With the decay of summer, lady Vaughan began again to sink, and
became at length so weak that Dorothy rarely left her room. The
departure of Richard Heywood to join the rebels affected her deeply.
The report of the utter rout of the parliamentary forces at
Edgehill, lighted up her face for the last time with a glimmer of
earthly gladness, which the very different news that followed
speedily extinguished; and after that she declined more rapidly.
Mrs. Rees told Dorothy that she would yield to the first frost. But
she lingered many weeks. One morning she signed to her daughter to
come nearer that she might speak to her.
'Dorothy,' she whispered, 'I wish much to see good Mr. Herbert.
Prithee send for him. I know it is an evil time for him to travel,
being an old man and feeble, but he will do his endeavour to come to
me, I know, if but for my husband's sake, whom he loved like a
brother. I cannot die in peace without first taking counsel with him
how best to provide for the safety of my little ewe-lamb until these
storms are overblown. Alas! alas! I did look to Richard Heywood--'
She could say no more.
'Do not take thought about the morrow for me any more than you would
for yourself, madam,' said Dorothy. 'You know master Herbert says
the one is as the other.'
She kissed her mother's hand as she spoke, then hastened from the
room, and despatched a messenger to Llangattock.
Before the worthy man arrived, lady Vaughan was speechless. By signs
and looks, definite enough, and more eloquent than words, she
committed Dorothy to his protection, and died.
Dorothy behaved with much calmness. She would not, in her mother's
absence, act so as would have grieved her presence. Little passed
between her and Mr. Herbert until the funeral was over. Then they
talked of the future. Her guardian wished much to leave everything
in charge of the old bailiff, and take her with him to Llangattock;
but he hesitated a little because of the bad state of the roads in
winter, much because of their danger in the troubled condition of
affairs, and most of all because of the uncertain, indeed perilous
position of the Episcopalian clergy, who might soon find themselves
without a roof to shelter them. Fearing nothing for himself, he must
yet, in arranging for Dorothy, contemplate the worst of threatening
possibilities; and one thing was pretty certain, that matters must
grow far worse before they could even begin to mend.
But they had more time for deliberation given them than they would
willingly have taken. Mr. Herbert had caught cold while reading the
funeral service, and was compelled to delay his return. The cold
settled into a sort of low fever, and for many weeks he lay
helpless. During this time the sudden affair at Brentford took
place, after which the king, having lost by it far more than he had
gained, withdrew to Oxford, anxious to re-open the treaty which the
battle had closed.
The country was now in a sad state. Whichever party was uppermost in
any district, sought to ruin all of the opposite faction. Robbery
and plunder became common, and that not only on the track of armies
or the route of smaller bodies of soldiers, for bands of mere
marauders, taking up the cry of the faction that happened in any
neighbourhood to have the ascendancy, plundered houses, robbed
travellers, and were guilty of all sorts of violence. Hence it had
become as perilous to stay at home in an unfortified house as to
travel; and many were the terrors which during the winter tried the
courage of the girl, and checked the recovery of the old man. At
length one morning, after a midnight alarm, Mr. Herbert thus
addressed Dorothy, as she waited upon him with his breakfast:
'It fears me much, my dear Dorothy, that the time will be long ere
any but fortified places will be safe abodes. It is a question in my
mind whether it would not be better to seek refuge for you--. But
stay; let me suggest my proposal, rather than startle you with it in
sudden form complete. You are related to the Somersets, are you
'Is the relationship recognized by them?'
'I cannot tell, sir. I do not even distinctly know what the
relationship is. And assuredly, sir, you mean not to propose that I
should seek safety from bodily peril with a household which is, to
say the least, so unfriendly to the doctrines you and my blessed
mother have always taught me! You cannot, or indeed, must you not
have forgotten that they are papists?'
