HUSBAND AND WIFE
'What an old-fashioned damsel it is!' said lord Herbert when Dorothy
had left the room.
'She has led a lonely life,' answered lady Margaret, 'and has read a
many old-fashioned books.'
'She seems a right companion for thee, Peggy, and I am glad of it,
for I shall be much from thee--more and more, I fear, till this
bitter weather be gone by.'
'Alas, Ned! hast thou not been more than much from me already? Thou
wilt certainly be killed, though thou hast not yet a scratch on thy
blessed body. I would it were over and all well!'
'So would I--and heartily, dear heart! In very truth I love fighting
as little as thou. But it is a thing that hath to be done, though
small honour will ever be mine therefrom, I greatly fear me. It is
one of those affairs in which liking goes farther than goodwill, and
as I say, I love it not, only to do my duty. Hence doubtless it
comes that no luck attends me. God knows I fear nothing a man ought
not to fear--he is my witness--but what good service of arms have I
yet rendered my king? It is but thy face, Peggy, that draws the
smile from me. My heart is heavy. See how my rascally Welsh yielded
before Gloucester, when the rogue Waller stole a march upon
them--and I must be from thence! Had I but been there instead of at
Oxford, thinkest thou they would have laid down their arms nor
struck a single blow? I like not killing, but I can kill, and I can
be killed. Thou knowest, sweet wife, thy Ned would not run.'
'Holy mother!' exclaimed lady Margaret.
'But I have no good luck at fighting,' he went on. 'And how again at
Monmouth, the hare-hearts with which I had thought to garrison the
place fled at the bare advent of that same parliament beagle,
Waller! By St. George! it were easier to make an engine that should
mow down a thousand brave men with one sweep of a scythe-and I could
make it-than to put courage into the heart of one runaway rascal. It
makes me mad to think how they have disgraced me!'
'But Monmouth is thine own again, Herbert!'
'Yes-thanks to the love they bear my father, not to my generalship!
Thy husband is a poor soldier, Peggy: he cannot make soldiers.'
'Then why not leave the field to others, and labour at thy engines,
love? If thou wilt, I tell thee what-I will doff my gown, and in
wrapper and petticoat help thee, sweet. I will to it with bare arms
like thine own.'
'Thou wouldst like Una make a sunshine in the shady place, Margaret.
But no. Poor soldier as I am, I will do my best, even where good
fortune fails me, and glory awaits not my coming. Thou knowest that
at fourteen days' warning I brought four thousand foot and eight
hundred horse again to the siege of Gloucester. It would ill befit
my father's son to spare what he can when he is pouring out his
wealth like water at the feet of his king. No, wife; the king shall
not find me wanting, for in serving my king, I serve my God; and if
I should fail, it may hold that an honest failure comes nigh enough
a victory to be set down in the chronicles of the high countries.
But in truth it presses on me sorely, and I am troubled at heart
that I should be so given over to failure.'
'Never heed it, my lord. The sun comes out clear at last maugre all
the region fogs.'
'Thanks, sweet heart! Things do look up a little in the main, and if
the king had but a dozen more such friends as my lord marquis, they
would soon be well. Why, my dove of comfort, wouldst thou believe
it?-I did this day, as I rode home to seek thy fair face, I did
count up what sums he hath already spent for his liege; and indeed I
could not recollect them all, but I summed up, of pounds already
spent by him on his majesty's behalf, well towards a hundred and
fifty thousand! And thou knowest the good man, that while he giveth
generously like the great Giver, he giveth not carelessly, but hath
respect to what he spendeth.'
'Thy father, Ned, is loyalty and generosity incarnate. If thou be
but half so good a husband as thy father is a subject, I am a happy
'What! know'st thou not yet thy husband, Peggy?'
'In good soberness, though, Ned, surely the saints in heaven will
never let such devotion fail of its end.'
'My father is but one, and the king's foes are many. So are his
friends-but they are lukewarm compared to my father-the rich ones of
them, I mean. Would to God I had not lost those seven great
troop-horses that the pudding-fisted clothiers of Gloucester did
rob me of! I need them sorely now. I bought them with mine own-or
rather with thine, sweet heart. I had been saving up the money for a
carcanet for thy fair neck.'
'So my neck be fair in thine eyes, my lord, it may go bare and be
well clad. I should, in sad earnest, be jealous of the pretty stones
didst thou give my neck one look the more for their presence. Here!
thou may'st sell these the next time thou goest London-wards.'
As she spoke, she put up her hand to unclasp her necklace of large
pearls, but he laid his hand upon it, saying,
'Nay, Margaret, there is no need. My father is like the father in
the parable: he hath enough and to spare. I did mean to have the
money of him again, only as the vaunted horses never came, but were
swallowed up of Gloucester, as Jonah of the whale, and have not yet
been cast up again, I could not bring my tongue to ask him for it;
and so thy neck is bare of emeralds, my dove.'
