START OF VOLUME III.|
Early the next morning, after Richard had left the cottage for
Raglan castle, mistress Rees was awaked by the sound of a heavy blow
against her door. When with difficulty she had opened it, Richard or
his dead body, she knew not which, fell across her threshold. Like
poor Marquis, he had come to her for help and healing.
When he got out of the quarry, he made for the highroad, but missing
the way the dog had brought him, had some hard work in reaching it;
and long before he arrived--at the cottage, what with his wound, his
loss of blood, his double wetting, his sleeplessness after mistress
Watson's potion, want of food, disappointment and fatigue, he was in
a high fever. The last mile or two he had walked in delirium, but
happily with the one dominant idea of getting help from mother Rees.
The poor woman was greatly shocked to find that the teeth of the
trap had closed upon her favourite and mangled him so terribly. A
drop or two of one of her restoratives, however, soon brought him
round so far that he was able to crawl to the chair on which he had
sat the night before, now ages agone as it seemed, where he now sat
shivering and glowing alternately, until with trembling hands the
good woman had prepared her own bed for him.
'Thou hast left thy doublet behind thee,' she said, 'and I warrant
me the cake I gave thee in the pouch thereof! Hadst thou eaten of
that, thou hadst not come to this pass.'
But Richard scarcely heard her voice. His one mental consciousness
was the longing desire to lay his aching head on the pillow, and end
Finding his wound appeared very tolerably dressed, Mrs. Rees would
not disturb the bandages. She gave him a cooling draught, and
watched by him till he fell asleep. Then she tidied her house,
dressed herself, and got everything in order for nursing him. She
would have sent at once to Redware to let his father know where and
in what condition he was, but not a single person came near the
cottage the whole day, and she dared not leave him before the fever
had subsided. He raved a good deal, generally in the delusion that
he was talking to Dorothy--who sought to kill him, and to whom he
kept giving directions, at one time how to guide the knife to reach
his heart, at another how to mingle her poison so that it should act
with speed and certainty.
At length one fine evening in early autumn, when the red sun shone
level through the window of the little room where he lay, and made a
red glory on the wall, he came to himself a little.
'Is it blood?' he murmured. 'Did Dorothy do it?--How foolish I am!
It is but a blot the sun has left behind him!--Ah! I see! I am dead
and lying on the top of my tomb. I am only marble. This is Redware
church. Oh, mother Rees, is it you! I am very glad! Cover me over a
little. The pall there.'
His eyes closed, and for a few hours he lay in a deep sleep, from
which he awoke very weak, but clear-headed. He remembered nothing,
however, since leaving the quarry, except what appeared a confused
dream of wandering through an interminable night of darkness,
weariness, and pain. His first words were,--
'I must get up, mother Rees: my father will be anxious about me.
Besides, I promised to set out for Gloucester to-day.'
She sought to quiet him, but in vain, and was at last compelled to
inform him that his father, finding he did not return, had armed
himself, mounted Oliver, and himself led his little company to join
the earl of Essex--who was now on his way, at the head of an army
consisting chiefly of the trained bands of London, to raise the
siege of Gloucester.
Richard started up, and would have leaped from the bed, but fell
back helpless and unconscious. When at length his nurse had
succeeded in restoring him, she had much ado to convince him that
the best thing in all respects was to lie still and submit to be
nursed--so to get well as soon as possible, and join his father.
'Alas, mother, I have no horse,' said Richard, and hid his face on
'The Lord will provide what thee wants, my son,' said the old woman
with emotion, neither asking nor caring whether the Lord was on the
side of the king or of the parliament, but as little doubting that
he must be on the side of Richard.
He soon began to eat hopefully, and after a day or two she found
pretty nearly employment enough in cooking for him.
At last, weak as he still was, he would be restrained no longer. To
Gloucester he must go, and relieve his father. Expostulation was
unavailing: go he must, he said, or his soul would tear itself out
of his body, and go without it.
'Besides, mother, I shall be getting better all the way,' he
continued. '--I must go home at once and see whether there is
anything left to go upon.'
