« PreviousContinue »
Ironsides have executed an 'advance for it is Harrison, who has just in line' that brings them up even arrived, sits immovable upon his and regular as a wall of steel to his horse, with his sword-point lowered, very horse's head, and the reflection waiting to learn the General's plea. steals pleasantly across his mind, sure as to the disposal of his prithat the tools are fit for service at soner, whose sex makes it a somelast, that the tedious process of dis- what puzzling matter to decide. cipline will ere long bring him to • They have made reprisals upon the glorious moment of gratified us,” said Cromwell, in his deep, harsh ambition.
tones, patting and making much of A new officer has this morning the good horse under bim. Man or been appointed to the regiment. woman, let the prisoner be placed He seems thoroughly acquainted in secure ward. Verily, we are with his duty, and manœuvres his more merciful than just
in that we squadron with the ready skill of spare the weaker sex. The Malig. a veteran. Already George Efing- nants deal more harshly with the ham has caught the Puritan look saints. Their blood be on their and tone. Already he has made own head!' he added, solemnly. no little progress in Cromwell's Harrison turned his horse's head good graces.
That keen observing to depart. Little cared he, that eye has discovered a tool calcu- reckless soldier, how they disposed lated to do good service in ex- of the lady he had taken prisoner ; tremity. A desperate man, bankrupt he was thinking how he should in earthly hopes, and whose piety billet the men and horses he had is far exceeded by his fanaticism, brought in, not of the fate of his is no contemptible recruit for unhappy captive. the ranks of the Ironsides, when • Stay,' said Cromwell, dismiss he brings with him a frame of the soldiers, and bring the Malig. adamant, a heart of steel, and a nant woman hither. I will myself thorough knowledge of the duties question her ere she be placed in of a cavalry officer. Pale, gaunt, ward.' and worn, looking ten years older As he spoke he dismounted, and than when he last saw these same entered a large stone building con. troopers at Newbury, Eflingham verted into a barrack, attended by still works with the eager, restless a few of his officers, amongst whom zeal of a man who would fain stifle
was Effingham, and followed by remembrance and drive reflection the prisoner under escort of two from his mind.
stalwart troopers, who 'advanced' The line breaks into column once their musquetoons with a ludicrous more-the squadrons wheel rapidly, disinclination thus to guard an the rays of a winter sun flashing enemy of the softer sex. from their steel head-pieces and The prisoner was a fair, handbreastplates—the horses snort and some woman in the prime of her ring their bridles cheerily the beauty. She was dressed in a lady's word of command flies sonorous riding-gear of her time, which, not. from line to linethe General withstanding its masculine chagallops to and fro, pleased with the racter, was powerless to diminish progress of the mimic war-the her feminine attractions; and looked drill is going on most satisfactorily, thoroughly exhausted and worn out when a small escort of cavalry is by physical fatigue. Yet was there seen to approach the parade-ground, a haughty turn about her head, an and remains at a cautious distance impatient gesture of her gloved from the manæuvres. An officer hand, that denoted the spirit within flaunting in scarf and feathers vas dauntless and indomitable as singles himself out, gallops up to the General, and salutes with his The instant that the short cloak drawn sword as he makes his report. she wore was removed, and the Cromwell thunders out a •Halt!' bearer hitherto slouched over her that brings every charger upon his face taken off by Cromwell's orders, haunches. The men are permitted an operation which allowed a proto dismount; the officers gather fusion of rich brown hair to fall round their chief, and Harrison- nearly to her waist, Eflingham 1859.]
Mary Cave's Interview with Cromwell.
started as if he had been shot. He hear her voice. How it took him would have spoken, but an impe. back to that which seemed now rious glance from the prisoner some other stage of existence, seemed to freeze the words upon his albeit so short a time ago. How lips. He held his
peace, and stood associated she was in his mind with there, deadly pale, and trembling that other one. To him, though like a child.
she was not the Rose, she had been Harrison's report was soon made, near the Rose,' and he would wil. and amounted to this :
lingly at that moment have given a That in his duty of patrolling the year of his life to ask tidings of her open country lying nearest to whose name was still nestling at his Goring's outposts, and visiting his heart. videttes, he had espied a lady Cromwell hesitated. Boldschemer, mounted on a good horse, who had undaunted soldier as he was, he enridden boldly into the centre of his tertained a morbid dread of assassi. escort, and demanded to be con- nation, a dread that in later days, ducted at once to Gloucester and when in the full flush of his probrought before Cromwell-that she sperity and seated on the throne, avowed she belonged to the Royalist caused him to wear proof-armour party, but had abandoned their on all public occasions under his cause, and was the bearer of im. clothes. portant papers, which were to be He had read, too, of women who laid before Cromwell alone-that on would not scruple to sacrifice their his proposition that she should be lives in a political cause ; his own searched for these papers, and a enterprising spirit told him how corporal's attempting to do so, she readily it was possible to encounter had snapped a pistol in the sub- certain death for a great object; officer's face, which providentially and this lady did not look as if she flashing in the pan, only singed his was likely to shrink from any despebeard and eyebrows-that out of rate deed because of its danger. respect to Cromwell he had brought And yet to fear a woman! Psha! her on without further violence, it seemed absurd. He would grant “though that she has not some her the interview she desired; evil intentions I never can believe, though, according to Harrison's reconcluded Harrison, 'for she is the port, she had been so ready, with very first woman I ever came across her pistol, she was now obțiously yet that could ride nearly a dozen disarmed; besides, he was well miles and never open her lips to guarded, surrounded by his troopers speak a word, good or bad.'
and his friends. He looked upon The General scanned his prisoner his officers for the most part trustcarefully. His usual tact and dis. worthy, fearless veterans, whose cernment were here at fault. Wo. courage and fidelity he had already man! he said, rudely and sternly, tried on many a well-fought field. . what want you here-whence came Effingham alone was a new acquainyou—and why venture you thus tance, and his quick eye caught the amongst the people of the Lord ?' expression of George's countenance
I would see Cromwell alone,' watching the prisoner's face. replied Mary Cave (for Mary Cave • Do you know anything of the it was, as Effingham too surely lady?' said he, in short, imperious knew), and she no longer looked tones, and turning sharply round exhausted and fatigued, but the upon his new officer, with a frown blood came back to her cheek, the of displeasure gathering on his thick haughty turn to her head and neck, brows. the indomitable curve to her lip, • Youmay speak the truth,
Captain as she felt the crisis had come, and Effingham!" said Mary, with a look her spirit mounted with the occasion. of quiet contempt. I bare ridden far and fast to see Thus adjured, Ellingham hesiyou, General,' she added, with a tated no longer to acknowledge bis certain tone of irony in her voice ; acquaintance with the beautiful you will not refuse to grant an • Malignant.' interview when a lady asks it.' * Mistress Mary Cave is too well Effingham felt a strange thrill to known at the Court not to have won
TOL. LX. NO. CCCLY
the respect and confidence of all actually face to face with Cromwell, who have ever breathed that pol. she shook from head to foot as she luted atmosphere. I will answer had never trembled in her life befor her faith and honesty with my fore-but once. head. If she fail you, my life shall His manner, though reserved, be for the life of her.'
became less stern than at first. Mary thanked him with a grate Show us the man of any profession, ful glance.
soldier, statesman, Puritan, or archI have a boon to ask of you, bishop, from eighteen to eighty (a General; a bargain to drive, if you fair margin), on whom beauty, real will. Grant me the interview I womanly beauty, makes no impresrequire, and bid me go in peace. sion, and we will show you the
Cromwell signed to her to follow eighth wonder of the world. him into a smaller apartment, in * Reassure yourself, madam,' said which a fire was burning, and which Cromwell, with a tone of kindness contained a chair, a writing-table, in his harsh voice ; 'I do not toand a few articles of rough comfort. day hear the name of Mistress
Captain Effingham,' he said, in Mary Cave for the first time. I his short, stern tones, 'place two can safely affirm I would long ago sentries at the door. Remain your- have given much to obtain possesself within call. Madam, I am now sion of the lady who thus voluntaat your service. Speak on ; we are rily surrenders herself as a prisoner. alone.'
I have yet to learn what brings her He doffed his heavy head-piece, into the very stronghold of the placed it on the writing-table, and
Had she been a man, was about to throw himself into the there had been a price on her chair. The General was no polished head.' courtier--above all, no woman-wor- These words were alarming; but shipper-but there was that in Mary the smile that stole over the GeneCavo's bearing which checked his ral's face was softer and kindlier first impulse, and bade him stand than his wont. up respectfully before his prisoner. Mary began her answer with a
Never in all her life before bad degree of composure far too obvious Mary such need to call up the not to be affected. presence of mind and resolution *I am come,' said she, 'to negothat formed so important a part of tiate the exchange of a prisoner. her character. Here she stood, a A messenger might have lingered, gentle, soft-nurtured lady, brought letters been intercepted, even up in all the exaggerated refine- white flag outraged, so, Generalment of a court, before her bitterest 80—I came myself. Major Bosville enemy, the most uncompromising is languishing, perhaps dying, in as he was the most powerful cham- Gloucester gaol. May he not be pion of her adversaries' party, Com- ransomed, can he not be exchanged ? pletely in his power, dependent on Any sum of money, any number of his generosity for immunity from prisoners—aye, ten for one.' exposure, insult-nay, death itself Cromwell's brow grew dark. (for, alas ! the exasperated feelings “You ask too much, madam,' he aroused by the cruelties practised replied, shaking his head sternly. on both sides were not always re- · That officer lies even now under strained by consideration for age or sentence of death. He has refused sex); and, save for her accidental
to give any information concerning meeting with Eflingham, whom she the strength or movements of the had little expected to see here, enemy. A confirmed Malignant, he utterly friendless in the rebel camp. shall die the death! Hath not This was the interview that she had Rupert slain in cold blood thirteen been looking forward to for days, godly warriors taken with arms in that she had so prayed and hoped their hands? The blood of the might be accomplished; that, seem- Lord's anointed cries aloud for ing tolerably easy when seen from vengeance! God do so to me, and a distance, had been the goal to more also, if I smite not root and which all her schemes and wishes branch, till the Amalekite is detended; and now that she was stroyed out of the land!'
33 He was chafing now-angry and it for so trifling a matter? Is restless, like some noble beast of Cromwell so completely under the prey.
orders of Fairfax, so subservient to Mary fitted the last arrow to her Ireton, such a sworn slave of the bowstring. 'You know me, Gene- Parliament, that in his own camp ral,' she said, with something of her he cannot extend mercy to whom he old proud air. “You know my
will ? power, my influence, my informa- Her woman's instinct told her tion. Listen ; I will buy Bosville's through all her distress and all her life of you. You shall make your confusion where lay the weak point own terms.'
in the fortress she assailed; bid her Cromwell smiled. Perhaps he had attack him through his pride, his his private opinion of these lady- self-respect, his jealousy of compoliticians, these fair intriguers with mand ; and dimmed as were her the Queen at their head, who ham. eyes with tears, she saw she had shot pered the counsels of their friends her arrow home. far more effectually than they anti- Cromwell Alushed a deeper red up cipated the designs of their enemies. to his very temples, the scowl upon He was perfectly courteous but his bent brows, and the conspicuous somewhat ironical in his reply. wart over his right eye, lending an
You cannot bribe me, madam,' ominous and sinister expression to said he, valuable as I doubt not his whole countenance. He spoke is the price you offer. Your infor- not, but the hand she grasped was mation may or may not be far rudely withdrawn, and the highsuperior to my own-your talent born, gently nurtured lady was for intrigue doubtless many degrees fain to clasp him round the knees, finer. I am a simple soldier; my cased in those wide, soiled ridingduty lies plain before me. I will boots, with their heavy spurs, that have blood for blood, and I have rang and jingled as he stamped the warrant of Scripture for my twice in his passion against the determination.'
floor. Poor Mary! she broke down • Save him, General !' she realtogether now. The bold warrior. peated. 'Is there no consideration spirit, the craft of statesmanship, you will listen to, no appeal you the artificial pride of rank and sta- will respect ? Hear me; I sent tion, all gave way before the over- him on his errand. I got him his whelming flood of womanly pity and appointment. I bade him go forth womanly fear. She seized the wounded and helpless into the very General's rough coarse hand in both jaws of your troopers, and now if her own, so white and soft by the he is to die his blood is on my head. contrast. Ere he could prevent her, Oh! think of your own mother! she pressed it to her lips : she bent think of your own child! think of over it, and clung to it, and folded any one that you have ever loved! it to her bosomDown on her Would you see her kneeling as I knees she implored him, she be- do now? would you see her, lonely, sought him, she prayed to him, with helpless amongst strangers and tears and sobs, to spare the priso- enemies, pleading for dear life, and ner's life. Her pride was fallen bear to know that she was refused ? altogether now, her humiliation Think better of it, for the love of complete. It was no longer the mercy, General, think better of it. stately Mary Cave, the Queen's Grant me this one boon, and I will minion, the adviser of statesmen, pray for you, enemy though you be, the ornament of a Court, but a night and morning, on my bended broken-hearted woman pleading for knees, till my dying day.' life and death.
His voice sounded hoarser than Save him, General,' she gasped, usual, and he loosened the plain gazing wildly up in his face ; gave linen band around his throat as he him, for mercy's sake, as you hope muttered the word — Reprisals !' to be saved yourself at the last day! She sprang fiercely from her What is it to you a life the more or knees, flung his hand, which she less ? What is your authority had again taken, away from her worth if you can hesitate to exercise in scorn, and flashed at him such a
glance as made even Cromwell wine, and eren bestirred himself to quail.
ascertain where she might be most * “
* Reprisals !' she repeated. It is safely lodged till her departure with the Puritan's English for murder. a safe.conduct under his own band. You have refused me — refused
"I grant your request, Mistress Mary Cave on her bended knees, Mary Care, and I attach to my who never knelt before to mortal
concession but two conditions. The man-beware of my revenge! Oh! one, it is needless to state, is that I meant it not-forgive me!' she Major Bosville passes his parole added, her whole manner changing never again to bear arms against once more to one of the softest, the the Parliament, and the other'-his most imploring entreaty, as the im- glance softened more and more as potence and impolicy of her anger he proceeded—that you will not struck chill and sickening to her quite forget plain Oliver Cromwell, heart; 'forgive my basty words, and that hereafter when you hear my pride that has never vet learnt his harshness censured, and his to stoop. You talk of reprisals, rustic breeding derided, you will General ; one life is worth another not be ashamed to say you have -take mine instead of his. Lead known him to show the courtesy of me out now-this minute-I am a gentleman and the feeling of a ready, and let him go free.'
She had touched the keystone With an obeisance, the respectful now; the sympathy for courage and deference of which could not have devotion which every brave man been outdone by any plumed hat feels. He turned his face away that
ever swept the floors of that she might not see his emotion, Whitehall, Cromwell took his leave for there were tears in Cromwell's of his fair suppliant, consigning her eyes. She took the gesture for to the care of George Effingham for one of refusal, and it was in sad, the present, and promising her a plaintive tones she proffered her written pardon in his own hand, last despairing request.
and safe conduct through his outAt least grant me the one last posts for herself and Humphrey boon I have ridden so far to ask. Bosville, by the morrow's dawn. It is not a little thing that will Her spirit had kept her up tempt a woman to the step I have hitherto, but fatigue, watching, and taken. You cannot refuse me this anxiety were too much for her -if I cannot save him, at least I woman's strength; and as Cromcan die with him. Shot, steel, or well's massive figure disappeared hempen noose, whatever penalty is through the doorway, she laid her exacted from Humphrey Bosville head
deal table and shall be shared by her who sent him gave way to a passion of tears. here to die. I ask you no more favours—I claim it as a right-he shall not suffer for my sake alone. Do not think I shall flinch at the
CHAPTER XXI. last moment. See! there is not a
'UNDER SENTENCE.' trooper of all your Ironsides that fears death less than Mary Cave !' Condemned to die! Reader, hare
She had conquered triumphantly you ever realized to yourself all at last. The brave spirit could not that is contained in those three but recognise its kindred nature. words? Have you ever considered He had made up his mind now, and how large a share of your daily life not a hair of Humphrey's head is comprised in what we may term should have fallen had the whole the immediate future, in the cares, Parliament of England voted his 80 to speak, of 'what you shall eat, death to a man. Kindly, courteously, and what you shall drink, and wherenay, almost tenderly, the rough withal
shall be clothed ?' Have Puritan soldier raised the kneeling you ever reflected how your own lady to her feet. With a conside- petty schemes and intrigues ration she little expected, he placed equally petty when viewed at the ber carefully in the chair, sent supreme moment, whether you be a an orderly trooper for food and politician on the cross benches, or a