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- The Herd Boy and His Hermit - 27/27 -

the sheep, the dumb boy broke out into a cry of terror, and rushed away headlong, nor did he turn till he felt Watch's very substantial paws bounding on him in ecstasy.

Watch was indeed a forerunner, for Dolly and her husband could scarcely be induced by his solid presence and caresses to come out and see for themselves that the tall knight and lady were no ghostly shades, nor bewildered travellers, but that this was their own nursling Hal, whom Simon Bunce had reported to be lying dead under a gorse-bush at Barnet, and further that the lovely brunette lady was the little lost child whom Dolly had mothered for a night.

While the happy goodwife was regaling them with the best she had to offer, Hob set forth to announce their arrival at Threlkeld, being not certain what the cautious Sir Lancelot would deem advisable, since the Lancaster race had perished, and York was in the ascendant.

There was a long time to wait, but finally Sir Lancelot himself came riding through the wood, no longer afraid to welcome his stepson at the castle, and the more willing since the bride newly arrived was no maiden of low degree, but a damsel of equal birth and with unquestioned rights.

So all was well, and the lady no longer had to embrace her son in fear and trembling, but to see him a handsome and thoughtful young man, well able to take his place in her halls.

Since he had been actually in arms against King Edward it was not thought safe to assert his claims to his father's domains, but the lady gave up to him a portion of her own inheritance from the Vescis, where he and Anne were able to live in Barden Tower in Yorkshire, not far from Bolton Abbey. So Hal's shepherd days were over, though he still loved country habits and ways. Hob came to be once more his attendant, Dolly was Anne's bower-woman, and Simon Bunce Sir Harry's squire, though he never ceased blaming himself for having left his master, dead as he thought, when even a poor hound was more trusty.

Florimond was restored to the Prioress, who was reinstated at Greystone, a graver woman than before she had set forth, the better for having watched deeper devotion at the Minoresses', and still more for the terrible realities of the battle of Barnet. At Bolton Abbey Harry found monks who encouraged his craving for information on natural science, and could carry him on much farther in these researches than his hermit, though he always maintained that the royal anchorite and prisoner saw farther into heavenly things than any other whom he had known, and that his soul and insight rose the higher with his outward troubles and bodily decay.

So peacefully went the world with them till Henry was one-and-thirty, and then the tidings of Bosworth Field came north. The great tragedy of Plantagenet was complete, and the ambitious and blood-stained house of York, who had avenged the usurpation of Henry of Lancaster, had perished, chiefly by the hands of each other, and the distantly related descendant of John of Gaunt, Henry Tudor, triumphed.

The Threlkelds were not slow to recollect that it was time for the Cliffords to show their heads; moreover, that the St. Johns of Bletso were related to the Tudors. Though now an aged woman, she descended from her hills, called upon her son and his wife with their little nine-year-old son to come with her, and pay homage to the new sovereign in their own names, and rode with them to Westminster.

There a very different monarch from the saint of Harry's memory received and favoured him. The lands of Westmoreland were granted to him as his right, and on their return, Master Lorimer coming by special invitation, the family were welcomed at Brougham Castle, the cradle of their race, where Harry Clifford, no longer an outlaw, began the career thus described:

Love had he found in huts where poor men lie, His daily teachers had been woods and rills, The silence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely hills.

In him the savage virtue of the race, Revenge, and all ferocious thoughts were dead, Nor did he change, but kept in lofty place The wisdom that adversity had bred.

Glad were the vales, and every cottage hearth, The Shepherd Lord was honoured more and more, And ages after he was laid in earth The Good Lord Clifford was the name he bore.


The Herd Boy and His Hermit - 27/27

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