Chapter 48


January of 1646, according to the division of the year, arrived, and with it the heaviest cloud that had yet overshadowed Raglan. One day, about the middle of the month. Dorothy, entering lady Glamorgan's parlour, found it deserted. A moan came to her ears from the adjoining chamber, and there she found her mistress on her face on the bed. 'Madam,' said Dorothy in terror, 'what is it? Let me be with you. May I not know it?' 'My lord is in prison,' gasped lady Glamorgan, and bursting into fresh tears, she sobbed and moaned. 'Has my lord been taken in the field, madam, or by cunning of his enemies?' 'Would to God it were either,' sighed lady Glamorgan. 'Then were it a small thing to bear.' 'What can it be, madam? You terrify me,' said Dorothy. No words of reply, only a fresh outburst of agonised--could it also be angry?--weeping followed. 'Since you will tell me nothing, madam, I must take comfort that of myself I know one thing.' 'Prithee, what knowest thou?' asked the countess, but as if careless of being answered, so listless was her tone, so nearly inarticulate her words. 'That is but what bringeth him fresh honour, my lady,' answered Dorothy. The countess started up, threw her arms about her, drew her down on the bed, kissed her, and held her fast, sobbing worse than ever. 'Madam! madam!' murmured Dorothy from her bosom. 'I thank thee, Dorothy,' she sighed out at length: 'for thy words and thy thoughts have ever been of a piece.' 'Sure, my lady, no one did ever yet dare think otherwise of my lord,' returned Dorothy, amazed. 'But many will now, Dorothy. My God! they will have it that he is a traitor. Wouldst thou believe it, child--he is a prisoner in the castle of Dublin!' 'But is not Dublin in the hands of the king, my lady?' 'Ay! there lies the sting of it! What treacherous friends are these heretics! But how should they be anything else? Having denied their Saviour they may well malign their better brother! My lord marquis of Ormond says frightful things of him.' 'One thing more I know, my lady,' said Dorothy, '--that as long as his wife believes him the true man he is, he will laugh to scorn all that false lips may utter against him.' 'Thou art a good girl, Dorothy, but thou knowest little of an evil world. It is one thing to know thyself innocent, and another to carry thy head high.' 'But, madam, even the guilty do that; wherefore not the innocent then?' 'Because, my child, they ARE innocent, and innocence so hateth the very shadow of guilt that it cannot brook the wearing it. My lord is grievously abused, Dorothy--I say not by whom.' 'By whom should it be but his enemies, madam?' 'Not certainly by those who are to him friends, but yet, alas! by those to whom he is the truest of friends.' 'Is my lord of Ormond then false? Is he jealous of my lord Glamorgan? Hath he falsely accused him? I would I understood all, madam.' 'I would I understood all myself, child. Certain papers have been found bearing upon my lord's business in Ireland, all ears are filled with rumours of forgery and treason, coupled with the name of my lord, and he is a prisoner in Dublin castle.' She forced the sentence from her, as if repeating a hated lesson, then gave a cry, almost a scream of agony. 'Weep not, madam,' said Dorothy, in the very foolishness of sympathetic expostulation. 'What better cause could I have out of hell!' returned the countess, angrily. 'That it were no lie, madam.' 'It is true, I tell thee.' 'That my lord is a traitor, madam?' Lady Glamorgan dashed her from her, and glared at her like a tigress. An evil word was on her lips, but her better angel spoke, and ere Dorothy could recover herself, she had listened and understood. 'God forbid!' she said, struggling to be calm. 'But it is true that he is in prison.' 'Then give God thanks, madam, who hath forbidden the one and allowed the other, said Dorothy; and finding her own composure on the point of yielding, she courtesied and left the room. It was a breach of etiquette without leave asked and given, but the face of the countess was again on her pillow, and she did not heed. For some time things went on as in an evil dream. The marquis was in angry mood, with no gout to lay it upon. The gloom spread over the castle, and awoke all manner of conjecture and report. Soon, after a fashion, the facts were known to everybody, and the gloom deepened. No further enlightenment reached Dorothy. At length one evening, her mistress having sent for her, she found her much excited, with a letter in her hand. 'Come here, Dorothy: see what I have!' she cried, holding out the letter with a gesture of triumph, and weeping and laughing alternately. 'Madam, it must be something precious indeed,' said Dorothy, 'for I have not heard your ladyship laugh for a weary while. May I not rejoice with you, madam?' 'You shall, my good girl: hearken: I will read:--'My dear Heart,'--Who is it from, think'st thou, Dorothy? Canst guess?