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   Chapter 10 A CONFESSOR

By What Authority? By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 35274

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Sir Nicholas and the party were lodged at East Grinsted the night of their arrest, in the magistrate's house. Although he was allowed privacy in his room, after he had given his word of honour not to attempt an escape, yet he was allowed no conversation with Mr. Stewart or his own servant except in the presence of the magistrate or one of the pursuivants; and Mr. Stewart, since he was personally unknown to the magistrate, and since the charge against him was graver, was not on any account allowed to be alone for a moment, even in the room in which he slept. The following day they all rode on to London, and the two prisoners were lodged in the Marshalsea. This had been for a long while the place where Bishop Bonner was confined; and where Catholic prisoners were often sent immediately after their arrest; and Sir Nicholas at any rate found to his joy that he had several old friends among the prisoners. He was confined in a separate room; but by the kindness of his gaoler whom he bribed profusely as the custom was, through his servant, he had many opportunities of meeting the others; and even of approaching the sacraments and hearing mass now and then.

He began a letter to his wife on the day of his arrival and finished it the next day which was Saturday, and it was taken down immediately by the courier who had heard the news and had called at the prison. In fact, he was allowed a good deal of liberty; although he was watched and his conversation listened to, a good deal more than he was aware. Mr. Stewart, however, as he still called himself, was in a much harder case. The saddle-bags had been opened on his arrival, and incriminating documents found. Besides the "popish trinkets" they were found to contain a number of "seditious pamphlets," printed abroad for distribution in England; for at this time the College at Douai, under its founder Dr. William Allen, late Principal of St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, was active in the production of literature; these were chiefly commentaries on the Bull; as well as exhortations to the Catholics to stand firm and to persevere in recusancy, and to the schismatic Catholics, as they were called, to give over attending the services in the parish churches. There were letters also from Dr. Storey himself, whom the authorities already had in person under lock and key at the Tower. These were quite sufficient to make Mr. Stewart a prize; and he also was very shortly afterwards removed to the Tower.

Sir Nicholas wrote a letter at least once a week to his wife; but writing was something of a labour to him; it was exceedingly doubtful to his mind whether his letters were not opened and read before being handed to the courier, and as his seal was taken from him his wife could not tell either. However they seemed to arrive regularly; plainly therefore the authorities were either satisfied with their contents or else did not think them worth opening or suppressing. He was quite peremptory that his wife should not come up to London; it would only increase his distress, he said; and he liked to think of her at Maxwell Hall; there were other reasons too that he was prudent enough not to commit to paper, and which she was prudent enough to guess at, the principal of which was, of course, that she ought to be there for the entertaining and helping of other agents or priests who might be in need of shelter.

The old man got into good spirits again very soon. It pleased him to think that God had honoured him by imprisonment; and he said as much once or twice in his letters to his wife. He was also pleased with a sense of the part he was playing in the r?le of a conspirator; and he underlined and put signs and exclamation marks all over his letters of which he thought his wife would understand the significance, but no one else; whereas in reality the old lady was sorely puzzled by them, and the authorities who opened the letters generally read them of course like a printed book.

One morning about ten days after his arrival the Governor of the prison looked in with the gaoler, and announced to Sir Nicholas, after greeting him, that he was to appear before the Council that very day. This, of course, was what Sir Nicholas desired, and he thanked the Governor cordially for his good news.

"They will probably keep you at the Tower, Sir Nicholas," said the Governor, "and we shall lose you. However, sir, I hope you will be more comfortable there than we have been able to make you."

The knight thanked the Governor again, and said good-day to him with great warmth; for they had been on the best of terms with one another during his short detention at the Marshalsea.

The following day Sir Nicholas wrote a long letter to his wife describing his examination.