He rose the same instant, and, regardless of the good woman's
entreaties, crawled out to go to Redware. She followed him at a
little distance, and, before he had walked a quarter of a mile, he
was ready to accept her offered arm to help him back. But his
recovery was now very rapid, and. after a few days he felt able for
At home he found a note from his father, telling him where to find
money, and informing him that he was ready to yield him Oliver the
moment he should appear to claim him. Richard put on his armour, and
went to the stable. The weather had been fine, and the harvest was
wearing gradually to a close; but the few horses that were left were
overworked, for the necessities of the war had been severe, and that
part of the country had responded liberally on both sides. Besides,
Mr. Heywood had scarce left an animal judged at all fit to carry a
man and keep up with the troop.
When Richard reached the stable, there were in it but three, two of
which, having brought loads to the barn, were now having their
mid-day meal and rest. The first one was ancient in bones, with pits
profound above his eyes, and grey hairs all about a face which had
once been black.
'Thou art but fit for old Father Time to lay his scythe across when
he is aweary,' said Richard, and turned to the next.
She was a huge-bodied, short-legged punch, as fat as butter, with
lop ears and sleepy eyes. Having finished her corn, she was churning
away at a mangerful of grass.
'Thou wouldst burst thy belly at the first charge,' said Richard,
and was approaching the third, one he did not recognise, when a
vicious, straight-out kick informed him that here was temper at
least, probably then spirit. But when he came near enough to see
into the stall, there stood the ugliest brute he thought that ever
ate barley. He was very long-bodied and rather short-legged, with
great tufts at his fetlocks, and the general look of a huge rat, in
part doubtless from having no hair on his long undocked tail. He was
biting vigorously at his manger, and Richard could see the white of
one eye glaring at him askance in the gloom.
'Dunnot go nigh him, sir,' cried Jacob Fortune, who had come up
behind. 'Thou knows not his tricks. His name be his nature, and we
call him Beelzebub when master Stopchase be not by. I be right glad
to see your honour up again.'
Jacob was too old to go to the wars, and too indifferent to regret
it; but he was faithful, and had authority over the few men left.
'I thank you, Jacob,' said Richard. 'What brute is this? I know him
'We all knows him too well, master Richard, though verily Stopchase
bought him but the day before he rode, thinking belike he might
carry an ear or two of wheat. If he be not very good he was not
parlous dear; he paid for him but an old song. He was warranted to
have work in him if a man but knew how to get it out.'
'He is ugly.'
'He is the ugliest horse, cart-horse, nag, or courser, on this
creation-side,' said the old man, '--ugly enough to fright to death
where he doth fail in his endeavour to kill. The men are all mortal
feared on him, for he do kick and he do bite like the living Satan.
He wonnot go in no cart, but there he do stand eating on his head
off as fast as he can. An' the brute were mine, I would slay him; I
would, in good sooth.'
'An' I had but time to cure him of his evil kicking! I fear I must
ever ride the last in the troop,' said Richard.
'Why for sure, master, thee never will ride such a devil-pig as he
to the wars! Will Farrier say he do believe he take his strain from
the swine the devils go into in the miracle. All the children would
make a mock of thee as thou did ride through the villages. Look at
his legs: they do be like stile-posts; and do but look at his tail!'
'Lead him out, Jacob, and let me see his head.'
'I dare not go nigh him, sir. I be not nimble enough to get out of
the way of his hoof. 'I be too old, master.'
Richard pulled on his thick buff glove and went straight into his
stall. The brute made a grab at him with his teeth, met by a smart
blow from Richard's fist, which he did not like, and, rearing, would
have struck at him with his near fore-foot; but Richard caught it by
the pastern, and with his left hand again struck him on the side of
the mouth. The brute then submitted to be led out by the halter. And
verily he was ugly to behold. His neck stuck straight out, and so
did his tail, but the latter went off in a point, and the former in
a hideous knob.
'Here is Jack!' cried the old man. 'He lets Jack ride him to the
water. Here, Jack! Get thee upon the hog-back of Beelzebub, and mind
the bristles do not flay thee, and let master Richard see what paces
The animal tried to take the lad down with his hind foot as he
mounted, but scarcely was he seated when he set off at a swinging
trot, in which he plied his posts in manner astonishing. Spirit
indeed he must have had, and plenty, to wield such clubs in such a
fashion. His joints were so loose that the bones seemed to fly
about, yet they always came down right.
