On The Humber





Master Talbot had done considerately in arranging that Cicely should at

least begin her journey on a pillion behind himself, for her anguish of

suppressed weeping unfitted her to guide a horse, and would have

attracted the attention of any serving-man behind whom he could have

placed her, whereas she could lay her head against his shoulder, and

feel a kind of dreary repose there.



He would have gone by the more direct way to Hull, through Lincoln, but

that he feared that February Filldyke would have rendered the fens

impassable, so he directed his course more to the north-west. Cicely

was silent, crushed, but more capable of riding than of anything else;

in fact, the air and motion seemed to give her a certain relief.



He meant to halt for the night at a large inn at Nottingham. There was

much stir in the court, and it seemed to be full of the train of some

great noble. Richard knew not whether to be glad or sorry when he

perceived the Shrewsbury colours and the silver mastiff badge, and was

greeted by a cry of "Master Richard of Bridgefield!" Two or three

retainers of higher degree came round him as he rode into the yard,

and, while demanding his news, communicated their own, that my Lord was

on his way to Fotheringhay to preside at the execution of the Queen of

Scots.



He could feel Cicely's shudder as he lifted her off her horse, and he

replied repressively, "I am bringing my daughter from thence."



"Come in and see my Lord," said the gentleman. "He is a woeful man at

the work that is put on him."



Lord Shrewsbury did indeed look sad, almost broken, as he held out his

hand to Richard, and said, "This is a piteous errand, cousin, on which

I am bound. And thou, my young kinswoman, thou didst not succeed with

her Majesty!"



"She is sick with grief and weariness," said Richard. "I would fain

take her to her chamber."



The evident intimacy of the new-comers with so great a personage as my

Lord procured for them better accommodation than they might otherwise

have had, and Richard obtained for Cicely a tiny closet within the room

where he was himself to sleep. He even contrived that she should be

served alone, partly by himself, partly by the hostess, a kind motherly

woman, to whom he committed her, while he supped with the Earl, and was

afterwards called into his sleeping chamber to tell him of his

endeavours at treating with Lord and Lady Talbot, and also to hear his

lamentations over the business he had been sent upon. He had actually

offered to make over his office as Earl Marshal to Burghley for the

nonce, but as he said, "that of all the nobles in England, such work

should fall to the lot of him, who had been for fourteen years the poor

lady's host, and knew her admirable patience and sweet conditions, was

truly hard."



Moreover, he was joined in the commission with the Earl of Kent, a sour

Puritan, who would rejoice in making her drink to the dregs of the cup

of bitterness! He was sick at heart with the thought. Richard

represented that he would, at least, be able to give what comfort could

be derived from mildness and compassion.



"Not I, not I!" said the poor man, always weak. "Not with those harsh

yoke-fellows Kent and Paulett to drive me on, and that viper Beale to

report to the Privy Council any strain of mercy as mere treason. What

can I do?"



"You would do much, my Lord, if you would move them to restore--for

these last hours--to her those faithful servants, Melville and De

Preaux, whom Paulett hath seen fit to seclude from her. It is rank

cruelty to let her die without the sacraments of her Church when her

conscience will not let her accept ours."



"It is true, Richard, over true. I will do what I can, but I doubt me

whether I shall prevail, where Paulett looks on a Mass as mere

idolatry, and will not brook that it should be offered in his house.

But come you back with me, kinsman. We will send old Master Purvis to

take your daughter safely home."



Richard of course refused, and at the same time, thinking an

explanation necessary and due to the Earl, disclosed to him that Cicely

was no child of his, but a near kinswoman of the Scottish Queen, whom

it was desirable to place out of Queen Elizabeth's reach for the

present, adding that there had been love passages between her and his

son Humfrey, who intended to wed her and see some foreign service.

Lord Shrewsbury showed at first some offence at having been kept in

ignorance all these years of such a fact, and wondered what his

Countess would say, marvelled too that his cousin should consent to his

son's throwing himself away on a mere stranger, of perilous connection,

and going off to foreign wars; but the good nobleman was a placable

man, and always considerably influenced by the person who addressed

him, and he ended by placing the Mastiff at Richard's disposal to take

the young people to Scotland or Holland, or wherever they might wish to

go.