"We are in royal lodgings here at last, sweetheart; Mr. Boyd brought my luggage over yesterday; and I am settled for the present in a room of my own in the White Tower; with a prospect over the Court. I was had before my lords yesterday in the Council-room; we drove hither from the Marshalsea. There was a bay window in the room. I promise you they got little enough from me. There was my namesake, Sir Nicholas Bacon, my lords Leicester and Pembroke, and Mr. Secretary Cecil; Sir James Crofts, the Controller of the Household, and one or two more; but these were the principal. I was set before the table on a chair alone with none to guard me; but with men at the doors I knew very well. My lords were very courteous to me; though they laughed more than was seemly at such grave times. They questioned me much as to my religion. Was I a papist? If they meant by that a Catholic, that I was, and thanked God for it every day-(those nicknames like me not). Was I then a recusant? If by that they meant, Did I go to their Genevan Hotch-Potch? That I did not nor never would. I thought to have said a word here about St. Cyprian his work De Unitate Ecclesiae, as F--r X. told me, but they would not let me speak. Did I know Mr. Chapman? If by that they meant Mr. Stewart, that I did, and for a courteous God-fearing gentleman too. Was he a Papist, or a Catholic if I would have it so? That I would not tell them; let them find that out with their pursuivants and that crew. Did I think Protestants to be fearers of God? That I did not; they feared nought but the Queen's Majesty, so it seemed to me. Then they all laughed at once-I know not why. Then they grew grave; and Mr. Secretary began to ask me questions, sharp and hard; but I would not be put upon, and answered him again as he asked. Did I know ought of Dr. Storey? Nothing, said I, save that he is a good Catholic, and that they had taken him. He is a seditious rogue, said my Lord Pembroke. That he is not, said I. Then they asked me what I thought of the Pope and his Bull, and whether he can depose princes. I said I thought him to be the Vicar of Christ; and as to his power to depose princes, that I supposed he could do, if he said so. Then two or three cried out on me that I had not answered honestly; and at that I got wrath; and then they laughed again, at least I saw Sir James Crofts at it. And Mr. Secretary, looking very hard at me asked whether if Philip sent an armament against Elizabeth to depose her, I would fight for him or her grace. For neither, said I: I am too old. For which then would you pray? said they. For the Queen's Grace, said I, for that she was my sovereign. This seemed to content them; and they talked a little among themselves. They had asked me other questions too as to my way of living; whether I went to mass. They asked me too a little more about Mr. Stewart. Did I know him to be a seditious rascal? That I did not, said I. Then how, asked they, did you come to receive him and his pamphlets? Of his pamphlets, said I, I know nothing; I saw nothing in his bags save beads and a few holy books and such things. (You see, sweetheart, I did him no injury by saying so, because I knew that they had his bags themselves.) And I said I had received him because he was recommended to me by some good friends of mine abroad, and I told them their names too; for they are safe in Flanders now.

"And when they had done their questions they talked again for a while; and I was sent out to the antechamber to refresh myself; and Mr. Secretary sent a man with me to see that I had all I needed; and we talked together a little, and he said the Council were in good humour at the taking of Dr. Storey; and he had never seen them so merry. Then I was had back again presently; and Mr. Secretary said I was to stay in the Tower; and that Mr. Boyd was gone already to bring my things. And so after that I went by water to the Tower, and here I am, sweetheart, well and cheerful, praise God....

"My dearest, I send you my heart's best love. God have you in his holy keeping."

The Council treated the old knight very tenderly. They were shrewd enough to see his character very plainly; and that he was a simple man who knew nothing of sedition, but only had harboured agents thinking them to be as guileless as himself. As a matter of fact, Mr. Stewart was an agent of Dr. Storey's; and was therefore implicated in a number of very grave charges. This of course was a very serious matter; but both in the examination of the Council, and in papers in Mr. Stewart's bags, nothing could be found to implicate Sir Nicholas in any political intrigue at all. The authorities were unwilling too to put such a man to the torture. There was always a possibility of public resentment against the torture of a man for his religion alone; and they were desirous not to arouse this, since they had many prisoners who would be more productive subjects of the rack than a plainly simple and loyal old man whose only crime was his religion. They determined, however, to make an attempt to get a little more out of Sir Nicholas by a device which would excite no resentment if it ever transpired, and one which was more suited to the old man's nature and years.

Sir Nicholas thus described it to his wife.

