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   Chapter 3 TRAITOR OR HERO

Hayslope Grange / A Tale of the Civil War By Emma Leslie Characters: 12086

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The confusion and dismay into which the orderly household of Hayslope Grange was thrown by Harry's untimely and hasty confession baffles all description. Fainting among young ladies was not so common in those days, and the only orthodox remedy known to Mistress Mabel being burnt feathers, these had to be fetched from the poultry-yard, and singed at the kitchen fire, before anything else could be done for Maud, who still lay unconscious on the floor; while Bessie and Bertram, thinking of their aunt's words of the morning, cried and screamed, "Prithee, tell them to let the archbishop go; poor Maud will die if you don't!"

Clayton had some difficulty in keeping Harry outside the house, whither they had retreated when he heard that Maud was ill; but thinking that his presence would only add to the confusion in the keeping-room if he went in again, he prevailed upon him to remain where he was until Master Drury came out and fetched them both into the study.

His face was white and rigid, with such a look of helpless woe about the lines of his mouth that it touched Gilbert more deeply than the fiercest expression of anger could have done. Harry's misery seemed complete when he looked at his father's face in the dim light of the study lamp, and falling on his knees, he exclaimed-

"Oh, my father, forgive me!"

But his father drew back hastily from the outstretched hands.

"Rise from your knees, Harry Drury!" he said, sternly, "and tell me what you mean by the froward words you have this night spoken."

"My father, I spoke hastily and unadvisedly," said Harry, humbly. "I should have come to you alone, and confessed that my opinions of the King's doings had greatly changed of late, and begged your permission to join the army now fighting for the Parliament."

"And do you think I would have given it, traitor-caitiff?" said Master Drury, sternly.

"I have angered you," said Harry; "but, my father, you will suffer me to speak to you of this to-morrow, and hear me when I say that Gilbert Clayton here hath not sought to draw me to this way of thinking. I had some converse upon it with Mistress Maud before his arrival."

Master Drury glanced at Clayton suspiciously; he had not noticed his presence before.

"If you are clear of this thing, young man," he said, "you can abide here until the morning; but Harry Drury departs from Hayslope Grange this night."

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Harry started in blank astonishment.

"Marry then, where am I to tarry?" he said.

"That I know not; but traitors cannot abide under this honest roof, that has never sheltered any but true and loyal men since it was raised by Roger Drury ninety years ago."

"But, my father--"

"Call me not by that name," interrupted the old man, "unless you are ready to return, and willing to do true and loyal service to your King and country."

"My country I am willing to serve; but, my father, this King is trying to enslave it," said Harry, earnestly.

"Prithee! what will you say next? But hold, I am not here to banter words with you. Will you enter the King's service, and fight his battles under Prince Rupert?" demanded Master Drury.

"Serve under that Prince of Plunderers?-never!" said Harry, in a determined tone.

"It is enough," said his father. "I give you this purse, which contains enough to keep you from starving for a few days, and for the rest you must look to yourself. You have no further part or lot in Hayslope Grange. I cast you off for ever."

But Harry did not attempt to touch the purse, which his father had placed on the table beside him. Throwing himself again on his knees, he begged his father to revoke the dreadful words he had just uttered.

"I will remain at home, and never again seek to serve the Parliament, if you forbid it," he said.

Master Drury looked down at him, and his lips quivered with emotion.

"Say you will renounce these new opinions and serve the King, and you are my son still," he said.

But Harry started back.

"Give up my principles! all that I have learned to see is just and true and honest! My father, you cannot ask me to do this?" said Harry.

"I ask you to give up all traitorous friendships, and return to your allegiance and duty to your King," said his father.

"But I should be a traitor to my conscience. I should sell my convictions of right and duty for your favour. My father, you would not have your son a slave?"

"I would that I had no son at all!" groaned the old man, covering his eyes with his hands.

"Forgive me, oh, forgive me the pain I have caused you, my father; and let me remain at home with you still; only don't ask me to be a traitor to my conscience!" implored Harry.

"I _ask+ you nothing," said Master Drury. "I _command+ you to swear this moment that you will enter the King's service without delay; and if you do not obey me, you leave this house at once, and I have no son from this night."

Harry slowly rose from his knees with bowed head.

"I cannot swear," he said. "I will serve my country, not sell her into the power of tyrants," and he turned to leave the room. But at the door he paused for a moment, and then turned back. "You will give me your blessing once more, my father, before I depart?" he said; and he would have knelt to receive it, but the old man waved him off.

"Leave me, leave me at once, lest I curse you!" he said, in a hoarse voice; and Harry, without glancing at the purse, which still lay on the table, retreated from that look of stern wrath which had settled on his face.

The two young men walked straight out into the fields, and for some time neither spoke; but at length Harry said,-

"What are we to do, Clayton?"

"We had better get round to the barn for to-night, and sleep there," replied Gilbert, "and then to-morrow you had better see your father again."

But Harry shook his head sadly.

"Marry, it will be of no use," he said.

"By my troth, I would try, though you cannot marvel that he is angry, spea

king as you did," said Gilbert, warmly.