This decided Mr. Talbot on making at once for the seaport; and

accordingly he left behind him the horse, which was to serve as a token

to his son that such was his course. Cicely had been worn out with her

day's journey, and slept late and sound, so that she was not ready to

leave her chamber till the Earl and his retinue were gone, and thus she

was spared actual contact with him who was to doom her mother, and see

that doom carried out. She was recruited by rest, and more ready to

talk than on the previous day, but she was greatly disappointed to find

that she might not be taken to Bridgefield.



"If I could only be with Mother Susan for one hour," she sighed.



"Would that thou couldst, my poor maid," said Richard. "The mother

hath the trick of comfort."



"'Twas not comfort I thought of. None can give me that," said the poor

girl; "but she would teach me how to be a good wife to Humfrey."



These words were a satisfaction to Richard, who had begun to feel

somewhat jealous for his son's sake, and to doubt whether the girl's

affection rose to the point of requiting the great sacrifice made for

his sake, though truly in those days parents were not wont to be

solicitous as to the mutual attachment between a betrothed pair.

However, Cicely's absolute resignation of herself and her fate into

Humfrey's hands, without even a question, and with entire confidence

and peace, was evidence enough that her heart was entirely his; nay,

had been his throughout all the little flights of ambition now so

entirely passed away, without apparently a thought on her part.



It was on the Friday forenoon, a day very unlike their last entrance

into Hull, that they again entered the old town, in the brightness of a

crisp frost; but poor Cicely could not but contrast her hopeful mood of

November with her present overwhelming sorrow, where, however, there

was one drop of sweetness. Her foster-father took her again to good

Mr. Heatherthwayte's, according to the previous invitation, and was

rejoiced to see that the joyous welcome of Oil-of-Gladness awoke a

smile; and the little girl, being well trained in soberness and

discretion, did not obtrude upon her grief.



Stern Puritan as he was, the minister himself contained his

satisfaction that the Papist woman was to die and never reign over

England until he was out of hearing of the pale maiden who had--strange

as it seemed to him--loved her enough to be almost broken-hearted at

her death.



Richard saw Goatley and set him to prepare the Mastiff for an immediate

voyage. Her crew, somewhat like those of a few modern yachts, were

permanently attached to her, and lived in the neighbourhood of the

wharf, so that, under the personal superintendence of one who was as

much loved and looked up to as Captain Talbot, all was soon in a state

of forwardness, and Gillingham made himself very useful. When darkness

put a stop to the work and supper was being made ready, Richard found

time to explain matters to Mr. Heatherthwayte, for his honourable mind

would not permit him to ask his host unawares to perform an office that

might possibly be construed as treasonable. In spite of the

preparation which he had already received through Colet's

communications, the minister's wonder was extreme. "Daughter to the

Queen of Scots, say you, sir! Yonder modest, shamefast maiden, of

such seemly carriage and gentle speech?"



Richard smiled and said--"My good friend, had you seen that poor

lady--to whom God be merciful--as I have done, you would know that what

is sweetest in our Cicely's outward woman is derived from her; for the

inner graces, I cannot but trace them to mine own good wife."



Mr. Heatherthwayte seemed at first hardly to hear him, so overpowered

was he with the notion that the daughter of her, whom he was in the

habit of classing with Athaliah and Herodias, was in his house, resting

on the innocent pillow of Oil-of-Gladness. He made his guest recount

to him the steps by which the discovery had been made, and at last

seemed to embrace the idea. Then he asked whether Master Talbot were

about to carry the young lady to the protection of her brother in

Scotland; and when the answer was that it might be poor protection even

if conferred, and that by all accounts the Court of Scotland was by no

means a place in which to leave a lonely damsel with no faithful

guardian, the minister asked--



"How then will you bestow the maiden?"



"In that, sir, I came to ask you to aid me. My son Humfrey is

following on our steps, leaving Fotheringhay so soon as his charge

there is ended; and I ask of you to wed him to the maid, whom we will

then take to Holland, when he will take service with the States."