"Last night, my dearest, I had a great honour and consolation. I was awakened suddenly towards two o'clock in the morning by the door of my room opening and a man coming in. It was somewhat dark, and I could not see the man plainly, but I could see that he limped and walked with a stick, and he breathed hard as he entered. I sat up and demanded of him who he was and what he wanted; and telling me to be still, he said that he was Dr. Storey. You may be sure, sweetheart, that I sprang up at that; but he would not let me rise; and himself sat down beside me. He said that by the kindness of a gaoler he had been allowed to come; and that he must not stay with me long; that he had heard of me from his good friend Mr. Stewart. I asked him how he did, for I heard that he had been racked; and he said yes, it was true; but that by the mercy of God and the prayers of the saints he had held his peace and they knew nothing from him. Then he asked me a great number of questions about the men I had entertained, and where they were now; and he knew many of their names. Some of them were friends of his own, he said; especially the priests. We talked a good while, till the morning light began; and then he said he must be gone or the head gaoler would know of his visit, and so he went. I wish I could have seen his face, sweetheart, for I think him a great servant of God; but it was still too dark when he went, and we dared not have a light for fear it should be seen."

This was as a matter of fact a ruse of the authorities. It was not Dr. Storey at all who was admitted to Sir Nicholas' prison, but Parker, who had betrayed him at Antwerp. It was so successful, for Sir Nicholas told him all that he knew (which was really nothing at all) that it was repeated a few months later with richer results; when the conspirator Baily, hysterical and almost beside himself with the pain of the rack, under similar circumstances gave up a cypher which was necessary to the Council in dealing with the correspondence of Mary Stuart. However, Sir Nicholas never knew the deception, and to the end of his days was proud that he had actually met the famous Dr. Storey, when they were both imprisoned in the Tower together, and told his friends of it with reverent pride when the doctor was hanged a year later.

Hubert, who had been sent for to take charge of the estate, had come to London soon after his father's arrival at the Tower; and was allowed an interview with him in the presence of the Lieutenant. Hubert was greatly affected; though he could not look upon the imprisonment with the same solemn exultation as that which his father had; but it made a real impression upon him to find that he took so patiently this separation from home and family for the sake of religion. Hubert received instructions from Sir Nicholas as to the management of the estate, for it was becoming plain that his father would have to remain in the Tower for the present; not any longer on a really grave charge, but chiefly because he was an obstinate recusant and would promise nothing. The law and its administration at this time were very far apart; the authorities were not very anxious to search out and punish those who were merely recusants or refused to take the oath of supremacy; and so Hubert and Mr. Boyd and other Catholics were able to come and go under the very nose of justice without any real risk to themselves; but it was another matter to let a sturdy recusant go from prison who stoutly refused to give any sort of promise or understanding as to future behaviour.

Sir Nicholas was had down more than once to further examination before the Lords Commissioners in the Lieutenant's house; but it was a very tame and even an amusing affair for all save Sir Nicholas. It was so easy to provoke him; he was so simple and passionate that they could get almost anything they wanted out of him by a little adroit baiting; and more than once his examination formed a welcome and humorous entr'acte between two real tragedies. Sir Nicholas, of course, never suspected for a moment that he was affording any amusement to any one. He thought their weary laughter to be sardonic and ironical, and he looked upon himself as a very desperate fellow indeed; and wrote glowing accounts of it all to his wife, full of apostrophic praises to God and the saints, in a hand that shook with excitement and awe at the thought of the important scenes in which he played so prominent a part.

But there was no atmosphere of humour about Mr. Stewart. He had disappeared from Sir Nicholas' sight on their arrival at the Marshalsea, and they had not set eyes on one another since; nor could all the knight's persuasion and offer of bribes make his gaoler consent to take any message or scrap of paper between them. He would not even answer more than the simplest inquiries about him,-that he was alive and in the Tower, and so forth; and Sir Nicholas prayed often and earnestly for that deliberate and vivacious young man who had so charmed and interested them all down at Great Keynes, and who had been so mysteriously engulfed by the sombre majesty of the law.