"Yes, I know I was wrong; but you do not know my father, Gilbert, or you would not advise me to thrust myself into his presence again for a while. No, no; I must go to London now, and seek my fortune there."

"But you will stay here to-night?" said his friend.

"Yes, to-night," sighed Harry; "for I must see Maud to-morrow."

Clayton hoped that Master Drury's anger might be somewhat appeased by the next day, and he resolved to see him, if possible, when he went to the house for his things, which in the hurry and confusion had been left behind.

Anxiety kept Harry awake as much as his strange quarters that night; but Clayton, who had many times slept out in the open field when upon the march, did not feel much inconvenience from sleeping on the barn floor. He awoke about the usual time, but would not stir, for fear of disturbing Harry. At length, however, one of the men pushed open the door, and not recognising the intruders, at once ordered them off in a loud, rough voice.

Harry started to his feet, crying, "Maud, Maud, I will save you!" and then rubbed his eyes to see if it was true that the man was staring and Gilbert laughing at him.

"Marry, but you have been dreaming," said Clayton, rising and stretching himself.

"Is it my young master?" uttered the man, slowly, as if scarcely able to believe the evidence of his eyes.

"Yes, it is me; Harry Drury," said Harry. "Have you heard how Mistress Maud is this morning?" he asked, anxiously.

"But sadly, I hear," said the man, shaking his head. "Marry, but 'tis a bad business, this, Master Harry," he added.

"Will you go and tell one of the maids to ask Mistress Maud to come to me?" said Harry, in a tone of impatience.

"Mistress Maud has not yet left her room," said the man. "I heard--"

"Then go and ask if I can see her in the painted gallery," interrupted Harry. "Stop!" he cried, as the man was moving off; "you are not to go to Mistress Mabel, but ask Jane, or one of the other maids."

The man gave a knowing nod, and departed on his errand, determined to accomplish it too, for he had no doubt but that the visit to Maud was to ask her to intercede with Master Drury; and Harry being a general favourite with the servants, they had all felt sorry for his dilemma, although they did not understand it.

He slowly followed the man round to a small entrance at the side of the house, and presently the door opened and Jane beckoned him to enter. A staircase close to the door led direct to one end of the painted gallery, which was close to Maud's room, and here Harry sat down in the broad window-seat to wait her coming. He did not have to wait long. In a minute or two her chamber-door opened, and the young lady stepped into the gallery, looking very pale and sad, but almost as stern as Master Drury himself.

"Oh, Maud, forgive me!" burst forth Harry, starting forward when he saw her.

But she coldly waved him off.

"I have nothing to forgive," she said.

Harry paused in amazement.

"Prithee, tell me what is the matter," he said; "are you ill, Maud?"

"Prithee, no," said Maud, lightly (which was not quite the truth).

Harry advanced a step nearer, and Maud drew further back.

"Do not seek to touch me," she said, proudly. "I give not my hand to traitors."

"But I am not a traitor," said Harry. "I have followed your advice, and told my father I must go on in--"

"Followed my advice!" repeated Maud. "By my faith, I never advised you!"

"Nay, nay, did you not understand me when I conversed with you?"

"I understand you now, Master Drury," interrupted Maud, "but I choose not to hold converse with a traitor;" and with a haughty gesture she turned and went into her own room, leaving Harry overwhelmed with surprise and distress.

He went down-stairs, and out of the little unused door into the sunny fields, without knowing where he was, and he wandered up and down, trying to collect his bewildered thoughts, and think over what had happened, until Gilbert Clayton overtook him.

He had collected the few belongings he brought with him to Hayslope Grange, and now carried them in his hand, but he had utterly failed in his mission to Master Drury. The old man was more bitter this morning than he had been the previous evening, and vowed he would never own his son again, unless he took service under King Charles.

"Let us get away from here as fast as we can," said Harry, as his friend joined him.

"Have you seen Mistress Maud?" asked Gilbert, hoping that she at least had spoken a word of comfort to him.

"Prithee, do not ask me," said Harry, in a hoarse voice. "I am an outcast from my father's house; every one spurns me."

"Say not so, Harry," said Gilbert, in a gentle tone. "Remember the word of the Lord, 'When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.'"

"But I know not that I have the right to that promise," said Harry, moodily.

"But you confess that you need it," said Gilbert.

"Yes, I need it," said Harry.

"Then Christ came to satisfy the needy, whatever their wants might be. He came to show us the love of the Father that it was inexhaustible, not like the love of earthly friends, which is often cold and changeful, but ever full, free, and unchangeable."

Harry sighed.

"I feel utterly desolate and deserted," he said.

"Then will you not go to Him who is waiting to take you up and adopt you into His family, and make you His son in Christ Jesus? He wishes to do so. He is waiting to be gracious."

"Go on," said Harry, when Gilbert paused. "I am listening; your words are like water to a thirsty soul;" and Gilbert went on until they reached the village, where Gilbert bought a loaf of rye bread, and after eating this, and drinking some water from the spring, they started on their journey to London; for although Gilbert was not a poor man, they had not much money with them, not enough to buy a horse, and stage-coaches were unheard of in those days.

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