'

I interrupted him with a cry of terror-stricken anguish.

'You can save him,' he said quickly.  'You have it in your power to
save him.  Dear Margaret,' and again he endeavoured to take my hand,
whilst a fawning, obsequious tone succeeded the fiercer one, 'you,
and no one else, can prevent his terrible fate.'

'How?  How can I prevent it?' and I looked up appealingly into the
hardest and most cruel face it has ever been my lot to encounter.

Sir Claudius took my hand, my most unwilling hand, in his, pressing
it tenderly.

'My dear, I love you,' he said.  'Nay, don't wince, for in that fact
lies the man's salvation.  If you will try ever so little to return
my love, if you will promise to marry me, Sir Hubert shall live.
Nay, more, upon the day on which we are married he shall be
liberated.'

'Oh, but I cannot!  I cannot marry you!' I sobbed distractedly.  'I
cannot!'

An ugly look came into his face.

'Sir Hubert will hang on our gallows to-morrow morning,' said he,
slowly.

'No! no!' I cried.  'You dare not do such a thing!  The law----'

'Has no power against me here, in this lonely country, amongst my
servants and dependents,' he interrupted.  'The officers of the law
will have their eyes directed towards Queen Mary, and that other
foolish young woman, who aped----'

'Do not speak about Queen Jane in that way!' exclaimed I.  'Unless,'
I added, 'you mean me to hate you even more than I do.'

'I shall speak as I please,' he muttered sulkily, 'What I mean to
tell you is this.  Out here in my own country, at this time when all
the fighting-men are otherwise engaged, I can do almost what I like,
and if I choose that Sir Hubert shall die, he shall.'

The horrible conviction came upon me as he spoke, that it was true;
in the then distracted state of England, even a big crime, such as
murdering Sir Hubert, could be done by a powerful miscreant like Sir
Claudius, with impunity.

Still in desperation I cried out--

'You dare not!  You dare not!'

'I dare,' he returned, 'for, look you, if he appealed to the law, I
could but turn him over to the law, accusing him as I did so of high
treason.  They would behead him then, sure enough.  Yes, I say, they
would behead him.'

'No! no! no!' I cried.

'But I repeat, they would,' he said.  'The penalty of high treason is
execution----'

'Oh, what must he do?  How can he be saved?' wailed I, for it seemed
to me my beloved, between the villainy of Sir Claudius and the
vengeance of Queen Mary's adherents, was like one between Scylla and
Charybdis, bound to perish in any case.

'He ought to have a friend,' said the wily voice of Sir Claudius, 'a
friend who would set him free and counsel him to quit the country,
and procure him a secret passage to Holland----'

'Will you do it?' I interrupted, falling upon my knees before him.
'You say you love me.  Then do this thing for me.  I will believe
you, if you will do it for me,' I went on, beseechingly.  'Set Sir
Hubert free, let him leave the country, get him across to Holland,
and I will----' I paused.  I was going to say, 'esteem you highly and
pray for you all my life,' but recognized that would not content him,
that indeed he would not care for that.

'You will what?' he asked sharply.

'I will----' again I paused.  He would not be content with that which
I would promise.

'I will do it on one condition,' he said, 'and only one.'

'And that is?'

But I knew, and my heart almost ceased beating, whilst a giddiness to
which I was never subject made my head swim.

When I could understand him again, he was telling me that if I would
promise to marry him he would do all that I wished for Sir Hubert,
and more, he would guarantee his safety until he reached Holland,
and, if needs be, would personally conduct him to a port from which
he could sail.

'But, be generous,' besought I, 'do all that without the heavy price
being paid that you have named.'

'Heavy?'

He frowned.

'Yes.  Most heavy.  I cannot pay it!  I cannot!  But be generous,' I
pleaded, 'be generous!'

Sir Claudius, seeing me so exceedingly concerned about his rival,
fell into an awful rage.

'Generous!' cried he.  'Not I.  It is for you to be generous to
me--and to him.  For I swear unless you promise to marry me--unless I
have your promise before night, he shall hang to-morrow morning.'

And with that he went out, slamming the door behind him.

I fell back in my chair, weeping bitterly.

Was ever a more hideous snare laid for a poor girl?  I thought with
horror of the woes and threatened death of my dear knight.  I
imagined I saw him lying in the dungeon of which Sir Claudius had
been speaking.  How very hard was his fate!  Not a prisoner of war,
he had simply been kidnapped by brigands, as a girl, or a child might
have been!  Six to one, they had overcome him by sheer physical
strength.  And he had the misery of knowing that I also was a captive
in their power.  How he would chafe at the confinement which kept him
from my side!  What would be his feelings when his jailer told him
that he must prepare to die upon the morrow?  And on the gallows,
too!  Despair would be his portion, horror and despair.

And I might save him.  It was in my power, by submitting to my
imperious captor and promising to marry him, to save my own beloved
from a truly awful death.  I could do it, and no one else.  And it
did not so much matter what happened to me, if his precious life was
saved.  If he died I should be miserable, wherever I was; if he lived
I should have the consolation of knowing that, to lighten my own dark
lot.

I was in poor health, my spirits depressed and my soul sickened by my
captivity and the knowledge that my absence would afflict my dear
mistress and make her very anxious.  No one was at hand to advise
me--no one but Sir Claudius' sisters, and I could not consult them.
What was I to do?  'Sacrifice myself,' answered my heart, 'sacrifice
myself for him I love.'

Sir Claudius did not leave me long to think it over.

'I must press for an answer now, immediately,' he said, returning.

'Oh, but please wait a little,' said I, tearfully.  'I cannot answer
you now, not just now,' I pleaded.  'Give me a little time.  Give me
at least until the evening.'

'No, you must promise now,' said he imperiously.

'But--but----'

I sobbed, putting up both my hands to my face, like a child, and
crying as if my heart would break.

'Now, or never?  It is the only chance you can have of saving Sir
Hubert Blair's life.  And, look you, Madam, if you do not----'
leaning forward he whispered that the gallows was waiting for its
prey.

I shrank back.  My heart felt frozen.  I laughed with bitter
recklessness.  Thus talked he who said he loved me!

I wrung my hands.

'Why was I born?' I lamented.  'And why did my father send me away
from home?'

'Do you consent, madam?' demanded the ruffian who had me in his power.

I started violently.  The outlook was appalling.

'May I see Sir Hubert Blair once?  Just once, that I may take my
leave of him?' I asked beseechingly.

'No, no.  That is too much to ask.'

'But, unless I see him I cannot consent,' I said, temporizing.  'You
see,' a little hope came into my heart, 'I am not sure whether you
are speaking the truth about him, or not.  He was certainly in a
desperate state--one against six--when I saw him last, but he is
tremendously strong and he had his sword, therefore he may have
escaped.'

'I tell you we took him prisoner with you.'

'Unless I see him, I cannot believe he is a prisoner here,' I
persisted.

'Ho!  So you doubt me?'

'Yes.'  I bowed my head.  'I doubt you altogether.'

'And you do not think Sir Hubert is here?'

'I do not know.  I do not know anything.  Allow me to see him--allow
me only to see him for one minute--and then, then, if I see him here,
in your power, and if you will vow that you will not only liberate
him but also send him safely across to Holland, I will consent to do
as you wish.'

'To marry me.'

'Yes.'

Sir Claudius looked hideously triumphant.

'It won't be such a bad bargain,' he said, leering at me.

I shuddered.  But then, next instant, derived hope from the
reflection that if he could not show me Sir Hubert Blair it would be
because he lied in saying Sir Hubert was a prisoner in his dungeon,
moreover I should then be free from my promise.

This hope was dashed, however, by Sir Claudius saying--

'Very well.  You shall see Sir Hubert--not to speak to, mind--but you
shall see him.  I will go now, and return for you in half an hour.
Will that satisfy you?'

'Yes.'

He left the room, closing the door roughly after him, as was his wont.

His sisters, who had been listening all the time, and must have heard
every word he said, for his voice was loud and harsh, came forward,
asking,--

'What?  Is he going to show you the secret dungeon?'

I made no answer.  Perhaps I could not at that moment, for thoughts
of agony and fear were surging through my mind.  My dread was
terrible; it obscured all things, including my faith in my Heavenly
Father's care.

'He must have you entirely in his power, or he must trust you
completely,' said the women.

I made no rejoinder, and they, looking at me askance, withdrew again
to a little distance, and began a low-toned conversation.

I was left to myself.  And my thoughts were bitter.



CHAPTER XVII

The Prisoner in the Dungeon

Sir Claudius, returning in about half an hour, bade me gruffly follow
him, and then led the way down many steps and through gloomy passages
until we reached a huge dark subterranean hall, the extreme
chilliness of which was deathly and vaultlike in its nature.

'Pleasant, is it not?' sneered my guide.  Thereupon he whistled, and
a pale-faced lad, dressed in garments made of skins, came quickly out
of the darkness and ran towards him.

'Prisoner ready, Saul?' interrogated Sir Claudius.

'Yes, master,' answered the lad, looking from him to me with startled
eyes.  He added something which I did not catch.

Sir Claudius hesitated a moment before saying to the lad, with a
frown, 'Stay here with this lady and take care of her; you
understand?'

'Yes, master.  I must not let her escape.'

The man nodded.

'I shall soon return,' he said, and vanished into the darkness.

A few moments of intense silence followed.  Full of apprehension and
dread about my own safety and that of Sir Hubert Blair, I was not
thinking at all about the boy, when he startled me by saying in low
tones--

'I think you must be the lady who tried to save my grandmother's
life?'

'Your grandmother's life?' I asked wonderingly.  'When?  Where?'

'I have heard about you since you came here, from the servants, and I
think you must be the lady,' continued the lad slowly.  'It was many
weeks ago, not very far from Horsham.  Wicked men made out that my
grandmother was a witch and drowned her.  My dear old grandmother!'
he sobbed.  'But you tried to save her life.'

'Was she your grandmother?' asked I, thinking of the so-called witch,
who had implored me frantically to save her.

'Yes, lady.  She was one of the best of women,' answered Saul
sorrowfully.  'I knew it was you,' he added, 'who was so good to her,
because he who told me all about it said that the lady who tried to
save her looked like an angel, with hair of gold, a face like pink
wild roses and eyes like big speedwells.  Your face is rather too
white, but the other part of you answers to the description exactly.'

'I certainly tried to protect a poor old woman from her wicked
enemies,' said I; 'and I remember now one of the charges against her
was that she had done away with her own grandson.  I suppose that was
you?'

'Yes, lady.  And it was a wicked lie.  My master it was who stole me
away from home and brought me here to be his slave and turnkey.  I
hate him.  He is cruel as death.  He has a gallows, and he kills
people without any trial, or with only a mock trial.'

'Terrible!' I exclaimed, and was just beginning to ask questions
about Sir Hubert when footsteps were to be heard returning, and Saul
whispered--

'I will try to save you, for the sake of what you did for my dear,
good grandmother----' he broke off, for, alas! he had said too much.

'Dog!' cried Sir Claudius, kicking him so brutally that the poor lad
fell upon his knees with a cry of pain.

'You do that in my presence!' exclaimed I.  'And yet you profess to
love me?'

'Silence, in the lad's presence!' commanded Sir Claudius gruffly.
'What business had he to whisper to you?  What was he saying?'

'Does it matter what a young boy says?' asked I, remembering just in
time that it might be better policy to soothe than to anger him.

'You dare to whisper to a prisoner in my castle?' exclaimed Sir
Claudius, turning again upon the lad and beginning to kick and cuff
him unmercifully.

Every cry of the poor boy's went to my heart.  I seemed to feel each
blow myself, and begged pitifully for mercy.  But I might as well
have spoken to the great stone walls.  Sir Claudius did not stop
until poor Saul lay motionless upon the ground; then, leaving him
stunned, the tyrant seized my hand and drew me from the spot, through
the darkness to the far side of the hall, where there was an immense
circular opening in the ground.

'Look down.  Look into the dungeon below,' he said.

I peered into the gloomy depths and saw a man lying on some straw
with his back toward us; but it was so dark that I could discern
neither his clothes, nor exact size, nor the colour of his hair.  I
simply saw that there was a man and that he was lying down in a
helpless, hopeless attitude, as if too weak to stand.

'That is Sir Hubert Blair,' said Sir Claudius.  'He has not fared so
well as you.  He has scarcely had such sumptuous lodgings.  He is
ill.  Ha! ha!  If we do not bring him to the gallows quickly, or
release him, he will spare us the trouble.'

A bitter cry fell from my lips.  I seemed to be in a hideous
nightmare.

The man in the dungeon started, but did not turn round.

'Hubert!  Hubert!' I called.

No answer.  The prisoner lay quite still now.

'He does not hear,' said the harsh voice by my side.  'He is farther
off than you think.'

I knew he lied, for had I not seen the man start when I first cried
out?  Was he Sir Hubert?  I strained my eyes, but could not see if it
was he.  Why did he not turn round?  Sir Hubert would have turned in
a moment at my cry.

'Sir Hubert Blair,' I shouted, 'it is I--Margery Brown--will you not
look at me?  Turn round.  Please--please turn round.'

I spoke in vain.  The prisoner did not turn.  He stayed in the same
position.

'Oh, why does he not turn?  I want to see his face,' I said.

Sir Claudius regarded me sternly.

'I said you might see, but not speak to him,' he said; 'and I only
meant you to look at him.'

'But I want to see his face,' I said.  'I must see his face.  Please
ask him to turn towards us.'

Sir Claudius looked annoyed.  At last he said with evident
reluctance--

'He cannot turn round.  He is chained in that position to an iron
staple in the wall.'

I burst into tears.  It is a woman's refuge when words fail her, and
sometimes it softens the beholder, but not in this case; the man
standing by my side possessed a heart of stone.

'Tears do no good, madam,' said he.  'It is perfectly useless for you
to stand there weeping.'

'How long has he been chained there?' I asked at length.

'A day or two,' answered Sir Claudius airily.  'If you really wish
him to be liberated,' he said, 'you have it in your power to set him
free--otherwise, as I said, to-morrow morning--the gallows.'

'Oh, no!  No!' cried I.  'Not that!  Not that!'

'But I say it must be that, unless----'

'Tell me,' said I, 'does he know what fate is in store for him?'

'No.  He does not know yet.  But I can tell him now.  He will hear my
voice if I shout.'

'Oh, but do not shout it,' I exclaimed heroically, resolving that if
I could prevent it Sir Hubert should never hear that dreadful
sentence.

'Then you consent to marry me?'

'Will Sir Hubert be liberated immediately if I do?' asked I.

By this time I was certain that the prisoner was indeed my poor
lover, for my straining eyes could discern that he had black hair and
that his size and figure corresponded exactly.  Moreover his dress
appeared to be exactly the same as that Sir Hubert wore when last I
saw him.  My one desire, therefore, was to save him from the gallows.