The amazement of the clergyman was redoubled, and he began at first to

plead with Richard that a perilous overleaping ambition was leading him

thus to mate his son with an evil, though a royal, race.



At this Richard smiled and shook his head, pointing out that the very

last thing any of them desired was that Cicely's birth should be known;

and that even if it were, her mother's marriage was very questionable.

It was no ambition, he said, that actuated his son, "But you saw

yourself how, nineteen years ago, the little lad welcomed her as his

little sister come back to him. That love hath grown up with him.

When, at fifteen years old, he learnt that she was a nameless stranger,

his first cry was that he would wed her and give her his name. Never

hath his love faltered; and even when this misfortune of her rank was

known, and he lost all hope of gaining her, while her mother bade her

renounce him, his purpose was even still to watch over and guard her;

and at the end, beyond all our expectations, they have had her mother's

dying blessing and entreaty that he would take her."



"Sir, do you give me your word for that?"



"Yea, Master Heatherthwayte, as I am a true man. Mind you, worldly

matters look as different to a poor woman who knoweth the headsman is

in the house, as to one who hath her head on her dying pillow. This

Queen had devised plans for sending our poor Cis abroad to her French

and Lorraine kindred, with some of the French ladies of her train."



"Heaven forbid!" broke out Heatherthwayte, in horror. "The rankest of

Papists--"



"Even so, and with recommendations to give her in marriage to some

adventurous prince whom the Spaniards might abet in working woe to us

in her name. But when she saw how staunch the child is in believing as

mine own good dame taught her, she saw, no doubt, that this would be

mere giving her over to be persecuted and mewed in a convent."



"Then the woman hath some bowels of mercy, though a Papist."



"She even saith that she doubteth not that such as live honestly and

faithfully by the light that is in them shall be saved. So when she

saw she prevailed nothing with the maid, she left off her endeavours.

Moreover, my son not only saved her life, but won her regard by his

faith and honour; and she called him to her, and even besought him to

be her daughter's husband. I came to you, reverend sir, as one who has

known from the first that the young folk are no kin to one another; and

as I think the peril to you is small, I deemed that you would do them

this office. Otherwise, I must take her to Holland and see them wedded

by a stranger there."



Mr. Heatherthwayte was somewhat touched, but he sat and considered,

perceiving that to marry the young lady to a loyal Englishman was the

safest way of hindering her from falling into the clutches of a Popish

prince; but he still demurred, and asked how Mr. Talbot could talk of

the mere folly of love, and for its sake let his eldest son and heir

become a mere exile and fugitive, cut off, it might be, from home.



"For that matter, sir," said Richard, "my son is not one to loiter

about, as the lubberly heir, cumbering the land at home. He would, so

long as I am spared in health and strength, be doing service by land or

sea, and I trust that by the time he is needed at home, all this may be

so forgotten that Cis may return safely. The maid hath been our child

too long for us to risk her alone. And for such love being weak and

foolish, surely, sir, it was the voice of One greater than you or I

that bade a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife."



Mr. Heatherthwayte still murmured something about "youth" and "lightly

undertaken," and Master Talbot observed, with a smile, that when he had

seen Humfrey he might judge as to the lightness of purpose.



Richard meanwhile was watching somewhat anxiously for the arrival of

his son, who, he had reckoned, would make so much more speed than was

possible for Cis, that he might have almost overtaken them, if the

fatal business had not been delayed longer than he had seen reason to

anticipate. However, these last words had not long been out of his

mouth when a man's footsteps, eager, yet with a tired sound and with

the clank of spurs, came along the paved way outside, and there was a

knock at the door. Some one else had been watching; for, as the street

door was opened, Cicely sprang forward as Humfrey held out his arms;

then, as she rested against his breast, he said, so that she alone

could hear, "Her last words to me were, 'Give her my love and blessing,

and tell her my joy is come--such joy as I never knew before.'"



Then they knew the deed was done, and Richard said, "God have mercy on

her soul!" Nor did Mr. Heatherthwayte rebuke him. Indeed there was no

time, for Humfrey exclaimed, "She is swooning." He gathered her in his

arms, and carried her where they lighted him, laying her on Oil's

little bed, but she was not entirely unconscious, and rallied her

senses so as to give him a reassuring look, not quite a smile, and yet

wondrously sweet, even in the eyes of others. Then, as the lamp

flashed on his figure, she sprang to her feet, all else forgotten in

the exclamation.