"I fear," he wrote to Lady Maxwell, "I fear that our friend must be sick or dying. But I can hear no news of him; when I am allowed sometimes to walk in the court or on the leads he is never there. My attendant Mr. Jakes looks glum and says nothing when I ask him how my friend does. My dearest, do not forget him in your prayers nor your old loving husband either."

One evening late in October Mr. Jakes did not come as usual to bring Sir Nicholas his supper at five o'clock; the time passed and still he did not come. This was very unusual. Presently Mrs. Jakes appeared instead, carrying the food which she set down at the door while she turned the key behind her. Sir Nicholas rallied her on having turned gaoler; but she turned on him a face with red eyes and lined with weeping.

"O Sir Nicholas," she said, for these two were good friends, "what a wicked place this is! God forgive me for saying so; but they've had that young man down there since two o'clock; and Jakes is with them to help; and he told me to come up to you, Sir Nicholas, with your supper, if they weren't done by five; and if the young gentleman hadn't said what they wanted."

Sir Nicholas felt sick.

"Who is it?" he asked.

"Why, who but Mr. Stewart?" she said; and then fell weeping again, and went out forgetting to lock the door behind her in her grief. Sir Nicholas sat still a moment, sick and shaken; he knew what it meant; but it had never come so close to him before. He got up presently and went to the door to listen for he knew not what. But there was no sound but the moan of the wind up the draughty staircase, and the sound of a prisoner singing somewhere above him a snatch of a song. He looked out presently, but there was nothing but the dark well of the staircase disappearing round to the left, and the glimmer of an oil lamp somewhere from the depths below him, with wavering shadows as the light was blown about by the gusts that came up from outside. There was nothing to be done of course; he closed the door, went back and prayed with all his might for the young man who was somewhere in this huge building, in his agony.

Mr. Jakes came up himself within half an hour to see if all was well; but said nothing of his dreadful employment or of Mr. Stewart; and Sir Nicholas did not like to ask for fear of getting Mrs. Jakes into trouble. The gaoler took away the supper things, wished him good-night, went out and lo

cked the door, apparently without noticing it had been left undone before. Possibly his mind was too much occupied with what he had been seeing and doing. And the faithful account of all this went down in due time to Great Keynes.

The arrival of the courier at the Hall on Wednesday and Saturday was a great affair both to the household and to the village. Sir Nicholas sent his letter generally by the Saturday courier, and the other brought a kind of bulletin from Mr. Boyd, with sometimes a message or two from his master. These letters were taken by the ladies first to the study, as if to an oratory, and Lady Maxwell would read them slowly over to her sister. And in the evening, when Isabel generally came up for an hour or two, the girl would be asked to read them slowly all over again to the two ladies who sat over their embroidery on either side of her, and who interrupted for the sheer joy of prolonging it. And they would discuss together the exact significance of all his marks of emphasis and irony; and the girl would have all she could do sometimes not to feel a disloyal amusement at the transparency of the devices and the simplicity of the loving hearts that marvelled at the writer's depth and ingenuity. But she was none the less deeply impressed by his courageous cheerfulness, and by the power of a religion that in spite of its obvious weaknesses and improbabilities yet inspired an old man like Sir Nicholas with so much fortitude.

At first, too, a kind of bulletin was always issued on the Sunday and Thursday mornings, and nailed upon the outside of the gatehouse, so that any who pleased could come there and get first-hand information; and an interpreter stood there sometimes, one of the educated younger sons of Mr. Piers, and read out to the groups from Lady Maxwell's sprawling old handwriting, news of the master.

"Sir Nicholas has been had before the Council," he read out one day in a high complacent voice to the awed listeners, "and has been sent to the Tower of London." This caused consternation in the village, as it was supposed by the country-folk, not without excuse, that the Tower was the antechamber of death; but confidence was restored by the further announcement a few lines down that "he was well and cheerful."

Great interest, too, was aroused by more domestic matters.

"Sir Nicholas," it was proclaimed, "is in a little separate chamber of his own. Mr. Jakes, his gaoler, seems an honest fellow. Sir Nicholas hath a little mattress from a friend that Mr. Boyd fetched for him. He has dinner at eleven and supper at five. Sir Nicholas hopes that all are well in the village."

