Sir Henry Appleton; or, Essex during the Great rebellion
Henry Maxey / Henry Appleton
Events followed fast upon each other; but all was one monotony to Edward Bury. The King had refused the demand of Parliament to put the forces and places of defence in their hands—had declined their nominee, the Earl of Warwick for High Admiral—had lost his fleet from mismanagement, and was now at York preparing for war. Hotham had closed the gates of Hull against his master, and Parliament was raising levies. These things failed to produce any effect upon Bury other than a passing burst of anger when first announced: as yet they suggested no course of action, and did not help him to forget the one great thought of his life.
It was the merry month of May—all the more sad to individual mourners for the general joy in which they cannot share. It was the very time when Edward Bury first saw her whom he had rashly made his idol instead of his good angel, as she might have been. This folly was his own. Agnes, from the first moment in which he saw her, had by every word and deed unconsciously witnessed to a higher state and to a purer love.
But she was gone; and Bury now in vain paced the terraced walks, or lingered in the painted chamber, or threaded the narrow paths which led through woods and thickets, most of which are now no more: Jarvis high woods, and Jarvis springs, Hartley groves, and Bushy-Lees, and Philax, where the spring wood-flowers were gathered; and afterwards when nightingales had ceased to sing, the wild-rose and the woodbine were culled for Agnes, as she stopped to listen to the cuckoo or the ring-dove, whose note, uniting thought and feeling as it does so marvellously, had an especial charm and influence for her whose soul responded to its call. Here she walked—here listened—here spoke.
“But she is in her grave; and, 0!
The difference to me!”
Poor Bury! If instead of vainly straining memory and imagination, to conjure up the image of this loved and lost one, which, if true, in form and feature could be but imaged after all, like those spectres of the ancients which were but air, when the aims of son or husband were thrown around them; if, instead of this vain and disappointing necromancy, he had sought to recall the heavenly wisdom, and to gain the graces that had rendered Agnes Oldfield more fair than eye, and lip, and form, could make her, which were but so much body, lit up, and fired, and animated with the interior grace; then, indeed he might have embraced a substance, instead of feeling for a shadow; then Agnes might have lived again in him, and would have been his by a more enduring bond. But it was not so; and neither his own friends, nor Lady Appleton, who had more influence with him than any living person, could move him from the stupor of grief into which, in spite of all his vows and promises, he had allowed himself to fall, and from which he now made no effort to escape.
The time was come, however, when loyal hearts were not merely grieved at what was passing, but panted for action. The time was come for thinking what could be done, and how, and when For this purpose partly, and partly for Bury’s sake, Sir Henry Appleton had invited the Maxeys of Bradwell Hall, to come to Benfleet, and Bury was their fellow guest. His father also, Edward Bury, of Eastwood, who, from ill health, seldom left home, came with his son.
The Maxeys were originally from Cheshire, and then Maxey Castle, in Northamptonshire; but they were now an Essex family. The father of Sir Henry’s guests, Sir Anthony, now far advanced in years, was a man of the strictest piety, but not a Puritan, as some would unwisely conclude forthwith.
It is recorded of him, that his “constant course was to call his children up by five of ye clok in the morning, and causing them to demand his blessing upon their knees, and it being given them, then he heard those yt could save, and learned them yt could not, ye Lord’s Prayer, ye Belief, and ye Ten Commandments, and then caused every one of them, one after ye other, to read some of David’s Psalms, and each of them a chapter, and to give an accompt what they remembered, then he retired to his closset, and having spent some time in his private devotion, he appeared to discharge his publick duty as Justice of ye Peace and Coram.” It might be thought that so strict a treatment would have issued in Puritanism, or in licence, but the first was certainly not the case, neither is there any trace of the second. Grevill, the eldest son, died as early as 1648. William, the third son, was Major-General of the King’s horse, at Colchester, and died in 1659, just failing to see the Restoration; and Henry, the second son, served Charles in all his wars, was Adjutant-General of horse, and adds of himself on his father’s monument, “who lived to compleat this monument for ye perpetrating of ye memory of his dear father, and is preparing himself to laye his body here, and his soul to rest with his predecessors in Abraham’s bosom.”
Grevill, who was captain of one of the train-bands in Essex, and Henry, were now Sir Henry’s guests; and it was his earnest desire, that Edward Bury should be their friend. But the reader must be introduced to another person, residing at Jarvis Hall, being no other than Master William Appleton, a boy but twelve years old, and yet Sir Henry’s brother;
for the old Sir Henry had married twice, and this boy was the child of Alice, the second wife, and had hitherto been brought up by his mother’s family, with whom Sir Henry was not on terms of intimacy.
This was fine fun for little Henry. He was five years old himself, and to his great amusement, his uncle was not twelve. Many were the joUes of the disrespectful nephew, and the elder boy was not always pleased, but for all that they got on well together. Jarvis Hall, was a paradise compared with the house at Dartford, in which William had hitherto resided; and none could help loving little Henry, even in his fits of naughtiness, which were so clearly alien to himself, and but a cloud which he desired to pass away as much as his parents did, when they were punishing him with firm features, but misgiving hearts.
On the second evening of the gathering, the guests were sitting at their wine with the windows open, in a southern parlour which overlooked the river, and commanded the sweet view before described.
“This is an ill business,” said Sir Henry, ” that the Earl of Warwick hath gotten the fleet. If the Duke of York had been but old enough, the sailors would not have received the Earl.”
“It is indeed,” replied Grevill. “The Earl is a man whom some men follow strangely.”
“He will be, and indeed is a hurt to us in these
parts,” remarked Mr.Bury, who spoke gently, and was a strange contrast to his son in natural temperament.
“Yes,” said Sir Henry. “He is all round us here with his lands and tenants, and may give us trouble, if ever we should try to raise this country for the king.
“If!” exclaimed Henry Maxey. “No doubt of that, if I know Sir Henry Appleton.”
“Thanks, Henry,” replied the person so addressed, “for your good opinon. I trust I shall not be backward to do my duty to his Majesty, although I may seem to some, too prudent; for we must watch our . time, or we shall wholly fail. But when I said, ‘if just now, it was in the hopes that things would not come to the worst, that when the Parliament see the loyal nobles and gentlemen of England flock to the king, they will draw in their horns, and be inclined for peace.”
“Not they,” said Greville Maxey, ” my father is a man of wisdom, and he prophecies war; and moreover we see much of these men in our parts. Masham, and Henry Mildmay, and Barrington, and Sayer, and Harbottle Grimston,—depend upon it they mean mischief.”
“Aye. I suppose you see something of these gentlemen at Maldon, and belike at Colchester.”
“Marry, we do. Sir Charles Lucas scarce knew how to abide the neighbourhood, nor Sir Thomas of Lexden. They are an ill brood; but so are yourRiches. My father says they will come to an end in time, on account of the Church lands which they hold, and on which they raised themselves formerly.”
“Your father then,” inquired Edward Bury the elder, “agreeth with Sir Henry Spelman in his book on Sacrilege.”
“Not entirely, I conceive. But he holds that there is much in it, and if Archbishop Whitgift could prove it to the Queen in his times, how much more in ours! There was Sir John Gate, who obtained Bilegh Abbey, and the College of Pleshy from Henry VIII., and pulled down the church of Pleshy, where lay Humphrey Duke of Buckingham, and Anne his wife, and Sir Henry Stafford, who had married the grandmother of that king. The family of Sir John was gentle in the reign of Edward III., but this Sir John brought ruin on himself, and perished on the scaffold. And surely the Dudleys, and the Seymours, and Sir Walter Raleigh, are examples known to all the world.”
“It is true,” said the elder Bury, “but there are examples which may seem to show the contrary.”
“My father alloweth this, and saith it may well be so with a wise and gracious God, who visits with His punishments in degree and in time, according to the guilt of the offender, and the profit of men. Some men are, doubtless through ignorance, less blameable; and others, make amends by alms, and by a righteous life.”
“Speaking of the family of Rich,” said Henry, “my father saw that strange ride across the ferry, when Thomas Camock carried off the Lady Frances.”
“I have often heard the tale, yet from such authority could hear it again,” said the host.
“My father, Sir Henry, was at the ferry of Farnbridge himself, purporting to visit old Master Salmon, now no more: and it was a strange thing for him that he had forgot the tide, and was but just ridden up, and was blaming himself that he had come so far, and could not pass, when he saw the captain riding up, and the lady with him, as fast as their horses could lay legs together. She was a bold lass; they never drew rein, but dashed straight into the waters, and the tide was running strong, and the crossing a matter of no small peril. But scarce had they swam but three paces, when up the old earl followed, with all his company in a height of passion. And then the strangest thing of all was seen. One of the earl’s horses neighed, ‘and the lady’s horse turned round, and she was nigh to fall off in the water, but the captain held her up, and they kept the beast straight on, and landed in safety.”
“And so the earl forgave her,” said Sir Henry.”
“Yes. He said, God bless her, seeing she hath ventured her life for him. And she had two sons and eleven daughters, which, with the captain’s seven by another wife, made up a goodly family; but he rests now from them all in the church of All Saints.”
“Truly,” said Sir Henry. “It was a misbehaviour to her father; but to bear and rear two sons and eleven daughters, may be thought a sufficient punishment.”
“So saith my father,” added Grevill Maxey. “He is thought strict with his children, but it has always been his way to be kind withal; and if he was severe to those who disobey, he would never tempt them to rebel. He would consult our wishes. I would be your father, he used to say, and not your tyrant; so he ruled, and we obeyed with all our hearts.”
“Would that all parents and guardians were as considerate,” replied Sir Henry; but as soon as the words were out of his mouth he would have recalled them, for he saw young Edward’s cheek redden, and felt that he called up Edward’s fierce anger against his brother-in-law, and the sad thought of Agnes, who had been lost through his exacting temper.