"O Humfrey, thou art hurt! What is it? Sit thee down."



They then saw that his face was, indeed, very pale and jaded, and that

his dress was muddied from head to foot, and in some places there were

marks of blood; but as she almost pushed him down on the chest beside

the bed, he said, in a voice hoarse and sunk, betraying weariness--



"Naught, naught, Cis; only my beast fell with me going down a hill, and

lamed himself, so that I had to lead him the last four or five miles.

Moreover, this cut on my hand must needs break forth bleeding more than

I knew in the dark, or I had not frighted thee by coming in such sorry

plight," and he in his turn gazed reassuringly into her eyes as she

stood over him, anxiously examining, as if she scarce durst trust him,

that if stiff and bruised at all, it mattered not. Then she begged a

cup of wine for him, and sent Oil for water and linen, and Humfrey had

to abandon his hand to her, to be cleansed and bound up, neither of

them uttering a word more than needful, as she knelt by the chest

performing this work with skilful hands, though there was now and then

a tremor over her whole frame.



"Now, dear maid," said Richard, "thou must let him come with us and don

some dry garments: then shalt thou see him again."



"Rest and food--he needs them," said Cis, in a voice weak and

tremulous, though the self-restraint of her princely nature strove to

control it. "Take him, father; methinks I cannot hear more to-night.

He will tell me all when we are away together. I would be alone, and

in the dark; I know he is come, and you are caring for him. That is

enough, and I can still thank God."



Her face quivered, and she turned away; nor did Humfrey dare to shake

her further by another demonstration, but stumbled after his father to

the minister's chamber, where some incongruous clerical attire had been

provided for him, since he disdained the offer of supping in bed.



Mr. Heatherthwayte was much struck with the undemonstrativeness of

their meeting, for there was high esteem for austerity in the Puritan

world, in contrast to the utter want of self-restraint shown by the

more secular characters.



When Humfrey presently made his appearance with his father's cloak

wrapped over the minister's clean shirt and nether garments, Richard

said, "Son Humfrey, this good gentleman who baptized our Cis would fain

be certain that there is no lightness of purpose in this thy design."



"Nay, nay, Mr. Talbot," broke in the minister, "I spake ere I had seen

this gentleman. From what I have now beheld, I have no doubts that be

she who she may, it is a marriage made and blessed in heaven."



"I thank you, sir," said Humfrey, gravely; "it is my one hope

fulfilled."



They spoke no more till he had eaten, for he was much spent, having

never rested more than a couple of hours, and not slept at all since

leaving Fotheringhay. He had understood by the colour of the horse

left at Nottingham which road to take, and at the hostel at Hull had

encountered Gillingham, who directed him on to Mr. Heatherthwayte's.



What he brought himself to tell of the last scene at Fotheringhay has

been mostly recorded by history, and need not here be dwelt upon. When

Bourgoin and Melville fell back, unable to support their mistress along

the hall to the scaffold, the Queen had said to him, "Thou wilt do me

this last service," and had leant on his arm along the crowded hall,

and had taken that moment to speak those last words for Cicely. She

had blessed James openly, and declared her trust that he would find

salvation if he lived well and sincerely in the faith he had chosen.

With him she had secretly blessed her other child.



Humfrey was much shaken and could hardly command his voice to answer

the questions of Master Heatherthwayte, but he so replied to them that,

one by one, the phrases and turns were relinquished which the worthy

man had prepared for a Sunday's sermon on "Go see now this accursed

woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter," and he even began to

consider of choosing for his text something that would bid his

congregation not to judge after the sight of their eyes, nor condemn

after the hearing of their ears.



When Humfrey had eaten and drunk, and the ruddy hue was returning to

his cheek, Mr. Heatherthwayte discovered that he must speak with his

churchwarden that night. Probably the pleasure of communicating the

tidings that the deed was accomplished added force to the consideration

that the father and son would rather be alone together, for he lighted

his lantern with alacrity, and carried off Dust-and-Ashes with him.