'Immediately.  I guarantee that he shall be set free immediately.'

'If I consent, may I be allowed to tell him the good news about his
freedom?'

The other was silent.  He seemed to be weighing the pros and cons of
the matter.

'Please allow me,' I entreated.

'Very well.  If you promise to become my wife?'

I bowed--not being able to speak.  The next moment I cried
triumphantly--

'Hubert!  Hubert!  You are about to be set free.  You are about to be
liberated.  I, your Margery, have effected this.  Never forget me.'
My voice broke into sobs, and, weeping bitterly, I suffered my
companion to lead me away.

Was it imagination, or did I really hear an anxious voice calling
after us as Sir Claudius led me away from the subterranean hall and
up a steep flight of stone steps?  My companion declared that it was
nothing but the echo of our own footsteps, yet I had my doubts.



CHAPTER XVIII

On the Point of being Wed

I will not attempt to describe my misery during the weeks which
intervened between my consenting to become the wife of Sir Claudius
and the dawning of the dreadful day upon which he claimed the
fulfilment of my promise.

As a lover, it can easily be understood, the ruffian who had me in
his power was altogether detestable, even his sisters taking pity
upon me at last, and exercising a kind of rough guardianship.  I was
bitterly distressed because of not being allowed to see Sir Hubert
for one moment before he left Crossley Hall.  If I could only have
said farewell to him, I thought I could have borne my position
better.  Sir Claudius was obdurate and would not allow us to meet for
even five minutes.  He told me that he was sending Sir Hubert abroad,
under a safe escort, and that was all the information I could
extract.  For the rest, news of the entire surrender of the country
to Queen Mary was brought to the house by travellers, as well as
fearful tidings of the distinguished men who had passed through the
Traitors' Gate into the Tower, with the certain prospect of more or
less speedy execution.

Mary had entered London in state, having first dismissed her army
that she might show confidence in her people.  With the Princess
Elizabeth by her side, she rode into the city amidst the acclamations
of the multitude.  They had entered the Tower, where the queen's
first act was one of clemency, for she pardoned the State prisoners
who had been imprisoned there during the reigns of Henry VIII and
Edward VI.  But, alas!--and this touched me more nearly--she
commanded the Earl of Arundel to seize the Duke of Suffolk and Lady
Jane Grey and commit them to the Tower.  There were rumours that the
Duke of Suffolk was soon liberated, but I did not know what truth was
in the tale.  I was greatly affected by the thought of my dear lady
being imprisoned there, where she had been before in such different,
though scarcely happier, circumstances.  How she would miss me!  No
one would quite take my place with her, and having to do without me
would add to her many troubles.  However, she would be spared the
knowledge of my grievous fate, and God would be merciful to her and
give her His peace.  Of that I was assured.

The end of the time which I insisted must elapse before my marriage
came only too soon, notwithstanding its wretchedness, and at last the
day arrived which I had been compelled to name as our wedding day.  I
felt stunned now that it had come, and everything that happened
seemed to be happening in a dream.

There was a great commotion in the house, many coming and going and
serving-men and women flying hither and thither.  There was to be a
great breakfast, or dinner after the ceremony, and to it several
people were coming from the neighbourhood.

The marriage was to take place in the small chapel adjoining the
house by eleven o'clock in the morning.  An old clergyman had been
brought to the Hall by Sir Claudius--a poor scared-looking old
man--and he was to officiate.

Every arrangement for the wedding had been made, a trousseau provided
for me and an elderly man found to give me away.  The sisters of Sir
Claudius were to be my bridesmaids, and children were to scatter
flowers before me as I walked to and from the chapel.

I thought that I looked ghastly and quite plain-looking as I surveyed
myself in a mirror, in my wedding-dress of white satin embroidered
with gold, and a headdress and veil of costly lace, before the
ceremony, but felt no regret on that account.  Sleepless nights, a
poor appetite and troubled thoughts are not calculated to enhance
beauty, and I should have rejoiced if the sight of me had frightened
away my unloved bridegroom.

The latter, dressed in a doublet of black velvet, embroidered with
gold and various other adornments, looked coarser and more vulgar
than ever.  He strutted about, staring at people to see if they
admired him and his bride.

'Did you ever see any one like her?' he said in a loud whisper to
more than one of his companions.  'Beautiful as an angel, isn't she?
And she is mine, mine, mine!  And she is very much in love with me,'
he had the audacity to add.  'Oh, yes, very much in love with me!'

The last time he said this was when he was waiting, with his best
man, in the prettily decorated chapel.

I overheard him as I walked up the aisle, leaning on the man's arm
who was to play the part of father and give me away.  Then, for a
moment, I awoke out of the stupor in which I was plunged while acting
my part mechanically, and, raising my eyes, looked reproachfully at
Sir Claudius.  He shifted his eyes uneasily, and, with a sudden
realization of what I was doing, I looked keenly around for some way
of escape.  I had prayed so very much that a way of escape would be
opened for me out of the terrible tangle into which my life had got.
Surely there must be some way of escape.

The little building was packed with the guests, the followers and the
servants of Sir Claudius; behind me stood his sisters, my
jailer-bridesmaids; before me was my enemy, soon to be transformed
into my husband, unless by some bold stroke I could now, at the
eleventh hour, avert the coming calamity.  At that moment I perceived
the lad Saul, standing by a door, watching me with eager eyes out of
an almost colourless face, and as I looked at him I saw his lips
saying, 'Wait,' though no sound fell from them.

I was certain that he said 'Wait,' although I was not learned in
lip-reading, and, remembering that he had promised to try to save me
from Sir Claudius, instantly resolved to delay my progress as much as
possible.

For that purpose I stumbled over my dress, and fell upon my knees, in
spite of my companion's efforts to keep me up.  This occasioned a few
moments' delay, for when I was on my feet again I clung to the arm on
which I leaned, whispering that I felt faint.

'Water!  Fetch water!' the order flew from lips to lips, and no one
seemed to be able to carry it out, until a silver tankard of cold
water was brought to me by the lad Saul.

Bowing low, as he offered it to me, he said in my ear--

'You have been deceived.  Make delay.  Do not say the words.  Your
deliverers are coming.  They are on the way.'

The next moment a blow from the bridegroom's fist upon the poor lad's
ear laid him senseless on the floor.

'How dare he speak to my bride!  The varlet!' thundered Sir Claudius.

But I knelt down in reality now by poor Saul's side, trying to raise
his head and open his collar, that he might breathe more freely.

They would not permit me to tend him.  He was caught up by others and
hurried away out of my sight.

'I refuse to marry you now, you cruel man!' I exclaimed.

But Sir Claudius merely smiled, and bade my conductor bring me
forward.

There was a little confusion as the wedding party was being arranged
before the Communion table, and I took advantage of it to say, in a
low tone, to the old clergyman--

'I will not marry Sir Claudius.  My promise to him was made under
compulsion, and therefore it is not binding.'

The old man looked bewildered, startled.  He had evidently no idea of
this, and perhaps he only half heard me, for my voice was weak and
low.

'It is all right.  It is all right, I say,' cried Sir Claudius
sharply.  'Proceed with the ceremony.  Take no heed of a maiden's
bashfulness.'

'It is not that,' I appealed to every one.  'I cannot----'

'Silence!  Silence!' said more than one big, bullying voice from
those who aided Sir Claudius, and they closed around me, making so
much noise that my voice could not be heard.

They were all so absorbed that they did not hear loud shouts and
cries outside, nor notice the entrance into the chapel of a little
band of well-armed strangers, nor hear the call of 'Sir Claudius!
Sir Claudius!' from the yard.  Least of all did the bridegroom hear
the tumult, for he was exerting himself to smother my remonstrances
and compel me to take part in the service.

'Wilt thou have this woman to be thy wedded wife?' asked the
clergyman in quavering, uncertain tones.  He was weak and old, in
terror of Sir Claudius, and more than half persuaded that he had
misunderstood me.  'Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour and keep
her, in sickness and in health, and, forsaking all other, keep thee
only unto her as long as ye both shall live?'  The solemn question
fell solemnly from the old man's lips, his eyes sought the
bridegroom's face with great anxiety.

'I will!' cried Sir Claudius in loud, exultant tones.  He looked
round smilingly.

It was his hour of triumph.

'Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded husband, to live together
after God's ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony?  Wilt thou
obey and serve him, in sickness and in health, and, forsaking all
other, keep thee only unto him as long as ye both shall live?'

'No,' I said, but the monosyllable was so low that none heard it.
None of those around me I mean.  There is One to whom a broken heart
appeals more strongly than aught else.

'Say "I will,"' prompted the clergyman.

'No,' I said again more loudly, but again my utterance failed to
reach the aged ears bent to listen.

'Say "I will,"' repeated the clergyman.

'I cannot,' I almost shrieked now in my agony and fear.

'You are a wicked, lying girl,' hissed the bridegroom in my ear.
'You promised to marry me.'

'But you deceived me,' ventured I.

'My dear,' said the clergyman gravely, 'try to collect yourself.  Did
you not come here into this chapel to be wedded to this man?'

'Yes--but----'

I thought of the man I loved, whose safety I imagined I had purchased
by that daring promise to Sir Claudius, and, knowing from what Saul
had said, that I had been deceived, was altogether overwhelmed with
grief and misery.  A mist gathered around me, the church grew dark;
releasing my hand from the arm that held it, I stretched it towards
the old clergyman, and then fell half-unconscious at his feet.

Instantly there was a tremendous noise in the chapel.  Swords
clashed, men shouted and fought wildly.  Some one trod upon my dress
almost upon me, and was hurled off by strong arms, which the next
instant picked me up and placed me out of danger.

I heard Sir Claudius, in harsh but abject accents, begging for mercy,
and, looking down--for I had been lifted into the gallery of the
chapel--saw him on his knees before Sir Hubert Blair, who, brave and
handsome, stood over him with his drawn sword.

'Are you a man?' asked my beloved with scorn.  But, the next moment,
before he could strike at him, if that was in his mind, a dozen
sturdy men attacked Sir Hubert, and the fighting became so terrible
that, in fear and horror, I again lost consciousness.



CHAPTER XIX

Escaping from the Enemy

'Are we quite safe now, Betsy?'

'Yes, my dear mistress, we have got clean away from that gloomy Hall,
with its half-wild dependents, who would like to have torn us to
pieces I verily believe, and it's a comfort to think that our Sir
Hubert gave that wicked Sir Claudius a mark to remember him by that
will last all his lifetime----'

'What?  What was that?' I asked feebly.  For, though conscious now, I
was feeling very weak, and the litter in which I lay swayed as it was
being borne over bumpy, uneven roads.

'He cut off his left hand with one blow of his sword,' cried my woman
exultingly, 'so that hand will never do any more mischief, mistress!'

'Poor wretch!' exclaimed I, shuddering.

'Poor, do you call him?  It is not a vile enough word.  Why,
mistress, it was with that hand he boxed the ear of that poor lad who
spoke to you in the chapel, thereby probably making him deaf for
life.'

'Oh, I hope not!  Poor Saul!'

'I have known of hard blows on the ear like that making people deaf
for life,' continued Betsy volubly, 'and it is a cruel shame to give
them.'

'Indeed it is!  Oh!  Betsy, how glad I am that I have escaped from
the power of that man!'  And I thanked God in my heart for my safe
deliverance.

'I am deeply thankful, mistress,' and the tears came into Betsy's
eyes, for she had a warm heart, full of affection for me and my
brothers, having been our nurse for years before she became my maid.

'Where are we now, Betsy?' I asked presently, after trying in vain to
piece together the disjointed fragments of events of which I had been
conscious since the interrupted wedding in the chapel at Crossley
Hall.

'On the high road to Brighthelmstone.  Travelling as fast as we can
towards our dear home!' cried Betsy delightedly.  'We have had enough
of the great world, you and I, mistress, to last us all our lives.
When Sir Hubert came hastily into Sion House that day you
disappeared, declaring you had been kidnapped, and demanded a litter,
horses and men, aye, and me also to ride inside and nurse you if you
were ill--that he might go after you--Lady Jane saw him herself, and
promised everything he asked.  Then she added that she was herself
expecting hourly to be sent for to the Tower.  "It is not likely,"
she said, "that my cousin, Queen Mary, will suffer me to be at large,
when my freedom might, any day, cause danger to herself; therefore if
you succeed, as I trust you will, in rescuing my dear Margery, I pray
you take her to her father's house, where she will be safer than
either here at Sion House, or with me in the Tower.  For my own
sake," she said, "I would fain have her near me, but for hers I wish
her down at Brighthelmstone with her own people."'

'Did Lady Jane say that?'

'Yes, mistress; I remember every word, and Sir Hubert agreed that he
would take you to your home.  He is therefore doing so.'

'Where is he?' I asked quickly.

'He is riding on before our litter, to see if the road is clear and
safe.'

'I would fain speak with him.'

'Mistress, you cannot just now.  He is out of sight and hearing.
"Take care of your mistress," he said to me, "and I will ride on in
front."  There are other riders behind.  We are well protected now.
It was such a job to get hold of you, mistress,' continued Betsy,
'that we don't mean to lose you again.  There was much fighting to do
before we could get into the Hall, I can tell you; but, first of all,
we found the Duke of Northumberland's men were not much good, and we
had to travel ever so far to get some picked men, quite gentlemen
some of them, to come over and help.'

'Then Sir Hubert never was a prisoner at Crossley Hall?' asked I,
thinking of the man in the dungeon, and of all that I had gone
through in order to get him liberated.

Betsy laughed at the idea.  'Sir Hubert said he had had a narrow
escape of being taken prisoner when you were,' she said.  'There were
six to one, but he fought valiantly, and they could not take him,
though he was unable to rescue you.'

Lying there in the litter, listening to Betsy's talk and looking on
her familiar face, whilst the sweet country air fanned me pleasantly,
bringing with it, too--or I could fancy so--a breath of the salt sea
air in which I had grown up and lived most of my life, I could almost
fancy that the Wheel of Time had gone back a little, and I was once
more in my father's litter with Betsy, leaving home for the first
time for Sion House and the service of Lady Jane Grey.  I had to pull
myself together before I could realize that far from being in my
father's litter going to Isleworth, I was in one of the Duke of
Northumberland's litters, returning in it to my old home.

'You will like to see Master Jack and Master Hal again,' said Betsy
cheerily, and of course your father and Master Montgomery too, not to
mention Timothy and John and Joseph.'

'Yes, that I shall,' I said, but half absently, for though I was
returning to them, there was another love drawing my heart away from
them back to the more hazardous life in the great metropolis, wherein
was my sweet mistress, Lady Jane.  'For my own sake, I would rather
have her with me,' those had been her words about me, and it needed
not long thinking about them on my part to make of them my law.  Lady
Jane would rather have me with her, therefore I must go to Lady Jane.
I said so to Betsy, much to her amazement and consternation.