'Back and sides go bare, go bare,'
sang lady Margaret with a merry laugh;
'Both foot and hand go cold;'
here she paused for a moment, and looked down with a shining
thoughtfulness; then sang out clear and loud, with bold alteration
of bishop Stills' drinking song,
'But, heart, God send thee love enough,
Of the new that will never be old.'
'Amen, my dove!'said lord Herbert.
'Thou art in doleful dumps, Ned. If we had but a masque for thee, or
a play, or even some jugglers with their balls!'
'Puh, Peggy! thou art masque and play both in one; and for thy
jugglers, I trust I can juggle better at my own hand than any troop
of them from furthest India. Sing me a song, sweet heart.'
'I will, my love,' answered lady Margaret.
Rising, she went to the harpsichord, and sang, in sweet unaffected
style, one of the songs of her native country, a merry ditty, with a
breathing of sadness in the refrain of it, like a twilight wind in a
bed of bulrushes.
'Thanks, my love,' said lord Herbert, when she had finished. 'But I
would I could tell its hidden purport; for I am one of those who
think music none the worse for carrying with it an air of such sound
as speaks to the brain as well as the heart.'
Lady Margaret gave a playful sigh.
'Thou hast one fault, my Edward--thou art a stranger to the tongue
in which, through my old nurse's tales, I learned the language of
love. I cannot call it my mother-tongue, but it is my love-tongue.
Why, when thou art from me, I am loving thee in Irish all day long,
and thou never knowest what my heart says to thee! It is a sad lack
in thy all-completeness, dear heart. But, I bethink me, thy new
cousin did sing a fair song in thy own tongue the other day, the
which if thou canst understand one straw better than my Irish, I
will learn it for thy sake, though truly it is Greek to me. I will
send for her. Shall I?'
As she spoke she rose and rang the bell on the table, and a little
page, in waiting in the antechamber, appeared, whom she sent to
desire the attendance of mistress Dorothy Vaughan.
'Come, child,' said her mistress as she entered, 'I would have thee
sing to my lord the song that wandering harper taught thee.'
'Madam, I have learned of no wandering harper: your ladyship means
mistress Amanda's Welsh song! shall I call her?' said Dorothy,
'I mean thee, and thy song, thou green linnet!' rejoined lady
Margaret. 'What song was it of which I said to thee that the singer
deserved, for his very song's sake, that whereof he made his moan?
Whence thou hadst it, from harper or bagpiper, I care not.'
'Excuse me, madam, but why should I sing that you love not to hear?'
'It is not I would hear it, child, but I would have my lord hear it.
I would fain prove to him that there are songs in plain English, as
he calls it, that have as little import, even to an English ear, as
the plain truth-speaking Irish ditties which he will not understand.
I say "WILL not," because our bards tell us that Irish was the
language of Adam and Eve while yet in Paradise, and therefore he
could by instinct understand it an' he would, even as the chickens
understand their mother-tongue.'
'I will sing it at your desire, madam; but I fear the worse fault
will lie in the singing.'
She seated herself at the harpsichord, and sang the following song
with much feeling and simplicity. The refrain of the song, if it may
be so called, instead of closing each stanza, preluded it.
O fair, O sweet, when I do look on thee,
In whom all joys so well agree,
Heart and soul do sing in me.
This you hear is not my tongue,
Which once said what I conceived,
For it was of use bereaved,
With a cruel answer stung.
No, though tongue to roof be cleaved,
Fearing lest he chastis'd be,
Heart and soul do sing in me.
O fair, O sweet, &c.
Just accord all music makes:
In thee just accord excelleth,
Where each part in such peace dwelleth,
One of other beauty takes.
Since then truth to all minds telleth
That in thee lives harmony,
Heart and soul do sing in me.
O fair, O sweet, &c.
They that heaven have known, do say
That whoso that grace obtaineth
To see what fair sight there reigneth,
Forced is to sing alway;
So then, since that heaven remaineth
In thy face, I plainly see,
Heart and soul do sing in me.
O fair, O sweet, &c.
Sweet, think not I am at ease,
For because my chief part singeth;
This song from death's sorrow springeth,
As to Swan in last disease;
For no dumbness nor death bringeth
Stay to true love's melody:
Heart and soul do sing in me.
'There!' cried lady Margaret, with a merry laugh. 'What says the
English song to my English husband?'
'It says much, Margaret,' returned lord Herbert, who had been
listening intently; 'it tells me to love you for ever.-What poet is
he who wrote the song, mistress Dorothy? He is not of our day-that I
can tell but too plainly. It is a good song, and saith much.'
'I found it near the end of the book called "The Countess of
Pembroke's Arcadia,"' replied Dorothy.
'And I knew it not! Methought I had read all that man of men ever
wrote,' said lord Herbert. 'But I may have read it, and let it slip.