--'My dear Heart, I hope these will prevent any news shall come unto you of me since my commitment to the Castle of Dublin, to which I assure thee I went as cheerfully and as willingly as they could wish, whosoever they were by whose means it was procured; and should as unwillingly go forth, were the gates both of the Castle and Town open unto me, until I were cleared: as they are willing to make me unserviceable to the king, and lay me aside, who have procured for me this restraint; when I consider thee a Woman, as I think I know you are, I fear lest you should be apprehensive. But when I reflect that you are of the House of Thomond, and that you were once pleased to say these words unto me, That I should never, in tenderness of you, desist from doing what in honour I was obliged to do, I grow confident, that in this you will now show your magnanimity, and by it the greatest testimony of affection that you can possibly afford me; and am also confident, that you know me so well, that I need not tell you how clear I am, and void of fear, the only effect of a good conscience; and that I am guilty of nothing that may testify one thought of disloyalty to his Majesty, or of what may stain the honour of the family I come of, or set a brand upon my future posterity.' The countess paused, and looked a general illumination at Dorothy. 'I told you so, madam,' returned Dorothy, rather stupidly perhaps. 'Little fool!' rejoined the countess, half-angered: 'dost suppose the wife of a man like my Ned needs to be told such things by a green goose like thee? Thou wouldst have had me content that the man was honest--me, who had forgotten the word in his tenfold more than honesty! Bah, child! thou knowest not the love of a woman. I could weep salt tears over a hair pulled from his noble head. And thou to talk of TELLING ME SO, hussy! Marry, forsooth!' And taking Dorothy to her bosom, she wept like a relenting storm. One sentence more she read ere she hurried with the letter to her father-in-law. The sentence was this: 'So I pray let not any of my friends that's there, believe anything, until ye have the perfect relation of it from myself.' The pleasure of receiving news from his son did but little, however, to disperse the cloud that hung about the marquis. I do not know whether, or how far, he had been advised of the provision made for the king's clearness by the anticipated self-sacrifice of Glamorgan, but I doubt if a full knowledge thereof gives any ground for disagreement with the judgment of the marquis, which seems, pretty plainly, to have been, that the king's behaviour in the matter was neither that of a Christian nor a gentleman. As in the case of Strafford, he had accepted the offered sacrifice, and, in view of possible chances, had in Glamorgan's commission pretermitted the usual authoritative formalities, thus keeping it in his power, with Glamorgan's connivance, it must be confessed, but at Glamorgan's expense, to repudiate his agency. This he had now done in a message to the parliament, and this the marquis knew. His majesty had also written to lord Ormond as follows: 'And albeit I have too just cause, for the clearing of my honour, to prosecute Glamorgan in a legal way, yet I will have you suspend the execution,' &c. At the same time his secretary wrote thus to Ormond and the council: 'And since the warrant is not' 'sealed with the signet,' &c., &c., 'your lordships cannot but judge it to be at least surreptitiously gotten, if not worse; for his majesty saith he remembers it not;' and thus again privately to Ormond: 'The king hath commanded me to advertise your lordship that the patent for making the said lord Herbert of Raglan earl of Glamorgan is not passed the great seal here, so as he is no peer of this kingdom; notwithstanding he styles himself, and hath treated with the rebels in Ireland, by the name of earl of Glamorgan, which is as vainly taken upon him as his pretended warrant (if any such be) was surreptitiously gotten.' The title had, meanwhile, been used by the king himself in many communications with the earl. These letters never came, I presume, to the marquis's knowledge, but they go far to show that his feeling, even were it a little embittered by the memory of their midnight conference and his hopes therefrom, went no farther than the conduct of his majesty justified. It was no wonder that the straightforward old man, walking erect to ruin for his king, should fret and fume, yea, yield to downright wrath and enforced contempt. Of the king's behaviour in the matter, Dorothy, however, knew nothing yet. One day towards the end of February, a messenger from the king arrived at Raglan, on his way to Ireland to lord Ormond. He had found the roads so beset--for things were by this time, whether from the successes of the parliament only, or from the negligence of disappointment on the part of lord Worcester as well, much altered in Wales and on its borders--that he had been compelled to leave his despatches in hiding, and had reached the castle only with great difficulty and after many adventures. His chief object in making his way thither was to beg of lord Charles a convoy to secure his despatches and protect him on his farther journey. But lord Charles received him by no means cordially, for the whole heart of Raglan was sore. He brought him, however, to his father, who, although indisposed and confined to his chamber, consented to see him. When Mr. Boteler was admitted, lady Glamorgan was in the chamber, and there remained. Probably the respect to the king's messenger which had influenced the marquis to receive him, would have gone further and modified the expression of his feelings a little when he saw him, but that, like many more men, his lordship, although fairly master of his temper-horses when in health, was apt to let them run away with him upon occasion of even slighter illness than would serve for an excuse. 