'But, mistress, dear mistress, consider,' she cried.  'Before this
she has probably been taken to the Tower, where she will be a
prisoner.  It will be very different from what it was before,' she
continued.  'She will be in another part of the Tower, away from the
Royal Palace that she was in before, and they will never allow you to
go to her, or, once you go,' she went on inconsequently, 'you will
never be permitted to return.  Your life won't be safe for a minute,
when once you are amongst the State prisoners.  They will burn you
alive and behead you,' she continued wildly, tears rolling down her
face at the idea, 'and then where will you be, my sweet, precious
Mistress Margery?' and she caught hold of my hands as if she would
keep me away from the Tower by main force.

And then my litter suddenly stopped, and Sir Hubert rode alongside,
and, stooping over his horse's head, looked earnestly into my face.

'My dearest,' he said to me, lifting his hat with one hand and
reining in his horse with the other, 'what is the matter?'

I told him that he was taking me in the wrong direction, for that I
desired, above all things, to return to Lady Jane.

'Well, that is what I desire too,' he said instantly, 'or at least I
wish to be in the neighbourhood of her father, that we may together
discuss and plan measures----'  He stopped short, looking
suspiciously around.  'You understand?' he said.

Yes, I understood.  He was still not without hope that Mary might be
dethroned, and Lady Jane reinstated as Queen.  What it is to be
young!  All things seem possible to the very young, especially when
they are greatly desired.

'But Lady Jane Grey wished me to take you to your home, Margery,' he
said, 'and indeed I know you would be safer there.'

'Yes,' said I, 'but that does not matter.'

'Would you not like to be back with Jack and Hal and your father?' he
asked.

For a moment--I was so young and they were so very dear--I wavered.
Then I made answer stoutly, 'I want, _above all things, to return to
my dear lady.  If you love me, dearest, you will take me to her._'

'And if she chides me for disobedience?'

'I will bear the blame,' I said; 'I will bear all the blame.'

We had a little more talk about it, and then, the language of our
hearts being one and the same, straightway turned about and retraced
our steps, making a detour, that we might avoid the dangerous
neighbourhood of Crossley Hall.

A couple of hours later, Sir Hubert, who had been riding on before,
returned to us, saying anxiously, 'Margery, we are pursued.  Quite a
large company of horsemen have appeared in sight from the direction
of Crossley Hall, and they are gaining upon us.'

'Oh,' cried I, 'what shall we do?  It would be worse than death to
fall again into the hands of Sir Claudius!'

'You never shall,' said Sir Hubert, 'whilst I live and a strong arm
can prevent it.'

At that moment a solitary horseman, riding towards us from the
opposite direction, stopped short, and, looking hard at us,
exclaimed--

'Why, is it thou again?  And still pursued by the rabble?  Thou wilt
be killed yet!'

'Master Jack Fish!' exclaimed I.  'You remember him, Hubert, and what
a good friend he was to us when we were in that shed?'

'Oh, yes, I remember him perfectly,' and my dear one greeted him in a
very friendly way, rapidly explaining the situation.

'Thou art in great danger,' said Jack Fish gravely.  'Thine enemy
will stick at nothing to be revenged on thee.  I caught a good
glimpse of his horsemen when I was on that hill, and there are four
times as many of them as there are of thee.'

'What _shall_ we do?' I exclaimed.

Jack Fish looked at me pityingly.  'Madam,' he said, 'thou in that
litter art in the position of the greatest danger.  Thy litter is a
target towards which all will aim.  Sir Knight, is it absolutely
impossible to separate the lady from her litter?'

'Well, no,' replied Sir Hubert.  'Margery'--he turned to me--'can you
ride well?  Could you accompany us on horseback?'

'Yes.  That I could!' I exclaimed.  'I have been used to riding from
my babyhood.  A man's saddle?  Oh, yes, of course I can ride on that.
I can ride without a saddle, if you like,' and I thought of the many
gallops across the downs I had had in the old days with Hal and Jack.

'Hurrah!  Bravo!' cried my lover triumphantly.  'Now we shall
circumvent the enemy!'  He was about to choose me a horse, when the
sight of Betsy reminded him of her, and he asked, 'Your maid?  Can
she ride?'

'That I can, sir,' Betsy answered for herself.  'Am I not a farmer's
daughter?'

'You will do well,' exclaimed Master Jack Fish, and with that,
setting spurs to his horse, he galloped off, not caring for our
pursuers to see him with us.

'He is a shrewd man and a good friend,' observed Sir Hubert.  Then he
quickly arranged that Betsy and I should ride two of his men's
horses, whilst their owners rode behind two of the other men.

That done, the party broke up.  Sir Hubert, accompanied by me and my
woman, and followed by half his company, continuing straight forward
on the road to London, whilst the other half of the men took the
litter in the direction of Guildford.

In this way we fortunately escaped from our would-be captors, who, we
afterwards heard, had a sharp encounter with the company escorting
the litter, in which they were only beaten off with tremendous
difficulty and the loss of the litter, which fell into their hands.



CHAPTER XX

A Trying Experience

By the time we reached the vicinity of the outlying suburbs of London
City another danger menaced.  It was impossible for so large a
company of horsemen to approach the metropolis unchallenged, and we
were brought to a standstill at Ditton by the cry from two police
officials--

'Halt, sirs!  Halt!  Are you for Queen Mary?'

[Illustration: A VOICE OF THUNDER DEMANDED, "ARE YOU FOR QUEEN MARY?"]

Now, we were none of us for Queen Mary, and we were all honest folk
and true, who hated and abhorred a lie; there was nothing for it
therefore but that we should hold our peace and try to rush from the
position by galloping past our questioners, who, when they found that
they were baulked, fired their pistols after us, but fortunately
without doing any of our party a mischief.

'We shall have to separate,' said Sir Hubert when, at last, we deemed
it safe to slacken our pace and pull up our steeds for a brief
confabulation.  'Every moment that we are together now increases our
danger, for news of us will fly round in every direction, and any
moment we may be apprehended and taken before the magistrates--that
is, if they can get hold of us.  Once in Court,' he added, gravely,
'our fate is certain--I, for one, will never declare fealty to the
Papist Mary.'

'Nor I,' said I, in whispered words, but he heard them, and, turning
to me, said earnestly, 'You are a woman, and I pray you do not get
mixed up with political matters, which might endanger your dear head.'

I could not make any rejoinder, for Sir Hubert's friends now began to
discuss several matters, in which they wanted his guidance before
parting from him.  A born leader of men was my Hubert, and there was
no hesitancy in his firm voice as he gave out peremptory advice and
commands.

I fancy that I see him now, sitting erect on his fine horse, with
enthusiasm and earnest hope lighting up his countenance, as, after
listening to all, he quietly settled every knotty point in as few
words as possible.  Betsy's objections to being parted from me took
him a little longer to overrule than everything else, but he would
allow no one except himself to remain with me.  It was only for a few
hours, he said, and the smaller my party the safer would be my
position.  And he picked out a worthy man to escort Betsy into
London, and take her to London Bridge, where we were to join her.
However, Betsy would not consent to the plan until I also bade her
authoritatively to say no more, but obey in every particular.  Then
she left me, weeping and declaring that she should see my face no
more, for we should both perish by the dangers of the way.

'And when you arrive in London,' she went on, in her inconsequent
way, 'people will recognize that you have been with Lady Jane Grey,
when she was queen, and then you will be burnt and beheaded as well
for high treason, or whatever they call it, and I shall have all the
misery of returning to Sussex alone, to acquaint your father with the
fearful tidings!'

When our company was broken up into twos and threes, Sir Hubert and I
rode on at a brisk pace, and did not draw rein until we reached the
River Thames at Kingston, a very pretty little town.

The glory of the brilliant summer day was waning then; the sunset was
obscured and clouded over by dark clouds; only its reflection
lingered a little over the silvery waters of the Thames.

'We cannot reach London to-day,' said I, looking inquiringly at my
companion.

I had been so happy riding along by his side that I had not realized
that even the longest day comes to an end at last and night will
follow.  But he--he should have thought of that.

'No.  Of course not.  I have ascertained that Sir William Wood and
Lady Caroline are staying with some friends at a house at Kingston.
It is somewhere near the river.  I thought that you would like to
stay the night with Lady Caroline.'

'Oh, yes, I should,' I replied, cheerfully, for it was very pleasant
to think of being with a gentlewoman again, after all the rough
experiences I had been through.

'If only I could find the place!' exclaimed Sir Hubert.  'We shall
attract observation if we go about on horseback seeking it.  News
will arrive here, if it has not already arrived, of what happened at
Ditton, and we shall be arrested on suspicion.'

'What shall we do then?'

'Leave our horses at an inn, and take a walk along the riverside
until we find the house where our friends are.  I know it is a house
by the river because I have been there.'

I made no objection to this, and we went to an inn, where they were
pleased to take our horses, as also to serve us with light
refreshment, of ale and bread and cheese for Sir Hubert and milk and
cake for me, after hurriedly partaking of which we went out and
walked down the street.

As we did so I noticed a little group of men standing near the river
were regarding my companion with great curiosity, but concluded that
this was due to the fine manly presence and dignified mien of Sir
Hubert.

It was a little startling, however, to find that, while we were
searching for the house we wanted, we occasionally encountered one or
another of these individuals, apparently watching us with interest.

'Those men get upon my nerves,' I said at last.  'We meet them
everywhere.'

Sir Hubert laughed.

'I have been thinking that the men of Kingston have a strange
similarity of appearance,' he said.  'Can they possibly be the same
men?'

I answered, 'Yes, I am sure of it.  And I do not like to see them so
frequently.'

'But who is this?' exclaimed Sir Hubert with delight.

It was Sir William Wood, who, coming suddenly round a corner, almost
ran into my dear knight's arms.

'The very man I want!' cried he.  'You have been long in coming,
Hubert, my friend!'

'And now that I am here, before we discuss anything, there is this
lady, Mistress Margery Brown, to bring to a place of safety for the
night.  I hope Lady Caroline is at Kingston.'

'She is,' replied Lady Caroline's husband, shaking hands cordially
with me, 'but I must tell you that we are hiding here.  Our hostess,
Lady Mary Peterson, dared not have us staying with her openly.  Even
now I have only ventured to leave the house by a subterranean passage
from the cellars to yonder clump of willows by the river, and if you
wish to remain over the night with us you will have to accompany me
that way.  But who are those men?'  He asked the question with
anxiety, pointing as he did so to two of the men who were following
us about.

They stood near a thick hedge, which partly screened them from
observation.

'Oh, those!  I have an account to settle with them,' cried Sir Hubert
angrily, at once giving chase to the rascals.

There was a spice of boyishness always about Sir William, and now,
like a boy, he forgot all about me and ran off to aid Sir Hubert in
the pursuit.

I was left alone, and neither Sir Hubert nor Sir William heard my
pitiful little cry--

'Oh, do not leave me!'

By the light of the moon, which had now risen, I saw my escort
disappear, with feelings of great misgiving, and sat down
disconsolately upon a big boulder by the river side.

It was very lonely there.  The water flowed placidly by, with
scarcely a murmur.  A corncrake in a field behind made mournful
music, with monotonous persistence.  A dog howled somewhere on the
other side of the river.  From the town behind us proceeded subdued
sounds of horses' hoofs, men's voices, the clashing of steel and,
presently, the ringing of the curfew bell.

What a long time my knights were in catching, or frightening, or
punishing the spies, if the men were spies, and it seemed evident
that they were.  Supposing that they had run in the direction of
their fellows, and the two knights following them were caught in a
trap, overpowered by numbers and taken to prison for rebelling
against Queen Mary, what could I do all by myself?

I was horribly frightened, and clasped my hands and strained my eyes
in my endeavour to see one or other of my knights returning for me.
But in vain.  No one was visible.  Should I go forward and look for
them?  No; better to remain where they had left me, lest I missed
them altogether.

I sat still, leaning my head upon my hand, and tried to wait as
patiently as I could.  Would that dog never cease howling?  What was
that approaching on the river?  A boat?  It must be, for now the soft
beating of oars upon the water was plainly to be heard.

Oh, why did not Sir Hubert, or at least Sir William, return?  There
were men in the boat--four men, two were rowing.  Why, at a gesture
from the one sitting in the stern of the boat, did the oarsmen stop
rowing?  Now they were approaching the bank where I sat.  They must
have seen me, and indeed my figure, silhouetted against the sky, must
have been conspicuous.

They were getting out now--at least two of the men were--and coming
towards me.

But what was this?  Oh joy!  The men whom I now saw more clearly were
none other than my two good knights, returning to me in all haste.

Sir Hubert seized my trembling hands.

'You have been left too long, my love!' he said.  'But indeed we
could not help it.  What do you think?  The men we ran after were no
foes, after all.  Far from it, they were friends.  When we had
knocked them down, and they found out who we were, mostly from Sir
William, whom they had seen before, they informed us that they
belonged to a small party of men that the Duke of Suffolk had sent
out here to look for me.  They had come down to Kingston by boat, and
were hoping to meet with me and take me to London City by water.'

'Then that was why they stared so hard at us, and followed us about?'
I said inquiringly.

'Exactly.  They were not sure that it was I, until Sir William and I
had knocked a little sense into them!'

'Shall you go with them?' I asked.  'And I, what shall I do?'

'Well, you mast come too.  You want to be with Lady Jane.  I think
that I had better take you to her father, whom the queen has pardoned
and set free.  He will know best how to get you into the Tower, and
to his daughter.'

'But it is night,' I said.

Sir Hubert was eager to go that very moment to the Duke, but, looking
down upon me, he suddenly perceived my weariness and weakness.

'Poor Margery!' he said, with infinite tenderness, 'you are worn out!
What shall we do with her, Sir William?'

'Leave her with me,' said Sir William at once.  'I will take her
straight to Lady Caroline, and we will all three follow you to London
to-morrow, probably by water, as that will attract the least
observation.'

After a hurried discussion we agreed to this, and Sir Hubert, who I
saw must have received some political information which greatly
excited him, took a hasty, though affectionate, leave of me there, by
the Thames, within sight of Kingston Bridge, which was so soon to be
the scene of a very daring exploit.  And we parted, little knowing
what was to happen before we met again, he going to the boat to be
rowed down to London City, I going with Sir William through the
subterranean passage to the great house, where Lady Caroline received
me as a sister, and assisted me to bed with her own hands.

I was so tired that I fell asleep the moment my head touched the
pillow.  But my dreams were troubled.  For in them, over and over
again, I saw Sir Hubert in a boat, pulling against the stream, and
unable to get on, whilst I, standing on the river bank, besought him
to make haste to Lady Jane, who in the Tower was in sore need of
succour.  And still he tried to go to her, but in vain; the boat
heaved and tossed, but did not advance at all, in spite of every
effort.  And I wept in my sleep, because he could not go to Lady Jane.