Then Humfrey had more to tell which brooked no delay. On the day after

the departure of his father and Cicely, Will Cavendish had arrived, and

Humfrey had been desired to demand from the prisoner an immediate

audience for that gentleman. Mary had said, "This is anent the child.

Call him in, Humfrey," and as Cavendish had passed the guard he had

struck his old comrade on the shoulder and observed, "What gulls we

have at Hallamshire."



He had come out from his conference fuming, and desiring to hear from

Humfrey whether he were aware of the imposture that had been put on the

Queen and upon them all, and to which yonder stubborn woman still chose

to cleave--little Cis Talbot supposing herself a queen's daughter, and

they all, even grave Master Richard, being duped. It was too much for

Will! A gentleman, so nearly connected with the Privy Council, was not

to be deceived like these simple soldiers and sailors, though it suited

Queen Mary's purposes to declare the maid to be in sooth her daughter,

and to refuse to disown her. He supposed it was to embroil England for

the future that she left such a seed of mischief.



And old Paulett had been fool enough to let the girl leave the Castle,

whereas Cavendish's orders had been to be as secret as possible lest

the mischievous suspicion of the existence of such a person should

spread, but to arrest her and bring her to London as soon as the

execution should be over; when, as he said, no harm would happen to her

provided she would give up the pretensions with which she had been

deceived.



"It would have been safer for you both," said poor Queen Mary to

Humfrey afterwards, "if I had denied her, but I could not disown my

poor child, or prevent her from yet claiming royal rights. Moreover, I

have learnt enough of you Talbots to know that you would not owe your

safety to falsehood from a dying woman."



But Will's conceit might be quite as effectual. He was under orders to

communicate the matter to no one not already aware of it, and as above

all things he desired to see the execution as the most memorable

spectacle he was likely to behold in his life, and he believed Cicely

to be safe at Bridgefield, he thought it unnecessary to take any

farther steps until that should be over. Humfrey had listened to all

with what countenance he might, and gave as little sign as possible.



But when the tragedy had been consummated, and he had seen the fair

head fall, and himself withdrawn poor little Bijou from beneath his

dead mistress's garment, handing him to Jean Kennedy, he had--with

blood still curdling with horror--gone down to the stables, taken his

horse, and ridden away.



There would no doubt be pursuit so soon as Richard and Cicely were

found not to be at Bridgefield; but there was a space in which to act,

and Mr. Talbot at once said, "The Mastiff is well-nigh ready to sail.

Ye must be wedded to-morrow morn, and go on board without delay."



They judged it better not to speak of this to the poor bride in her

heavy grief; and Humfrey, having heard from their little hostess that

Mistress Cicely lay quite still, and sent him her loving greeting,

consented to avail himself of the hospitable minister's own bed,

hoping, as he confided to his father, that very weariness would hinder

him from seeing the block, the axe, and the convulsed face, that had

haunted him on the only previous time when he had tried to close his

eyes.



Long before day Cicely heard her father's voice bidding her awake and

dress herself, and handing in a light. The call was welcome, for it

had been a night of strange dreams and sadder wakenings to the sense

"it had come at last"--yet the one comfort, "Humfrey is near." She

dressed herself in those plain black garments she had assumed in

London, and in due time came down to where her father awaited her. She

was pale, silent, and passive, and obeyed mechanically as he made her

take a little food. She looked about as if for some one, and he said,

"Humfrey will meet us anon." Then he himself put on her cloak, hood,

and muffler. She was like one in a dream, never asking where they were

going, and thus they left the house. There was light from a waning

moon, and by it he led her to the church.



It was a strange wedding in that morning moonlight streaming in at the

east window of that grand old church, and casting the shadows of the

columns and arches on the floor, only aided by one wax light, which, as

Mr. Heatherthwayte took care to protest, was not placed on the holy

table out of superstition, but because he could not see without it.