'He is guilty of "hypocrisy against the devil,"' said Richard: 'he
is better than he looks. Anyhow, if he but carry me thither, he will
as well "fill a pit" as a handsomer horse. I'll take him. Have you
got a saddle for him?'
'An' he had not brought a saddle with him, thou would not find one
in Gwent to fit him,' said the old man.
Yet another day Richard found himself compelled to tarry--which he
spent in caparisoning Beelzebub to the best of his ability, with the
result of making him, if possible, appear still uglier than before.
The eve of the day of his departure, Marquis paid mistress Rees a
second visit. He wanted no healing or help this time, seeming to
have come only to offer his respects. But the knowledge that here
was a messenger, dumb and discreet, ready to go between and make no
sign, set Richard longing to use him: what message he did send by
him I have already recorded. Although, however, the dog left them
that night, he did not reach Raglan till the second morning after,
and must have been roaming the country or paying other visits all
that night and the next day as well, with the letter about him,
which he had allowed no one to touch.
At last Richard was on his way to Gloucester, mounted on Beelzebub,
and much stared at by the inhabitants of every village he passed
through. Apparently, however, there was something about the
centaur-compound which prevented their rudeness from going farther.
Beelzebub bore him well, and, though not a comfortable horse to
ride, threw the road behind him at a wonderful rate, as often and as
long as Richard was able to bear it. But he found himself stronger
after every rest, and by the time he began to draw nigh to
Gloucester, he was nearly as well as ever, and in excellent spirits;
one painful thought only haunting him--the fear that he might,
mounted on Beelzebub, have to encounter some one on his beloved
mare. He was consoled, however, to think that the brute was less
dangerous to one before than one behind him, heels being worse than
He soon became aware that something decisive had taken place: either
Gloucester had fallen, or Essex had raised the siege, for army there
was none, though the signs of a lately upbroken encampment were
visible on all sides. Presently, inquiring at the gate, he learned
that, on the near approach of Essex, the besieging army had retired,
and that, after a few days' rest, the general had turned again in
the direction of London. Richard, therefore, having fed Beelzebub
and eaten his own dinner, which in his present condition was more
necessary than usual to his being of service, mounted his hideous
charger once more, and pushed on to get up with the army.
Essex had not taken the direct road to London, but kept to the
southward. That same day he followed him as far as Swindon, and
found he was coming up with him rapidly. Having rested a short
night, he reached Hungerford the next morning, which he found in
great commotion because of the intelligence that at Newbury, some
seven miles distant only, Essex had found his way stopped by the
king, and that a battle had been raging ever since the early
Having given his horse a good feed of oats and a draught of ale,
Richard mounted again and rode hard for Newbury. Nor had he rode
long before he heard the straggling reports of carbines, looked to
the priming of his pistols, and loosened his sword in its sheath.
When he got under the wall of Craven park, the sounds of conflict
grew suddenly plainer. He could distinguish the noise of horses'
hoofs, and now and then the confused cries and shouts of
hand-to-hand conflict. At Spain he was all but in it, for there he
met wounded men, retiring slowly or carried by their comrades. These
were of his own part, but he did not stop to ask any questions.
Beelzebub snuffed at the fumes of the gunpowder, and seemed
therefrom to derive fresh vigour.
The lanes and hedges between Spein and Newbury had been the scenes
of many a sanguinary tussle that morning, for nowhere had either
army found room to deploy. Some of them had been fought over more
than once or twice. But just before Richard came up, the tide had
ebbed from that part of the way, for Essex's men had had some
advantage, and had driven the king's men through the town and over
the bridge, so that he found the road clear, save of wounded men and
a few horses. As he reached Spinhamland, and turned sharp to the
right into the main street of Newbury, a bullet from the pistol of a
royalist officer who lay wounded struck Beelzebub on the crest--what
of a crest he had--and without injuring made him so furious that his
rider had much ado to keep him from mischief. For, at the very
moment, they were met by a rush of parliament pikemen, retreating,
as he could see, over their heads, from a few of the kings cavalry,
who came at a sharp trot down the main street. The pikemen had got
into disorder pursuing some of the enemy who had divided and gone to
the right and left up the two diverging streets, and when the
cavalry appeared at the top of the main street, both parts, seeing
themselves in danger of being surrounded, had retreated. They were
now putting the Kennet with its narrow bridge between them and the
long-feathered cavaliers, in the hope of gaining time and fit ground
for forming and presenting a bristled front. In the midst of this
confused mass of friends Richard found himself, the maddened
Beelzebub every moment lashing out behind him when not rearing or
Before him the bridge rose steep to its crown, contracting as it
rose. At its foot, where it widened to the street, stood a single
horseman, shouting impatiently to the last of the pikemen, and
spurring his horse while holding him. As the last man cleared the
bridge, he gave him rein, and with a bound and a scramble reached
the apex, and stood--within half a neck of the foremost of the
cavalier troop. A fierce combat instantly began between them. The
bridge was wide enough for two to have fought side by side, but the
roundhead contrived so to work his antagonist, who was a younger but
less capable and less powerful man, that no comrade could get up
beside him for the to-and-fro shifting of his horse.