But other changes had followed the old knight's arrest. The furious indignation in the village against the part that the Rectory had played in the matter, made it impossible for the Dents to remain there. That the minister's wife should have been publicly ducked, and that not by a few blackguards but by the solid fathers and sons with the applause of the wives and daughters, made her husband's position intolerable, and further evidence was forthcoming in the behaviour of the people towards the Rector himself; some boys had guffawed during his sermon on the following Sunday, when he had ventured on a word or two of penitence as to his share in the matter, and he was shouted after on his way home.

Mrs. Dent seemed strangely changed and broken during her stay at the Hall. She had received a terrible shock, and it was not safe to move her back to her own house. For the first two or three nights, she would start from sleep again and again screaming for help and mercy and nothing would quiet her till she was wide awake and saw in the fire-light the curtained windows and the bolted door, and the kindly face of an old servant or Mistress Margaret with her beads in her hand. Isabel, who came up to see her two or three times, was both startled and affected by the change in her; and by the extraordinary mood of humility which seemed to have taken possession of the hard self-righteous Puritan.

"I begged pardon," she whispered to the girl one evening, sitting up in bed and staring at her with wide, hard eyes, "I begged pardon of Lady Maxwell, though I am not fit to speak to her. Do you think she can ever forgive me? Do you think she can? It was I, you know, who wrought all the mischief, as I have wrought all the mischief in the village all these years. She said she did, and she kissed me, and said that our Saviour had forgiven her much more. But-but do you think she has forgiven me?" And then again, another night, a day or two before they left the place, she spoke to Isabel again.

"Look after the poor bodies," she said, "teach them a little charity; I have taught them nought but bitterness and malice, so they have but given me my own back again. I have reaped what I have sown."

So the Dents slipped off early one morning before the folk were up; and by the following Sunday, young Mr. Bodder, of whom the Bishop entertained a high opinion, occupied the little desk outside the chancel arch; and Great Keynes once more had to thank God and the diocesan that it possessed a proper minister of its own, and not a mere unordained reader, which was all that many parishes could obtain.

Towards the end of September further hints began to arrive, very much underlined, in the knight's letters, of Mr. Stewart and his sufferings.

"You remember our friend," Isabel read out one Saturday evening, "not Mr. Stewart." (This puzzled the old ladies sorely till Isabel explained their lord's artfulness.) "My dearest, I fear the worst for him. I do not mean apostacy, thank God. But I fear that these wolves have torn him sadly, in their dens." Then followed the story of Mrs. Jakes, with all its horror, all the greater from the obscurity of the details.

Isabel put the paper down trembling, as she sat on the rug before the fire in the parlour upstairs, and thought of the bright-eyed, red-haired man with his steady mouth and low laugh whom Anthony had described to her.

Lady Maxwell posted upon the gatehouse:

"Sir Nicholas fears that a friend is in sore trouble; he hopes he may not yield."

Then, after a few days more, a brief notice with a black-line drawn round it, that ran, in Mr. Bodder's despite:

"Our friend has passed away. Pray for his soul."

Sir Nicholas had written in great agitation to this effect.

"My sweetheart, I have heavy news to-day. There was a great company of folks below my window to-day, in the Inner Ward, where the road runs up below the Bloody Tower. It was about nine of the clock. And there was a horse there whose head I could see; and presently from the Beauchamp Tower came, as I thought, an old man between two warders; and then I could not very well see; the men were in my way; but soon the horse went off, and the men after him; and I could hear the groaning of the crowd that were waiting for them outside. And when Mr. Jakes brought me my dinner at eleven of the clock, he told me it was our friend-(think of it, my dearest-him whom I thought an old man!)-that had been taken off to Tyburn. And now I need say no more, but bid you pray for his soul."

Isabel could hardly finish reading it; for she heard a quick sobbing breath behind her, and felt a wrinkled old hand caressing her hair and cheek as her voice faltered.