Edward had never spoken from the time that the conversation had commenced. Now, however, he was roused, and began to speak with more anger than prudence upon politics,—hoped that there would be war,—the sooner the better,—and the like. His father strove to check him, but he was not an Anthony Maxey, and although he had brought up his children carefully, yet he had not the firmness of his neighbour; and moreover, his children had a stronger will than his own, derived as some persons said from their mother, whose servants found it more agreeable to please than to offend her, and who ruled
the house at home,her husband included. Now it would be harsh to charge such persons as Mistress Bury with rebellion for thus habitually breaking their marriage vow of obedience. If they are usurpers, and the lawful sovereign has been deposed, no doubt they are to blame, but what if there were no authority previously? What if the reins lay loose, and they simply took them up lest the horses should run off? What if they took the helm because the pilot was asleep, or tired, or careless, or too indolent to exert himself? This truly makes a difference; and although the reader and the writer may well be unwilling to be either driven or steered, yet at least they may allow their male neighbours so to be, if they like it. Nay, they may even remember that such may be their own fate, yes and had better be so, if they care not to rule their own house well, that is, with kindness and firmness.
But a shout outside the window cut short Edward Bury’s heated words sooner than his father’s eye, or admonitory hint. It had grown dusk whilst they were talking, but Lady Appleton, with the boys had not returned from their evening walk.
“Uncle,” said little Henry to his companion, but he made no answer.
“Uncle,” repeated the boy. “Arn’t angry with your little nephew?”
To which William replied by putting a stick suddenly between Henry’s legs and throwing him down. This treatment did not please Lady Appleton. Henry’s hands were cut, and his clothes covered with dust; but he interceded for his uncle, and said, “Do not chide William, mother. It was all my own fault, because I would vex him. Pray do not.”
The plea had both justice and mercy in it; and William was pardoned.
“Please don’t send William away,” added Henry when he had gained his first object.
“We play together, and he knows more games than I do.”
“But what if they send for him?”
Henry was puzzled, and was thinking how to reply, whilst Lady Appleton was opening a small door in the south wall of the garden, when Lion bristled up, and rushed forward, followed at full pace by Bluff.
“‘Tis a pole cat,” said Lady Appleton.
“Let me go to see,” said William.”
“And me, mother,” replied Henry.
“Well, run then, if you must; but don’t touch the creature, if you see it.”
“No. We promise,” cried the boys, and they ran after the dogs to the other end of the garden.
When they reached it, they could not see the dogs anywhere; but heard a deep growl from the midst of a large yew-tree, which crested a hedge formed of that shrub, and was allowed to grow larger than the rest.
“See, Henry,” said William stopping. “There is a man there.”
“No! Where? Where?” replied Henry.
“There,” whispered William, pointing to an object which appeared in the midst of the tree.
“So it is. What shall we do?
“Let us run,” said the elder boy, “and give the alarm.”
“Nay,” said Henry, “but the man will be gone. I will stay, and you run.”
“You stay, Henry What can you do? Come with me.”
“Nay, I will not. My father will not like me to run. I will not.”
“Then I will,” said the uncle, and off he ran, as fast as he could.
Meantime, the person concealed thought that he must escape then or never, and made a rush for the opposite side of the tree. Little Henry was startled, and half repented of his brave undertaking; but he was soon released from his watch, for in a moment such a cry burst forth from the fugitive, that it was evident that Henry was in no danger.
The cry was a shriek of pain and terror united, so sharp, so shrill, that the guests rushed out of the house, upsetting some of the tall chairs as they did so, and were at once on the spot. When they reached it, they found an old woman lying on the ground with her clothes rent off her back, and Lion and Bluff each had hold of one of her bare skinny legs, which they held like a vice. When the dogs first found her they were content with quietly holding her clothes and growling; but when she tried to escape and their cable gave way, they grappled the hull, which they would have held lightly had she not struggled and shrieked, As it was, when Sir Henry came up and called off the dogs, the blood was flowing fast from under the teeth which had entered nearly an inch into the flesh of the fugitive.
“Back, Lion,” said Sir Henry. “Off, sir. Bluff, Bluff.”
The dogs obeyed in a moment, but stood by watching their victim with a quiet self-assured air, as if to say they were sure they were right, and had not done an alom too much.
“Poor creature,” said Greville, raising her up, “whoever she be, she is much injured. Shall I cany her into the house 1″
“Thanks, Maxey,” replied Sir Henry, “our first care should be that. We can see to the rest in due time, and examine what her business is here.”
As he spoke, Greville Maxey turned the woman round in lifting her up, and although she tried to conceal her face, Sir Henry Appleton saw it—shook his head—but said nothing.
Before they reached the house the whole posse of servants had come out. Sir Henry beckoned toThomas, and said a few words to him privately, and then
Lewin took the woman from Maxey, and went into the house, followed by masters and servants.
‘* I like not this business,” said Sir Henry to Edward Bury the elder, when he and his guests had taken their seats again. “It was Gaffy Griggs whom you saw; the same that was accuser and witness against Master Lambe, and well-nigh got me into trouble also about a matter which I confess was dangerous.”
“She is but an old woman,” replied young Bury; “what matters? She has got her deserts, and will remember Lion and Bluff, I should say, for many a day.”
“Hardly her deserts yet,” said Sir Henry. “But there is more in this than appears. We are watched. The woman was here for that purpose, rely on it”
“And what hath she to say?” remarked Anthony Maxey.
“She saith what she willeth,” replied the host. “If you had been at the Court of Wards, you would not wish to have Mistress Griggs witness against you. But it is not for to-day or to-morrow that I am concerned. We are now drinking sack. If we have to do more,” he added, lowering his voice, “and raise men in these parts, it may not be well to be watched, and to have my Lord of Warwick down on us, or a troop of the Parliament. However, we must make the best of an ill matter, and only be cautious. Prithee remember this, Edward,” he added, turning to young
Bury, ” we must be silent and cautious; for it is plain we are watched.”
“It is so,” said the elder Bury; “and my son, I hope, will attend to your warning. And now what will you do with the woman?”
“That is what I know not,” said Sir Henry, musing.
“I’d put her in the stocks,” said young Bury, ” and let her sing psalms to the tune of ‘Chloe came courting.'”
“And what next?”
“Why lift her out, I suppose.”
“And what then?”
Bury was silent.
“Should we be any safer, I marvel? Nay, Master Edward, it’s no easy matter. It’s no easy matter. I may be sent for by the House for persecuting a godly woman, their witness, and be committed for breach of privilege, and what not? No, better let the old creature alone, and send her home without saying a word good or bad to her. What say you my friends 1″
“It is the better counsel in my judgment,” said the elder Bury, and the Maxeys consented.
Accordingly, Gaffy was sent down that very evening in a cart to her own cottage; but although she got off much better than she expected when first she was caught, she thought she owed her safety more to Sir Henry’s fears than to his mercy; and resolved in her own mind to have her revenge on him and his dogs.
“Well done, Henry, my boy,” said his father
taking the child on his knee. “So you staid, and would not run, eh?”
“William did not run, father; he only went to fetch you.”
“Right Henry, right. You are a good boy to speak for William.”
“He is not right sir,” said William, colouring up to the eyes, and looking down to the ground, “I did run, because I was frightened: and Henry would stay.”
“That is right, also,” said Sir Henry, holding out his hand to William, who looked very disconsolate. “Speak the truth, boy, and all will be well. We are not all heroes, but we may all be gentlemen, and Christians as well. Speak the truth always.”
“If you please,” said William, colouring still more, “I didn’t speak it.”
“Say on, my boy.”
“I didn’t speak the truth yesterday.”
“No! How was that, William? Tell me, my boy. It is next best to doing right, to confess what is wrong.”
“I met Master Hale in the lane, and he asked me whether the.’e were any guests at your house, and who they might Le; and I said there were none.”
“And wherefore, William?”
“1 did not like the man’s face; and 1 thought it must be for some bad reason that he asked: so out it came before I had time to think.”
Sir Henry drew the boy to him. “My own father’s son, William. God bless thee, boy; and now go to bed. Worse and worse,” he remarked, when the boys had retired: “You see how things stand. They watch us like cats. Master Hale will have his revenge of me for Leighbeck, and Gaffy Griggs for many a matter in which I have foiled her. Yet in truth she owes me much favour; for if it had not been tor me, I believe verily she had been burned for a witch before this.”
And what was passing in the kitchen at the time Sir Henry spoke, showed how little chance Gaffy would have had before a committee for witches instead of scandalous ministers.
“She deserveth the fagot,” said Sally, the dairymaid, “if’twas only for what 1 could say of her.”
“And what is that?” asked old James, with an incredulous smile.
“You may laugh,” said Sally, tossing her head; “but it’s no laughing matter when the butter wont come for a fortnight, and the milk all goes sour.”
“No, surely,” replied James; “but 1 see not what this hath to do with old Gaffy.”
“And didn’t I see her go up the lane? And didn’t crumpled-horn Bess give her seven pounds a-wee always, and now I can’t get two out of her.”
“Maybe she’s running dry,” said the old man with provoking calmness.
“Running dry, indeed! Why she’s as good as a pump — and as bad too; for its just nothin’ but water now. I’d as leave have a dozen hedgehogs on a cow’s udder, as have that Gaffy Griggs walking by. And there’s Master Dean’s cow, at the Anchor, got a calf with one horn growing one way, and the t’other the t’other, right over its eye.”
“‘Twill squint then, poor thing,” said Thomas.
“What! you too agin me? I thought you know’d better.”
“Never fare as if you heeded’em,” said Mr.Maxey’s groom, looking kindly at Sally, “and then they ‘ont chide you. I’ve no doubt you are right; for there’s one of these women at Bradwell, and Mick Brewett sweareth he saw her ridin’ on a stick, and her cat at one end: and what’s more, she had a quarrel—the old beldame!—with Master Green’s wife at the Thorp, and the poor babe as ‘as born two days after has got a nose as red as red, and they say it ’11 all be covered with carbuncles just like the old woman’s.”
“Maybe Mistress Green likes the ale,” said old James.
“No; that no one can say. Master Green do, that’s a sartin. There may be sommut i’ that. But I’ll tell you what there can be no mistake about: Jack Miller had a dog which flew at Bess Brown—a fine hearty dog, as these o’ Sir Henry’s—and he was dead in twelve hours; and the poor brute was all in convulsions, drawn up like a what shall I say?—like Master Bolnest’s face when he’s a preachin’ agin bishops.”