CHAPTER XXI

Queen Mary's Boon

'Oh, help me!' I implored.  'Help me to get into the Tower!'

The Court physician to whom I appealed shook his head gravely.

'It is a difficult matter for an outsider to get in there,' he said,
'and, if I mistake not, you are one who would be liable to be
suspected, by reason of your having been there before with the
unfortunate Lady Jane Grey.'

'Then you remember me?  I thought you would.  I am Margaret Brown,' I
faltered.

'Mistress Margaret Brown,' said he, very gently, 'I will give you one
word of advice, and that is, go home to your friends.'

'Alas!' I said, wringing my hands, 'I have no friend--save one--so
dear as she who is imprisoned in the Tower.  Help me to get to her,
Dr. Massingbird, I implore you.  She said that it would be a comfort
to her to have me there, and she is in sore need of comfort!'

'Poor lady!  Poor young lady!  So sinned against, and yet so
innocent; and made a tool of by that wicked man who has met with his
just fate.  I mean Northumberland.'

'Yes,' said I.  'It was he and his ambition that ruined my dear lady.'

We were standing talking together in Thames Street, not far from the
Bulwark Gate of the great Tower of London.  For a week I had been
making many endeavours to get into the Tower, but, owing to the great
precautions which were being taken against treachery--especially
during Queen Mary's residence there--every attempt of mine to effect
an entrance was in vain.  I had found Betsy all right on London
Bridge, where she stayed twelve hours waiting for me, in spite of
every effort made to dislodge her from her position, and she and I
were lodging, with the Woods, in apartments in the Strand.

Sir William Wood and Lady Caroline had no power to assist me to get
into the Tower; they were obliged to keep as quiet as possible, only
going out at night, owing to Sir William's partisanship of Lady Jane,
whilst, for the same reason, Sir Hubert Blair, too, was compelled to
remain hidden until certain plans were matured.  He could not help
me, and indeed I had not seen him since we parted on Kingston Bridge.
As for the Duke of Suffolk, he was quite unable to assist me to go to
his daughter, for, having been liberated after two or three days'
imprisonment, owing to the intercession of his wife who prostrated
herself before Mary, pleading that he was delicate and that his
health would suffer if he were not set free, upon which Her Majesty
graciously forgave him, he was most ungratefully busying himself with
secret schemes for ousting her from the throne and reinstating Queen
Jane.  Always careless of the latter's feelings, whether she had her
favourite gentlewoman with her in her imprisonment, or not, was a
matter of indifference to him.  Others who had made my acquaintance
during the queen's short reign cut me dead, or treated me with scanty
civility upon my reappearing on the scene.  There was not one of
those fine Court ladies who had formerly professed to admire and love
Queen Jane who would lift a hand to help her now that she was in
affliction and imprisonment.  I was thinking sadly about this, as I
returned from my last fruitless effort to gain ingress into the
Tower, when I met one of the physicians who had attended Queen Jane
during her illness in the royal palace.  He was a truly benevolent
man, and although he was evidently going somewhere in a hurry, he got
out of his coach when I called to him, to inquire what I wanted.

'I am very hurried just now,' he said, temporizing, 'The fact is
Queen Mary cannot sleep; evil, unpleasant thoughts trouble her, from
the moment in which she lies down in bed until it is well nigh time
to rise again, and potions and drugs do not cure the malady.  But I
bethought me of King Saul, to whom David played when he was
distracted in that manner, until the evil spirits no longer troubled
him, so I told Her Majesty that I would slip out of the Tower and go
and fetch a young female singer, who would sing to her so beautifully
that she would fall into a natural sleep.  I heard a girl singing
very sweetly in a friend's house in the Strand once, but whether I
shall be able to find her or not I know not.  It is growing late.
The curfew bell has rung; the streets will not be very safe to be out
in soon, and yet I must try to find the girl, if Queen Mary is to
sleep.'

A bold thought came to me as he was speaking.  The good physician was
in search of a girl who could sing well, who in fact could sing Queen
Mary to sleep, and I, who could sing well, wanted above all things to
get into the Tower; it therefore seemed conclusive that I must be the
girl to sing for the queen.  But Queen Mary?  I would rather that it
had been Queen Jane.

'Doctor,' I said entreatingly, 'I am your girl.  Your sweet singer,
you know,' I hurriedly explained, seeing that he did not understand.
'I can sing very sweetly, though I say it myself.  Take me to Queen
Mary.'

'You!'  The good man looked amazed.  'I am afraid it would not do,'
he said.  'Supposing now that Her Majesty found out that you had been
in the Tower with Queen Jane?'

'I don't think that that would make so much difference,' I said.  'A
singer may sing to any one.'

After a little more demur, to my intense satisfaction, Dr.
Massingbird consented to take me, only stipulating that I should
conceal my real name and position from the queen, and appear before
her as a professional singer only.  He also made me promise that I
would do Queen Mary no harm in any way when admitted into her
presence--for these were days in which treachery was common.

Under his care, escorted by him, in scarcely an hour from the time in
which we met in Thames Street, I was entering the royal apartments of
the ancient palace[1] in the mighty Tower of London.


[1] This palace of the old kings of England has long since
disappeared.  It was at the south-east of the Tower.--ED.


I must confess candidly that, whilst outwardly appearing dignified
and calm, I was inwardly in a state of great trepidation and
timidity.  Always overawed by the vastness and gloom of the mighty
fortress, even when there with Queen Jane, while she was in power and
every effort was made to display its riches and magnificence, it can
easily be understood, that I was many times more so now when, late at
night under an assumed character, yet at heart an adherent of the
imprisoned ex-queen, I ventured alone, except for the presence of the
physician, himself a servant, into the palace of the reigning
monarch.  Curious glances were cast at me by guards and sentinels,
squires and dames, lords and ladies, as we ascended the great oaken
staircase and passed through a long gallery into a spacious hall,
with narrow Gothic windows of stained glass, hung with tarnished
cloth of gold curtains.  Here the furniture was large and splendid,
the windows were in deep recesses, whilst there was a gallery round
the upper part of the room.

'Wait a little here, until I return,' said my guide, signing to me to
sit down on an old oak chair.

The physician went away, leaving me, as I at first thought, alone,
but, in a little while, my eyes became accustomed to the dim light,
and I saw that in some of the embrasures by the windows, men and
women sat, or stood engaged in earnest conversation.  A few of them
appeared to be foreigners; from their dress I imagined they were
Spaniards, and two or three of these were monks, the sight of whom
there recalled to my mind Sir Hubert Blair's prediction in Woodleigh
Castleyard, that if Mary reigned, the country would be plunged into
Roman Catholicism and brought into alliance with Spain, upon which a
door would be thrown open for the Inquisition, with all its horrors.

At that moment I heard a girl, standing in a recess near, saying to a
tall man, who from his dress and bearing seemed to be of noble birth--

'The queen means well.  She is cautious about beginning, but in time
she will do all that she is bidden by the Holy Church.  At present
she is racked with indecision and gloomy forebodings----'

'But she has the iron will of her father, King Hal--you see him there
in that portrait, painted by Holbein, over the chimneypiece.  What a
man that was!' exclaimed the other.

The girl shrugged her shoulders.

'Mary has a very different creed from his, fortunately,' she said,
'and she hankers after Spain--all may yet be well for our Church!'

I heard no more, for at that moment Dr. Massingbird, returning,
accompanied by a lady of the bedchamber, desired me to go with her to
Queen Mary, who had already retired for the night.

'I have done all I could for you,' added the physician, aside, in a
low tone.  'I have brought you here.  But you will have to get out
again as you best can, for I cannot dance attendance upon you any
longer.'

I tried to thank him, and to say that I should be all right, but, not
listening to me, he said--

'I have announced you as a poor singer named Meg Brown! having
clipped off a bit of your name.  God grant you may come to no harm,
my child!'

Then he hurried away.

I followed the lady to Queen Mary's bedchamber, walking silently
after her into the splendidly furnished bedroom, where I had been
before with Queen Jane.  How it reminded me of her!  But this was a
very different woman lying upon the great bed, with its silk and gold
counterpane.

Mary was about forty years old--a little woman, slender and delicate
in appearance.  She did not in the least resemble her father, King
Henry VIII.  Her features were not bad, and her eyes were bright--so
bright indeed that they frightened me when, all at once, I discovered
them fixed upon my face.

'Who are you?' demanded the queen, in a voice which was thick and
loud like a man's.

I was still more alarmed, and felt at that moment as if those bright,
piercing eyes were looking into the very depths of my heart.

I knelt for one moment, but quickly rose from the ground, with a
prayer in my heart that I might be forgiven bowing in the house of
Rimmon and before the wrong queen.

'I am Meg Brown, madam.  At your service,' I said, adding, as she
remained quiet, 'a poor young singing-girl.'

'You don't seem to have much boldness in speech, Meg.  How, then, can
you have the courage to sing?'

I clasped my hands tightly together, with an inward prayer for help,
and, in a moment, from the extremity of fear passed to a state of
blessed confidence.

'Only hear me,' I said.  'I can sing, madam.'

'Can you?'  The piercing eyes sought to read my innermost soul.

'Yes, madam.  Once, when I was a child, Master Montgomery, our
curate, took me to see a poor woman who had lost her baby and was
almost dead with grief.  She could not weep, nor sleep, nor eat; the
trouble was killing her.  But I sang to her, and she cried like a
child, and prayed to God and recovered.  And another time,' I spoke
more clearly now, 'when some serving-men and women had a great
quarrel, and were fighting in a truly terrible manner, I stood up and
sang, and sang until they fell upon their knees and burst out into
tears and prayers.  After that, Master Montgomery always fetched me
to sing to people when he could do nothing with them.'

'Wonderful!' said Queen Mary, in a rather satirical manner.  'But
those were only poor folk; it remains to be seen whether you can sing
to a queen.'

'God,' said I, half to myself and half to her, 'Who helped me to sing
to His poor, can help me to sing to'--I was going to say His queen,
but substituted 'a queen.'

'And is not the poor queen His, too?' asked the woman, who was
reading my heart.

'He knows,' I said, trembling a little, lest she should take umbrage
at my daring.  'He knows them that are His.'

Mary did not say anything to this.  She turned her head away from me
with a peevish movement.

I was afraid to speak, and therefore waited in silence until she
spoke again.

'Sing to me,' she said.

'What shall I sing?'

'I am greatly troubled,' she replied at length.  'Sing what you sang
to that poor mother who had lost her child.'

It was one of Martin Luther's cradle songs, translated for me, when a
child, by Master Montgomery, who fitted it to a tender little tune of
his own composing.  I loved it well, but it seemed a strange song to
sing to the mightiest woman in the land, the Queen of England.
Perhaps, however, as she said she was greatly troubled, she might be
in need of comforting.  I thought of that, and standing there, with
my hands tightly clasped before me, sang as I had never sung before--

  Sleep well, my dear, sleep safe and free;
    The holy angels are with thee,
  Who always see thy Father's face,
    And never slumber nights nor days.


There was a quick movement on the bed, and Mary opened wide eyes of
amazement, but she did not interrupt, and I went on singing, until,
gaining confidence, my voice rang out clearly and triumphantly in the
last verse--

  Sleep now, my dear, and take thy rest;
    And if with riper years thou'rt blest
  Increase in wisdom, day and night,
    Till thou attain'st th' eternal light!


For a little time there was silence in the room, when I ended, and
then, with a heaving sigh, the deep voice came from the bed--

'I'm only a frail woman, though I am queen, and I need wisdom.  But
go on singing, child.  Go on singing.'

I began a favourite hymn of Master Montgomery's, and it brought to my
mind so many memories that sobs trembled in my voice, as I sang--

  When my dying hour must be,
  Be not absent then from me;
  In that dreadful hour I pray,
  Jesus, come without delay,
      See and set me free!
  When thou biddest me depart
  Whom I cleave to with my heart,
  Lover of my soul, be near,
  With Thy saving Cross appear,
      Show Thyself to me.


Mary lay so still when I ended that I thought she was asleep; but no,
she was awake, and as I looked closely at her, I perceived that tears
were slowly stealing down her face.

I fell on my knees by the bedside, but I was not kneeling to her, as
she seemed to think, when opening her eyes and looking at me, she
said, in a softer tone than before--

'Child, do you want something?'

Did I want something?  Yes, I wanted something so much, that now when
the time had come for asking for it, I could not say a word,

'Your singing is marvellously sweet,' continued Queen Mary.  'Yet it
has not sent me to sleep.  I should like to hear you every night.
Will you stay here in the palace and sing to me every night?  You
shall have a fair wage.'

'I do not want a wage,' I answered, thanking her.  'But I crave a
boon at your hands, madam.'

'And that is----'

'That I may be allowed to go to Lady Jane Grey----'

'Lady Jane!  My cousin?  Methinks that you are a bold girl to ask
that,' exclaimed the queen, starting up in bed and speaking very
angrily.

I rose slowly, and, with clasped hands, stood before her, pleading my
love for her sweet cousin and beseeching that I might be allowed to
attend Lady Jane in her prison.  I described her youth, her
innocence, and the great unwillingness with which she had permitted
herself to be dragged into the dangerous position of queen, and also
mentioned the quickness and satisfaction with which she abandoned the
undesired sovereignty.

'You plead well, Meg,' said the Queen, when I stopped, partly because
my breath failed, 'and you have a wonderful voice for singing, aye,
and for speaking.  If I let you go to Lady Jane, and allow you to
attend her in her prison, will you come and sing to me when I require
you?'

'I will.  I will,' I exclaimed delightedly.  'I will sing you to
sleep whenever you like, madam.'

'Nay, not to sleep, Meg, not to sleep,' said Queen Mary.  'As a
promoter of sleep you are a failure, for your singing awakens me out
of the sleep of years, making me feel as if I should never want to
sleep again.'

She then rang a hand-bell, and on the entrance of a gentlewoman,
commanded that I should be taken to the Brick Tower, to attend upon
the Lady Jane Grey.



CHAPTER XXII

With Lady Jane

I did not find Lady Jane in bed, in the gloomy quarters where she was
confined.  Separated from her husband, who was imprisoned in the
Beauchamp Tower, and left entirely alone, she was passing the time in
prayer, meditation, and studying the philosophic and holy writings,
from which she imbibed deep draughts of resignation and wisdom.

Like a child exhausted with play after having acted a difficult part,
and like one worn with the strain that has been put upon her in the
battle of life, she was simply waiting at the foot of the Cross, and
I found her on her knees, weeping gently as she prayed.

The warder, who conducted me to her apartment, retired, bolting the
door after him, and I stood by it a little while, unwilling to
interrupt my dear lady and noticing with dismay the iron-barred
windows of the room and the stone walls, partly concealed by
tapestry.  I saw also that the furniture--a table and some
chairs--was of carved oak.  and the deep window-seats were covered
with velvet, as was also the seat of the oak chair before which the
poor young prisoner knelt.