Meanwhile Hubert was in town. Sir Nicholas had at first intended him to go down at once and take charge of the estate; but Piers was very competent, and so his father consented that he should remain in London until the beginning of October; and this too better suited Mr. Norris' plans who wished to send Isabel off about the same time to Northampton.

When Hubert at last did arrive, he soon showed himself extremely capable and apt for the work. He was out on the estate from morning till night on his cob, and there was not a man under him from Piers downwards who had anything but praise for his insight and industry.

There was in Hubert, too, as there so often is in country-boys who love and understand the life of the woods and fields, a balancing quality of a deep vein of sentiment; and this was now consecrated to Isabel Norris. He had pleasant dreams as he rode home in the autumn evening, under the sweet keen sky where the harvest moon rose large and yellow over the hills to his left and shed a strange mystical light that blended in a kind of chord with the dying daylight. It was at times like that, when the air was fragrant with the scent of dying leaves, with perhaps a touch of frost in it, and the cottages one by one opened red glowing eyes in the dusk, that the boy began to dream of a home of his own and pleasant domestic joys; of burning logs on the hearth and lighted candles, and a dear slender figure moving about the room. He used to rehearse to himself little meetings and partings; look at the roofs of the Dower House against the primrose sky as he rode up the fields homewards; identify her window, dark now as she was away; and long for Christmas when she would be back again. The only shadow over these delightful pictures was the uncertainty as to the future. Where after all would the home be? For he was a younger son. He thought about James very often. When he came back would he live at home? Would it all be James' at his father's death, these woods and fields and farms and stately house? Would it ever come to him? And, meanwhile where should he and Isabel live, when the religious difficulty had been surmounted, as he had no doubt that it would be sooner or later?

When he thought of his father now, it was with a continually increasing respect. He had been inclined to despise him sometimes before, as one of a simple and uneventful life; but now the red shadow of the Law conferred dignity. To have been imprisoned in the Tower was a patent of nobility, adding distinction and gravity to the commonplace. Something of the glory even rested on Hubert himself as he rode and hawked with other Catholic boys, whose fathers maybe were equally zealous for the Faith, but less distinguished by suffering for it.

Before Anthony went back to Cambridge, he and Hubert went out nearly every day together with or without their hawks. Anthony was about three years the younger, and Hubert's additional responsibility for the estate made the younger boy more in awe of him than the difference in their ages warranted. Besides, Hubert knew quite as much about sport, and had more opportunities for indulging his taste for it. There was no heronry at hand; besides, it was not the breeding time which is the proper season for this particular sport; so they did not trouble to ride out to one; but the partridges and hares and rabbits that abounded in the Maxwell estate gave them plenty of quarreys. They preferred to go out generally without the falconer, a Dutchman, who had been taken into the service of Sir Nicholas thirty years before when things had been more prosperous; it was less embarrassing so; but they would have a lad to carry the "cadge," and a pony following them to carry the game. They added to the excitement of the sport by making it a competition between their birds; and flying them one after another, or sometimes at the same quarry, as in coursing; but this often led to the birds' crabbing.

Anthony's peregrine Eliza was almost unapproachable; and the lad was the more proud of her as he had "made" her himself, as an "eyess" or young falcon captured as a nestling. But, on the other hand, Hubert's goshawk Margaret, a fiery little creature, named inappropriately enough after his tranquil aunt, as a rule did better than Anthony's Isabel, and brought the scores level again.