“I say, Sally,” said Thomas, “I’m going to my mistress, so good-night; but I see one good thing at any rate Mistress Griggs has done at the last—she’s sent you a sweetheart. Well, it’s a long way to Bradwell, but I’ll look in now and then on you.”
This was more than Sally could bear. She took up a ladle which lay on the table, and was about to hurl it at his head, when Thomas ran round the cook, and got behind the Bradwell guest, and so keeping under cover, worked his way to the door, when he stopped to say
“Sally the maiden, all forlorne,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn.”
No butter to-night, Sally; the milk’s all gone sour,” and then he disappeared.
“I declares he’s worse than he was afore he was married,” cried Sally. “I’ll tell my lady, I will. He’s holly unbearable. It’s all along o’ Mary. She spoils him. she does.”
“And so did you, Sally, till he got married,” said old Jarvis, very solemnly; “and in my humble judgment ’tis the fox and the grapes.”
“This jets me out,” continued Sally, “I ca’nt ston it, and won’t,” and she bounded out of the kitchen, whilst the cook was setting on a cold baron of beef, and Jarvis, a huge flagon of beer for the supper, which Sally had no mind to lose; and therefore, she soon reappeared, and eat and drank as if nothing had happened; whence old James augured that Thomas had falsely accused her, and that she was not in love after all with the stranger from Bradwell.
It was the glorious month of August, and all the fields were calling for the sickle, but only Death sharpened his scythe, and men were inverting the Gospel prophecy, and beating their sickles into swords. Parliament had raised its yellow banner under Essex, and the King was preparing to rear his standard at Nottingham, which soon became a stronghold of his
Gamaliel Hale was walking in his garden devising measures, when Gaffy Griggs was announced.
“Good evening, Mistress. What news?” he said as the old woman, doubly bent with rheumatism ever since the seabathing, which had failed to benefit her mind or her body.
“Good, I trow, Master Hale,” she replied. “But thou must be up, and doing as well.”
“Sir Henry has been exercisin’ his men in the courtyard, after dusk; and divers heavy packages have been carried up to the Hall, from Master Barham’s barge.”
“Well! And is not that enough?”
“No; for thou hast more to say yet, I can see.”
“Here then,” added the old woman, impetuously.
“Here, if you must,” and she put a paper into Hales’
hand; it ran as follows :—
For scouring, and lining with fringe, divers headpieces
For repairing bandelleors . .
For scoring and lining costlets
For scoring costlet, lining and mending the prick ….
“But there is no name!” said Hale.
“It fell from Master Edward Bury, the younger, as he rode by.”
“Can’st thou swear as much 1″
“And much more, if need be,” replied Gaffy with a grin.
“Enough of him then. But hast anything concerning Reniger or Frutter.”
“I was about Porters yesterday, and I observed something stirring out o’common: but they had me off afore I had time to take a fair look.”
“Then that must have been speedy, Mistress,” remarked Hale, who saw that Garry was examining every hole and corner of his garden, with her keen grey eyes. “And now, why dos’t thou tarry?”
“For my reward.”
“What, before I have mine 1 Nay, that must not
be, Gaffy. Let us catch the birds, and then, and
“Always then, then,” muttered Gaffy, as she sulkily crawled out of the garden.
“I must consider” said Gamaliel, “to himself, and not fail now I am so near to success. There is the Lord Saye’s regiment, at Chelmsford. I will send forthwith to him, and if I can get a troop, they may do all in one night; or, I could look in upon Porters, or Master Frutter, at Prittlewell. I would not willingly face Sir Henry myself, or young Bury.”
How strangely like events, or events which are perfect contraries of each other, happen cotemporarily.
On the same day, August22,1643, at Nottingham, Charles reared his standard, and Sir John Lucas, who was purposing to join him, was seized at Colchester, with Mr. Newcomen, the Rector of Trinity; was arrested as a precaution by Barrington, and Harbottle Grimston, and was being insulted by the mob, and treated with all manner of insolence and indignity; their property rifled, and their persons endangered; after which they were dragged to prison, and their captors received the thanks of the House for the crime.
Within two days of this event, the same Colonel Edwin Sandes, who pillaged the Cathedral of Canterbury, and ill treated Dean Bargrave, his benefactor, so that in consequence of that violence and his imprisonment, he died shortly after, was besetting Sir W. Boteler’s house, Barham’s Place, where his men held twelve candles under the hands of the steward, pricked the servants with swords, to make them shew treasure, and beat them with poleaxes. Almost simultaneously the house of the Countess of Rivers, at St. Osyth, was sacked by the mob, and property to the amount of .£40,000. destroyed or carried away; and that lady herself escaped with difficulty, after suffering the most rude and injurious treatment.
As nearly as possible, at the same time, Dr. Michaelson, the Rector of Chelmsford, was undergoing the concluding act of his violent ejectment. Before this the mob had broken the noble east window of his church, had caught him by the throat, and strove to tear his surplice from his back, but now emboldened by the presence of that bitter Genevan, Lord Saye, they were preparing to have their revenge to the full.
When Hales’ messenger reached Chelmsford, it was service time, and he followed the Colonel to church, hoping to find him. On entering he saw the soldiers sitting with their hats on, and calling out to the Rector in the midst of the sermon, just what they chose. They were in no good humour that day, for the Rector had refused to obey their commands, not to use the Prayer-book, and to omit all prayer for the bishops.
As Miles Page entered the church, he was not a little astonished to hear a voice which came from some person close to him calling out, “Hold there, thou mumbling murmurer, or I will give thee a gag thou shalt not forget.”
Miles looked. The speaker was a common soldier, with nothing in his face which warranted this assumption of authority, unless it were abundance of impudence. The Curate read on.
“Come out o’ thy calve’s coop,” cried a man further up.
“Make an end of thy pottage,” exclaimed a third; and a rush was made at the reader, the Bible was seized, and about to be torn up, when the mistake was discovered, and the Prayer Book taken instead. This they rent, trod, and spat on, and fixing the cover on the top of a halbert, one parly marched out of church in procession, making a hideous noise; whilst another waited to pitch the Rector into the grave when he began the funeral service over a corpse which was waiting for burial.
This was too much for Miles. He had a hand in the desecration of Hadleigh, but as no such scenes occurred there, he was greatly disgusted with his friends, and the sight had a conservative effect on his mind. However, he had no time to lose in reflection.
He hurried to the New Inn, where he found Colonel Saye, and discharged his commission; it was promptly attended to, and in less than an hour, fifty dragoons were on their way to Rochford hundred, with Miles for their guide, leaving the mob to collect wood for the bonfire, into which they intended to throw the Rector alive, and all but suceeeded in doing so.
“May I speak with you privately?” said Edward Bury to Lady Appleton, on the evening of the twentysecond.
Lady Appleton motioned him to follow her, and leading him into the painted chamber, she pointed to a seat, and sat down opposite to it. Bury obeyed the sign, but rose almost immediately, and began pacing up and down the room in great agitation.
“Is anything amiss?” said Lady Appleton, softly.
“Amiss! Yes. All is amiss. I am amiss. My heart is amiss, and I cannot mend it.
“Edward! Edward! command thyself,” said Lady Appleton. “How will you make a soldier, if you have no more discipline than this 1″
“Soldier enough,” he replied, bitterly, “but Christian I cannot be. I cannot forgive. I have struggled long and in vain, and now I give it up. To-morrow we set forth, and perhaps you will never see me again. You shall hear of me in the charge, in the onset, in the victory, and perhaps amongst the slain on the battle-field. Till then, take this and keep it.”
“It is Agnes’ cross,” said Lady Appleton, starting.
“It is. I cannot wear a cross, and refuse to forgive. This I wear;” and as he spoke, he took out a locket containing hair, and showed it.
“And what would she have said, Edward, to hear you speak thus? You have no right to the hair unless you have right to the cross.”
“It is true. O could I hear her own voice I should be different. Could I but hear that sweet voice again —but no! it is silent. I cannot recall it. I cannot forgive.”
“My brother,” said Lady Appleton, “my brother —the uncle of her whom you profess to love, and who reared her with every care, and my brother you will not forgive.”
“I know it is wrong,” he replied: “forgive me!” and Bury knelt down, and took Lady Appleton’s hand.
“I have nothing to forgive,” she said, “but thou hast, and God has.”
“Well, I will try: but keep the cross until I can from my heart forgive your brother.”
“Forgive him now whilst thou canst—while thou livest—now.
“Nay, press me not. Tears will soften me, not words. Keep the cross till we meet—wear it—and pray for poor Edward Bury, living or dead.”
“Dead till thou livest by love, Edward.” But Bury was gone; and before Lady Appleton had risen from her knees, the last sound of Sydney’s hoofs had died away on the road.
The troop halted in Rayleigh Park , where Hale met them, and made his arrangements. The attack was to be simultaneous. The troopers, assisted by some of the Warwick tenantry, were to assail Sir Henry and Bury, and Gamaliel Hale undertook to capture Frutter and Reniger. John Montague was absent, and Hale had private reasons for not disturbing his house without reason.
Porters now possesses the few trees of this immediate neighbourhood, but at the time of this story it was much more retired. The present road between Milton Hall and Southchurch is as a highway quite modern, and still shows the site of the gates which once closed it. Southend had no existence at all; and a grove of oaks ran along the top of the cliff down to Shoebury. It was easy enough therefore to approach the place unseen and unheard, and the baying of the dogs was the first announcement to Samuel Reniger that his house was surrounded. He looked out on the north side, and shouted—” Who’s there?”
“I,” replied Hale. “In the name of the King I demand admittance to search for arms and for malignants concealed in your house.”
“Arms few enough,” replied Reniger. “You shall be admitted immediately, if you promise to use no violence in the house.”
“I shall make no promises whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is not my intention to do harm to any man.”
Samuel Reniger retired from the window, but the door was not opened at once, and the assailants became very impatient.
“They are concealing the arms,” said Dick Warren.
“And the silver, I’m afeard,” replied his next neighbour, in a low voice. “It’s that as I com’d for.”
“Ho! there, sir;” said Hale, “we’ll break your door down in a trice, if you do not choose to open it forthwith,” and some of the men began to hammer at the door, with little effect.
“Has anyone a crowbar ?” inquired Hale.
“Aye, sir,” answered Jem Fuller—the man that had spoken before of the money.
“Then work out that window, and be speedy.”
The command was obeyed; and in a few minutes one of the mullions, with its bars, came crashing down on the ground.
“Now then who will enter first 1″ said Gamaliel.
“That will not I, master,” said Fuller; “may be they are armed.”
There was a pause; and before any one had made up his mind for the venture, Reniger quietly opened the front door himself, saying at the same time— “Come in, sirs; and, if you will, by the door. It may be you like not the window.”
They who were addressed did not wait to reply, but rushed in, and ran about the house breaking and stealing wherever they came. They found a few old swords and casques hanging up in the hall under the carved heads of the kings, and some old-fashioned firearms, but nothing suspicious. At last they came to the strong-room which then occupied the whole of the west end of the first floor. They found the door closed, for Reniger, seeing how things were going, had retired inside with most of his family. A violent assault was immediately made on the door, but, as anyone may still see, it was not likely to yield to such an attack. An oak door of two thicknesses, secured within by four huge bars, one over another, is not lightly disposed of.
“Open, sir,” said Hale, “in the name of the King.”
“Nay,” said Reniger, ” His Majesty gave no such commands.”
“Nevertheless,” replied Hale, ” open, or ’twill be the worse for thee. Bring the crowbar.”
The door is pierced in the centre for firearms. An iron plate in the outer frame is cut out sufficient for the muzzle of a pistol or gun, and within the room the hole widens so as to allow the weapon to be slanted to the right or the left; the whole being covered by a little trap-door inside.
“He is a dead man,” said Reniger, “who touches this door;” and the muzzle of a pistol was visible at
the moment he spoke. “Be advised, Master Hale,” he continued, “you have entered my house by violence, searched it, and found nothing. You demand now to enter my chamber, and that my family should be exposed to these villains. You may even demand too much, and Parliament may hear both sides of the question. Where is thy warrant, sir?”
“Quick, William, quick,” said Mistress Reniger in a whisper, as, with the help of her maid, she was lowering a heavy box through a small trap-door at the further end of the room to two men who were wailing in the kitchen to receive it, and had got the door open ready.
“I have it,” replied William.
“Here then,” added Mistress Reniger, lowering ihree or four bags rapidly after it, and then the trapdoor was closed.
Meanwhile Hale had persuaded two of the men by large promises to go forward and attack the door with the bar. Reniger cocked his pistol so that they could hear it distinctly—threatened again—and then when his object was gained, said—” Master Hale, I make you one offer. If you will promise that no violence shall be done to my family, I will admit you, and two others.”
“Be it so,” replied Hale; and Reniger took down one bar, then another, a third, and a fourth with provoking coolness and consumption of time. Hale entered, and made search; ripped up the beds, and knocked at the walls to find secret places, and all to no purpose. At last the whole party drew off, leaving Reniger’s plate and money at the bottom of the pond where William had sunk it, and arms for six men in a recess up the huge hall chimney, between it and the spiral oak staircase. The assailants, however, carried off four good horses—a serious loss to their owner.
Edward Frutter, who lived in the old house next the Blue Boar at Prittlewell, which preserves a remembrance of the fifteenth century in an external niche in the chimney, and of the seventeenth in the elaborate pargetting which covers its south and west sides, was less fortunate. His arms were concealed in the roof, but his plate and money were found— himself wounded on the head with a bludgeon, and his daughters insulted: all this with no case against them. Neither he, however, nor his neighbours, were taken into custody.
Meantime, twenty horse surrounded the house of Mr. Bury at Eastwood—summoned it—were admitted, searched high and low, and found nothing, except empty stalls which had not long been so, and the remains of a meal which had evidently been taken in haste by the birds which had flown. Bury’s groom had been over to Rayleigh for a saddle which was there for repair, and whilst waiting, strolled up the old earthworks. From thence he saw a dark moving bodv winding along; the lane from Rettendon until he lost sight of it in the wood which then covered a great part of the level ground on the north-west of Rayleigh. He wondered for the moment what it could be, but forgot as soon, nor thought of the circumstance until he met Gamaliel Hale riding warily in a direction to meet them. He turned round to look at Hale, and saw that Hale also was looking at him. This made him suspicious; but unfortunately William Land loved good ale, and the ale of the Bull, which was then the great inn at Rayleigh, was such. He took cup after cup, gossipped, and drank until it grew dark ; and his brain was not as clear as it should have been by the time he reached home. Thus time was lost, and, as it proved, life and liberty also, by one man’s neglect, who counted himself a faithful servant, and was so, this one fault excepted. When William reached Eastwood lodge, he was met by young Bury, who in no measured language began to reproach him for not being at home to groom Sydney on his return from South Benfleet. As soon however as William began to make his excuses, his master saw that he was half-tipsy, and being already excited with his conversation at Jarvis Hall, and by having had to superintend Sydney’s grooming by an inferior servant, he struck the man heavily, and walked into the house. Such an insult had never been offered to William: it sobered him instantly, and his first thought was to leave a master who had treated him in so injurious a manner; but when he went into the stable and saw Sydney, his heart softened. Whatever the master was, he could not bear to leave the noble horse who whinnied the moment he entered, and would not go on with his supper until his guardian had spoken to him. Land now began to remember that he too was in fault; and then suddenly what he had seen flashed across him, and his suspicions returned. He did not hesitate for a moment, but went straight in to his master, and told his tale in few words.
“You were tipsy just now, sirrah,” said Edward; “perchance all this is but an ale thought.”
“You sobered me, sir,” replied the man gravely; “and my wish to serve you after that blow should be proof of my words.”
“What, Edward!” said Mr. Bury, “did’st strike William?”
“Speak not of it, sir,” said the man; “my young master repents him even now, as I do, and ought to do. But, sir, there is no ale in my head. I speak seriously.”
“He does,” said Mr. Bury; “and we must act on his tidings.”
They had not much time. In less than an hour the lodge was surrounded, but during that interval the plate was concealed, and Edward Bury on Sydney, with six stout fellows well-mounted and armed, were on their way towards Jarvis Hall as rapidly as they could go, considering that they had to take bye-paths, and to move as silently as possible.
Edward Bury was too late to warn his friend and adviser. Alas, such Sir Henry was only in name. Edward Bury had taken himself into his own hands since Agnes’ death, and counsel given at first, and not taken, by degrees ceased to be offered.
Sir Henry Appleton was no rash youth like his cousin. When he saw twenty dragoons in his courtyard, and found that others were stationed round the house, with a body of peasants from Thundersley Lodge and the Warwick estates, he parlied no longer than to enable James to conceal most of the plate, and some of the ammunition and arms in a low vaulted chamber, the only entrance to which was under a hearthstone, and the only aperture for light and for air was that which was made by the seemingly accidental omission of a brick or two in the inside of a stack of chimneys which stood on the north side of the court-yard.
There was less violence used at Jarvis Hall than at Reniger’s and at Frutter’s, but arms enough were taken to make out a case, and Sir Henry was put under arrest.
Edward Bury had forgotten himself so much after a mile or two of riding, that he would have cantered straight into the midst of the enemy, if William Land had not warned him. He then reined in his steed, and became more cautious as they approached Jarvis Hall. It was not long before they saw that the windows were full of lights, and the sound of voices
became plainer and plainer. They halted, and William Land was sent forward first to see how matters stood. He returned before long, bringing word of the capture of Sir Henry, and that the soldiers were just sitting down to their supper, and had got up the sack and canary, whilst the Warwick tenants and peasantry were filling themselves with the baronet’s ale.
“Has there been any fighting? ” said Bury.
“No, sir; not any.”
“And are all Sir Henry’s men at large 1″
“Yes, sir; they’re hidden about, I believe, in one place or another.”
“Go back William, and bring Thomas. He will counsel us best.”
When Thomas arrived, Bury learned that, so far as appeared, Sir Henry was to be escorted to London by a dozen troopers next day, and that the rest of the soldiers would go back to their regiment at Chelmsford.”
“We can rescue Sir Henry,” said Bury.
“I thought o’ the same, sir,” replied Thomas; “but I was considering that I ought to ask his leave first. It might make his matters worse if we failed.”
“No, Thomas/’ replied Bury impatiently, “Ibid thee say nothing. If we succeed. Sir Henry is free, and we will find our way to the King: if we fail, he is not to be blamed for that he knew not.”
“Well, sir,” replied Thomas,” “you know best doubtless, and yet”
“Silence, man. Say how many fellows thou can’st now muster at need?”
“That depends, sir, where the rescue shall be.”
“At Rawreth Shot, after the Chelmsford men have departed.”
“I will be there, sir, with twenty stout fellows.”
“So be it, and fail not.”
“I like not this business,” said Thomas to himself, as he crept back to the house; “‘t aint as I’m afeard, though I should be sorry for poor Mary to be a widow. Poor Mary! No, ‘t aint that so much; but I doubt whether I ought not to ask Sir Henry first.”
Mary made no attempt to keep back her husband. She wiped away many a tear, but would not let him perceive it. On the contrary, she seemed to enter heart and soul into the plan, and prepared a good supper for her husband before he started off with his little ambush towards Rawreth.
Wives are falsely accused of unmanning their husbands. Certainly, as long as people will follow their own fancies and choose for themselves, odd examples, both moral and physical, will abound in the world— five-feet high men, and six-feet two women. One will be sober, another gay; one timid, and the other courageous: but this holds with both sexes; and the women who gird their husbands for the war, and encourage them to go forth and do valiantly, are quite as many as those who would keep brave husbands at home to ruin all, and die with themselves and their children, instead of boldly facing and averting the danger. In other words, there are as many brave women as men: and if some women have the advantage of men in the matter of words, as many at least have the advantage also in deeds.