Perhaps she heard some one enter--certainly the warder made noise
enough as he closed the door--and therefore, ending her prayer, she
arose and looked round.

The next moment I was folded in her arms, and we were crying together.

'Oh, Margery!  My poor Margery!' she said, at last, when we were a
little calmer.  'Where have you been?  Why, dear,' looking at me more
closely, 'what have they done to you?  You look so pale and thin!
How did you get into the Tower?'

'It took me a week to get in,' I said, beginning to answer her last
question first, and then, as we sat together on one of the window
seats, I proceeded to tell her all that had befallen me since I was
carried off from Isleworth.

Lady Jane was very sympathizing when she heard of all my danger,
distress and trouble in Crossley Hall, and was delighted that my
valiant knight, Sir Hubert Blair, had rescued me, with a strong hand.
But when I proceeded to tell her that he was now in London bent upon
fighting for her and deep in schemes with her father, to bring about
a change of monarchy, she was greatly concerned and not a little
distressed.

'Why did not you stop them, Margery?' she said.  'You know so well
that I do not think it right to be queen, when my cousins Mary and
Elizabeth are living.  You are well aware how I disliked to be queen,
and how gladly I gave it up.'

'Yes, madam, I told Sir Hubert Blair all,' replied I, 'but he said
that they looked at the matter in this light.  There were the people
of England to consider, the multitude of human beings who, in the one
case, would be plunged back into Roman Catholicism, in the other
would enjoy the Reformed faith, and freedom to worship God in their
own tongue and read His Divine Word for themselves.  He said, madam,
that you must not think of your own wishes, but must sacrifice
yourself for the good of the people.'

I thought I had stated Sir Hubert's argument clearly and well, yet
Lady Jane shook her head.

'We must not do evil that good may come,' she said.  'And have I any
right to take another person's possession because it seems to me that
I can administer it better than the rightful owner?'

'But think of the suffering that may come upon our good Protestants
if Mary reigns?' I urged.  'They say that she will do everything that
her Roman Church enjoins, and the horrors--the horrors of the
Inquisition--may be brought to this land of ours,' and I poured out
all that Sir Hubert had related of that horrible institution.

'God grant that it may never come to England!' said my mistress, when
I ended.  After which she added, thoughtfully, 'I think that Queen
Mary is not so bigoted as some people imagine, and she has behaved
very leniently in several ways since her elevation to the throne.
She forgave my father and set him free, and, although the Emperor
Charles, to whom she looks up so much, has advised her to have me
executed, she has refused----'

'I should think so!' I interrupted.  'Oh, dear madam, what a wicked
wretch that emperor must be!'

'People always look at things from their own point of view, or the
point of view of those dearest to them,' said my mistress.  'The
Emperor Charles, considering the welfare of Mary, sees that while I
live there will be always a danger of some enthusiasts, like your Sir
Hubert, starting up to try and put me on the throne again--and in
that case, besides the danger to the reigning monarch, there would be
many slain, much blood would be shed, and you must remember Sir
Hubert's argument about the duty of considering the welfare of the
many.  If my death will put away this danger to so many, then I had
better die, dear Margery.'

'No!  No!  No!' I cried.  'It would be the foulest shame in the world
for one so innocent and good as you to be killed--and remember your
argument, they must not do evil that good may come.'

Lady Jane smiled.

'Well done, little Margery!' she said, adding, 'Now tell me how you
managed to get into the Tower.'

I told her, upon which she remarked--

'You see Mary has a good heart--you touched it with your singing, and
she allowed you to come to me,' adding, to my delight, 'To have you
with me is the one thing I wanted, next to my natural wish to be with
my husband.  They have separated us, you know, Margery.  He is
imprisoned in another tower.'

'It _is_ hard,' I said.

'And I have great anxiety about him,' went on my dear lady.
'Doubtless the priests are endeavouring to convert him to Romanism,
and since they succeeded with his father----'

'Madame, did the Duke of Northumberland give up his faith?'

'Yes,' she answered sadly.  'He was not brave, not heroic; he gave
way on all sides when death was imminent.  But they have killed him.
He is dead, and we must say nothing, except good, of the dead.'

She quoted a Latin proverb to that effect,[1] but it was strange to
my ears, and I have so far forgotten it as not to be able to write it
down.


[1] _De mortuis nil nisi bonum_.--ED.


I could not help thinking that Northumberland's ambition was in
reality his religion, but could not say so after those words of Lady
Jane's.

'He was beheaded on Tower Hill,' she continued, 'and oh!  God grant
that the same fate may not befall my dear lord!'

The days passed slowly and quietly for me and my dear lady in her
prison in the Tower.  Queen Mary did not send for me to come and sing
to her any more.  She went to stay for a while at Richmond Palace,
and, then again, we heard that she was at Whitehall, and sometimes
she was in her palace in the Tower, but that made no difference to
us.  Certain privileges were accorded by her to Lady Jane, and of
course I shared them.  For instance, we were allowed to walk across
the green to St. Peter's Church occasionally, where Lady Jane much
enjoyed the fine music, and liked to join in the services.  On these
occasions she would look up at the Beauchamp Tower, as we passed it,
wondering how her husband was and what he was doing.  My heart ached
for her many a time, when I saw her wistful face upturned to the
windows of the Tower, as she vainly tried to see the face she loved.
At least Mary might have permitted them to meet occasionally, if she
could not permit them to enjoy each other's constant society.  But a
day was coming, though I knew it not then, when they would be allowed
to be together, at least for a short time.  Lady Jane was also
permitted to walk in the queen's garden--this was a pleasure to her,
who so dearly loved fresh air and flowers.  Sometimes she would talk
about the gardens at Sion House, and the Thames flowing by them, and
wonder if we should ever go there again.  At other times she would
tell me about Bradgate, where she had been brought up and where her
tutor, Mr. Roger Ascham, used to marvel because she preferred to sit
reading Plato to joining her young companions in the sport of
hunting.  It was well that she preferred books, as they were now her
solace when it would not have been possible for her to have had the
other pastime.

In the beginning of October Lady Jane was allowed to meet her husband
once more, but the occasion was most melancholy, for they were both
being conducted to the Guildhall, together with Archbishop Cranmer
and Lord Ambrose Dudley, Lord Guildford Dudley's brother, to be tried
on the charge of high treason.  Lady Jane pleaded guilty, and they
were all convicted of high treason and condemned to death as
traitors.  Lady Jane's sentence was that she was to be beheaded or
burnt to death, at the queen's pleasure, and Judge Morgan, who
pronounced it, was afterwards so deeply afflicted in his mind at the
remembrance that he died, raving.

Many people were exceedingly grieved for the poor young creature, who
had been made a tool of by her ambitious relatives, sorely against
her will, and the touching grace and meekness of her demeanour, as
well as her misfortunes, caused them to follow her weeping and
lamenting her hard fate, as she was being reconducted to the Tower.

The queen, however, appears to have had no intention at that time of
carrying out Lady Jane's sentence, nor indeed that of the others who
were condemned with her, but thought it better to please her
partisans by keeping them in prison under sentence of death.  To Lady
Jane, indeed, Mary granted more indulgences, such as permitting her
to walk on Tower Hill, where I always accompanied her.

The autumn passed slowly into winter.  I often thought of my beloved,
wondering what he was doing and dreading inexpressibly to hear of his
one day being brought into the Tower, through the Traitors' Gate.  I
wrote to him two or three letters, sending them off as I found
opportunity, in which I told him guardedly, lest they should fall
into the wrong hands, that Lady Jane, above all things, desired that
no effort should be made to replace her in what she felt had been a
false position.  But I received no sign that my dear knight ever got
my poor little epistles, and indeed it would not have been strange if
they had never reached his hands.

At length, however, I heard of him.  One day there was a great
commotion in the Tower, armed men springing up everywhere, guns
bristling on all sides, the defences of the whole fortress being
looked to, and military commands being called out in all directions.

'What is it, warder?  What is happening?' Lady Jane inquired, in her
gentle way.

Then the warder informed us that they were expecting that the Tower
would be assailed by a large force, which was coming to attack it,
under a leader who had begun to carry all before him.

'Who is he?' asked Lady Jane.

'Madam, he is a knight, who owns property and a castle in Kent, where
he began the rebellion.  His name,' added the man, 'is Sir Thomas
Wyatt, and he is accompanied by several gentlemen, and amongst them
Sir Hubert Blair, who is notoriously active against the Government.'

'Margery,' said my dear lady, when the warder had retired, 'if we
could have prevented this!  If we only could have prevented it!'

'I wrote to Sir Hubert Blair again and again after I knew your
wishes,' said I, 'but I think he cannot have received my missives, or
perchance his friend, Sir Thomas Wyatt, heeds not his advice.'

Even as I spoke I was hoping that these valiant knights, who were
carrying all before them, would indeed succeed in their great
enterprise.

'There will be a terrible amount of bloodshed!' sighed my mistress.

'God will be on the side of the right,' said I.

'Yes.  On the side _of the right_,' she rejoined with emphasis.  Then
she continued, with another sigh, 'If this fails, my life will be the
forfeit, and justly, too, for the words of those who said Queen Mary
would not be safe upon her throne whilst I live will have proved
true.'

Another time, as we were returning from St. Peter's Chapel, she
paused, and, looking at a certain spot on the green, where a scaffold
was wont to be erected for the more private execution of State
prisoners, the tears came into her eyes, and I knew that she was
apprehending a similar fate.

However, I had every confidence in my brave and valiant hero, and
often lay awake at night, thinking of all that would happen when he
and the Duke of Suffolk once more placed my Lady Jane upon the throne.

I thought, when all that was settled, and my dear lady, with her
husband by her side, no longer depended so entirely on her Margery
for companionship and love, and my beloved, with his work
accomplished, had leisure to be happy, he and I might have time to
get married, and then we would go together to see my home and my dear
old father, Hal and Jack, and, too, Master Montgomery in his
parsonage, and the villagers and our servants.  After which Sir
Hubert would take me to his own beautiful place, Harpton Hall, where
we should live together in great happiness and prosperity.  But I am
glad to think that I always said to myself, 'If the Lord will,' and
resolved that, even if things went contrary and we did not have quite
such a good time, I would be resigned and thankful for smaller
mercies.

But of what was really going to happen I had not the faintest
conception.



CHAPTER XXIII

Wyatt's Insurrection

I heard full particulars afterwards of the insurrection, but at the
time, shut up in the Tower, knew little of its course.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, though professedly a Romanist, having seen the
horrors of the Inquisition in Spain, had risen in revolt against Mary
because of her Spanish marriage.  He first raised the standard of
revolt in Kent, where many joined him, and amongst them Sir Hubert
Blair, who thought he could thus best serve Lady Jane, whilst the
Duke of Suffolk, who was openly for his daughter, was making a
similar attempt in the Midlands, and Sir Peter Carew in the West; the
latter's object being to place the Princess Elizabeth on the throne.

At Rochester, where Sir Thomas Wyatt, accompanied by his
aide-de-camp, Sir Hubert Blair, encamped in the ruins of the old
castle, and held the bridge with cannon and well-armed Kentish men,
there was a great scene.  The Duke of Norfolk, with a detachment of
Guards from London, was to have forced the bridge, but a certain
Captain Brett, who was deputed by him to lead five hundred men
against it, turning, addressed his followers thus--

'Masters, we are about to fight against our native countrymen of
England and our friends, in a quarrel unrightful and wicked; for
they, considering the great miseries that are like to fall upon us if
we shall be under the rule of the proud Spaniards, or strangers, are
here assembled to make resistance to their coming, for the avoiding
of the great mischiefs likely to alight not only upon themselves, but
upon every one of us and the whole realm, wherefore I think no
English heart ought to say against them.  I and others will spend our
blood in their quarrel.'

When they heard this, his men shouted, 'A Wyatt!  A Wyatt!' and,
instead of turning their guns against the bridge, turned them against
their own Duke of Norfolk's forces.

The duke and his officers fled, and Brett and his men, crossing the
bridge, joined Wyatt's soldiers, followed by three-fourths of the
queen's troops and more.

Meantime, the Duke of Norfolk and his officers galloped to London,
which by their news was thrown into a state of alarm and
consternation.  There were meetings of the city and military
authorities, and Queen Mary, sceptre in hand, addressed them with
great spirit, promising that if her contemplated marriage with Philip
of Spain did not meet with the approval of Parliament she would give
it up.  She also offered a reward of lands, with £100 a year, to any
one who would take or kill Sir Thomas Wyatt.

For some reason--could it be that Sir Hubert Blair was persuading him
not to go on?--the latter did not push forward with that speed which
characterized the commencement of his enterprise.  His forces had
increased to 15,000 men, but he did not reach London until the words
of the queen and the news of the dispersion of the two other bands of
rebels, under the Duke of Suffolk and Sir Peter Carew, had restored
the courage of the citizens.

Sir Thomas Wyatt entered Southwark, and proceeded to the end of
London Bridge, where he found the drawbridge raised, the gates
closed, and a strong armed force ready to resist his entrance.  This
was a painful surprise for him, as he had been led to believe that
the Londoners were on his side; and he must have hoped that they
would still come over to him, for he waited two days without
beginning the attack.

On the third day, however, the garrison of the Tower began to
cannonade him, which resulted in such mischief being done to the
houses in the vicinity that the people implored Sir Thomas to go away
with his troops.

Unwilling to distress them, and hoping to be able to cross the bridge
at Kingston and proceed thence to Westminster and London, where it
was not so well defended, Sir Thomas and my dear knight began the
march to Kingston.

I was told, afterwards, that a London merchant met them on that
march, and that Sir Thomas said to the merchant, 'I pray you commend
me to your citizens, and say to them from me, that when liberty was
offered to them they would not receive it, neither would they admit
me within their gates, who, for their freedom and for relieving them
from the oppression of foreigners, would frankly spend my blood in
this cause and quarrel.'

Sir Thomas Wyatt reached Kingston about four o'clock in the
afternoon, where he found part of the bridge broken down and an armed
force waiting to oppose his passage.  Bringing up his artillery,
however, he swept the enemy from the opposite bank, and, having
hastily made the bridge passable again with the help of boats and
barges, his troops crossed over it.  It was eleven o'clock at night
by the time this was done--had his aide-de-camp a moment to spare for
the thought of that other night, when I waited so long for him by the
river there?--and his men were thoroughly exhausted; but he pushed
on.  They marched all through that cold February night, along muddy
roads, and, after being delayed by having to remount a heavy gun that
had broken down, reached Hyde Park in broad daylight, where the Earl
of Pembroke awaited them with the royal forces.  Lord Clinton, at the
head of the cavalry, had taken up his position, with a battery of
cannon, on the rising ground opposite the Palace of St. James.