'Hast thou in thy despatches any letters from his majesty to my son Glamorgan, master Boteler?' he inquired, frowning unconsciously. 'Not that I know of, my lord,' answered Mr. Boteler, 'but there may be such with the lord marquis of Ormond's.' He then proceeded to give a friendly message from the king concerning the earl. But at this the 'smouldering fire out-brake' from the bosom of the injured father and subject. 'It is the grief of my heart,' cried his lordship, wrath predominating over the regret which was yet plainly enough to be seen in his face and heard in his tone--'It is the grief of my heart that I am enforced to say that the king is wavering and fickle. To be the more his friend, it too plainly appeareth, is but to be the more handled as his enemy.' 'Say not so, my lord,' returned Mr. Boteler. 'His gracious majesty looketh not for such unfriendly judgment from your lips. Have I not brought your lordship a most gracious and comfortable message from him concerning my lord Glamorgan, with his royal thanks for your former loyal expressions?' 'Mr. Boteler, thou knowest nought of the matter. That thou has brought me a budget of fine words, I go not to deny. But words may be but schismatics; deeds alone are certainly of the true faith. Verily the king's majesty setteth his words in the forefront of the battle, but his deeds lag in the rear, and let his words be taken prisoners. When his majesty was last here, I lent him a book to read in his chamber, the beginning of which I know he read, but if he had ended, it would have showed him what it was to be a fickle prince.' 'My lord! my lord! surely your lordship knoweth better of his majesty.' 'To know better may be to know worse, master Boteler. Was it not enough to suffer my lord Glamorgan to be unjustly imprisoned by my lord marquis of Ormond for what he had His majesty's authority for, but that he must in print protest against his proceedings and his own allowance, and not yet recall it? But I will pray for him, and that he may be more constant to his friends, and as soon as my other employments will give leave, you shall have a convoy to fetch securely your despatches.' Herewith Mr. Boteler was dismissed, lord Charles accompanying him from the room. 'False as ice!' muttered the marquis to himself, left as he supposed alone. 'My boy, thou hast built on a quicksand, and thy house goeth down to the deep. I am wroth with myself that ever I dreamed of moving such a bag of chaff to return to the bosom of his honourable mother.' 'My lord,' said lady Glamorgan from behind the bed-curtains, 'have you forgotten that I and my long ears are here?' 'Ha! art thou indeed there, my mad Irishwoman! I had verily forgotten thee. But is not this king of ours as the Minotaur, dwelling in the labyrinths of deceit, and devouring the noblest in the land? There was his own Strafford, next his foolish Laud, and now comes my son, worth a host of such!' 'In his letter, my lord of Glamorgan complaineth not of his majesty's usage,' said the countess. 'My lord of Glamorgan is patient as Grisel. He would pass through the pains of purgatory with never a grumble. But purgatory is for none such as he. In good sooth I am made of different stuff. My soul doth loath deceit, and worse in a king than a clown. What king is he that will lie for a kingdom!' Day after day passed, and nothing was done to speed the messenger, who grew more and more anxious to procure his despatches and be gone; but lord Worcester, through the king's behaviour to his honourable and self-forgetting son, with whom he had never had a difference except on the point of his blind devotion to his majesty's affairs, had so lost faith in the king himself that he had no heart for his business. It seems also that for his son's sake he wished to delay Mr. Boteler, in order that a messenger of his own might reach Glamorgan before Ormond should receive the king's despatches. For a whole fortnight therefore no further steps were taken, and Boteler, wearied out, bethought him of applying to the countess to see whether she would not use her influence in his behalf. I am thus particular about Boteler's affair, because through it Dorothy came to know what the king's behaviour had been, and what the marquis thought of it; she was in the room when Mr. Boteler waited on her mistress. 'May it please your ladyship,' he said, 'I have sought speech of you that I might beg your aid for the king's business, remembering you of the hearty affection my master the king beareth towards your lord and all his house.' 'Indeed you do well to remember me of that, master Boteler, for it goeth so hard with my memory in these troubled times that I had nigh forgotten it,' said the countess dryly. 'I most certainly know, my lady, that his majesty hath gracious intentions towards your lord.' 'Intention is but an addled egg,' said the countess. 'Give me deeds, if I may choose.' 'Alas! the king hath but little in his power, and the less that his business is thus kept waiting.' 