Meantime Richard had been making his slow way through the swarm of
hurrying pikemen, doing what he could to keep them off Beelzebub.
The moment he was clear, he made a great bolt for the bridge, and
the same moment perceived who the brave man was.
'Hold on, sir,' he shouted. 'Hold your own, father! Here I am! Here
And as he shouted he sent Beelzebub, like low-flying bolt from
cross-bow, up the steep crown of the bridge, and wedged him in
between Oliver and the parapet, just as a second cavalier made a
dart for the place. At his horse Beelzebub sprang like a fury,
rearing, biting, and striking out with his fore-feet in such manner
as quite to make up to his rider for the disadvantage of his low
stature. The cavalier's horse recoiled in terror, rearing also, but
snorting and backing and wavering, so that, in his endeavours to
avoid the fury of Beelzebub, which was frightful to see, for with
ears laid back and gleaming teeth he looked more like a beast of
prey, he would but for the crowd behind him have fallen backward
down the slope. A bullet from one of Richard's pistols sent his
rider over his tail, the horse fell sideways against that of Mr.
Heywood's antagonist, and the path was for a moment barricaded.
'Well done, good Beelzebub!' cried Richard, as he reined him back on
to the crest of the bridge.
'Boy!' said his father sternly, at the same instant dealing his
encumbered opponent a blow on the head-piece which tumbled him also
from his horse, 'is the sacred hour of victory a time to sully with
profane and foolish jests? I little thought to hear such words at my
side--not to say from the mouth of my own son!'
'Pardon me, father; I praised my horse,' said Richard. 'I think not
he ever had praise before, but it cannot corrupt him, for he is such
an ill-conditioned brute that they that named him did name him
Beelzebub: Now that he hath once done well, who knoweth but it may
cease to fit him!'
'I am glad thy foolish words were so harmless,' returned Mr.
Heywood, smiling. 'In my ears they sounded so evil that I could ill
accept their testimony.--Verily the animal is marvellous
ill-favoured, but, as thou sayest, he hath done well, and the first
return we make him shall be to give him another name. The less man
or horse hath to do with Satan the better, for what is he but the
arch-foe of the truth?'
While they spoke, they kept a keen watch on the enemy--who could not
get near to attack them, save with a few pistol-bullets, mostly
wide-shot--for both horses were down, and their riders helpless if
'What shall we call him then, father?' asked Richard.
'He is amazing like a huge rat!' said his father. 'Let us henceforth
call him Bishop.'
'Wherefore Bishop and not Beelzebub, sir?' inquired Richard.
Mr. Heywood laughed, but ere he could reply, a large troop of
horsemen appeared at the top of the street. Glancing then behind in
some anxiety, they saw to their relief that the pikemen had now
formed themselves into a hollow square at the foot of the bridge,
prepared to receive cavalry. They turned therefore, and, passing
through them, rode to find their regiment.
From that day Bishop, notwithstanding his faults many and grievous,
was regarded with respect by both father and son, Richard vowing
never to mount another, let laugh who would, so long as the brute
lived and he had not recovered Lady.
But they had to give him room for two on the march, and the place
behind him was always left vacant, which they said gave no more
space than he wanted, seeing he kicked out his leg to twice its
walking length. Before long, however, they had got so used to his
ways that they almost ceased to regard them as faults, and he began
to grow a favourite in the regiment.