The morning was dismal, dark clouds gathered overhead, and it rained
more or less heavily.  Sir Thomas' men were worn out, and many had
deserted.  Nothing daunted, however, the brave knight divided them
into three companies, and at the head of the largest division,
accompanied by his aide-de-camp, charged Clinton's cavalry with such
effect that it seemed to give way.  This, however, was only a
stratagem.  Clinton allowed Sir Thomas, his aide-de-camp and four
hundred of his followers to pass, then he closed his ranks, cutting
off the main body from their commander.

'In all Wyatt's proceedings,' says an historian, 'he displayed great
bravery, but little military experience or caution.'

His main forces, now without a leader, wavered, but kept together,
and endeavoured to reach the city another way.  They said afterwards
that Sir Thomas Wyatt did not appear to know that, having left the
body of his army behind, his enemies were now between him and it, and
he dashed along, past Charing Cross and through the Strand to
Ludgate, hoping still to be joined by the citizens.

In the Strand the Earl of Courtenay, with his soldiers, was
stationed.  He had engaged to join Wyatt, but had not the courage to
do either one thing or the other, for at the sight of him he fled.
Doubly treacherous, he was a traitor to the queen and also to Wyatt.

At Ludgate, Wyatt found the gates were closed, and Lord William
Howard appeared above them, crying--

'Avaunt, traitor!  Avaunt!  You enter not here!'

This was a truly awful reception, instead of the promised welcome.
And the brave knight must have felt stunned and bewildered as he
turned to assist his troops, only to be met by a crowd of the enemy
under Pembroke.  In desperation, Sir Thomas, closely followed by Sir
Hubert, fought his way back as far as the Temple, where he found that
he had only fifty followers remaining.  (The other troops, which he
had left in Hyde Park, were fighting at Whitehall and Westminster,
but of that he knew nothing, having lost touch with them and being
without cognisance of their doings, which came to nothing.)

The King-at-arms called upon Sir Thomas to yield and not madly
sacrifice his brave companions, yet he continued fighting desperately.

He was beaten back, by overwhelming numbers, down Fleet Street, until
he sank exhausted on a fish-stall, opposite La Belle Sauvage.  His
sword was broken, and, throwing it away, he surrendered himself to
Sir Maurice Berkely.  At the same moment, Sir Hubert Blair, his
aide-de-camp, overpowered by numbers, was taken prisoner.

So much I was told.  At the time, Lady Jane and I knew little of all
these happenings, and our suspense was terrible.  After the first
crashing of our cannonade, when Sir Thomas attempted crossing London
Bridge, nothing quite so alarming was to be heard in the Tower, only
on the next day there were the booming of guns and the roar of battle
in London.

And then news came to us that the brave knights were defeated, that
they had been forced to surrender, and that the Guards were bringing
them to the Tower.

Lady Jane, knowing how my heart was wrung, did all in her power to
sustain me.  Forgetting or ignoring the far greater issues she
herself had at stake, she endeavoured to fortify my mind and calm it
by prayer and wise counsel, and now, when it was all over and they
were bringing my lover, with Sir Thomas Wyatt, to the Tower, exerted
herself to obtain leave for me to mingle with the spectators and see
them brought in.

'Though perhaps,' she said, 'it will be a doubtful benefit for you to
see your lover in his defeat.'

But my heart craved for one sight of his dear face, and I answered,
'I can bear it all better, if I see him once more.'

'You shall, dear Margery, if I can possibly compass it,' she said.
And success crowned her efforts, for our warder, having leave of
absence, took me himself to join the crowd hurrying across the Green,
towards the entrance by which those guilty of high treason were
brought to the Tower.

And, presently, I saw my dear knight, sitting by Sir Thomas in a
boat, between their captors, and being rowed towards the Traitors'
Gate.

Thus they brought them to the Tower, heroes vanquished, conquerors
conquered, true men and noble knights; albeit considered by many
renegades and traitors, by Lady Jane mistaken zealots, but by me the
noblest and most estimable champions, who sacrificed all that they
had, even their earthly loves, for that which they held to be right
and duty towards England and fidelity to true religion.  They had
done their part, they could do no more, and they sat in the boat
between their captors, with brave countenances and steadfast bearing,
as of men dying at their post.

The grim expression on the faces of the Guards around, and the
murmurs of the crowd who looked on affected them not; perhaps they
did not observe them, or it might be that their thoughts were far
away, Sir Thomas' perhaps with his wife and children and Sir Hubert's
perchance in the past with me in the farmer's shed in Sussex, or it
might be by the Thames at Isleworth, or riding with me again to
Kingston; or, on the other hand, they were possibly with me now,
wondering if I were among the lookers-on, longing to see me once
again, in order to say 'Farewell' before the last dark crossing, and
hoping that in another life we might meet to part no more.

It happened that, just as the defeated knights were stepping out of
the boat, a lad's voice in the crowd--it was Saul's, who, I
afterwards learnt, had run away from his master to join the opposite
side--shrill, insistent, daring, broke out into the old cry, 'A
Wyatt!  A Wyatt!'  Sir Thomas did not stir, but Sir Hubert looked
round, with a sudden beautiful smile.  Then, as every one was
searching for the boy, with murmured comments on his imprudence and
audacity, I leaned forward, calling out to the prisoners, in a clear,
distinct tone of voice--

'Courage!  Defeat may be Victory in disguise.  What looks like loss
down here may be counted as pure gain on high!'  For it seemed to me
that, however disastrous the result, the fact remained that heroes
had done heroically.  Yes, and if success had crowned their efforts,
all men would have praised them.  Of that I was assured.

But the sound of my voice, and the sight of my face, as he cast one
swift glance at it, unmanned Sir Hubert, and he had to shade his eyes
with his hand, as they hurried him and Sir Thomas out of the boat and
through the gate; whilst angry, scowling faces turned on me, and my
escort had much difficulty in getting me away uninjured.

I scarcely know how I got back to Lady Jane.  Only one thing I
clearly heard as I was borne through the crowd--it was a voice
saying, 'They will both be executed, and the younger one first,
because he did not surrender but was taken prisoner with his sword
drawn.'

Mistaken the two men may have been, yet they had the courage of their
convictions and did what seemed to them to be right, and, at least,
they were self-sacrificing, laying down their lives and the joy of
living with their loved ones at the call of duty to their
fellow-countrymen.

Queen Mary would kill them for it.  What of that?  Mankind has often
crucified and killed its noblest friends.  And, after all, it would
only be their bodies that were slain; their souls, the best part of
them, stripped of their human dress, would wend their way to the
Realms of the Blest, where no grief, pain, nor fighting could ever
disturb them again.

Nevertheless I fell ill with grief and pain, and was unconscious when
they carried me into the house of Sir Thomas Brydges, the lieutenant
of the Tower, where Lady Jane had now been removed.



CHAPTER XXIV

Lady Jane's Death Sentence

I wished that I could have died too, as I slowly recovered to find
that the very worst results for my dear lady had followed upon Sir
Thomas Wyatt's defeat, for within three days of his being brought to
the Tower, Queen Mary signed her poor young relative's death warrant.
Lady Jane was to be beheaded, as was also her father the Duke of
Suffolk.

My dear lady broke the sad news to me herself, as soon as I was well
enough to hear it.

I was sitting on the wide window-seat of her bedroom, propped up with
pillows, when she came and stood beside me, saying gently--

'Margery, you remember when we were at Sion House that I used to read
to you out of my Plato, that we were to hold to the road that leads
above and justice with prudence always pursue?'

'Yes.  Yes.  I remember every word,' I said faintly, still being very
weak.

'I failed in the latter part,' continued Lady Jane.  'It was at the
bidding of others and sorely against my will; nevertheless I was weak
and gave way and failed, therefore now,' she paused, looking at me
anxiously, as if to see if I were able to bear it, 'now,' she
continued very softly, '_I have to pay the penalty_.'

I opened my eyes widely, and there must have been a look of horror in
them, for she said quickly: 'Do not--do not take it so.  I am willing
to suffer for my fault meekly, that by so doing I may still "hold to
the road that leads above," and you must help me, Margery.  I rely
upon you to help me,' she continued earnestly, 'for this is a hard
step that I have to take, and I am very weak.'  Her lips trembled.
'But,' she went on bravely, 'a Greater than Plato has said, "Be thou
faithful unto death, and I will give thee a Crown of Life."  That is
the _best Crown_, Margery, and I, who had no right to an earthly one,
would fain win this Heavenly Crown.'

'Yes,' I said.  'Yes.  But----'

'Nay, dear one, we will have no buts.  It is one of the great laws of
life that he who sins must suffer.  I have sinned,' she added meekly;
'I, therefore, must bear the suffering.'

But it seemed to me the greatest shame that ever was that a being so
sweet and faultless as my dear mistress, who had been domineered over
and bullied until, constrained by love and the keeping of her
marriage vow of obedience, she allowed herself to be placed on the
throne, should for so slight a fault be condemned to suffer death--I
knew that the penalty was death, she having been sentenced to that
before and only reprieved for a time by the clemency of the queen.

'I have only a short time to live,' continued Lady Jane, 'and there
is much to do, for Mary, with a show of kindness, with which I would
rather have dispensed, is going to send her own chaplain, Dr.
Feckenham, of Westminster Abbey, to try to shake my faith and bring
me over to her Church before I die, or perchance because, even at the
last hour, if I become a Roman Catholic, I may be pardoned.  I must
prepare myself to meet some of the arguments of the chaplain, for I
would fain convince him that Protestantism is right, rather than that
he should damage my belief,' and so saying she arose, and, fetching a
Bible, began to study it assiduously.

But I, in my weakness, closed my eyes, resolving to find, if
possible, some way of escape for my dear lady, other than the
surrender of her Faith--which I knew she would rather die twenty
deaths than surrender or disown--yet unable to think clearly, because
of the strange buzzing in my ears and thumping of my heart and
trembling of my limbs.

Lady Jane left me to myself for a little while, and presently I grew
better and began to plan schemes for getting at the queen and
softening her heart by my singing, in order that I might implore her
to pardon my dear lady, or for assisting the latter to escape from
the Tower by inducing my physician to order me change of air and
persuading Lady Jane to exchange clothes with me and walk out of the
Tower in my stead.  And then my mistress, laying down the Bible she
was studying, came to sit beside me, and nipped all my plans in the
bud by her first words.  For I recognized that she had found a more
excellent way than any I could devise, as her mind was stayed upon
God, and in that Refuge and Strength she was lifted up above all
earthly fears and torments.

'Margery,' she said very gently, 'you have been ill, dear, and your
mind is weakened, so that as yet you only see indifferently, like the
man who, on first being cured of blindness, saw men as trees walking;
but I have had time to consider all things, and God has sent His
angels (messengers) to comfort me, until now I would not have things
different if I could.  I will read you part of a letter I have
written to my father, who is also condemned to be beheaded, and who,
I am told, grieves more because of having brought me to this pass
than because of his own fate.'  And, with that, she took a
newly-written letter from her bosom and began to read--

'Father,--Although it pleases God to hasten my death by you, by whom
my life should rather have been lengthened, yet I can yield God more
hearty thanks for shortening my sad days than if all the world had
been given into my possession, with life lengthened to my will.'
And, after alluding to his grief on her account, the letter
continued: 'Though perhaps to you it may seem woeful, to me there is
nothing that can be more welcome than, from this vale of misery, to
aspire to that Heavenly throne of all joys and pleasures with Christ
our Saviour, in whose steadfast faith--if I may be allowed to say
so--may the Lord still keep you, that at last we may meet in Heaven.'

'That will comfort him, I think,' said my dear lady, as she folded
and put by the letter to await a favourable opportunity for sending
it.  'And I mean what I say, Margery.  There is no joy this world can
give which would compensate for the loss of the Heavenly Home that I
now feel to be so near.  True, it is a painful gate that I have to
pass through, but it will be short, and it leads straight Home.'

Thus she talked, and I saw that to disturb her faith, with any
chimerical schemes for escape from it would be cruel in the extreme;
also I determined not to sadden her last earthly hours by my grief,
for there would be all the years after she had gone in which to
mourn, but to do my best to brighten her last short days.  Kissing
her hand, therefore, I said that she had greatly comforted me, which
made her exceedingly glad.

Then she arose, and wrote in Latin, with a pin, on the wall of her
room some lines, which she translated thus--

  Stand not secure who stand in mortal state;
  What's mine to-day shall next day be thy fate.

And again--

  If Heaven protect, hell's malice cannot wound;
  By Heaven deserted, peace can ne'er be found.
          These shadows passed, I hope for light.


'Yes, Margery,' she said, turning to me, 'in spite of all my faults,
I have held to the road that leads above, and when the shadows are
passed by, then I hope to see the glorious light.'

'If any one ever will see it, you will,' said I, again kissing her
hand and looking with the deepest admiration into her sweet young
face, which seemed to me to bear the seal of Heaven's own peace.



CHAPTER XXV

Some of Lady Jane's last Words

I do not like to think of how the soul of my dear young mistress was
harassed during those last few days by the visits and arguments of
Queen Mary's chaplain, Dr. Feckenham.

Mistress Ellen, who had been sent for to keep my dear lady company
during my illness, and who remained with us until the end, and I sat,
with our needlework, at one end of the apartment, whilst these
conferences were going on.  We did not hear all that was said, but
only enough to show that, learned and clever as was Lady Jane's
opponent, he was beaten over and over again by the wise and able
manner in which she answered his arguments.

Sometimes a few of her sayings reached us, to be treasured up in our
minds, as, for instance, when she replied to his arguments about
transubstantiation.  Her words were these: 'Where was Christ when He
said, "Take, eat, this is My body"?  Was He not at the table when He
said so?  He was at that time alive, and suffered not till the next
day.

'What took He but bread?  What brake He but bread?  Look, what He
took He brake, and look, what He brake He gave, and look, what He
gave they did eat; and yet all this while He Himself was alive and at
supper before His disciples, or else they were deceived.'

But the priest would not admit that she was right in that, or in the
other statements she made so clearly and forcibly; he was, however,
so won by her gentle and courteous demeanour that he prevailed upon
the queen to allow her to live three days longer than the time at
first specified, that he might be able more effectually to convince
her mind.

This short reprieve was the only good he did, to my thinking.  But
Lady Jane said that having to answer his arguments strengthened and
fortified her mind against all doubts, because whilst searching in
her Bible for the right answers to give him she gained a deeper
insight into the Truth.

'You must remember always, dear Margery,' she said to me, 'that a
really good thing does not lose by being examined.  For examination
only reveals more and more of its intrinsic worth.'

The fact was that she answered all Dr. Feckenham's arguments with
such strength and clearness and such firm conviction as showed
plainly that religion had been her chief study, and that now it
fortified her, not only against the fear of death, but also against
all doubts and apprehensions.

It was always with relief, however, that we saw the priest depart,
for the strain of all this arguing upon our lady's mind was extremely
great, and indeed she was looking worn and tired out.

On the Sunday evening, which was to be her last in this world, she
wrote a letter in Greek to her sister Catherine, and put it with a
New Testament in the same language which she was bequeathing to her.
At my request she translated for me the first part of her letter,
which ran, as nearly as I can remember, as follows;--


'I am sending you, my dear sister Catherine, a book which, though not
outwardly trimmed with gold or curious embroidery made by the most
artful fingers, yet intrinsically is worth more than all the precious
mines of which this world can boast.  It is the book, my best loved
sister, of the law of the Lord; it is His Testament and last Will,
which He has bequeathed to us--it will lead you to the path of
eternal joy, if you read it desiring to follow its counsels, and will
bring you to an immortal, everlasting life.  It will teach you how to
live and how to die.'


It was in our last talk together, before the fatal day of her
execution, that my dear lady bestowed upon me her beloved Plato,
advising that I should learn to read it in the language in which it
was written.

'I cannot teach you Greek now, dear Margery,' she said, 'but there
will be others.'

I made a gesture of despair.  What should I care for others when she
had gone?  I could not speak without breaking down, so I said
nothing.  And Lady Jane seemed to understand, for she was very sweet
and kind.

'It will always be a consolation to you, Margery,' she said, 'to
remember that you have been the greatest comfort to me.  Ever since I
first saw your sweet face entering the drawing-room at Sion House I
have loved you dearly.  I had been praying for some one to come to me
who was young like me--I feel old now, dear, though it is scarcely a
year since then, but so much that is sad has happened.'

I stroked her hand and kissed it, for I could not speak, and if I had
spoken my poor words might have spoiled the interview.

And then it was that she asked me to write an account of that last
year of her life, relating exactly how it happened that she was made
queen, and how the throne passed away from her, leaving in its stead
a scaffold; also describing how it came about that the head which had
worn a crown was forfeited, and that for an error of her mind her
poor frail body was killed, adding, 'Margery, others may write more
learnedly of the matter, but I would fain be represented to posterity
as I am rather than as I am supposed to be.  And God will help you,
if you ask Him,' she said, seeing my fear and dread that I should not
be able to do it properly.

'It is not fine writing that is wanted,' she went on, 'but a plain,
unvarnished statement of the facts.  And, Margery,' she said in
conclusion, 'you must also tell the story of brave Sir Thomas Wyatt's
insurrection and of your dear knight's gallant efforts to cause me to
reign over this land, and to gain back the throne for me.  I have
been thinking, dear, that I was hard upon them always in my great
desire to be left alone.  But since you told me that Sir Thomas
Wyatt's object was against Queen Mary's Spanish marriage and that Sir
Hubert's motive was to save England from bigoted Roman Catholicism
and Spain and the Inquisition, I have come to view the matter
differently, and so will others, if you tell them exactly what they
thought.  Come, Margery, look up, dear one, for you have a great work
before you, and you must take heart and live to do it.  You have to
vindicate the honour of two noble knights and of your mistress, and
clear their names, which have been smirched and blackened by the
tongues of powerful enemies.  No one can do it but you, dear, in
exactly the same way, for your loving eyes have seen us as we are and
not as we are supposed to be; and you possess Love, the master-key,
which can explain all that has appeared so wrong and presumptuous and
rebellious in our lives.  You must do this for me, Margery, and for
your dear knight, Sir Hubert, and for Sir Thomas Wyatt.'

I promised that I would, and she blessed and thanked me very
solemnly, saying that she was sure that God would give me strength
and wisdom for the task.

And I thought then that this must be the special work which Master
Montgomery said might be given me to do when I left home and went to
London.



CHAPTER XXVI

Lady Jane's Execution

The fatal day of the execution dawned at last, and I would that I
could draw a veil over its direful happenings.  But my lady's charge
is upon me to tell everything exactly as I saw it occur, and so I
cannot pick and choose.

It was February 12, a dull, cold morning, and within the Tower people
went about with dismal faces, as well they might, for most were sorry
for my poor young mistress.

She had passed a great part of the night--her last night--in prayer,
and it was only at my earnest entreaty that she at length lay down
for an hour or two before morning broke.  Then she slept as sweetly
as a little child, and Mistress Ellen and I stole on tiptoe to the
bedside to look at her, as those look who will not see the loved face
any more.

I could fancy once that her lips moved in her sleep, pronouncing the
name of Dudley, and doubtless even her sleeping thoughts were with
her young husband, who was also that day to suffer the same extreme
penalty of the law, but not at the same place.  He was to die upon
Tower Hill, where the authorities dared not execute his poor young
wife, lest the sight should appeal to the hearts of the people,
causing them to rise in a mass to prevent the double execution.  She
therefore was to die upon the scaffold erected before St. Peter's
Chapel on the Green, within the Tower.

When the time came for her to rise we shrank from awaking her to such
a fate, but at length were obliged to do so; and though for a moment
a look of terror crossed her face, it quickly changed to one of the
sweetest resignation.  She thanked us gently for not allowing her to
sleep too long, and, except that she was pale, her manner appeared to
be much as usual.

At her request we dressed her in black velvet, with a drooping collar
of white lace falling low from her slender neck.

'There is not much of it to sever,' she said pathetically, encircling
it for a moment with her right hand, but desisting and throwing her
arms round me as she saw my look.  'It will be over so soon,' she
said.  'One moment, and then the gates of heaven will open wide, and
for my Saviour's sake I, sinful I, washed in His blood, clothed in
His righteousness, will be permitted to enter in.'

That was her belief.  And the comfort and the glory of it spread a
veil over and shed a halo round all that was coarse and revolting in
the manner of her death.

It had been arranged that Sir Thomas Brydges, the lieutenant of the
Tower, in whose house we were, was to escort her to the scaffold, but
first he had the melancholy task of conducting her husband, Lord
Guildford Dudley, out of the Tower to the more public scaffold on
Tower Hill, where a vast concourse of people were assembled.

Early in the morning the queen had sent Lady Jane permission to have
an interview with her husband, but she, thinking that this would be
too trying for them both, declined the favour, saying she would meet
him within a few hours in heaven.

As she stood at a window looking out, however, she saw Lord Guildford
Dudley going to execution, and an hour afterwards beheld men bearing
his corpse back to its last resting-place in St. Peter's Chapel.

Immediately after that terrible sight she wrote down in a book three
short sentences in Greek, Latin and English.

The first, roughly translated, was--

'If his slain body shall give testimony against me, his blessed soul
shall render an eternal proof of my innocence in the presence of God.'

The second said--

'The justice of men took away his body, but the Divine mercy has
preserved his soul.'

The English sentence ran as follows--

'If my fault deserved punishment, my youth, at least, and my
imprudence were worthy of excuse.  God and posterity will show me
favour.'

Dr. Feckenham came from the queen to attend her to the scaffold, and
I was afraid that he would trouble her; but I noticed as I followed
them, with Mistress Ellen, that my lady was not attending to his
words, but kept her eyes fixed upon a book of prayers in her hand.

The passing bell began to toll slowly and solemnly.  It was almost
more than I could bear, and the sound of it seemed to startle Lady
Jane, for she looked up; and then, appearing for the first time to
perceive the faces around her, she bowed and spoke to them, saying to
Dr. Feckenham--

'God will abundantly requite you, good sir, for your humanity to me,
though your discourses give me more uneasiness than all the terrors
of my approaching death.'

'Look!' whispered Mistress Ellen at that moment.  'Look at those
awful birds!'

There were indeed a couple of ravens hovering about in the air, as if
waiting for the death that was so soon to take place.

I did not scream, but felt as if my heart would burst, and the
physical pain almost overpowered the mental.

Thus we walked across the Green to the scaffold, where there were not
so many people assembled, some dreading much to see so sad a sight as
the execution of my dear lady.

She was not shedding a tear all the time, but bearing herself with
meek and gentle dignity, and Mistress Ellen and I were weeping
bitterly behind her.

And now she stood on the scaffold and spoke to the spectators, and
this was what she said, as nearly as I can remember--


'My lords, and you good Christian people, which come to see me die, I
am under a law, and by that law, as a never-erring judge, I am
condemned to die; not for anything I have done to offend the queen's
majesty, for I am guiltless--but only that I consented to the thing
that I was forced into----'  She went on to confess herself a sinner
and deserving of death, but thanked God that He had given her time to
repent of her sins and to trust herself to her Redeemer.  Then she
continued--'Pray with me and for me whilst I am yet alive, that God,
of His infinite goodness and mercy, will forgive my sins, how
numberless and grievous soever against Him; and I beseech you all to
bear me witness that I here die a true Christian woman, professing
and avouching from my soul that I trust to be saved by the blood,
passion and merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour only, and by no other
means, casting far behind me all the works and merits of my own
actions as things so far short of the true duty I owe that I quake to
think how much they may stand up against me.  And now I pray you all,
pray for me and with me.'


The bell went on tolling, and the great dark birds hovered overhead,
while the sound of sobs and bitter weeping was also to be heard.

Only Lady Jane shed no tears, as kneeling, she repeated the Psalm,
_Miserere mei, Deus_--

'Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness: according to
the multitude of Thy mercies do away with mine offences.

'Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my
sin....'

And so on, the words of penitence, grief and supplication in those
clear young tones rising from the slight, black-robed figure and
mingling with the louder, harsher sounds of woe and death, went to
our hearts and reached more surely still the heart of Him Who is
touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and without Whom not
even a sparrow can fall to the ground.

When she had repeated the whole Psalm, Lady Jane arose, and turning
to Mistress Ellen and me, gave us her gloves and handkerchief, and
Sir Thomas Brydges asking for some token, she bestowed upon him her
prayer-book, having first written in it a few lines, at his request.
These were, as nearly as I can remember them--for she showed them to
me, thinking no doubt that they would comfort me, who could scarcely
see them for my tears--


'Forasmuch as you have desired so simple a woman to write in so
worthy a book, good Master Lieutenant, therefore I shall as a friend
desire you, and as a Christian request you, to call upon God to
incline your heart to His laws, to quicken you in His way, and not to
take the Word of Truth entirely out of your mouth.  Live still to
die, that by death you may purchase Eternal Life.  All have to die.
If you were to live as long as Methuselah, yet a time would come when
you had to die.  As the Preacher saith, "There is a time to be born
and a time to die, and the day of our death is better than the day of
our birth."

  'Yours, as the Lord knows, as a friend,
      'JANE DUDLEY.'


And now, with hands that trembled a little, she attempted to undo the
fastenings of her heavy black dress, and perceiving that she bungled
over it, the executioner offered to assist her, but she turned
immediately to us her gentlewomen, upon which we took off her dress,
and gave her a handkerchief to bind over her eyes.  She did this
herself, and then the executioner, kneeling before her, asked her for
pardon, which she gave him most willingly.

'I pray you dispatch me quickly,' she added.

'Yes, madam.'

'Will you take it off before I lie down?' she asked, pointing to the
handkerchief.

'No, madam.'

She began to feel for the block, asking, 'Where is it?'

Some one guided her to it, and saying, 'Lord, into Thy hands I
commend my spirit,' she laid down her head, which at one stroke was
severed from her body.

* * * * *

'All is over!' I cried miserably, as I recovered from another
illness, to find myself being tended by Mistress Ellen, in a poor
lodging in Fleet Street.  'There is nothing left--_nothing_!'

'There is God,' said my companion.

It was the first time I had ever heard her speak of Him, or indeed of
religion, for she always averred that to _do_ is better than to talk;
therefore her three words now made all the more impression.

'He has taken my dear lady,' sobbed I rebelliously.

'He gave her to us in the first instance,' was the reply.  'And I
know,' gently added the good woman, 'that He has taken her through a
quick, though painful, door into the glory beyond.  There, doubtless,
her joy is so extreme as to have caused her already to forget the
pain that went before, and there it behoves us to try and follow her.'

And with that Mistress Ellen ran out of the room, for she was well
nigh breaking down herself, in spite of her brave words.

But I turned my face to the wall and lay weeping a long while.



CHAPTER XXVII

CONCLUSION

Home Again

Mistress Ellen was a wise woman; she had brought me out of the Tower
that I might recover, away from the scenes which were full of
memories of our dear lady; and now, when I was slowly regaining my
health in the poor lodgings, which were all we could afford, knowing
that the best thing for me would be some useful occupation, she urged
that I should begin at once upon the task which my dear lady had left
to me.

I therefore sat down before a quantity of clean blank writing paper,
a pot of ink and a stock of new quill pens.  There were the materials
for the framework of my book, and I had the will to do it, yes, and
the ability, for I could write a pretty hand and string sentences
together, as my lady knew, and my brain was teeming with the facts I
had to tell; but there was something lacking, because now I could not
write a word.  Whenever I lifted up my pen to try and set one down a
shadow came between me and the paper, so that I could see nothing
except the dear face of my lover as I saw it last when he raised his
hand to hide his eyes, and a voice said in my heart, 'He is not dead
yet, though he is condemned.  He is languishing in the Tower prisons,
condemned to death, yes, but not dead yet, and while there is life
there is hope.'

Yet I had been told there was none for those who entered the Tower by
the Traitors' Gate.

I was sitting one day as usual before my writing materials, unable to
set down a word, and thinking over all this again and again, when
there was a loud knocking at the house door, and presently our
landlady came up to us ushering a visitor into the room.

It was Jack Fish, and the sight of his broad face and burly figure
brought to my mind most vividly the times when, with Sir Hubert, I
had met with him before.  Almost I saw again the half-filled cart in
the old shed in Sussex, and, through the dim light, my dear knight's
handsome face emerging from the heap of straw in the corner at the
sound of this good man's cheery voice, assuring us that he would send
our enemies away.  Also I seemed to hear again the rolling of the
coach and trampling of horses' feet upon the queen's highway, later
on, as Master Fish's voice pointed out our danger and particularly
mine in the coach, suggesting that I should leave it and escape on
horseback, which advice, being carried out, saved me from again
falling into my enemy's hands; and, most of all, the sight of Master
Jack Fish brought to my mind vividly my dear imprisoned knight.

'Poor child!' said my visitor, forgetting everything except my youth
and sorrow of heart.  'Poor child!  Thou hast had a hot place in the
battle!  Thy loving heart again put thee in the position of the
greatest danger!' and he turned his head aside, for big tears were
rolling down his honest cheeks.

I wept, too, then, though I had been thinking that I had no more
tears to shed, and the page that I was to write upon became wet and
bleared.

'What have they done to her?' I heard Master Fish inquiring aside of
Mistress Ellen, adding low, 'Don't tell me that they tortured her in
the Tower, or----' in his mighty indignation he became inarticulate,
but made a gesture as if he could kill some one.