Before the cold mists which precede the first arrows of light from beneath the horizon had begun to rolL away and disperse, and whilst they still brooded heavily over each dell and hollow, and wherever the soil was a little colder than its neighbour, the troop was in motion, and Lady Appleton must take leave of her husband—and not she alone. Little Henry was awake, and so also was William; and full of fear, curiosity, and anger, they were waiting for explanations of what had taken place, and was taking place around them.
“They will carry thy father to London, child,” said Sir Henry, taking the boy on his knee.
“But they will not hurt you, father?” replied Henry, looking as earnestly into his father’s eyes, as if he would read his very soul.
“Hurt me? No! They durst not. Be a good boy, and a comfort to thy mother when she is alone.”
“And when will you come back? You were away a long time when you went to”
Sir Henry laid his hand on the boy’s mouth to prevent the Maxey’s name from coming out in the ears of his captors :—”As soon as I can, boy. And now I will give thee my blessing. Kneel down.”
The boy knelt, and Sir Henry laying his hands on his head, solemnly blessed him in the name of the Trinity. Meantime his wife leaned her head on his shoulder, watching all she loved in this world. No sob disturbed her husband’s words, but silent tears rolled down from the wife’s eyes, and fell over her husband’s doublet. He saw them, but said nothing; for William Appleton was waiting anxiously for a word from his brother. He took his right hand, and said—” William, I have been a brother to thee, be thou one to me. See that thou teach nothing to this boy which is not meet for him to learn. What I would not listen to, that let him not hear. It may be thou wilt have to be as an elder brother to him. Should it be so, I trust thee, and thou wilt not deceive me. And now,” he added, turning to his wife, and clasping her to his breast, ” now for thee, my joy and my jewel. I give thee no counsel, for thou hast ever been an adviser io me. My best treasure in this world, to be found again in the next: God, thy God be with thee. The Godin Whom thou hast trusted — Whom thou servest—Whom thou lovest better than husband and child, be with thee.”
Lady Appleton said nothing, but kept her head on his shoulder, and tried to control herself, but in vain.
Nature was too strong for discipline, and sobs now accompanied the tears which flowed fast and full without giving any relief.
Sir Henry allowed a few minutes to feeling, and then quietly, but firmly seating his wife on a chair, he kissed her forehead again and again, told her to send Thomas after him to London with necessaries, and prepared for his journey. The troop was now ready. The servants were standing in the hall to take a last look of their master; but old James was the only man present. “Where is Thomas, and where are Edward and Guy?” thought Sir Henry, but he had no means of inquiring with safety. He mounted his horse, and waved his hand as a signal that he was ready to go. Immediately some of the soldiers closed up the rear, and only the riding-hat of the tall captive was visible above the heads of his guard.
Just before Rawreth Shot, a low wood ran down on one side to the narrow lane which opens on to the common, and on the other was a field of red wheat awaiting the reaper. In this corn Edward Bury had disposed the force which he led—and not amiss for a beginner in an art which he was not fitted to learn. A dozen horsemen were waiting in the wood for the order to charge, and eight men lined each hedge for the purpose of picking off as many of the foes as they could, and of alarming the whole body, so as to be ready for the charge of the horse. Edward Bury himself was on foot, but William held Sydney a tew yards back in the wood, ready for his master whenever he called for him.
It had been the intention of the captain of the troop to return to Chelmsford with most of his men, leaving twelve to proceed with the prisoner. Gamaliel Hale had heard of this plan, and advised his increasing the latter body to twenty, for fear of a rescue. His advice was complied with, and Bury to his annoyance discerned that a larger body of foes than he expected was approaching the ambush. He was not, however, a man to be lightly deterred from any plan on which he had set his fancy, and here there was matter for far more than fancy. His friend, Sir Henry, was not only on the way to a prison from which he might never come forth, but his services would be lost to the Royal cause unless he could be rescued at once.
“That canary of Sir Henry’s was royal,” remarked one of the dragoons who was in the front of the little troop to his neighbour.
“Royal, indeed!” was the reply. “A choice speech for thee who art fighting for Parliament.”
“And is not Parliament levying men in the name of the King?” replied the first speaker.
“In the name,” said his neighbour; “but I trow that is all.”
“Well, and I say the word Royal. It is but a name. Why so touchy this morning?”
“Touchy truly! And isn’t it enough to make a man so, to have his head aching fit to split, and all because Jack Pot persuaded me to mix liquors, and drink the ale as well as canary?”
“Godless knaves both on ye,” interrupted a third; “is this the way ye’re to fight the Lord’s battles, and deliver this kingdom from bishops and papistry?”
“Nay for that I care not,’ replied the first speaker. “It’s all one to me, so I gets my pay reg’lar, which I did not when I served the King in the north. But if thou be’st of the godly, thou should’st ha’ tarried at Chelmsford and helped to roast the malignant Rectcr last night.”
“And even so would I, had I enjoyed my own will.”
“Then thou art for war, eh, comrade? For hanging the deans, and breaking the images, eh? I’m rather for looking into the cellars myself, and seeing after the treasure. I don’t feel satisfied somehow in my mind that we hav’nt been deceived at Sir Henry’s, and left good spoil behind us.”
“Nor I for my part,” said another.
“A truce to your plundering,” said the religionist; “I drew my sword for the Lord and His Gospel: and what I desire is to see it waste the land from one end to the other until the prophecy is accomplished, and Babylon utterly fallen, and the kingdom set up.”
“And what if thou gettest set down by the way, and dost not live to see the good end? Eh? What then? Methinks I heard something here;” and standing up in his stirrups, the man looked over the hedge to explore. As he did so, a whistle was given —a discharge of fire arms followed—then another— and more than one trooper rolled over and fell, and amongst them the enthusiast, whose dreams were broken thus early, and who perished by the sword which he had taken, without living to see the shortlived triumphs of his favourite cause.
“Forward men,” shouted the corporal. Close up. Guard the prisoner, and ride for the open ground.”
This order was promptly obeyed, and wholly disconcerted the plans of the ambuscade, who were thus left to come up with their enemies as they could, and with a less number to attack them on ground where the discipline of cavalry would give great advantage. Bury hesitated what to do, and before he could decide the dragoons had emerged from the lane, formed in front of it, and quietly awaited the attack.
“Best leave it alone, sir,” said Thomas, who was standing by Bury; “there are not enough of us.”
“Who asked thee?” replied Bury, impatiently.
“No one, sir. But as my master is concerned, and my master’s men, I made bold to speak.”
“Thy master has spoiled thee. It is time thou was taught manners,” replied Bury, remembering the opposition which Thomas had offered to the scheme on the evening before.
“At them my men. Let the brave follow me.” And vaulting on Sydney, he cleared the hedge at a leap, and without looking round, galloped full at the troop, followed by those who could follow—some on foot, and some mounted.
“None shall say that I’m a coward,” cried Thomas, “though I be not a fool.” And if his thoughtless leader had cared to look round, he would have seen that the man whom he had reproached was only half a horse-length behind him.
At fifteen paces the enemy fired; but, as is often the case, over the heads of their foes, and with the exception of a wound or two, Bury’s little party made their disjointed and ill-arranged charge without hurt. The troopers, indeed, had made almost as great a mistake as their rash assailant. If they had charged at the same moment they fired, they must have borne Bury and his scattered party to the ground wherever they met them; but waiting, as they did, the impetus of the charge broke them at once, and without putting them to the rout detached them into little knots of discomfited men. Their leader had fallen, and being raw soldiers they lost their presence of mind. The result was soon evident. In as few moments as it has taken to write the account, Sir Henry was riding away by Bury’s side towards the wood, followed by three of his party, whilst the rest of his deliverers were making their way back to the same spot as well as they could.
“This will not do,” said the man who had praised the Jarvis Hall sack, “what will our Colonel say to us? Now man, if thou hast a head, let me see
whether the ale or the canary has the best of it. Quick!”
The headache indeed was forgotten by this time; and half-a-dozen troopers rallied round the admirer of the wine, and pursued.
A brook runs across the low ground called the Shot, which, after heavy rains, or a thaw, is a serious obstacle to travellers; but at the time of the year in which this skirmish took place, it was only a dry channel with hollow banks, and a few sedges and water-plants at the bottom. The road crossed this brook at the end of the lane, and consequently it now lay between the fugitives and the wood. Bury’s horse never looked at it, but went over as easily as the farmer’s pony ambles over his furrows; but not so Sir Henry’s. When the nag which he rode, and which belonged to his captors, who had taken the Jarvis Hall stud to themselves, came up to the place, he shied, and being urged by his rider, leaped half over, slipped with his hind legs, and fell back heavily over the fugitive.
Thomas was off his horse in a moment, and so was another of his comrades, and were labouring to pull Sir Henry from under the horse when the troopers came up, and summoned them to surrender.
“Yield, sir,” said the first.
“He cannot speak,” answered Thomas for him, as he held Sir Henry’s head on his knee, whilst with the other he knelt in the mud of the winter brook.
“Yield, indeed!” answered Bury, who had reined in his horse, and backed by four or five of his men, held the other bank against the dragoons; “yield, indeed! Hand him up to me, Thomas.”
“He cannot speak, sir. I fear me he is gone.”
Bury turned white as a sheet, hurled his carbine at the head of the nearest dragoon, knocking him off his horse like a poppy-head, and then wheeling round, he gave a sign to his men, and made for the wood.
“After him! After him!” said the man who had led the pursuit, but no one followed this counsel, and in the midst of a few random shots, Bury made his way to the cover, having lost but one man in the whole affair, whilst six dragoons lay dead in the lane, and on the soft grass of the Shot.
It was sometime before Sir Henry gave signs of life. The horse had fallen, and lain on him; and nothing but the narrow little channel which a recent storm had worn at the bottom of the brook had prevented the whole weight of the creature from resting upon him, and had saved him from death.
The attack was not renewed; and towards noon the little troop was seen winding its way slowly to Wickford, where they halted, and procured a cart in which they earned their captive to the Sarazen’s Head at Brentwood, where they lodged for the night.
If Sir Denner Strutt of Warley, or Sir John Tyrrell at Heron Hall, had known where their friend lay that night they might have rescued him still. But even then there would have been some difficulty in concealing a man as ill as Sir Henry was; and they might have disabled themselves more than they served him or the cause. Yet it must be confessed that there is something tantalizing to be near assistance and yet not to obtain it.
Next day the escort proceeded, and by nightfall reached London, and lodged Sir Henry in Newgate. Thomas was allowed to attend him, and when his master grew better he returned to Benfleet with the news of Sir Henry’s condition, and with kind messages and instructions from the captive to his wife and dependents. Thomas remained at home but two days, then leaving poor Mary, and his own little darlings, he returned to watch over his master, to supply him with whatever could alleviate the hardships of a prison, and to report to Lady Appleton the moment any change should be made in the place of his custody, or any prospect of a trial or release should appear.
Bury was gone to the war. With difficulty so great that he could not have surmounted it without the better head of his servant, he made his way to the hall, and joined the king on his march. Soon after this, he enrolled himself under Prince Rupert, whose fiery temper was so like to his own. With him he was in the thundering charge which broke the left wing of Essex at Edgehill, and dashed on so far as to change a victory into little more than a drawn battle, a piece of folly which one would have thought
would, have corrected itself, unless Marston and Naseby had proved the rashness of Rupert incorrigible at that period of his life and career.
But meantime, how dreary, how weary was life in the once cheerful mansion of Sir Henry Appleton. The stalls were empty of steeds, and their riders were scattered. Some had gone northwards with Bury, and there was no master now to train the little troop which used to muster at night before the late capture. This indeed was a loss. The master of a house is generally its bane or its blessing. He is either a perpetual cloud, or a sunshine of happiness. He is a tyrant of rule or misrule; or else a guide and governor for whom all are thankful, who keeps each in his place, and on whom all depend for the even and happy discharge of their duty.
William and Henry missed Sir Henry grievously. He was no longer with them to teach the elder boy to ride, and to lift little Henry on his horse, and to hold him there, and walk by his side; no longer with them to pive to such a share of the sports of the field as their age enabled them to enjoy. The parish missed Sir Henry’s free and gentle rule, and careless deeds began to grow frequent which were unheard of before. The whole house missed its master, especially with regard to religion; for ever since the Vicar’s imprisonment he had taken upon himself to catechize the servants, and to read the Church service every night in the hall, omitting only such parts as did not befit a layman to use. But chiefly Lady Appleton mourned. With her it was not a loss, an absence, a vacancy, a grief, a weakness, at one time, place, or action,—but all. She was a widow except in hope; and in some respects was less happy, for she knew not what discomforts and dangers might yet fall upon him who was more than half of her life. But Sarah Appleton had the comfort which Bury refused, and in sweet resignation and faith, bore her burden, did her work day by day, tried to fill the place of the absent, and, with a smile and kind word for all, shed more happiness around her than she felt before she imparted it,— before her own sweetness was refracted from those who received it, and then cheered the giver in turn.
Two persons were especially drawn near Lady Appleton by likeness of circumstances, Mistress Lambe and Mary Lewin, whose husbands were absent. She constantly visited them, and never failed to give and receive happiness every visit.
Mistress Lambe was a common-place woman, and one whom the Appletons cared little for, until her husband’s misfortune: but pity, and the intercourse which arose from it, had drawn them together, and Lady Appleton found, that though Mistress Lambe was naturally very uninteresting, and destitute of refinement and thought, yet that she had sterling good sense, resolution, and patience, which grew under
difficulties, and soon made her an object of respect as well as of pity. And indeed those trials increased; for, after her husband’s imprisonment, the parish had no resident priest, and only now and then, as Sir Henry had been able to procure the temporary help of some suffering clergyman, had there been any service at all.
During the autumn, however, events took a more decided turn at Bemfleet. Since war was declared, and Sir Henry was seized as a traitor to Parliament, no terms need be kept any longer, and there was nothing to avert the blow which had long been impending; the fatal decree issued, “Let the parish of South Benfleet be eased of Thomas Lambe,” &c. Accordingly, before the year had expired, a Puritan minister, one Anthony Cox, was intruded by an order from the House, and Mr. Lambe and his family cast out of the vicarage, with nothing to live on, and no home to repair to, until Lady Appleton offered her rooms at Kent’s Hill, and supplied her regularly with the same allowance as Sir Henry had assigned after her husband’s imprisonment.
This, however, soon became a burden even to a person in Lady Appleton’s station—for, besides the expense at which Sir Henry was in feeing the gaoler, in order to obtain common comforts and necessariesfirst, an order of the House, in return for Master Hale’s services, reversed the judgment of the court, which it was alleged had been unjustly procured by intimidation and bribery, and made over to him the fee simple of Leigh Beck; and secondly, all the lands, and tenements of Sir Henry were sequestered; one third only allowed to him or his family, and the rest retained for the service of Parliament. Sir Henry was now a “delinquent,” and next spring, his neighbours, the Burys, were to be classed with him, under the same most honourable, but expensive title which a man could bear in those days.
A monster now delinquent termed,
He is declared to be:
And that his Lands as well as Goods,
Sequestered ought to be.
When Aristotle wrote his poetics, prose fiction was unknown, so far as we are aware. What rules therefore he would have laid down for its guidance, no man can possibly say. However, he praises Homer for the unity which he has attained in the Iliad and Odyssey, by rejecting all which did not bear on the one fact to be brought out by the plot,—the wrath of Achilles, and the return of Ulysses. The attempt of Homer at unity of time, at collecting the action of his poem within a small compass, is purchased by the insertion of prodigious historical parentheses, retrospective narrations which would not be admitted in an historical fiction. In this class of writings there are two modes of proceeding. One short crisis in history, or at any rate in the loss of the hero, may be chosen, and a plot woven and unwoven in a short compass of time, which is certainly the most artistic and effective mode of proceeding. But for this end it must so happen that the historical events described did actually take place within that given period, or else truth must
give way to fiction, history to anachronism, and a false impression of the times and circumstances treated of, must be given.
The other method is to keep events in their order, and at due distance one from another, so as to give the entire effect of circumstances upon the subject, to make the tale natural, and not only not to teach false history, but to propagate true. To effect this, the writer has to jump from period to period, lest he should exceed the patience of readers, and the calculations of publishers. Readers, therefore, are taken by the hand respectfully, and requested to proceed per saltum, with the author to various degrees of knowledge and happiness, in strict accordance with the fictions of life in which men do really dance about from one doctrine to another, from fashion to fashion, and too often from promotion to promotion, without any intermediate process. In a word, under one system the stream of time is crossed on stepping-stones: under the other, if more than one stone is needed, they must be brought together in the midst of the stream, which is all very well whilst you want to stand in one place, but after that rather hinders than helps you.
In this tale, throughout which fiction has been made to bow to facts, and not fact to fiction; whatever judgment the kind reader may form of these principles, he has been and still will be requested to proceed per saltum, from period to period: and he is jiow requested to leap to the June pf the following year; after which he will be requested to take two desperate leaps, and then he and the author may sit down together as good friends for life, it is hoped, not in the island of Circe, nor at the Phoenician table, but in the house of Ulysses.
To preserve however, the strictly historical character of the tale, let the mind’s eye run over the principal events which took place between one stepping-stone and another, between August, 1642, and June, 1643.
In September, the cathedral of Canterbury was defaced and defiled, and Goring was obliged to surrender Portsmouth to the Parliament forces under Waller. Next month was fought the battle of Edgehill, which some call a defeat, and some a drawn battle, and some a victory of the Royal forces. It was scarcely the first, for Essex retreated, but the King marched on as before, and the Parliament was so much alarmed as to write to Scotland for help, and sent an address to the King. During the same month, the rents of the Bishops and Chapters were sequestered for Parliament. In November the King took possession of Brentford. On the 14th, the two armies met face to face, at Turnham Green, without venturing on either side to engage. One cause probably was, that the King had little or no ammunition. The spring of the following year was occupied in further negotiations between the Parliament and the King, then residing with court and camp at Oxford. But things were not quiet. War raged in all parts of England.
Episcopacy was abolished by Parliament. The Queen landed at Burlington, where she was fired at by Batten, and met by the brave Earl of Newcastle, who then commanded in the North for the King with skill and success. Hampden took Reading: Archbishop Laud was robbed of all his private papers by the order of the Committee of the House,—papers necessary to him for his defence, and which were never returned to him although repeatedly asked for, but which he was allowed to have copies taken of at his own expense.
At the beginning of June, the ordinance passed for the session of the famous assembly in the following month. A few days before this, in consequence of the discovery of Edward Waller’s plot in the city, Parliament pledged itself to a more determined rebellion by the sacred vow and covenant, which it took upon itself on the 6th, and forced upon those who acknowledged its authority shortly afterwards. In fact things only grew worse, and loyal hearts sank, especially in the Eastern Counties, where the rebellion was paramount.
On one of those dark days of the heart, so unsummery, so inconsistent with God’s bright, happy June, Lady Appleton, after reading some of the Church prayers, and one of Dr. Donne’s sermons to her family, was sitting in the parlour which faced the garden, and in which her friends were collected on the evening of Gafly’s capture: little Henry was sitting on a stool at her feet, stroking the huge head of Bluff, who had laid it on his knee, and William was playing with Lion, who either was, or pretended to be, asleep, and took no notice of his attentions. Heavy and weary, was life; weary with the struggles of hope,—with efforts to sustain faith against hope. One day was like another—weeks and months glided away, without any amendment. Heavy and weary was life, apart from that solacing act in which Lady Appleton had just been engaged, and even with its aid, the conflict with doubts and fears was a weary one, and not always a victory. Suddenly both the dogs looked up, then started to their feet; their eyes sparkled, they rushed to the door, and began whining eagerly to be let out.
“What ails the dogs?” said Lady Appleton.
“I know not,” replied William. “But I will open for them. Perhaps GafFy will be here again.”