Indeed the table stood lengthways in the centre aisle, and would have

been bare, even of a white cloth, had not Richard begged for a

Communion for the young pair to speed them on their perilous way, and

Mr. Heatherthwayte--almost under protest--consented, since a sea voyage

and warlike service in a foreign land lay before them. But, except

that he wore no surplice, he had resigned himself to Master Richard on

that most unnatural morning, and stifled his inmost sighs when he had

to pronounce the name Bride, given, not by himself, but by some Romish

priest--when the bridegroom, with the hand wounded for Queen Mary's

sake, gave a ruby ring, most unmistakably coming from that same

perilous quarter,--and above all when the pair and the father knelt in

deep reverence. Yet their devotion was evidently so earnest and so

heartfelt that he knew not how to blame it, and he could not but bless

them with his whole heart as he walked down with them to the wharf.

All were silent, except that Cicely once paused and said she wanted to

speak to "Father." He came to her side, and she took his arm instead

of Humfrey's.



"Sir," she said; "it has come to me that now my sweet mother is left

alone it would be no small joy to her, and of great service to our good

host's little daughter, if Oil-of-Gladness could take my place at home

for a year or two."



"None will do that, Cis; but there is much that would be well in the

notion, and I will consider of it. She is a maid of good conditions,

and the mother is lonesome."



His consideration resulted in his making the proposal, much startling,

though greatly gratifying. Master Heatherthwayte, who thanked him,

talked of his honour for that discreet and godly woman Mistress Susan,

and said he must ponder and pray upon it, and would reply when Mr.

Talbot returned from his voyage.



At the wharf lay the Mastiff's boat in charge of Gervas and Gillingham.

All three stepped into it together, the most silent bride and

bridegroom perhaps that the Humber had ever seen. Only each of the

three wrung the hand of the good clergyman. At that moment all the

bells in Hull broke forth with a joyous peal, which by the association

made the bride look up with a smile. Her husband forced one in return;

but his father's eyes, which she could not see, filled with tears. He

knew it was in exultation at her mother's death, and they hurried into

the boat lest she should catch the purport of the shouts that were

beginning to arise as the townsfolk awoke to the knowledge that their

enemy was dead.



The fires of Smithfield were in the remembrance of this generation. The

cities of Flanders were writhing under the Spanish yoke; "the richest

spoils of Mexico, the stoutest hearts of Spain," were already mustering

to reduce England to the condition of Antwerp or Haarlem; and only

Elizabeth's life had seemed to lie between them and her who was bound

by her religion to bring all this upon the peaceful land. No wonder

those who knew not the tissue of cruel deceits and treacheries that had

worked the final ruin of the captive, and believed her guilty of

fearful crimes, should have burst forth in a wild tumult of joy, such

as saddened even the Protestant soul of Mr. Heatherthwayte, as he

turned homewards after giving his blessing to the mournful young girl,

whom the boat was bearing over the muddy waters of the Hull.



They soon had her on board, but the preparations were hardly yet

complete, nor could the vessel make her way down the river until the

evening tide. It was a bright clear day, and a seat on deck was

arranged for the lady, where she sat with Humfrey beside her, holding

her cloak round her, and telling her--strange theme for a bridal

day--all he thought well to tell her of those last hours, when Mary had

truly shown herself purified by her long patience, and exalted by the

hope that her death had in it somewhat of martyrdom.



His father meantime superintended the work of the crew, being extremely

anxious to lose no time, and to sail before night. Mr.

Heatherthwayte's anxiety brought him on board again, for he wanted to

ask more questions about the Bridgefield doings ere beginning his

ponderings and his prayers respecting his decision for his little

daughter; nor had he taken his final leave when the anchor was at

length weighed, and the ship had passed by the strange old gables,

timbered houses, and open lofts, that bounded the harbour out from the

Hull river into the Humber itself, while both the Talbots breathed more

freely; but as the chill air of evening made itself felt, they

persuaded Cicely to let her husband take her down to her cabin.



It was at this moment, in the deepening twilight, that the ship was

hailed, and a boat came alongside, and there was a summons, "In the

Queen's name," and a slightly made lean figure in black came up the

side. He was accompanied by a stout man, apparently a constable. There

was a moment's pause, then the new-comer said "Kinsman Talbot--"



"I count no kindred with betrayers, Cuthbert Langston," said Richard,

drawing himself up with folded arms.