'The torturer was Grief, and the instrument that was used was the
child's heart,' answered my companion very softly.  'It is a size too
big for her weak frame,' she added.

'Aye, aye.'  He muttered something which I could not hear, but
Mistress Ellen's rejoinder startled me--

'Hair is a mere detail.  It began to grow grey when her lover was
brought into the Tower, and became white the day we lost our lady.'

Jack Fish began to walk up and down the room in no little agitation.
Suddenly he stopped short and returned to me.

'Would it comfort thee, dear,' he said, with great gentleness, 'to
know that thou hast been avenged in Sussex, where that brute, Sir
Claudius Crossley, in endeavouring to escape from the just punishment
of his ill deeds, came into collision with a party of rough fellows,
some of whom had once been his devoted followers in deeds of
violence, who, turning upon him when he was down, seized and drowned
him in the very same pond by the roadside in which he had himself
been used to drown witches?'

I shuddered.

'Poor wretch!' I said.  'May God have prepared him for his end!'

'And now,' said my visitor, 'we must look to thee.'  For he perceived
that his information about Sir Claudius had scarcely enlivened me.
'We must look to thee,' he repeated.  'Thou hast had it a bit rough,'
he added tenderly.  'Sometimes the storm of life gathers and breaks
upon one all at once--but it spends itself--it spends itself,' he
faltered and almost broke down, because for the first time I looked
up and he saw my eyes, 'and then, for all the future,' he continued
hurriedly, 'there is a great calm.  God grant that it may be so with
thee, my child!' and he laid his hand tenderly upon my poor spoilt
head.

Then I opened my heart to the good man, telling him all about my dear
lady's execution, and that my true lover, Sir Hubert Blair, still lay
in the Tower under sentence of death, adding that it was my dread,
night and day, that they would take his life in the same way as that
in which they had already taken my poor mistress's.

'If they do I shall die,' I wailed.  '_I cannot live!  I cannot live
if Hubert is beheaded too!_'

Master Jack Fish looked very grave.  He was thinking, as he
afterwards told me, of the hundreds of rebels who were being
condemned to death on all sides, and that the prisons were full, and
even the poor men were packed into the churches, to await their turn
to hang upon the gibbets set up by the roadsides and elsewhere.  Sir
Thomas Wyatt was to be beheaded on April 11, and it was not likely
that Sir Hubert Blair, who had aided and abetted him in everything,
would be set free.

'There is only one person in the land who can do it,' he said at
length.  'Queen Mary can pardon your lover, if she likes.'

Queen Mary, the murderer, as she seemed to me, of her poor young
relation, my dear mistress, and of many, many more.  Was it likely
that a heart so hard could be touched by another woman's woe?  Was it
possible that the hand which signed Lady Jane's death warrant would
sign the pardon of a much more aggressive rebel at my request?  Yet
memory recalled to me a woman, unhappy, lying sleepless on her bed,
to whom I sang, with the result that my singing touched her heart,
arousing generosity and kindness.  Could I possibly obtain the chance
once more of singing to her, and then, haply, pleading, pleading as
for my life and more than life, that she would spare my lover?

I broke out into eager words, acquainting Master Fish with the manner
in which I got into the Tower before to go to my dear lady, by
singing to the queen, and then winning the boon from her; and he
listened very feelingly, almost as much excited about the matter as I
was.  When I had told him all, he asked the name of the physician by
whose means I had obtained access to the queen, and where he lived;
and when I acquainted him with the fact that it was Dr. Massingbird,
who had a surgery in the Strand, though he was frequently at Court,
he left me in haste, saying that he would go to see what could be
done.

* * * * *

They had taken me to the queen, in her palace at Westminster, by Her
Majesty's command.  She was not now sorrowfully lying on a sleepless
bed, but sitting in state, in a magnificent reception-room, and
surrounded by great Court ladies.  I stood up before her to sing, and
every one was silent, waiting to hear the sweet and thrilling sounds
which were to proceed from my young lips: and I was bidden to begin,
and asked what I was waiting for, and told not to be frightened, and
encouraged, kindly enough at first, and then impatiently.

For this terrible thing happened to me.  I could not sing a note.
Now, in the extremity of my need, when so much depended on my
singing, though I opened my mouth, no sound proceeded from it.  My
voice had gone.

'Sing!' commanded Queen Mary, in her deep voice.  'Begin at once.'

I looked at her, at that awful woman who had killed my lady, and who
was killing such large numbers of those who had rebelled against her,
and less than ever could I sing; for a feeling of disgust and hatred
was surging up within me, whilst my brain teemed with the reproaches
I dared not utter, even if I could.

'Massingbird'--the queen's voice seemed to come from a great distance
now, as she spoke to the physician who took me to her--'what is the
meaning of this?  I allowed you to bring here the girl with the
wonderful voice, who sang to me in the Tower, that time I suffered so
much from sleeplessness, and you have brought this girl who cannot
sing, and who cannot be the same girl as the lovely one who sang to
me before.'

'Madam, she is the same girl, I assure your Majesty,' said the Court
physician in his courtliest tone.

'She cannot be the same!' cried the queen angrily.  'This is no young
girl with golden hair and a sweetly pretty rosebud face.  This is a
woman, with a sad, pale countenance, and--and white hair.'

'It is sorrow,' said the physician gently, 'which has changed the
pretty child into the grief-stricken woman, and a terrible anxiety
and dread is even now crushing her heart and killing her.'

'Killing her?' cried the queen incredulously.

'Yes, killing her.  Death has already laid his hand upon her
hair--her pretty golden hair--bleaching it white, then, going
downwards, he has taken her voice--we did not know that until she
stood up here to sing----'

'Pooh!' exclaimed Mary, still angrily.  'What stuff!  She looks a
peevish woman,' and, disgustedly, 'she cannot sing.'

Then Dr. Massingbird's indignation overmastering his habitual
caution, he exclaimed--

'Can the caged lark sing?  Can those whose "tears have been their
meat day and night" sing?  Can the broken heart burst forth into
singing?  Can the mourner sing for joy and gladness?  This poor young
lady,' he turned to me, laying a kind, fatherly hand upon my
shoulder, 'this poor young lady has lost her best friend on the
scaffold, and her lover, a lad of twenty-one, lies in the Tower under
sentence of death.  These things have bleached her hair and taken the
colour from her face; moreover, as we have just discovered, they have
robbed her of her voice.'

'Is this true?'  The queen's deep voice asked the question of me, but
the effort of trying to answer it, of attempting to express some of
the words of pleading for my lover and of beseeching for his life,
was more than I could bear, and I fell down unconscious at Queen
Mary's feet.

* * * * *

When I came to myself, the queen was holding a cup to my lips, and
calling upon me at the same time to wake up and hear some joyful news.

I opened my eyes and looked into her face incredulously.  What joyful
news could there be for me, who had parted company with joy long
since?  Sorrow I knew, and pain and disappointment, but not joy.  It
was so long since joy had visited me that I could scarcely believe in
its possibility.

'Come!  Come!  Try to rouse yourself,' said Dr. Massingbird.  'Her
Majesty is going to be very good to you.'

Then my lips moved.

'No,' I said, 'do not deceive me.  I could not even sing to her.  I
lost the opportunity which you were so good as to get for me,' and I
sighed heavily, having hoped so much from it.

Then Mary spoke.

'Meg Brown,' she said, and the old assumed name startled me, 'I am
going to give your lover, Sir Hubert Blair, a free pardon----'

'What,' I interrupted, turning excitedly to the physician, 'what is
her Majesty saying?  _I cannot understand, I cannot understand!_' and
I put my hand to my head.

The physician explained that the queen was about to pardon my beloved.

'Yes, that I am,' said Mary, quite good-naturedly.  'The rascal does
not deserve it.  But I do it for your sake, because I think you have
suffered quite enough.'

'And I have not even pleaded for him!' I said to myself, and must
have spoken aloud, for the queen answered--

'Your white hair and your sorrowful face, together with your good
friend's words, have pleaded for your lover more eloquently than any
singing could have done.'

Then, gazing at me, she added--

'Take her away, Dr. Massingbird; she is looking very ill.  I will
make out the proper papers and send them to Sir Thomas Brydges, who
will do the rest.  'Margaret'--she spoke to me--'what you need now,
to restore you to health, are happiness and country air.  You must
let Sir Hubert Blair take you home to your father's house near
Brighthelmstone.  (These last words disclosed the fact that Queen
Mary knew who I was.)

* * * * *

Of the meeting with my dear one, when he came to me out of the Tower,
I cannot adequately write--such times are not for strangers'
eyes--the relief and joy of it are thrilling my heart even yet, after
ten years, as they will no doubt for the whole of my remaining life.

From the Tower Sir Hubert came to me in the poor lodgings in Fleet
Street, and they were poor no longer; and praise and thanksgiving
ascended from them to Almighty God, who had softened Queen Mary's
heart and given back my lover from the jaws of death.

We only remained in London until after the execution of that brave
knight, Sir Thomas Wyatt, whom we were allowed to visit first, though
unable to obtain any remission of his sentence.  Sir Hubert witnessed
his execution, and told me afterwards that nis manner to the last was
brave and undaunted, and that, far from incriminating others, in
order that he might gain favour for himself, as did some, he, being
afraid that Princess Elizabeth might be implicated in his
insurrection, proclaimed from the scaffold, before he suffered, that
she and the Earl of Courtenay had nothing to do with it.  His saying
that so publicly, in all probability, saved Princess Elizabeth's
life; as Queen Mary, incensed and alarmed for her own safety and the
safety of her monarchy, was already planning her sister's doom.

Sir William and Lady Caroline Wood, meanwhile, succeeded in escaping
to Holland, the former having been too much mixed up with Wyatt's
insurrection to hope for safety in a land reeking with the blood of
those who had taken part in it.

Hubert took me home to my father's house near Brighthelmstone, where
I received a cordial welcome from him and Hal and Jack, and all the
servants, amongst whom I found poor Betsy, who, being excluded from
the Tower whilst I was with Lady Jane, and, being left without means,
had trudged all the way to my father's house on foot, to beseech him
to begin another insurrection by calling upon all Sussex to take up
arms, and come to fetch me out of the Tower before I was burned alive
and beheaded.

'Betsy has led me such a life with her tongue,' said my father, 'that
I have threatened to turn her out of the house many and many a time,
but she would not go,' and he laughed, drew me to him, and kissed me.
'I was very anxious about you, Margaret,' he said more gravely, 'and
made many inquiries as to your welfare, but I could not deprive poor
Lady Jane of your help and the solace of your presence at such a
time.'

'Nor did I wish to leave her,' I rejoined.  'Indeed, I could not have
done so.'

And then I took my dear Hubert to see Master Montgomery, who was
mightily pleased with him, and told us that he had prayed for me
every day since first I went to Isleworth, in the old church in which
he ministered.  He was immensely interested to hear of all that I had
passed through, and the work that had been given me to do, and my
love for my dear lady, of whose terrible fate he had only hitherto
received a garbled and imperfect account.  And, as I told him the sad
story, lit up here and there with gleams of beauty from my lady's
faith and hope, sitting safely there in his quaint study, between him
and my dear knight, the whole history took shape in my mind, and I
knew how I should best be able to tell it with pen, ink and paper.

A few days after that we heard that Master Montgomery, together with
other Protestant ministers, was to be turned out of his benefice; but
before that happened he married me and Sir Hubert Blair in the old
church, where my mother was buried, and where I had worshipped almost
all my life.

The living was then handed over to a Roman Catholic priest, and my
father took his good old friend, Master Montgomery, into his own
house, where he prayed and preached to the household, in our private
chapel, besides instructing my brothers in Greek and Latin, and the
way in which they should conduct themselves, and the Faith as it is
revealed to us in the Testament of our Lord.

My dear husband carried me off to his beautiful place, Harpton Hall,
where I have found a most happy home with him, and where our good
friend, Master Jack Fish, often visits us, bringing with him his
estimable wife, who is no other than Mistress Ellen: for, after my
departure from London, discovering that they were congenial souls,
and she being in great need of a protector, and his chivalrous nature
requiring some one to protect, they agreed to marry.  Saul, who is
Master Fish's servant, usually accompanies them, and always looks for
a little kindly notice from me, and a few words, showing that I have
not forgotten how he helped me in the past, when I was in danger of
what was for me far worse than death.

Here, too, my brothers, Jack and Hal, now bearded men, delight to
come.  For the shooting, or the fishing, or the hunting, they say,
though I know that they like to see their sister incidentally, and
her husband too, whom they admire greatly.

And here I have, at length, after long years, completed the task
given to me by my dear lady, in memory of whom I have named our
little daughter Jane, whilst our boy, our only son, we called Tom,
after Sir Thomas Wyatt, in the hope that he may grow as brave and
heroic as the knight in, we trust, a far happier cause.

The sun is sinking in the west as I lay down my pen, and the shadows
fall across the old stone sundial on the lawn, around which Sir
Hubert has had inscribed, in letters of gold--


'Hold to the Road that leads Above; and Justice with Prudence by all
means pursue.'


And I think that I hear again the sweet tones of my lady's voice
saying--

'It is like our dear Lord's teaching, though it was uttered more than
four centuries before He came to live as a Man upon earth.'

And those other words, spoken long afterwards--

'A Greater than Plato said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a Crown of Life."  That is the best Crown, Margery.'



THE END



EPILOGUE

My task is done--not brilliantly, not at all brilliantly, but to the
best of my poor ability, and I turn away from the thought of this
world's little criticisms, which may assail and rend my work, to the
consideration of how it looks in my own eyes, how it would look in
the serious eyes of Lady Jane, if she surveyed it all as searchingly
as she studied her beloved Plato; and lastly, and most importantly,
how it may appear in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

And first, as to myself, I have sighed, smiled, and then again wept
over these pages, as in them I relived through the exciting, tragic
happenings of the year of my life which changed me from a thoughtless
child into an extremely earnest-hearted woman, and I think, as the
record has taken such deep hold of me, it will also impress others,
and know that it will do so in proportion to the greatness of their
souls.  For little souls find only small things everywhere, whilst
big ones, like my Lady Jane's, find things so great and glorious as
to lift them over life's petty details into the vast, wide prospects
of the children of God, who see from the Delectable Mountains
straight into the Heart of the Kingdom.

As to the way in which Lady Jane would regard this book were she
looking at it, I have no fear.  She would see that I have in every
respect endeavoured to fulfil her wish that I should represent facts
as I saw them, and not as they appeared to be to others.

And with regard to the aspect my poor little work has in the eyes of
our Heavenly Father, it is impossible to know.  I can only pray Him
to mercifully grant that what is false and unworthy in this narrative
may be forgotten, whilst what is good, true and beautiful, may sink
deeply into the hearts of its hearers, and always, always be
remembered as long as life shall last.

MARGARET BROWN.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Queen of Nine Days" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home