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- St. George and St. Michael - 40/94 -
only dog that merits your lordship's acknowledgment: O'Brien and Tom Fool--the lurcher, I mean--seconded him bravely, and perhaps Strafford did best of all.'
'Prithee, now, take me with thee,' said the marquis. 'Was, or was not the Great Mogul forth of his cage?'
'Indeed he was, my lord, and might be now in the fields but for cousin Vaughan there by your side.'
The marquis turned and looked at her, but in his astonishment said nothing, and lord Charles went on.
'When we got into the yard, there was the Great Mogul with three dogs upon him, and mistress Dorothy uncollaring Tom Fool and hounding him at the devilish brute; while poor Shafto, just waking up, lay on the stones, about three yards off the combat. It was the finest thing I ever saw, my lord.'
The marquis turned again to Dorothy, and stared without speech or motion.
'Mean you--?' he said at length, addressing lord Charles, but still staring at Dorothy; 'Mean you--?' he said again, half stammering, and still staring.
'I mean, my lord,' answered his son, 'that mistress Dorothy, with self-shown courage, and equal judgment as to time and order of attack, when Tom Fool had fled, and poor Shafto, already evil torn, had swooned from loss of blood, came to the rescue, stood her ground, and loosed dog after dog, her own first, upon the animal. And, by heaven! it is all owing to her that he is already secured and carried back to his cage, nor any great harm done save to the groom and the dogs, of which poor Strafford hath a hind leg crushed by the jaws of the beast, and must be killed.'
'He shall live,' cried the marquis, 'as long as he hath legs enough to eat and sleep with. Mistress Dorothy,' he went on, turning to her once more, 'what is thy request? It shall be performed even to the half of--of my marquisate.'
'My lord,' returned Dorothy, 'it is a small deed I have strewn to gather such weighty thanks.'
'Be honest as well as brave, mistress. Mock me no modesty.' said the marquis a little roughly.
'Indeed, my lord, I but spoke as I deemed. The thing HAD to be done, and I did but do it. Had there been room to doubt, and I had yet done well, then truly I might have earned your lordship's thanks. But good my lord, do not therefore recall the word spoken,' she added hurriedly, 'but grant me my boon. Your lordship sees my poor dog can endure no collar: let him therefore be my chamber-fellow until his throat be healed, when I shall again submit him to your lordship's mandate.'
'What you will, cousin. He is a noble fellow, and hath a right noble mistress.'
'Will you then, my lord Charles, order a bucket of water to be drawn for me, that I may wash his wounds ere I take him to my chamber?'
Ten men at the word flew to the draw-well, but lord Charles ordered them all back to the guard-room, except two whom he sent to fetch a tub. With his own hands he then drew three bucketfuls of water, which he poured into the tub, and by the side of the well, in the open paved court, Dorothy washed her four-legged hero, and then retired with him, to do a like office for herself.
The marquis stood for some time in the gathering dusk, looking on, and smiling to see how the sullen animal allowed his mistress to handle even his wounds without a whine, not to say a growl, at the pain she must have caused him.
'I see, I see!' he said at length, 'I have no chance with a rival like that!' and turning away he walked slowly into the oak parlour, threw himself down in his great chair, and sat there, gazing at the eyeless face of the keep, but thinking all the time of the courage and patience of his rival, the mastiff.
'God made us both,' he said at length, 'and he can grant me patience as well as him.' and so saying he went to bed.
His washing over, the dog showed himself much exhausted, and it was with hanging head he followed his mistress up the grand staircase and the second spiral one that led yet higher to her chamber. Thither presently came lady Elizabeth, carrying a cushion and a deerskin for him to lie upon, and it was with much apparent satisfaction that the wounded and wearied animal, having followed his tail but one turn, dropped like a log on his well-earned couch.
The night was hot, and Dorothy fell asleep with her door wide open.
In the morning Marquis was nowhere to be found. Dorothy searched for him everywhere, but in vain.
'It is because you mocked him, my lord,' said the governor to his father at breakfast. 'I doubt not he said to himself, "If I AM a dog, my lord need not have mocked me, for I could not help it, and I did my duty."'