As he spoke, steps approached; the dogs became ungovernable, stood on their hind legs, scratched at the door, and barked with impatience. William opened it, and Sir Henry entered.
“My wife, my joy,” he said, holding out his arms.
Lady Appleton stood up, reddened, and then turned pale as death, and before her husband could reach her, fell back senseless on the floor.
The very dogs checked their joy. They stood licking Sir Henry’s hands, but were quite quiet; and every now and then cast wistful glances at their mistress; whilst little Henry kept rubbing his hands because he saw his father begin to do so, and looked from one to the other without speaking.
A cordial from the Still-room soon restored Lady Appleton, and she lay quietly looking up at her husband’s face, with her hand in his, whilst continually a tear of thankfulness welled up, and overflowed from the fountain of love.
“Art well enough now, sweet joy, to hear why I am here?” said Sir Henry, as he leaned over his wife.
“Yes. I long to know that thou art safely here, and hast not only escaped, —
“No, Sarah, I am free, at any rate for the present; and I would to God that other of my companions were so also; for their misfortune has in some sort led to my advantage. The prisons have been so full of suffering clergy, and gentlemen, that they have taken Ely House, and Gresham College, and used them for such purposes; and now they speak of employing Lambeth for the same end. But this is not yet done; and when a new company of prisoners arrived about three weeks past, they moved some of my companions into ships upon the river, where I fear that they are suffering grievously, and our poor Vicar among them. Thomas heard that they spoke of sending me and some twenty more into the same ship, and I was sick and ill able to bear more captivity even on land. So I sent Thomas to Sir Henry Mildmay to speak for me to the House, but he would not. However, Lewin, by chance, or rather by God’s goodness, met Sir Thomas Cheke, whom I once served, and told him such a tale of my sickness and misery, as moved his heart. He forthwith bestirred himself, and against the counsel of some, as I understand, procured an order from the House for my discharge; with divers cautions for me to be quiet and not to meddle with affairs of State, which I am likely enough to follow; for since that fall, Sarah, I have been but half a man, and must keep myself quiet for a time at the least. Thus, thank God, I am with you again; and now, come hither boys, William, Harry, how are you; grown and good, eh?” The boys moved close to Sir Henry, and Harry kept fast hold of his father’s hand.
“The Lord has indeed been gracious towards us,” said Lady Appleton. “It was but to-day I said the Psalms with a trembling heart, and little faith, and now He hath brought it to pass. ‘I am well pleased that the Lord hath heard the voice of my prayer;’ and yet more, ‘I called upon the Lord in trouble, and the Lord heard me at large.’ And this brings to my mind poor Master Lambe. Pray how hast thou left him?”
“111 at ease enough, I fear, but I have left Thomas to watch over him, and to give him what is needful, and moreover to see where they bestow him, for the prison-ship I hold to be but for a time.”
“Ah! What will poor Mary say, if Thomas is not come.”
“I know it Sarah. I know it; but he’ll soon be here, depend on’t.”
“It is well; and Mrs. Lambe at any rate will be glad, and will be grateful to you for your care. She is at Kent’s Hill.”
“Because the intruder, one Cox, has cast her out.”
“Hath he, by my faith,” exclaimed Sir Henry angrily. “He may look to it then, if my turn comes.”
“Nay,” replied his lady. “This is not the day for anger and vengeance, but for thankfulness and love; and we are not secure.”
“Thou’rt right, as ever, Sarah. I spoke hastily, and indeed, I have been hasty of late. 1 trust thou’lt not find me so; but my fall and the prison have broken me, and I am not what I was.”
Lady Appleton looked at her husband, and his looks confirmed his words. One year had done the work of five. He was an altered man, but life was still before him, and now he had his liberty, fresh air, and home; for all which poor Lambe was pining, and many others with him.
The joy at Jarvis Hall was a marvel. There was little innocent joy left in England then, except the joy of childhood, which like the sun shines on all sorrows, and many children, even in those days were grieving with short-lived sorrows, but long-lived loss, for parents dead, or gone to the wars soon to die. Lambe and his
fellows were enduring sufferings which Europeans do not generally inflict upon their fellow-creatures. This was the first taste of a bitter cup more largely drank in the following year, when, after the Earl of Manchester’s ejections at Cambridge, the Prosperous Sailor was crowded with eighty prisoners, knights, gentlemen, doctors of theology, and clergymen of every class; among whom were Dr. Sterne, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, and Dr. Layfield, of All Hallows, Barking, where they were put under hatches so low, that they could not stand upright, without bench to sit on, or straw to lie on; and the sailors, out of wanton cruelty stopped up the augur-holes to prevent the air from entering that stifling prison, which was more like the Black Hole of Calcutta than any other place of torture which history records.
The Vicar of South Benfleet and his twenty companions in misfortune, were not so ill-used as these unhappy persons; but still their treatment was most severe and painful. The vessel in which they were confined, was a shalop of some eighty tons burthen, and lay moored off Billinsgate. The cabin generally occupied by the captain and his son, was now taken up by five soldiers on guard; and three or four sailors, who had navigated the ship from Chatham, to which she belonged, lay in the bow; the hold being kept for the prisoners, where they lay with no other light nor air than that which made its way through the hatches, unless they paid some of the guard to have one of
thom open for an hour. No water was served to the prisoners for washing, and no provision was made for cleanliness, any more than for comfort; so that in a tew days, half the prisoners would probably have been carried off by fever or dysentery, had they remained as they were; whilst added to all this, was a fear which was entertained more than once by the captives of Parliament, that they were to be transported to the colonies, if not sold for slaves to the Moors. Nor was this apprehension unfounded; for Cromwell sold some of his prisoners after the battle of Worcester and the rising at Salisbury, both clergy and officers, as slaves at Barbadoes, for so many cwt. of sugar per head. On their voyage thither they were crowded up with horses, and suffered most horribly; and on their arrival, were employed in the most menial and onerous works, and flogged at the pleasure of their barbarous masters.
One evening just before dark, a heavy coasting vessel dropped anchor about a hundred yards above the Rochester Castle, as the floating prison was called. The guard shouted to her to keep her distance, but the anchor was thrown overboard, and abuse was the only result of their remonstrance with the captain of the new comer.
As soon as the cable checked the vessel, her crew, who appeared to be three or four in number, lowered sail, and began to make the ship snug for the night. After this they went down below, and were not only supposed to be eating their supper, but were actually doing so. After an hour one came on deck to smoke his pipe, and paced up and down. The guard of the Rochester Castle and her crew were doing the same; but it was too dark to distinguish faces, and no intercourse took place between the two vessels.
The night was as still and dark as the Styx, and a thick oppressive heat settled down, bringing with it the moisture and fumes which had been drawn up during the day from the ditches, and mud-holes, and open sewers around. The prisoners could scarcely fetch breath. Lambe had tried to say, a considerable part of the Evening Service to his companions by heart, as had been his custom throughout, but was unable to proceed; and more than one prayed as he leaned back against the side of the hold, or took his turn in lying down at the bottom, that he might be released from that prison by being released from the body.
Things could be no worse, nor was there any hope of relief in this world; and Lambe who was kneeling by a loyal old knight, who had been sent up from Huntingdon, and was now rapidly sinking, fervently wished that he might accompany the dying man to whom he was ministering. There was not a ray of light in the hold. One heavy step paced the deck backwards and forwards with oppressive monotony. The water gurgled under the planks, and roared against the bow; for a spring tide was running down at some five knots an hour. Lambe had raised his face from that of the dying knight after receiving his last words, and was praying over him,
“Do you hear me?” he inquired, when he found that no answer was said.
But this question also received no response.
“Press my hand, if you still hear me,” continued the Priest.
“He is gone,” said Lambe, turning to his nearest neighbours, who replied, ” God be praised.”
At that moment a heavy shock made the ship quiver, roused up the sleepers, and threw those who were standing violently against each other.
The sailors and the guard scrambled on deck as fast as they could, and oaths and all manner of abuse were mingled with sounds of struggling and blows. In a few minutes, there was less noise on board the Rochester Castle, but the prisoners could hear shouts of ” Treason ! treason !” and fancied that the same sort of struggle was going on in another ship near them. Then they could hear a boat come alongside; those who were in it, leaping upon deck, and the struggle was renewed over their heads. The prisoners could not but hope that efforts were being made for their good, but the hatches were fast, and they could do nothing but wait for the issue, which they did with the greatest impatience.
In a few minutes, a heavy fall, and splash in the water, announced that one of the combatants had fallen into the river, and then another, and another; and the next moment, Thomas Lewin, was heard saying, ” Lend a hand here, to get up these hatches.”
“Aye, aye,” said a voice which Lambe thought he remembered; and before he had done so, a friendly hand pulled him up on the deck, and he found that Barham and Lewin were amongst his deliverers.
The plot was well laid, and well carried out. Barham with a dozen stout fellows in his cabin, had waited until midnight, and then cutting his own cable, drifted down on the Rochester Castle, and had frightened the crew out of their wits, by the violence with which the spring tide had dashed his vessel against her. A quarrel ensued, as was planned, and blows followed. Barham and his men retreated to the stern of their own vessel, and then Effingham Howard,—no relative of the lord, but simply a Bemfleeter of that name, whose father had taken the name of Effingham for his son, not out of ambition as men now add Cholmondely to Stubbs, or Talbot to Higgs,—who had been pos ed at the bow for that purpose, let Barham’s vessel fall off, and thus separated half the crew and guard of the Rochester Castle from their companions. But this was not the whole of the plot. As soon as Barham’s craft had dropped an hundred yards down, the men who were on deck retreated no longer, but dealt trusty blows with their handspikes, and one or two with a cutlass, so that the deck was soon cleared. Meantime, Barham and Thomas with others who had lain by in his gig,
boarded the Rochester Castle on the opposite side, and with the loss of one man, -who was shot through the head by one of the soldiers, captured the ship, and drove the defenders down the fore hatch, and over the bulwarks, from which they dropped into the river to swim on shore if they could, or to find their own level.
