« AnteriorContinuar »
me a cup of chocolate, begging me to rest after my ride across the moor. . And where is Tom ?' asked the Earl.
He is now at Blanchland, where he much desires to see your lordship. You have not learned, perhaps, that the Scots are in arms.'
• The Scots have risen ? he cried, with change of colour. This is great news indeed !
The Scots have risen ?' cried the Countess, clasping his arm with her little fingers. This is good news indeed !'
'I heard it from some gipsies,' said Mr. Hilyard. There was a hunting-party, where the Prince was proclaimed ; and they are said to be already many thousands strong. Mr. Forster, on hearing the news, left his hidingplace in the castle, and hath ridden to Blanchland, where he desires the honour of a conference with your lordship.'
'I will ride over this morning,' said the Earl thoughtfully. '
*But Dorothy will stay with me,' said his wife ; 'we will have our conference while you have yours.'
He left us. As he rode away with Mr. Hilyard, he met outside the castle Mr. Errington, of Beaufront, to whom he told the news, and asked for counsel.
My lord,' said Mr. Errington gravely, look around you. To whom do all these fair lands belong ? • Why, truly,' he replied, 'to myself.'
Then, my lord, do not, I charge you, risk so goodly an inheritance, save at the sure and certain call of honour.'
I know not what passed between him and Tom, but I believe that Tom was all for action and the Earl for prudence. Meanwhile, we women sat conversing of the children, and of household things, and of my lord's habits and tastes. By many little gentle touches and hints the Countess made me, feel that she had heard of me, and how once her husband loved me, and gave me to understand that she was not jealous of any woman, because she knew that she possessed his whole heart (which was, indeed, the case, yet I hope I should never have given her cause for the least jealousy).
My lord came back the same day, and after
supper we had a long and grave discourse, during which I discovered that he was truly much in love with his wife, and uneasy at the mere thought of exposing her and her children to the sorrow and unhappiness which would attend a failure ; that he now regarded the cause of the Prince as becomes one who hath so great a stake to lose ; that the Countess was far more eager than himself (as knowing less of the danger); and that he looked upon the news with distrust and suspicion.
'Let us wait,' he said, 'for the English people to give their voice. Without the will of the people the Prince can never return.'
It rests,' said the Countess, with the natural leaders of the people to guide them.'
My lord laughed gently.
• My dear,' he said, a Catholic in this country cannot be a leader. Let us wait. Now, cousin, tell us of yourself and of the hearts you have broken since you conquered mine, but kindly gave it back to me for future
The news of the Scottish rising made the
Government more anxious than ever to secure the leaders of the plot in England. Therefore Tom was quickly warned that he must quit Blanchland and seek safety elsewhere. First, he stayed a short while at the house of Mr. Patten, the Vicar of Allendale, and next-but it is a tedious task to tell of all his hidingplaces ; for wherever he went, presently, by some treachery, the messengers in search of him got upon his track, and he had to change his quarters. Mr. John Fenwick, of Bywell, kept him for awhile, and here he would certainly have been caught, but that the messenger stayed half a mile from the house to get the aid of a constable, so that Tom had just time to escape, leaving his bed warm, so to speak. This Mr. Fenwick was expected to have joined the rising, but hung back, no doubt to his own great satisfaction, when he found how things were going. For this I neither praise nor blame him ; on the one hand, a man is right to hesitate when so great a thing as his estate and the fortunes of his children are at stake; on the other, he ought not to raise vain expectations in the minds of his friends. Had all gone out who
were expected or had promised, there might have been seen a different ending.
As for me, I remained at Dilston, and for a fortnight more we expected news, but heard little. Mr. Hilyard went backwards and forwards between Newcastle and Hexham, bringing in such intelligence as he could learn. The Scottish rebels, it was certain, numbered 12,000 men. The Prince was expected daily; they were masters of all Fife, with the seaboard ; Colonel Oxbrough, Captain Gascoigne, and Mr. Talbot had arrived at Newcastle to stir up the north, and remind loyal gentlemen of their pledges; the Whigs at Newcastle were bestirring themselves; men were looking at each other and expecting civil war; but London was reported firm for the Protestant Succession, and the Prince and Princess of Wales every day going without fear among the people. And, alas ! Lady Crewe, from anxiety for her nephew's safety, had fallen into convulsions, or fits of some other kind, and was lying on her bed grievously ill.
I think it was about the 28th of September that Charles Radcliffe brought us the