'I would make him an apology,' returned the marquis, 'an' I had but the opportunity. Truly it were evil minded knowingly to offer insult to any being capable of so regarding it. But, Charles, I bethink me: didst ever learn how our friend got into the castle? It was assuredly thy part to discover that secret.'
'No, my lord. It hath never been found out in so far as I know.'
'That is an unworthy answer, lord Charles. As governor of the castle, you ought to have had the matter thoroughly searched into.'
'I will see to it now, my lord,' said the governor, rising.
'Do, my lad,' returned his father.
And lord Charles did inquire; but not a ray of light did he succeed in letting in upon the mystery. The inquiry might, however, have lasted longer and been more successful, had not lord Herbert just then come home, with the welcome news of the death of Hampden, from a wound received in attacking prince Rupert at Chalgrove. He brought news also of prince Maurice's brave fight at Bath, and lord Wilmot's victory over sir William Waller at Devizes--which latter, lord Herbert confessed, yielded him some personal satisfaction, seeing he owed Waller more grudges than as a Christian he had well known how to manage: now he was able to bear him a less bitter animosity. The queen, too, had reached Oxford, bringing large reinforcement to her husband, and prince Rupert had taken Bristol, castle and all. Things were looking mighty hopeful, lord Herbert was radiant, and lady Margaret, for the first time since Molly's death, was merry. The castle was illuminated, and Marquis forgotten by all but Dorothy.
So things looked ill for the puritans in general, and Richard Heywood had his full portion in the distribution of the evils allotted them. Following lord Fairfax, he had shared his defeat by the marquis of Newcastle on Atherton moor, where of his score of men he lost five, and was, along with his mare, pretty severely wounded. Hence it had become absolutely necessary for both of them, if they were to render good service at any near future, that they should have rest and tending. Towards the middle of July, therefore, Richard, followed by Stopchase, and several others of his men who had also been wounded and were in need of nursing, rode up to his father's door. Lady was taken off to her own stall, and Richard was led into the house by his father--without a word of tenderness, but with eyes and hands that waited and tended like those of a mother.
Roger Heywood was troubled in heart at the aspect of affairs. There was now a strong peace-party in the parliament, and to him peace and ruin seemed the same thing. If the parliament should now listen to overtures of accommodation, all for which he and those with whom he chiefly sympathised had striven, was in the greatest peril, and might be, if not irrecoverably lost, at least lost sight of, perhaps for a century. The thing that mainly comforted him in his anxiety was that his son had showed himself worthy, not merely in the matter of personal courage, which he took as a thing of course in a Heywood, but in his understanding of and spiritual relation to the questions really at issue,--not those only which filled the mouths of men. For the best men and the weightiest questions are never seen in the forefront of the battle of their time, save by "larger other eyes than ours."
But now, from his wounds, as he thought, and the depression belonging to the haunting sense of defeat, a doubt had come to life in Richard's mind, which, because it was born IN weakness, he very pardonably looked upon as born OF weakness, and therefore regarded as itself weak and cowardly, whereas his mood had been but the condition that favoured its development. It came and came again, maugre all his self-recrimination because of it: what was all this fighting for? It was well indeed that nor king nor bishop should interfere with a man's rights, either in matters of taxation or worship, but the war could set nothing right either betwixt him and his neighbour, or betwixt him and his God.
There was in the mind of Richard, innate, but more rapidly developed since his breach with Dorothy, a strong tendency towards the supernatural--I mean by the word that which neither any one of the senses nor all of them together, can reveal. He was one of those young men, few, yet to be found in all ages of the world's history, who, in health and good earthly hope, and without any marked poetic or metaphysical tendency, yet know in their nature the need of conscious communion with the source of that nature--truly the veriest absurdity if there be no God, but as certainly the most absolute necessity of conscious existence if there be a first life from whom our life is born.
'Am I not free now?' he said to himself, as he lay on his bed in his own gable of the many-nooked house; 'Am I not free to worship God
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