There was one superb day that survived long in Anthony's memory and conversation; when he had done exceptionally well, when Eliza had surpassed herself, and even Isabel had acquitted herself with credit. It was one of those glorious days of wind and sun that occasionally fall in early October, with a pale turquoise sky overhead, and air that seems to sparkle and intoxicate like wine. They went out together after dinner about noon; their ponies and spaniels danced with the joy of life; Lady Maxwell cried to them from the north terrace to be careful, and pointed out to Mr. Norris who had dined with them what a graceful seat Hubert had; and then added politely, but as an obvious afterthought, that Anthony seemed to manage his pony with great address. The boys turned off through the village, and soon got on to high ground to the west of the village and all among the stubble and mustard, with tracts of rich sunlit country, of meadows and russet woodland below them on every side. Then the sport began. It seemed as if Eliza could not make a mistake. There rose a solitary partridge forty yards away with a whirl of wings; (the coveys were being well broken up by now) Anthony unhooded his bird and "cast off," with the falconer's cry "Hoo-ha, ha, ha, ha," and up soared Eliza with the tinkle of bells, on great strokes of those mighty wings, up, up, behind the partridge that fled low down the wind for his life. The two ponies were put to the gallop as the peregrine began to "stoop"; and then down like a plummet she fell with closed wings, "raked" the quarry with her talons as she passed; recovered herself, and as Anthony came up holding out the tabur-stycke, returned to him and was hooded and leashed again; and sat there on his gloved wrist with wet claws, just shivering slightly from her nerves, like the aristocrat she was; while her master stroked her ashy back and the boy picked up the quarry, admiring the deep rent before he threw it into the pannier.

Then Hubert had the next turn; but his falcon missed his first stoop, and did not strike the quarry till the second attempt, thus scoring one to Anthony's account. Then the peregrines were put back on the cadge as the boys got near to a wide meadow in a hollow where the rabbits used to feed; and the goshawks Margaret and Isabel were taken, each in turn sitting unhooded on her master's wrist, while they all watched the long thin grass for the quick movement that marked the passage of a rabbit;-and then in a moment the bird was cast off. The goshawk would rise just high enough to see the quarry in the grass, then fly straight with arched wings and pounces stretched out as she came over the quarry; then striking him between the shoulders would close with him; and her master would come up and take her off, throw the rabbit to the game-carrier; and the other would have the next attempt.

And so they went on for three or four hours, encouraging their birds, whooping the death of the quarry, watching with all the sportsman's keenness the soaring and stooping of the peregrines, the raking off of the goshawks; listening to the thrilling tinkle of the bells, and taking back their birds to sit triumphant and complacent on their master's wrists, when the quarry had been fairly struck, and furious and sullen when it had eluded them two or three times till their breath left them in the dizzy rushes, and they "canceliered" or even returned disheartened and would fly no more till they had forgotten-till at last the shadows grew long, and the game more wary, and the hawks and ponies tired; and the boys put up the birds on the cadge, and leashed them to it securely; and jogged slowly homewards together up the valley road that led to the village, talking in technical terms of how the merlin's feather must be "imped" to-morrow; and of the relative merits of the "varvels" or little silver rings at the end of the jesses through which the leash ran, and the Dutch swivel that Squire Blackett always used.

As they got nearer home and the red roofs of the Dower House began to glow in the ruddy sunlight above the meadows, Hubert began to shift the conversation round to Isabel, and inquire when she was coming home. Anthony was rather bored at this turn of the talk; but thought she would be back by Christmas at the latest; and said that she was at Northampton-and had Hubert ever seen such courage as Eliza's? But Hubert would not be put off; but led the talk back again to the girl; and at last told Anthony under promise of secrecy that he was fond of Isabel, and wished to make her his wife;-and oh! did Anthony think she cared really for him. Anthony stared and wondered and had no opinion at all on the subject; but presently fell in love with the idea that Hubert should be his brother-in-law and go hawking with him every day; and he added a private romance of his own in which he and Mary Corbet should be at the Dower House, with Hubert and Isabel at the Hall; while the elders, his own father, Sir Nicholas, Mr. James, Lady Maxwell, and Mistress Torridon had all taken up submissive and complacent attitudes in the middle distance.

He was so pensive that evening that his father asked him at supper whether he had not had a good day; which diverted his thoughts from Mistress Corbet, and led him away from sentiment on a stream of his own talk with long backwaters of description of this and that stoop, and of exactly the points in which he thought the Maxwells' falconer had failed in the training of Hubert's Jane.

Hubert found a long letter waiting from his father which Lady Maxwell gave him to read, with messages to himself in it about the estate, which brought him down again from the treading of rosy cloud-castles with a phantom Isabel whither his hawks and the shouting wind and the happy day had wafted him, down to questions of barns and farm-servants and the sober realities of harvest.

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