But now that, by the help of the music and thy singing, cousin
Dorothy, I am come to understand it, truly I shall forget it no
more. Where got'st thou the music, pray?'
'It says in the book it was fitted to a certain Spanish tune, the
name of which I knew not, and yet know not how to pronounce; but I
had the look of the words in my head, and when I came upon some
Spanish songs in an old chest at home, and, turning them over, saw
those words, I knew I had found the tune to sir Philip's verses.'
'Tell me then, my lord, why you are pleased with the song,' said
lady Margaret, very quietly.
'Come, mistress Dorothy,' said lord Herbert, 'repeat the song to my
lady, slowly, line by line, and she will want no exposition
When Dorothy had done as he requested, lady Margaret put her arm
round her husband's neck, laid her cheek to his, and said,
'I am a goose, Ned. It is a fair and sweet song. I thank you,
Dorothy. You shall sing it to me another time when my lord is away,
and I shall love to think my lord was ill content with me when I
called it a foolish thing. But my Irish was a good song too, my
'Thy singing of it proves it, sweet heart.--But come, my fair
minstrel, thou hast earned a good guerdon: what shall I give thee in
return for thy song?'
'A boon, a boon, my lord!' cried Dorothy.
'It is thine ere thou ask it,' returned his lordship, merrily
following up the old-fashioned phrase with like formality.
'I must then tell my lord what hath been in my foolish mind ever
since my lady took me to the keep, and I saw his marvellous array of
engines. I would glady understand them, my lord. Who can fail to
delight in such inventions as bring about that which before seemed
Here came a little sigh with the thought of her old companion
Richard, and the things they had together contrived. Already, on the
mist of gathering time, a halo had begun to glimmer about his head,
puritan, fanatic, blasphemer even, as she had called him.
Lord Herbert marked the soundless sigh.
'You shall not sigh in vain, mistress Dorothy,' he said, 'for
anything I can give you. To one who loves inventions it is easy to
explain them. I hoped you had a hankering that way when I saw you
look so curiously at the cross-bow ere you discharged it.'
'Was it then charged, my lord?'
'Indeed, as it happened, it was. A great steel-headed arrow lay in
the groove. I ought to have taken that away when I bent it. Some
passing horseman may have carried it with him in the body of his
'Oh, my lord!' cried Dorothy, aghast.
'Pray, do not be alarmed, cousin: I but jested. Had anything
happened, we should have heard of it. It was not in the least
likely. You will not be long in this house before you learn that we
do not speak by the card here. We jest not a little. But in truth I
was disappointed when I found your curiosity so easily allayed.'
'Indeed, my lord, it was not allayed, and is still unsatisfied. But
I had no thought who it was offered me the knowledge I craved. Had I
known, I should never have refused the lesson so courteously
offered. But I was a stranger in the castle, and I thought-I feared
'You did even as prudence required, cousin Dorothy. A young maiden
cannot be too chary of unbuckling her enchanted armour so long as
the country is unknown to her. But it would be hard if she were to
suffer for her modesty. You shall be welcome to my cave. I trust you
will not find it as the cave of Trophonius to you. If I am not
there-and it is not now as it has been, when you might have found me
in it every day, and almost every hour of the day; but if I be not
there, do not fear Caspar Kaltoff, who is a worthy man, and as my
right hand to do the things my brain deviseth. I will speak to him
of thee. He is full of trust and worthiness, and, although not of
gentle blood, is sprung from a long race of artificers, the cloak of
whose gathered skill seems to have fallen on him. He hath been in my
service now for many years, but you will be the first lady, gentle
cousin, who has ever in all that time wished us good speed in our
endeavours. How few know,' he went on thoughtfully, after a pause,
'what a joy lies in making things obey thoughts! in calling out of
the mind, as from the vasty-deep, and setting in visible presence
before the bodily eye, that which till then had neither local
habitation nor name! Some such marvels I have to show--for marvels I
must call them, although it is my voice they have obeyed to come;
and I never lose sight of the marvel even while amusing myself with
the merest toy of my own invention.'
He paused, and Dorothy ventured to speak.
'I thank you, my lord, with all my heart. When have I leave to visit
'When you please. If I am not there, Caspar will be. If Caspar is
not there, you will find the door open, for to enter that chamber
without permission would be a breach of law such as not a soul in
Raglan would dare be guilty of. And were it not so, there are few
indeed in the place who would venture to set foot in it if I were
absent, for it is not outside the castle walls only that I am looked
upon as a magician. The armourer firmly believes that with a word
uttered in my den there, I could make the weakest wall of the castle
impregnable, but that it would be at too great a cost. If you come
to-morrow morning you will find me almost certainly. But in case you
should find neither of us--do not touch anything; be content with
looking--for fear of mischance. Engines are as tickle to meddle with
as incantations them selves.'
'If I know myself, you may trust me, my lord,' said Dorothy, to
which he replied with a smile of confidence.