But the plot, though so ably contrived, and gallantly executed was a perilous venture; and it was by no means sure when Barham and Lewin drew the prisoners up, that either they or those for whom they had fought would escape; for the cry of treason, and the sound of fire-arms had roused all the neighbourhood. Men were rushing down to the river side with torches and lanterns. Ships were manning their boats, and many a gig was pulling towards the scene of the contest. There was no time to be lost: nor indeed was it clear how to use what remained. Thomas and Barham had thought only of their Vicar, and now there were nineteen prisoners, and their own five selves, to go in two gigs, which at best could hold but ten a piece; and thus overloaded they were to escape their pursuers, and to overtake their own vessel which had gone down the river, no one knew how far in the darkness of night.
As soon as the late captives perceived the difficulties in which they were placed, some of them offered to remain behind, and to surrender all hope of escape; but the rest would not hear of it, and at last it was determined that four of the youngest should trust themselves to the boom, which was forthwith lowered into the river, and took the course of the tide, while the rest went in the boats. Thomas Lewin was in that of the Rochester Castle, and the Vicar with him, whilst Barham took his share of the passengers in the other boat, and pushing off dropped silently down with the tide, only steering the boat, lest the sound of their oars should guide the pursuers.
They had not gone far before they saw by the lights that the prison-ship was boarded from numerous boats, and knew therefore that the escape was discovered. Being out of hearing as they hoped, they began to pull manfully; then in five minutes time, they rested on their oars, listened, and had the satisfaction of hearing no sound, and of being sure that they were safe from present pursuit.
The next point was to find Barham’s vessel, which was no easy matter. Most unaccountably, considering the forethought and ability shewn in the whole scheme, no place had been fixed where she should lieto for the fugitives. The two boats accordingly separated, and took opposite sides of the river, intending to keep within hail; but they soon missed each other and when the morning broke, Barham saw no trace of that in which the Vicar had embarked, the very person for whom the venture was made.
This was embarrassing enough; but Barham was not the man to roll one cheese after another. He pulled for his own vessel, went on board, and the first thing he did on treading the deck, was to call for something to drink; then wiping his forehead, which was moist with anxiety, not with toil, he welcomed his guests, and called for such refreshments as his little cabin supplied. Then he climbed up his mast, where he staid some five minutes, and came slowly down shaking his head.
“They are after us, sirs,” he said, “in the reach above. If ye desire it, I will land you on the Kent coast, or the Essex, which seemeth you best. But if ye’ll take my advice, ye’ll stay here, and face the danger.”
“But how,” inquired Sir Reginald Tyrle, a Lincolnshire baronet. “How do you propose that we should meet the danger? There are too few of us to resist.”
“Well, sir, my plan is this. I would hide you under a sack in the hold, and sail boldly up with the tide, and meet’em as if nothing in the world had happened.”
“I like it not,” said Master Patching, a Kentish man, ” I am weary of holds.”
“Yet is it good counsel,” replied Sir Reginald. “The country round here is bare. We are sure to be seen; and an old proverb says, ‘Sit near the fire when it smokes.'”
“Then be it so,” said the rest, and in five minutes the vessel was running up the river for London with a fresh tide and wind, and in a quarter of an hour, was in the middle of a fleet of all sorts of vessels,—pinnace, barge, gig, and shalop, all vyeing one with another which should trace out the fugitives, and get the reward which they thought the Commons would vote as readily as they always gave the £100 to a messenger of victory. But Barham and his pursuers were under opposite circumstances. They were toiling against tide and wind, and hardly made any way, whereas he was scarcely amongst them, before he was through them. They hailed him, and inquired what ships or boats he had passed, to which he gave an accurate answer, so as to occasion no after suspicion; and -inquired whither, and why they were all sailing together. When he heard their reply, he wished they might catch the fugitives, with an irony which they did not appreciate, and was free for the present from all peril. He then went down below, and told his passengers where they were, and asked what they wished next.
“For my part,” said Sir Reginald, “thy counsel has been so good, I would rather hear what thou say’st.”
“Well, sir,” replied Barham, grinning, “we’re all in one boat, as the proverb goes; and your interest is mine. If you take my advice, you’ll stay where you are; and at night we’ll drop down with the tide, and see how things go.”
The whole party agreed. With the next tide the pursuers returned vexed and weary; and, with the exception of one man, took no notice of Barham, whose vessel lay up Barking Creek, as if waiting for water.
“If I was our captain,” said a sailor on board a pinnace, loud enough to be heard by the person of whom he spoke, “I would overhaul that craft there, it’s the very same as was off the Tower yesterday forenoon, and as we passed in the morning; and I don’t see what she can be after, backwards and forwards in this wise.”
“You may think yourself lucky, knave, to have me for a captain,” was the only reply. “Tisn’t every one that chooses his men to say, ‘If I was the captain I’d do this or that.’ Perhaps if you were the captain, you would have caught the rogues before now.”
“Nevertheless,” said another of the men to the captain, “’twas good counsel o’ Tom’s to my mind.”
“I’m beholden to you,” said the good-natured, but obstinate fellow, “and now you’ll please to mind your own business.”
So the danger was passed, and in the evening Barham took advantage of the tide as soon as it turned. The west wind went round and blew from the southwest, with rain. He made the most of the breeze, and by mid-day next was off Gravesend, and came to an anchor opposite Yantlet, keeping to the Kent side of the river to avoid all suspicion. After this, another consultation was held, and it was agreed that Barham
should proceed round the point, and land his passengers in the Crouch or Blackwater; and he himself resolved in his own mind to trade between Bemfleet and Chatham, or Feversham, or in the east Essex ports for a time, until the affair was forgotten. But there was not much need, for the news of Hampden’s death at Cholgrove was confirmed, and had made a great impression in London. Besides this, intense interest was felt in Sir William Waller’s operations against Granville and Wilmot—an interest soon painful enough from the drawn battle at Lansdown, and the decisive defeat of the Parliamentary forces at Roundway Down, by Lord Wilmot.
Gaffy Griggs’ Reward.
Three days after these events, Gamaliel Hale, now a Justice of the Peace, searched Jarvis Hall high and low, and Kent’s Hill, and the Scar House, for Thoma Lambe, but found no trace of him anywhere. On the contrary, he was greatly surprised at seeing the wonder and pleasure which the search caused to the Appletons, who were thus first apprised of the escape of their friend. However, he executed the orders he had received from London, and finding no one, reported accordingly. The result was most favourable. It was thought that Lambe must have been drowned on the night of the rescue, with the poor men who clung to the boom, and whose bodies were picked up shortly after at Woolwich, and so he was forgotten, with the rescue itself, in the daily excitement of those stirring days.
One evening however, as Sir Henry was standing up to bless his evening meal, Thomas suddenly entered and asked leave to bring in the Vicar, who was waiting outride until he heard whether Sir Henry thought it would be safe to receive him. Sir Henry stopped in the midst of his grace, went out and brought in his old friend, who was warmly greeted not by Lady Appleton only, but by the faithful dogs, who seemed as much pleased as their master.
“Just in time for supper, Master Lambe. I was usurping your office. Please to bless the meat for us.”
The Vicar complied; but did not seem inclined to sit down.
“Ah! Sir Henry, said his wife, “we have been sadly forgetful. Poor Mistress Lambe should know, and the Vicar cannot rest. Is it not so ?” she added, turning to him.
“Yes indeed. But whether it would be wise for her to come hither, you must judge for us.”
“I think not,” said Mr Henry. “La us send word to her of your safety. But she had better abide at home till the morrow.”
A happy party it was which sat down to supper that evening. It seemed as if adversity had come to a check, and things were taking a turn. Waller’s defeat too, following on the death of John Hampden, served to give hopes of the cause; but many, manysad years were to roll darkly over such as those who sat there, before any real safety could be had; and then how few of the sufferers survived to see the end of their troubles.
When supper was over, and October Ale had refreshed the weary traveller, the Vicar was asked for an account of himself, which he readily gave, beginning from his first removal into the Rochester Castle; but the reader will not care to take up the story earlier than where he last saw Thomas conducting the gig of the prison-ship along the Essex side of the river, in search of Barham’s vessel, which they failed to discover.
“When it began to be light,” he continued, “we looked around, but could nowhere perceive Master Barham’s ship. Thomas landed and got on a bank, but he could see nothing, so that we began to think what we should do, for if we had all been seen in the boat, we should have been suspected by any person who had chanced to behold us. But then if we landed, there was a broad marsh, where every man could be seen for more than a mile; and if we had left the boat on the banks, the pursuers would have noticed it, and would have known whereabouts we should be. Chance, however—but shame on me to use such a word!—Heaven disposed our affairs; for as we rowed round a point of mud, our boat struck on an old anchor which some ship had left there, when she filled in a few minutes and sank. We could not choose therefore but land, and waded up a little creek which was hard by, lest our steps should be seen in the mud. Then we could perceive for ourselves what lay before us. ‘Twas a huge marsh, and the herdsmen were driving their cattle to pasture. We lay down at once on the bank, lest they should discover us, and began to debate what we should do; but I protest your man Thomas had more wit than we all. He counselled us to hide in the reeds until nightfall, and then to make our way into the country, as we best might.
“Ah! sir, but it was weary work standing in the mud around the reeds; and after a couple of hours, what should we see but Master Barham’s vessel sailing right up the river, as if there was nothing to fear. I was going to shout to him, but Thomas touched my arm, and showed me a whole fleet coming down the other way in pursuit. It was a marvel to us how Barham kept on right through the midst of them all; but we saw him pass safely. The tide had risen some way, and had covered our boat, so that there was no trace of that, and the whole company of pursuers went past. Presently a shepherd’s dog came and stood on the bank, and barked, and I thought it was all over then, but his master called him off, and would not attend to him. But, ah! Sir Henry, I thought of Sinon at Troy, and of Jeremy the prophet, in the pit, for it was grievous work standing there in the mud; and when the tide rose, it came up to our waists, and we dared not to move. We could drink, certainly; but food, we had none; and I chewed the reed, and wished in vain it were sugar-cane. But no man complained. That ship had taught us all patience, and we were ready to die, if God should will it to be