'Your haste is more than your matter, master Boteler. Believe me, whatsoever you consider of it, your going so hurriedly is of no great account, for to my knowledge there are others gone already with duplicates of the business.' 'Madam, you astonish me.' 'I speak not without book. My own cousin, William Winter, is one, and he is my husband's friend, and hath no relation to my lord marquis of Ormond,' said lady Glamorgan significantly. 'My lord, madam, is your lord's very good friend, and I am very much his servant; but if his majesty's business be done, I care not by whose hand it is. But I thank your honour, for now I know wherefore I am stayed here.' With these words Boteler withdrew--and withdraws from my story, for his further proceedings are in respect of it of no consequence. When he was gone, lady Glamorgan, turning a flushed face, and encountering Dorothy's pale one, gave a hard laugh, and said: 'Why, child! thou lookest like a ghost! Was afeard of the man in my presence?' 'No, madam; but it seemed to me marvellous that his majesty's messenger should receive such words from my mistress, and in my lord of Worcester's house.' 'I' faith, marvellous it is, Dorothy, that there should be such good cause so to use him!' returned lady Glamorgan, tears of vexation rising as she spoke. 'But an' thou think I used the man roughly, thou shouldst have heard my father speak to him his mind of the king his master.' 'Hath the king then shown himself unkingly, madam?' said Dorothy aghast. Whereupon lady Glamorgan told her all she knew, and all she could remember of what she had heard the marquis say to Boteler. 'Trust me, child,' she added, 'my lord Worcester, no less than I am, is cut to the heart by this behaviour of the king's. That my husband, silly angel, should say nothing, is but like him. He would bear and bear till all was borne.' 'But,' said Dorothy, 'the king is still the king.' 'Let him be the king then,' returned her mistress. 'Let him look to his kingdom. Why should I give him my husband to do it for him and be disowned therein? I thank heaven I can do without a king, but I can't do without my Ned, and there he lies in prison for him who cons him no thanks! Not that I would overmuch heed the prison if the king would but share the blame with him; but for the king to deny him--to say that he did all of his own motion and without authority!--why, child, I saw the commission with my own eyes, nor count myself under any farther obligation to hold my peace concerning it! I know my husband will bear all things, even disgrace itself, undeserved, for the king's sake: he is the loveliest of martyrs; but that is no reason why I should bear it. The king hath no heart and no conscience. No, I will not say that; but I will say that he hath little heart and less conscience. My good husband's fair name is gone--blasted by the king, who raiseth the mist of Glamorgan's dishonour that he may hide himself safe behind it. I tell thee, Dorothy Vaughan, I should not have grudged his majesty my lord's life, an' he had been but a right kingly king. I should have wept enough and complained too much, in womanish fashion, doubtless; but I tell thee earl Thomond's daughter would not have grudged it. But my lord's truth and honour are dear to him, and the good report of them is dear to me. I swear I can ill brook carrying the title he hath given me. It is my husband's and not mine, else would I fling it in his face who thus wrongs my Herbert.' This explosion from the heart of the wild Irishwoman sounded dreadful in the ears of the king-worshipper. But he whom she thus accused the king of wronging, had been scarcely less revered of her, even while the idol with the feet of clay yet stood, and had certainly been loved greatly more, than the king himself. Hence, notwithstanding her struggle to keep her heart to its allegiance, such a rapid change took place in her feelings, that ere long she began to confess to herself that if the puritans could have known what the king was, their conduct would not have been so unintelligible--not that she thought they had an atom of right on their side, or in the least feared she might ever be brought to think in the matter as they did; she confessed only that she could then have understood them. The whole aspect and atmosphere of Raglan continued changed. The marquis was still very gloomy; lord Charles often frowned and bit his lip; and the flush that so frequently overspread the face of lady Glamorgan as she sat silent at her embroidery, showed that she was thinking in anger of the wrong done to her husband. In this feeling all in the castle shared, for the matter had now come to be a little understood, and as they loved the earl more than the king, they took the earl's part. Meantime he for whose sake the fortress was troubled, having been released on large bail, was away, with free heart, to Kilkenny, busy as ever on behalf of the king, full of projects, and eager in action. Not a trace of resentment did he manifest--only regret that his majesty's treatment of him, in destroying his credit with the catholics as the king's commissioner, had put it out of his power to be so useful as he might otherwise have been. His brain was ever contriving how to remedy things, but parties were complicated, and none quite trusted him now that he was disowned of his master.