Dorothy had been educated in such a fear of the catholics, and such
a profound disapproval of those of their doctrines rejected by the
reformers of the church of England, as was only surpassed in
intensity by her absolute abhorrence of the assumptions and
negations of the puritans. These indeed roused in her a certain
sense of disgust which she had never felt in respect of what were
considered by her teachers the most erroneous doctrines of the
catholics. But Mr. Herbert, although his prejudices were nearly as
strong, and his opinions, if not more indigenous at least far better
acclimatised than hers, had yet reaped this advantage of a longer
life, that he was better able to atone his dislike of certain
opinions with personal regard for those who held them, and therefore
did not, like Dorothy, recoil from the idea of obligation to one of
a different creed--provided always that creed was catholicism and
not puritanism. For to the church of England, the catholics, in the
presence of her more rampant foes, appeared harmless enough now.
He believed that the honourable feelings of lord Worcester and his
family would be hostile to any attempt to proselytize his ward. But
as far as she was herself concerned, he trusted more to the strength
of her prejudices than the rectitude of her convictions, honest as
the girl was, to prevent her from being over-influenced by the
change of spiritual atmosphere; for in proportion to the simplicity
of her goodness must be her capacity for recognizing the goodness of
others, catholics or not, and for being wrought upon by the virtue
that went out from them. His hope was, that England would have again
become the abode of peace, long ere any risk to her spiritual
well-being should have been incurred by this mode of securing her
bodily safety and comfort.
But there was another fact, in the absence of which he would have
had far more hesitation in seeking for his ewe-lamb the protection
of sheep, the guardians of whose spiritual fold had but too often
proved wolves in sheep-dogs' clothing: within the last few days the
news had reached him that an old friend named Bayly, a true man, a
priest of the English church and a doctor of divinity, had taken up
his abode in Raglan castle as one of the household--chaplain
indeed, as report would have it, though that was hard of belief,
save indeed it were for the sake of the protestants within its
walls. However that might be, there was a true shepherd to whose
care to entrust his lamb; and it was mainly on the strength of this
consideration that he had concluded to make his proposal to
Dorothy--namely, that she should seek shelter within the walls of
Raglan castle until the storm should be so far over-blown, as to
admit either of her going to Llangattock or returning to her own
home. He now discussed the matter with her in full, and,
notwithstanding her very natural repugnance to the scheme, such was
Dorothy's confidence in her friend that she was easily persuaded of
its wisdom. What the more inclined her to yield was, that Mr.
Heywood had written her a letter, hardly the less unwelcome for the
kindness of its tone, in which he offered her the shelter and
hospitality of Redware 'until better days.'
'Better days!' exclaimed Dorothy with contempt. 'If such days as he
would count better should ever arrive, his house is the last place
where I would have them find me!'
She wrote a polite but cold refusal, and rejoiced in the hope that
he would soon hear of her having sought and found refuge in Raglan
with the friends of the king.
Meanwhile Mr. Herbert had opened communication with Dr. Bayly, had
satisfied himself that he was still a true son of the church, and
had solicited his friendly mediation towards the receiving of
mistress Dorothy Vaughan into the family of the marquis of
Worcester, to the dignity of which title the earl had now been
raised--the parliament, to be sure, declining to acknowledge the
patent conferred by his majesty, but that was of no consequence in
the estimation of those chiefly concerned.
On a certain spring morning, then, the snow still lying in the
hollows of the hills, Thomas Bayly came to Wyfern to see his old
friend Matthew Herbert. He was a courteous little man, with a
courtesy librating on a knife-edge of deflection towards
obsequiousness on the one hand and condescension on the other, for
neither of which, however, was his friend Herbert an object. His eye
was keen, and his forehead good, but his carriage inclined to the
pompous, and his speech to the formal, ornate, and prolix. The shape
of his mouth was honest, but the closure of the lips indicated
self-importance. The greeting between them was simple and genuine,
and ere they parted, Bayly had promised to do his best in
representing the matter to the marquis, his daughter-in-law, lady
Margaret, the wife of lord Herbert, and his daughter, lady Anne,
who, although the most rigid catholic in the house, was already the
doctor's special friend.