"Scorn me not, Richard Talbot," was the reply; "you stood my friend

once when none other did so, and for that cause have I hindered much

hurt to you and yours. But for me you had been in a London jail for

these three weeks past. Nor do I come to do you evil now. Give up the

wench, and your name shall never be brought forward, since the matter

is to be private. Behold a warrant from the Council empowering me to

bring before them the person of Bride Hepburn, otherwise called Cicely

Talbot."



"Man of treacheries and violence," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, standing

forward, an imposing figure in his full black gown and white ruff, "go

back! The lady is not for thy double-dealing, nor is there now any

such person as either Bride Hepburn or Cicely Talbot."



"I cry you mercy," sneered Langston. "I see how it is! I shall have

to bear your reverence likewise away for a treasonable act in

performing the office of matrimony for a person of royal blood without

consent of the Queen. And your reverence knows the penalty."



At that instant there rang from the forecastle a never-to-be-forgotten

howl of triumphant hatred and fury, and with a spring like that of a

tiger, Gillingham bounded upon him with a shout, "Remember Babington!"

and grappled with him, dragging him backwards to the bulwark. Richard

and the constable both tried to seize the fiercely struggling forms,

but in vain. They were over the side in a moment, and there was a

heavy splash into the muddy waters of the Humber, thick with the

downcome of swollen rivers, thrown back by the flowing tide.



Humfrey came dashing up from below, demanding who was overboard, and

ready to leap to the rescue wherever any should point in the darkness,

but his father withheld him, nor, indeed, was there sound or eddy to be

perceived.



"It is the manifest judgment of God," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, in a

low, awe-stricken voice.



But the constable cried aloud that a murder had been done in resisting

the Queen's warrant.



With a ready gesture the minister made Humfrey understand that he must

keep his wife in the cabin, and Richard at the same time called Mr.

Heatherthwayte and all present to witness that, murder as it

undoubtedly was, it had not been in resisting the Queen's warrant, but

in private revenge of the servant, Harry Gillingham, for his master

Babington, whom he believed to have been betrayed by this gentleman.



It appeared that the constable knew neither the name of the gentleman

nor whom the warrant mentioned. He had only been summoned in the

Queen's name to come on board the Mastiff to assist in securing the

person of a young gentlewoman, but who she was, or why she was to be

arrested, the man did not know. He saw no lady on deck, and he was by

no means disposed to make any search, and the presence of Master

Heatherthwayte likewise impressed him much with the belief that all was

right with the gentlemen.



Of course it would have been his duty to detain the Mastiff for an

inquiry into the matter, but the poor man was extremely ill at ease in

the vessel and among the retainers of my Lord of Shrewsbury; and in

point of fact, they might all have been concerned in a crime of much

deeper dye without his venturing to interfere. He saw no one to

arrest, the warrant was lost, the murderer was dead, and he was

thankful enough to be returned to his boat with Master Richard Talbot's

assurance that it was probable that no inquiry would be made, but that

if it were, the pilot would be there to bear witness of his innocence,

and that he himself should return in a month at latest with the Mastiff.



Master Heatherthwayte consoled the constable further by saying he would

return in his boat, and speak for him if there were any inquiry after

the other passenger.



"I must speak my farewells here," he said, "and trust we shall have no

coil to meet you on your return, Master Richard."



"But for her," said Humfrey, "I could not let my father face it alone.



When she is in safety"--



"Tush, lad," said his father, "such plotters as yonder poor wretch had

become are not such choice prizes as to be inquired for. Men are only

too glad to be rid of them when their foul work is done."



"So farewell, good Master Heatherthwayte," added Humfrey, "with thanks

for this day's work. I have read of good and evil geniuses or angels,

be they which they may, haunting us for life, and striving for the

mastery. Methinks my Cis hath found both on the same Humber which

brought her to us."



"Nay, go not forth with Pagan nor Popish follies on thy tongue, young

man," said Heatherthwayte, "but rather pray that the blessing of the

Holy One, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of thy father,

may be with thee and thine in this strange land, and bring thee safely

back in His own time. And surely He will bless the faithful."



And Richard Talbot said Amen.





Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death Paul's Walk facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback