Colonel Carew was the third in descent from the original planter who by
right of conquest and the grace of James the First, had settled upon the
broad lands of Castleton, and having swept the ancient possessors from
the soil, had planted there a hardy race of colonists, and built himself
a great house, half mansion, half fortress. The first Jasper Carew had
looked upon himself as the instrument in the hands of Providence to
civilize the land and found a family. He had ruled with despotic
severity, and when he was laid in the family vault in the new church
that he had built, left a name of undying hatred to the native Irish.
The second Jasper followed in the footsteps of his father; he built and
planted, and like a strong man armed, ruled his own demesne and showed
neither mercy nor tolerance toward the ancient race. They were a
God-fearing stock and showed no compassion nor kindly pity. Virtues they
had, but only toward their friends, and never forgot that they had won
by the sword´s right and must continue to hold by its power. The present
Colonel Carew had been wild in his youth, and had left the home of his
fathers in disgrace. For a time he had entirely disappeared; there were
vague rumours that he had prospered in the Virginias and had made a
fortune there. However that might be, he had returned home on the death
of his father, bringing with him an only son, and lived a moody, retired
life in the great house, attended only by a servant who had shared his
adventures abroad. His son had early obtained a commission, and served
with distinction on the Continent. He had married against the wish of
his father, a young lady of great beauty and slender fortune, the
daughter of a Huguenot refugee, and when he fell at Senef some years
afterwards, left an orphan son and daughter to the care of his father,
who received the unwelcome legacy with little outward show of favour or
affection. Colonel Carew had brought his grandson home, but permitted
the girl to remain under the care of her relatives in London. Here
Dorothy had remained until she was sixteen, when the death of her aunt
compelled her to seek a home with her grandfather, who was unable to
make any other provision for her, however anxiously he desired to do so.
At Castleton, Dorothy Carew had spent two years of her life–not very
happy or pleasant years, but her sweet and joyous spirit had broken down
in some slight degree the barrier that her grandfather had raised
between himself and all the world.
He was growing old and frail, and his mind seemed to have gone wholly
back to the early years which he had spent in wild adventure and lawless
wanderings. The care of his estate he had left to his grandson, who paid
little heed to the old man, but went his way with the headstrong and
reckless selfishness that was the characteristic of his race. The
presence of his grand-daughter seemed to give him pleasure, but
companionship between them there was none. He accepted her attentions,
not, indeed, with an ill grace, but without any apparent sign of
affection, though at times, as he sat watching her moving about his
room, her figure appeared to arouse him from his fit of abstraction, and
to awaken a chord of memory that was not wholly painful.
So she passed these two years at Castleton–dull enough for a girl of
spirit and used to the excitement and life of a great city; and when the
news of a great Catholic rising and massacre arrived, it found her alone
and unprotected, with a number of panic-stricken domestics and a
helpless old man looking to her for assistance and advice. Her brother
had gone to Londonderry on business of his own, and there was no one
near her on whom she could rely. The servants had remained at their
posts for some time, but as the excitement deepened, and the tenantry
fled to Enniskillen or to Londonderry for safety and shelter, they
refused to remain longer, and while imploring her to join them in their
flight, one morning they departed in a body. She herself would willingly
have accompanied them, but her grandfather refused to move. It was, he
said, mere moonshine. It was only when the Irish army had marched
northward, and there came the frequent and alarming reports of robbery
and murder, that he was seized with an uncontrollable dread, and
insisted on fleeing to Londonderry forthwith. The girl had no one to
assist her in their hasty flight but a brave and trusty servant who had
served with her father abroad, and who had been since taken into her
grandfather´s service. Together they had bundled the old man into the
coach, and leaving the great house to its fate, had set out for the city
of refuge. How they fared on their way thither we have already seen.
Gervase walked by Bayard´s bridle, unmindful of all weariness and
regardless of all dangers, seeking, after the manner of young men, to
make the most of the sweet society into which chance had so strangely
thrown him. He was indignant with himself that he was ashamed of his
rags, though by way of making up for these, he began to talk of his life
in Dublin and the gay doings of the capital.
At this Dorothy´s sense of humour was touched, and much to his confusion
she began to laugh aloud. “Your talk in such a figure, of the Castle and
of Tyrconnell and of my Lady, is a most excellent remedy for lowness of
spirits. I cannot set matters straight, and must become accustomed to
your mode. And yet I think I could have told that you were a gentleman.”
“That is something,” said Gervase, a little mollified, “and how?”
“Because,” she answered, with a naïve glance that disarmed his
resentment, “your present garments fit you so ill. But I am very wrong
to jest at such a time, and your friend does not seem to admire
laughter. I think that I could have told anywhere that he was a soldier.
You could not mistake his carriage.”
“A better soldier and a truer friend there never was,” Gervase answered
warmly; “and that you will have cause to admit before your journey
“I think,” she said, “that you yourself fight not so badly. Oh! why was
I not a man that I might strike for religion and liberty? it is a
miserable thing to be a woman in times like these.”
“I hope I am not a coward,” Gervase answered, “but I have already seen
enough of warfare to dislike my trade, and would never fight if it were
possible to avoid it. But fight we must for our rights and liberties
and,” he added, after a pause, “in defence of those we love.”
“And,” she said, smiling, “is it for these last that you are fighting?
But I have no right to ask you that, though I have been told that men
say love is out of fashion. Indeed I think that it is no longer in
“I care not for fashion in these things, but I have begun to think that
there might be such loving as would make life a royal thing to live. I
mean not love that asks to be loved in return, though I should like that
too, but a love that fills the heart with great and splendid thoughts,
and raises it above contemptible and base designs; the love I mean is
wholly pure and unselfish and lifts the lover above himself. I know not
whether you know the lines of that sonnet–”
“I think,” she said smiling, “we will change the subject. It seems to me
that you are far too romantic to conduct a young and unprotected damsel
on a dangerous journey like this. Your grim Captain Macpherson were a
far fitter and more becoming companion–he would not breathe out his
aspirations in rhyme, or relieve his love-laden soul in a ballad.
Heigho! I shall never understand you men. But now tell me about your
journey from Londonderry, and how it came about that you were wounded?”
And thereupon Gervase proceeded to relate the story of his ride by night
and the skirmish on the road, passing lightly over such incidents as
might be unfitting for a woman´s ear to listen to.
But when he mentioned the name of De Laprade she stopped him. “And you
have met my cousin Victor, for it can be no other? I had not heard that
he had come to Ireland.”
“I mean the Vicomte de Laprade. He is not much older than myself, with a
slight lisp, and very fair for a Frenchman.”
“Yes, that is he. You do not know that he is in some sort my cousin, my
mother having been of his family. He was in London when I was a girl
living with my aunt, and he would come to visit us whenever he could
tear himself away from the cards and the festivities of Whitehall. Poor
Victor! he was a sad rake in those days, and I fear he would never have
come to Ireland had he not run through his fortune.”
“He hinted, indeed, at something of that sort,” said Gervase, “but he is
a gallant fellow, and one cannot but like him. He hath done a great deal
for me.”
“It would be strange should we meet here, yet who can tell? For it is as
likely we shall find ourselves within the Irish camp as within the walls
of Londonderry. I wonder in what manner we should be treated there?”
“Camps are ever lawless places,” Gervase answered, “and offer little
entertainment for a lady. I trust that you will not be called upon to
make the trial. But Macpherson is calling upon us to stop; we have
already travelled too far in advance.”
The road now ran through a wooded and undulating country, and they were
coming close to the ford by which they hoped to cross. At times they had
been able to catch a distant glimpse of the river bright with the fading
sunset, but so far as Gervase was able to see, there was no sign of the
enemy, and he had begun to hope that they might pass unmolested.
“It is time,” said Macpherson, as he came up, “that we should determine
on our plan of action, for we can go no further. The ford yonder is
guarded. I caught the gleam of arms but a minute ago from the top of the
hill, and there is part of a troop of horse in the little grove yonder
to the right. I know the sound too well to mistake it. If it be possible
to cross I shall soon know; though–and here I speak, not with any
selfish or dishonourable intention, but as a man of honour and a
soldier, it were, perhaps, best that this lady and her grandfather
should place themselves of their free will in the hands of yonder
gentry, and trust to their humanity for generous treatment. It is a
perilous undertaking that we have in hand, and bullets may presently be
flying. However, as Providence has in some measure placed you under our
care, should it be your good pleasure, we will do as best we can.”
“My grandfather is an old and defenceless man,” answered Dorothy, with
spirit, “and as you have seen, carries with him a great quantity of
treasure, which I would that I had never seen. What treatment, think
you, is he likely to receive at the hands of those who live on the fruit
of robbery and murder?”
“Miss Carew is right, Captain Macpherson,” said Gervase, “and whatever
your design may be, I shall abide with her, and so far as my help goes,
shall see that she and her grandfather pass unscathed.”
“I well knew,” answered Macpherson bitterly, “that you would do nothing
less, though it may come to pass that you will both suffer for it
hereafter. My design, as you phrase it, is even to go gently forward,
and see in what manner yon loons have set their guard, and of what
strength they may be. In the meantime, I should advise that you withdraw
into that clump of oak trees where you may safely await my coming, which
will be within the hour. I had looked for some sense from you, Mr. Orme,
but I find that you are no wiser than the rest of them. ´Fore God we are
all fools together.”
Before Gervase had time to reply he had disappeared within the
undergrowth that grew densely by the roadside, and Gervase and the girl
stood looking at one another in silence; the same grave suspicion had
presented itself to both of them. “What think you of your friend?” she
said, with indignation.
“For a moment I hardly knew what to think,” Gervase answered, “but my
faith in him is not a whit shaken. Believe me, we may trust him
unreservedly, and in good time he will prove that I am right. He will do
whatever a man may to bring you safely through, and will risk life and
limb to serve you. And now let us follow his directions, for if the ford
be indeed guarded, ´tis a wonder that we were not long since
Taking Colonel Carew´s horse by the bridle, Gervase led him into the oak
wood followed by Dorothy. Here there proved to be excellent shelter, for
the underwood had grown thick and high, and discovery was impossible so
long as the enemy kept to the road, which it was likely they would do
unless their suspicions were aroused.
The old man was helped from his horse and seated himself upon a fallen
tree, with his precious box clasped upon his knees, speaking no word,
but looking straight before him, with a fixed unmeaning gaze. He
appeared to be unconscious of what was taking place round him, and
insensible of the dangers to which they were exposed. Dorothy knelt down
beside him and placed her hands on his. He was muttering wild and
incoherent words.
“Grandfather,” she said, “do you know me?”
He looked at her with a frown. “Ay, girl, wherefore not?” he answered.
“Talk no more, but fill up my glass till the red wine runs over. There
is plenty where it came from–plenty, and gold that is better than wine,
girl; and bars of silver and stones of price. We who sail under the
_Jolly Roger_ cannot afford to be scrupulous. You are sly, wench,
damnably sly, but you will not overreach me. Nay, you shall have a
doubloon or two for yourself and a bundle of silks from our next
venture. I am grown stiff with this long lying ashore, and am well
wearied for a breath of the Spanish Main.
“‘For the guns are all ready and the decks are all clear
And the prize is awaiting the bold Buccaneer!´”
Dorothy rose and wrung her hands with a gesture of despair. Gervase
could see that the wild words of the old man had touched her beyond
description. It was not so much that they showed his mind had left him;
they had revealed the terrible secret of his early life–a secret that
till now she had never dreamed of. She had instinctively guessed the
truth, and it had covered her with shame, as though the crime and the
reproach were her own. Gervase out of regard for her feelings withdrew
to a distance, and busied himself in getting ready a supper, which
matter, necessary as it was, had quite escaped his thoughts. But
Dorothy, though he pressed her strongly, refused to partake of it.
“I cannot taste of food,” she said, “and you know the reason–you also
have heard the dreadful words. That accursed money comes–Oh! I might
have guessed it, but who would have thought?–and he is so old and so
frail and–and I think he is going to die. Oh! it is very terrible. I
was so proud of my name, and the honour of my house, and now—-”
Gervase had no words with which to comfort her, and so the three–the
two men and the girl–sat here in the thicket, speaking never a word.
But for the young man, he could not take his eyes off the sweet, strong
face that looked so lovely in its grief–the lips that trembled, and the
eyes that were dimmed with unshed tears. Half an hour passed in silence;
only the far-off murmur of the river came faintly through the twilight,
and the whirr of a startled bird, or the hasty scamper of a rabbit or a
rat, broke the stillness round them. As yet there was no appearance of
Macpherson. And then Gervase began to wonder whether, after all, Dorothy
might not have been right in her hasty surmise, and whether he might not
have sought his own safety in flight, and left them to their fate. But
he instantly dismissed the suggestion from his mind as ungenerous and
Then, at that moment, a shot rang out in the evening air, and another,
and another. The sound came from the river, and as they stood and
listened, they could hear the jinging of bridles and the clank of
weapons, for the air was somewhat frosty and very still. They had risen
to their feet and stood listening, only Gervase had drawn his sword, and
instinctively stepped nearer to where the girl was standing. Soon they
heard the sound of hasty footsteps and the crashing of branches, as
someone made his way with impetuous haste through the underwood. Then
Macpherson appeared bareheaded, with a smoking pistol in his hand.
“There is not a moment to lose,” he cried. “Into the road and make what
terms you can. They are regular troops and may not use you ill, but
escape you cannot, and I may not tarry here. I have done for one of
them, and, I think, another will never hear ‘boots and saddle´ sounded
again. ´Tis your only hope.”
“And what,” cried Gervase, “do you purpose doing?”
“Saving my neck if it be possible. I cannot serve you, but would only
make your case the worse. It goes against my heart to leave you, but for
your sake and my own I can do naught else. Stay,” he continued, “there
is one thing more. For that box they would cut your throats, and they
must not find it with you. Madam, can you trust me? I am rugged and I am
rough, but I think I am honest.”
Dorothy looked at him fairly a moment and their eyes met. “Yes,” she
said, in a clear, strong voice, “I can trust you wholly.”
“Then, sir,” he said, stepping forward to the old man, “By your leave
and license I must, for your own good, relieve you of your toys.” With a
quick movement he took the box out of the hands of the old man who
stared at him with a bewildered gaze, and then with a hurried farewell,
he passed out of sight. Colonel Carew uttered a loud, shrill scream and
fell forward on the grass. Dorothy ran forward and tried to turn him
over, but she had not strength enough. Then Gervase knelt down to help
her, but when he saw the white, frowning face, one glance was sufficient
to show him how it was. The old adventurer, with all his sins fresh in
his memory and his wicked life rekindled, as it were, out of the ashes
of the past, had gone to his account.
The dragoons, who had hastily mounted on discovering Macpherson, and had
been riding down the road, reined in their horses, and dismounting,
plunged into the coppice. The old man´s sudden and startling outcry had
guided them to the fugitives´ place of concealment. They set up a loud
shout when they were discovered, and one fellow was about to pistol
Gervase when another struck up his hand and restrained him.
“Time enough for that. We´ll put a question or two first,” said the
sergeant who commanded the party. “Tie his hands behind his back, and
bring him out into the road. The old man is dead as a nail,” he
continued, touching the lifeless body with his foot, “and the wench is
no doubt his daughter. By my soul! she´s a beauty: now look you, the
first man-Jack of you who lays his finger on her, I´ll blow his brains
out, so help me God! and you know I´m a man of my word. Don´t fear,
madam; they´re rough but kindly.”
As they led Gervase out into the road, one hope was uppermost in his
mind, and that was that they might fall in with some officer of
sufficient authority to whose care he might confide Dorothy, and to
whose sense of honour he should not appeal in vain. There were still
many gallant gentlemen in the Irish army in whose eyes a woman´s
reputation would be sacred.
The dragoons who guarded him followed the sergeant out into the open,
and they halted under a great oak that threw its broad branches across
the road. Dorothy had implored them to bring her grandfather´s body with
them, and on their refusing had seated herself beside it. But without
using any great violence, they had insisted on her following the rest of
the party. She had shed no tears, but her face was very white, and her
breath came quickly in little, convulsive sobs. Gervase looked at her
for a moment, and then turned away his head.
“Now,” said the sergeant, “we´ll see what stuff he´s made of. How say
you, sir? On what side are you? Are you for King James?”
“I am for law and order,” answered Gervase. “This young lady and I were
on a peaceful journey, wishing ill and intending hurt to no one, and I
know not what right you have to hinder us.”
“That is no answer to my question, sir; but I´ll answer for you–you´re
a Whig and in arms against the King, or would be. Where is your
authority? And now another question and I have done with you: Where is
the prickeared knave gone who pistolled poor Cornet White and sent
another of ours to kingdom come? I´ll take my oath he was of your
“I saw no pistolling,” said Gervase; “is it like in such force as you
see us, we should fall upon a troop of dragoons? Why, man, it was
because we were afraid to venture near you that we hid ourselves in the
tangle yonder.”
“This jesting will not answer, Master Whig. I´ll give you one chance of
saving your neck and only one–what way went he?”
“Look you here, sergeant,” said Gervase, seeing the desperate position
in which he was placed, “I´m a gentleman, and it would profit you little
to shoot or hang me. See this lady and myself safe through to
Londonderry, and you will have twenty golden guineas for yourself and
five for every man here in your company. I cannot say you fairer, and if
not for my sake or the money´s, then for the sake of this helpless
“This lady will be well cared for, never fear, and for your guineas, I´m
thinking by the time you got to Londonderry, they would be own brothers
to the lads they are making in Dublin. Come, my man, you´ll have sixty
seconds to answer my question, and then Hurrah for the kingdom of
glory.” So saying he took a piece of rope from the hands of one of the
men and began leisurely to measure it, a foot at a time, looking up
occasionally from the operation to see how it affected the prisoner.
“My God! you would not hang me?”
“Ay, that I would, with a heart and a half and high as Haman, if the
rope were long enough. The time is nearly up–How say you?”
“I say that I care not how you use me, if you see the lady safe. Hang me
if you will.”
“The time is up and you have not answered an honest question. Now, lads,
we´ll see if this heretic rogue can do anything but prate. It seems to
me he looks a strolling player and may be one for all I know.” So saying
he deftly threw the rope round the thick branch that grew over the road,
and placed his hand on the prisoner´s shoulder.
Up to this time Dorothy could not believe that he meant to carry out his
savage threat, but she saw now that this was no mere jest but a matter
of life and death. The business was evidently to the taste of the
troopers, and two of them laid aside their firelocks and placed their
hands upon the rope. Then she sprang forward and caught the sergeant by
the arm. “You do not mean what you say,” she cried, “he has never
wronged you, nor have I, and had it not been for me and the dead old man
yonder, he had not been in your power now. For my sake, for God´s sake,
you will not injure him.”
The man seemed touched for a minute, so wild was she, and so beautiful,
in her despair, and then he shook her off roughly. “Women have nothing
to do in these affairs. Two of you fellows take her away, and leave us
to finish this business in peace. Now, make haste about the matter, and
get this damnable job out of hand. We must look after the other fellow
before night comes down.”
Dorothy turned white and faint, and seemed like to have fallen on the
road as Gervase held out his hand to her and said, with a lump in his
“Good-bye, Miss Carew, I regret quitting life less than leaving you in
this company, but my last prayer on earth is for your safety. Could my
life have brought you help, I should have given it up without regret.”
Then she broke down utterly, and they led her away, with her face buried
in her hands. Suddenly, at that moment there was heard the sound of a
horse coming rapidly along the road, and the men who were busied placing
the noose round Gervase´s neck, stopped short in their work. Dorothy
heard the sound also, and looked up. An officer, apparently of
distinguished rank, accompanied by a couple of dragoons, was advancing
at a rapid trot.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

His military cloak, richly embroidered, was thrown open, and showed a
burnished cuirass underneath. His broad-brimmed hat adorned with a
single white feather, nearly concealed his face. As he approached,
Dorothy struggled in the hands of the man who held her and freeing
herself, ran swiftly down the road to meet him. As he came up he reined
in his black charger.
“Thank God!” she cried, “you have come in time. You, at least, are a
gentleman, and you will save him.”
“I hope, madam, I am a gentleman,” he said, with a high, courteous
manner and in a voice that was at once strong and musical. “I shall
examine into this matter, and if I can in duty and in honour render you
this service, you may rely upon me.”
Then hurriedly, and almost incoherently, she told him her story, or as
much as she thought necessary for her purpose; and when she had finished
he called out to one of the mounted troopers to take his horse.
“Now, Miss Carew,” he said, dismounting, and raising his hat with a
stately courtesy, “having heard your story, I am rejoiced that I have
arrived in time. These lambs of mine are hasty in their work and, I
fear, have not always warrant for what they do. Believe me, I am sorry
for your case and will do what I can to aid you. And now let us see how
the gentleman has borne himself, who has so fair an advocate to plead
his cause.”
With these words, taking her hand he led her up to the group which stood
under the tree awaiting his approach. Gervase had given himself up for
lost, and had commended his soul to his Maker, for the rope had already
been adjusted round his neck, and willing hands were only waiting for
the word of command from the sergeant to turn him off. But as the
mounted officer rode up and the fellows suspended their work, he felt
instinctively that he had been saved. The look of baffled hate on the
sergeant´s face showed that. The officer came up leading Dorothy by the
hand, and the dragoons saluted him silently. He gave Gervase one quick
searching look, a look that flashed with keen intelligence and seemed to
take in every detail in a moment, and then said sternly, “Unbind the
prisoner, and take down that rope.” He stood quietly, speaking no word,
but waited with his keen eyes fixed on Gervase, until the dragoons had
unbound the prisoner´s hands and removed the hempen cord from his neck.
The work being completed, the men fell back a few paces.
“Now, sirrah!” he said, turning to the sergeant, “what does this mean?
By whose orders or instructions were you about to hang this gentleman?
Is it thus that you do your duty? While the fellow who shot down your
officer has been making his escape, you have been preparing to murder an
unoffending traveller whom it was your duty to protect. Had I been five
minutes later, I do not doubt that I should have strung you up beside
him. Good God! it is fellows like you who make me blush for my
countrymen. Now, look you, the man who has made his escape must be
brought in before nightfall. Should you fail to capture him you will see
how I deal with men who forget that they are soldiers and act like
“This fellow, if it please your honour—-” began the sergeant.
“Silence, sirrah! Take your men and search the wood. This man must not
escape, and when you return, report yourself to me at the house by the
ford. Take all the men with you; I shall return alone. Stay, there is
one thing more.” Here glancing hastily at Dorothy, he walked a short
distance away, and in a low tone gave orders with regard to the remains
of Colonel Carew, which he directed to be brought down to the post and
await his instructions there. The man saluted, and giving the necessary
orders with a sullen and crestfallen air, left his superior standing
alone with the prisoner.
“Give me no thanks, sir,” he said, interrupting Gervase. “For I have
only done for you what an Irish gentleman is bound in honour to do. Our
men will do these lawless deeds, but with the party to which you belong
rests the blame, having made them what they are. Till now they have been
slaves with all the vices of the slave; they cannot learn the moderation
and restraint of freemen in a day. However,” he continued, with a smile
that lighted up his dark face, “this is no speech to address to a man
who has just escaped the gallows. Miss Carew tells me you are now on
your way to Londonderry seeking refuge and safety there. I do not
propose to advise you, but within a fortnight the city will be in our
hands, and meanwhile must undergo the dangers of a siege. We do not make
war on women, and Miss Carew may rely on me to help her to a place of
“My friends are there,” said Dorothy; “I have not elsewhere to go.”
“We have indeed proposed,” said Gervase, “to take refuge in Londonderry,
and since Miss Carew has lost–is alone, I know not where else she can
betake herself. For myself I am indebted to you, sir, for my life, and
you may dispose of me as you will; but for the lady, I would beg you to
allow her to pass safely through your lines and join her friends in the
“That might easily be done, but surely Dublin were safer?”
“As I have said,” answered Dorothy, “my friends are all in Londonderry,
and I should prefer to share their danger.”
“Well! we shall see how it may be, but in the meantime, I shall ask you
to share my hospitality, such as it is, to-night, and to-morrow we will
devise some plan for your security. Miss Carew may safely place herself
in the hands of Patrick Sarsfield,” and he raised his hat with the _bel
air_ that sat so easily upon him.
Gervase looked with curiosity on the great Irish leader, than whom no
more notable figure and chivalrous gentleman fought in the Irish ranks,
and lent lustre and honour to a somewhat tarnished cause. He was little,
indeed, above the middle height, but his bold and gallant bearing gave
him the appearance of being of more than the ordinary stature. His brow
was frank and open, and his eyes had the clear and resolute gaze of a
man accustomed to bold and perilous action–ardent, impetuous, and
courageous. His speech came rapidly, and his utterance was of the
clearest and most decisive. Accustomed to camps he had yet the air of a
well-bred man of the world, and when he smiled his face lost the fixed
and somewhat melancholy air it wore when in repose.
“And you are Colonel Sarsfield?” Dorothy inquired. “Then we are friends,
for you were the friend of my aunt Lady Bellasis.”
“Truly she was my very good friend, and her son Will–your cousin, I
presume–was my dear crony and companion-in-arms. We served together
during Monmouth´s campaign, and I might almost say that he died in my
arms at Taunton. You are then the Dorothy of whom I heard him speak. I
think his death broke his mother´s heart. It is strange that we should
meet here, but life is made up of strange things; we should wonder at
nothing. Now, Mr. Orme, I shall give the lady my arm, and we will see
whether even here in the desert they cannot furnish us with a bottle of
wine, that we may drink to peace and a settlement of differences. Only I
should like to say this: I ask no questions, and look upon you only as
Miss Carew´s companion and protector; I expect that you will close your
eyes to anything that you may see, and ever after be silent on the
“I hope,” answered Gervase, “I know better than to take advantage of
your great kindness. I shall observe your instructions to the letter.”
“´Tis very well. Come, Miss Carew,” Sarsfield said, extending his hand,
“this hath been a melancholy journey for you, and henceforth I wish you
happier fortune. I have given orders regarding the interment of your
kinsman, and will spare you all the pain I can.”
Dorothy thanked him with a look, and was silent. Beside the river was a
farm-house which was evidently used as a military station, for before
the door a number of dragoons–perhaps a dozen–were gathered in small
groups, and several horses were picketed in the enclosure which had
formerly been used as a garden.
As they entered the house they were saluted by the strong odour of
tobacco-smoke. A man was engaged in cooking at the open hearth, and
another was seated on a chair hard by, watching the operation as he
smoked his pipe in silence, and beat a tattoo with his heels upon the
earthen floor. The latter was a remarkable-looking man in every way. He
was dressed in a plain red coat, with a tangled weather-beaten wig
hanging down at full length. He wore a faded beaver with a narrow brim,
and had a dirty yellow-coloured cravat tied carelessly round his neck.
His legs were very long, his face was full of freckles, and his nose was
tilted up in what had been a good-humoured fashion but for the heavy and
forbidding expression of his mouth. As they came in he did not rise but
merely removed his pipe from his lips.
“How now?” he asked.
“My special mission hath already borne fruit, Colonel Luttrel,” said
Sarsfield stiffly. “This lady is the kinswoman of a late very dear
friend of mine, and your dragoons have used her with the scantest
“The young lady hath reason to be thankful ´tis no worse, for they
cannot stand the sight of a petticoat, and they could not be expected to
know of the relationship. We´ll trust to the supper, which is nearly
ready, to cure her wounded feelings.”
“This lady is my friend, sir,” said Sarsfield, with a frown.
“And Colonel Luttrel´s also, I hope,” said Dorothy, with a sweeping
curtesy, which made the soldier open his eyes to their widest with
wonder and admiration, and drew a smile to Sarsfield´s lips. “I think,
sir, you speak very sensibly and am glad to hear that supper is ready.”
The Colonel rose from his chair, laid down his pipe, and held out his
hand. “You are of the kind that pleases me,” he said, “and I would, my
dear, that I was thirty years younger for your sake. Fine airs never
pleased me yet and, damme! you´re a beauty.” Again Dorothy curtesied
with becoming gravity. “Now, sit you down,” he went on, “and let me hear
of what the Colonel yonder complains, for he and I,” and here he lowered
his voice, “strike it off but ill. If any man of mine but dared to lay
his finger on you, I´ll give him a round dozen for your sake.”
“I´m sure you are very generous,” Dorothy said, demurely enough, and
thereafter she and the old soldier began to talk together with great
ease and friendliness. Presently he was laughing loudly at her playful
sallies, and before he was aware she drew the heart out of him till he
was completely her servant.
I have seen the lady´s portrait painted but a few years after the events
here narrated, and I say in all soberness that I do not wonder at her
power. Of her mere beauty I can give no just description, but to my mind
her chief charm lay in her eyes, the expression of which the painter–a
Fleming, whose name has escaped my memory–had caught with marvellous
fidelity. Full of pride and stateliness, they were yet prone to light up
with tenderness and playful humour, to which her lips gave just and
fitting emphasis. Had I not already known something of her life I should
yet have willingly taken her for a heroine. And yet the contemplation of
that sweet face saddened me beyond expression. Hanging there among the
portraits of forgotten statesmen, and old-world soldiers who fought at
Ramillies and Oudenarde, the presentment of that young and smiling face,
so full of tender light and gracious sweetness, looked out of the past
with pathetic warning that all things have the same fate and must go the
same inevitable way.
In this little comedy it must not be supposed she was altogether acting
a part, or that in anything she said or did she was inspired by any
other feeling than friendliness, and it may be the frolicsome humour,
that was in her a characteristic trait. From time to time she looked up
archly at Colonel Sarsfield who stood smiling by the window, and then
resumed her conversation with increased sprightliness.
“I never understand women, my dear,” Luttrel said.
“And you never will, sir, for we do not understand ourselves. I think
you have never been married?”
“The Lord be praised for all His mercies, that blessing is still a long
way before me. I mean, my dear young lady, no offence to you, but my
brother Phil married and saved the rest of the family.”
“With Colonel Luttrel´s permission we will draw a veil over his family
“´Tis mighty well,” said the other; “commissary-general to a ragged army
of fifteen, and his wife still a rare recruiting sergeant.”
So saying he took his place stiffly behind his chair, waiting till
Dorothy was seated at the supper table. “And I hope,” he growled,
looking askance at Gervase, “that this person is of fit condition to sit
at the table with people of quality.”
“Of that matter, sir,” said Sarsfield, “I am perhaps the best judge. Mr.
Orme, will you do me the favour to take this chair beside me? I remember
when I was of your age I did not require much invitation after a long
day. You will tell Miss Carew that soldiers´ fare is ever of the
plainest. And as far as prudence and honour will permit, I should like
to hear something of your journeying, which seems to have been of the
strangest, or so this fair advocate would have me believe.”
Gervase long remembered this strange evening spent in this curious
company. He was wholly unable to resist the fascination of the great
soldier´s manner, and long after that fiery soul had passed away in the
onset at Landen, would dwell upon his memory with admiration and regret.
He treated Gervase with perfect friendliness, delicately avoiding all
matters that might cause offence. He related many incident in his own
career with perfect frankness and vivacity, and spoke with great
shrewdness and insight of many famous men that he had met. Of
Marlborough, whom he had known in Monmouth´s campaign, he spoke with
great enthusiasm in his character as a soldier, though he affected to
despise him as a man; and Gervase remembered the conversation in after
years, when the hero of Blenheim returned amid the plaudits of the
nation and crowned with the laurels of victory.
Luttrel listened with a hard and solemn visage; it was abundantly clear
that he was determined that he should not go to bed sober, and was
already far advanced in his cups before Dorothy left the table. But he
was entirely silent under Sarsfield´s eye, and merely plied the bottle
with great assiduity. Presently Dorothy quitted the room. Sarsfield
standing with his hands on the back of his chair, wished her a stately
“good-night.” When she had retired he turned to Gervase.
“I shall not see you again this evening, Mr. Orme,” he said, “and I have
not asked you for your parole. Nor is such my intention. On your word I
know that I could rely, but I know that I have better security for your
safe custody there,” and he pointed towards Dorothy´s room. “Good-night,
gentlemen, and I trust that you will not quarrel,” with which words he
went out.
Luttrel put his arms on the table and looked at Gervase with a drunken
sneer. “The Colonel thinks that he is a mighty pretty fellow, and that
no man knows the points of a woman but himself. And he flirts with the
bottle like a quaker, which I have never taken to be the first sign of
manhood. Indeed, you are a damnable drinker yourself. Come, sir, fill up
your glass cheerfully, or I shall be compelled to think you have an
objection to your company.”
“I have no fault to find with my entertainment,” Gervase answered good
humouredly, unwilling to create any dissension, and making a show of
replenishing his glass.
“Why, there, that´s right! But I may tell you frankly, Mr.
What´s-your-name, that had this thing been left to me, you should not
now have been sitting drinking of this excellent usquebaugh in the
company of your betters. I speak in the way of friendship, for I ever
like to be honest, and, mark you, I mean no offence in the world, but if
I had my will, I should even string you up with a hempen cravat round
your neck to show you what I think of your principles.”
“Meaning thereby that you would hang me?” Gervase said with a smile.
“Ay, that I would, with the best intentions in the world, but since I
cannot carry out my purpose, I will even drink with you or fight with
you, as you will.”
“I should stand no chance with you either way, I am afraid; but I am
very tired and with your permission”–and here Gervase offered to rise.
The other clapped his hand upon his sword, and rose to his feet with a
drunken stagger. “Nay, that you shall not. I am a hospitable man, and
none shall say that I did not give you an opportunity of going to bed
like a gentleman.”
Finding himself thus placed between two fires, Gervase unwillingly
resumed his seat, and watched his truculent host growing more and more
intoxicated, while he entered into a rambling disquisition on his own
fortunes and the wrongs of his unhappy country. He did not doubt but
that the time of deliverance had come. The Irish gentlemen were about to
strike a great blow for freedom and for James Stuart, though they cared
not a whit for the quarrel, but he served their purpose as well as
another. For the pestilent heretics in Londonderry, they would be taught
a wholesome lesson: they would be made a warning to all traitors. His
father was a man in Cromwell´s day. Then his talk grew more and more
incoherent, and finally, with his head fallen upon his arms, and the
contents of the overturned measure streaming over the table, he fell
fast asleep. Gervase then rose and sought his own bed, glad that, after
all, the night had passed so amicably.

Exit mobile version