It would have been greatly unlike the marquis or any of his family
to refuse such a prayer. Had not their house been for centuries the
abode of hospitality, the embodiment of shelter? On the mere
representation of Dr. Bayly, and the fact of the relationship,
which, although distant, was well enough known, within two days
mistress Dorothy Vaughan received an invitation to enter the family
of the marquis, as one of the gentlewomen of lady Margaret's suite.
It was of course gratefully accepted, and as soon as Mr. Herbert
thought himself sufficiently recovered to encounter the fatigues of
travelling, he urged on the somewhat laggard preparations of
Dorothy, that he might himself see her safely housed on his way to
Llangattock, whither he was most anxious to return.
It was a lovely spring morning when they set out together on
horseback for Raglan. The sun looked down like a young father upon
his earth-mothered children, peeping out of their beds to greet him
after the long winter night. The rooks were too busy to caw,
dibbling deep in the soft red earth with their great beaks. The red
cattle, flaked with white, spotted the clear fresh green of the
meadows. The bare trees had a kind of glory about them, like old men
waiting for their youth, which might come suddenly. A few slow
clouds were drifting across the pale sky. A gentle wind was blowing
over the wet fields, but when a cloud swept before the sun, it blew
cold. The roads were bad, but their horses were used to such, and
picked their way with the easy carefulness of experience. The winter
might yet return for a season, but this day was of the spring and
its promises. Earth and air, field and sky were full of peace. But
the heart of England was troubled--troubled with passions both good
and evil--with righteous indignation and unholy scorn, with the love
of liberty and the joy of license, with ambition and aspiration.
No honest heart could yield long to the comforting of the fair
world, knowing that some of her fairest fields would soon be
crimsoned afresh with the blood of her children. But Dorothy's
sadness was not all for her country in general. Had she put the
question honestly to her heart, she must have confessed that even
the loss of her mother had less to do with a certain weight upon it,
which the loveliness of the spring day seemed to render heavier,
than the rarely absent feeling rather than thought, that the
playmate of her childhood, and the offered lover of her youth, had
thrown himself with all the energy of dawning manhood into the
quarrel of the lawless and self-glorifying. Nor was she altogether
free from a sense of blame in the matter. Had she been less
imperative in her mood and bearing, more ready to give than to
require sympathy,--but ah! she could not change the past, and the
present was calling upon her.
At length the towers of Raglan appeared, and a pang of apprehension
shot through her bosom. She was approaching the unknown. Like one on
the verge of a second-sight, her history seemed for a moment about
to reveal itself--where it lay, like a bird in its egg, within those
massive walls, warded by those huge ascending towers. Brought up in
a retirement that some would have counted loneliness, and although
used to all gentle and refined ways, yet familiar with homeliness
and simplicity of mode and ministration, she could not help feeling
awed at the prospect of entering such a zone of rank and stateliness
and observance as the household of the marquis, who lived like a
prince in expenditure, attendance, and ceremony. She knew little of
the fashions of the day, and, like many modest young people, was
afraid she might be guilty of some solecism which would make her
appear ill-bred, or at least awkward. Since her mother left her, she
had become aware of a timidity to which she had hitherto been a
stranger. 'Ah!' she said to herself, 'if only my mother were with
At length they reached the brick gate, were admitted within the
outer wall, and following the course taken by Scudamore and Heywood,
skirted the moat which enringed the huge blind citadel or keep, and
arrived at the western gate. The portcullis rose to admit them, and
they rode into the echoes of the vaulted gateway. Turning to
congratulate Dorothy on their safe arrival, Mr. Herbert saw that she
was pale and agitated.
'What ails my child?' he said in a low voice, for the warder was
'I feel as if entering a prison,' she replied, with a shiver.
'Is thy God the God of the grange and not of the castle?' returned
the old man.
'But, sir,' said Dorothy, 'I have been accustomed to a liberty such
as few have enjoyed, and these walls and towers--'
'Heed not the look of things,' interrupted her guardian. 'Believe in
the Will that with a thought can turn the shadow of death into the
morning, give gladness for weeping, and the garment of praise for
the spirit of heaviness.'