The Children of the New Forest/Chapter XXVII
But we must follow Edward for a time. On his arrival at Paris he was kindly received by King Charles, who promised to assist his views in joining the army.
"You have to choose between two generals, both great in the art of war -- Condé and Turenne; I have no doubt that they will be opposed to each other soon -- that will be the better for you, as you will learn tactics from such great players."
"Which would your majesty recommend me to follow?" inquired Edward.
"Condé is my favourite, and he will soon be opposed to this truculent and dishonest court, who have kept me here as an instrument to accomplish their own wishes, but who have never intended to keep their promises and place me on the English throne. I will give you letters to Condé and recollect that whatever general you take service under you will follow him, without pretending to calculate how far his movements may be right or wrong -- that is not your affair. Condé is now just released from Vincennes; but, depend upon it, he will be in arms very soon."
As soon as he was furnished with the necessary credentials from the king Edward presented himself at the levee of the prince of Condé.
"You are here highly spoken of," said the prince, "for so young a man. So you were at the affair of Worcester? We will retain you, for your services will be wanted by and by. Can you procure any of your countrymen?"
"I know but of two that I can recommend from personal knowledge; but these two officers I can venture to pledge myself for."
"That I cannot at present reply to your highness -- but I should think it very possible."
"Bring me the officers to-morrow at this hour, Monsieur Beverley -- au revoir."
The prince of Condé then passed on to speak to other officers and gentlemen who were waiting to pay their respects.
Edward went to Chaloner and Grenville, who were delighted with the intelligence which he brought them. The next day they were at the prince's levée, and introduced by Edward.
"I am fortunate, gentlemen," said the prince, "in securing the services of such fine young men. You will oblige me by enlisting as many of your countrymen as you may consider likely to do good service, and then follow me to Guienne, to which province I am now about to depart. Be pleased to put yourself into communication with the parties named in this paper, and after my absence you will receive from them every assistance and necessary supplies which may be required."
A month after this interview, Condé, who had been joined by a great number of nobles, and had been reinforced by troops from Spain, set up the standard of revolt. Edward and his friends joined them, with about 300 English and Scotch, whom they had enlisted, and very soon afterwards Condé obtained the victory at Blenan, and in April 1652 advanced to Paris.
Turenne, who had taken the command of the French army, followed him, and a severe action was fought in the streets of the suburb D'Antoine, in which neither party had the advantage. But eventually Condé was beaten back by the superior force of Turenne; and not receiving the assistance he expected from the Spaniards, he fell back to the frontiers of Champagne.
Previous to his departure from Paris, Edward had received Humphrey's letter, explaining away the Intendant's conduct; and the contents removed a heavy load from Edward's mind; but he now thought of nothing but war, and although he cherished the idea of Patience Heatherstone, he was resolved to follow the fortunes of the prince as long as he could. He wrote a letter to the Intendant, thanking him for his kind feelings and intentions towards him, and he trusted that he might one day have the pleasure of seeing him again. He did not, however, think it advisable to mention the name of his daughter, except in inquiring after her health, and sending his respects. "It may be years before I see her again," thought Edward, "and who knows what may happen?"
The prince of Condé now had the command of the Spanish forces in the Netherlands; and Edward, with his friends, followed his fortunes, and gained his good-will: they were rapidly promoted.
Time flew on, and in the year 1654 the court of France concluded an alliance with Cromwell, and expelled King Charles from the French frontiers. The war was still carried on in the Netherlands. Turenne bore down Condé, who had gained every campaign; and the court of Spain, wearied with reverses, made overtures of peace, which were gladly accepted by the French.
During these wars Cromwell had been named Protector, and had shortly afterwards died.
Edward, who but rarely heard from Humphrey, was now anxious to quit the army and go to the king, who was in Spain; but to leave his colours while things were adverse was impossible.
After the peace and the pardon of Condé by the French king, the armies were disbanded, and the three adventurers were free. They took their leave of the prince, who thanked them for their long and meritorious services; and they then hastened to King Charles, who had left Spain and come to the Low Countries. At the time of their joining the king, Richard, the son of Cromwell, who had been nominated Protector, had resigned, and everything was ready for the Restoration.
On the 15th of May 1660 the news arrived that Charles had been proclaimed king on the 8th, and a large body of gentlemen went to invite him over. The king sailed from Scheveling, was met at Dover by General Monk, and conducted to London, which he entered amidst the acclamations of the people, on the 29th of the same month.
We may leave the reader to suppose that Edward, Chaloner, and Grenville were among the most favoured of those in his train. As the procession moved slowly along the Strand, through a countless multitude, the windows of all the houses were filled with well-dressed ladies, who waved their white kerchiefs to the king and his attendant suite. Chaloner, Edward, and Grenville, who rode side by side as gentlemen in waiting, were certainly the most distinguished among the king's retinue.
"Look, Edward," said Chaloner, "at those two lovely girls at yon window. Do you recognise them?"
"Indeed I do not. Are they any of our Paris beauties?"
"Why, thou insensible and unnatural animal! they are thy sisters, Alice and Edith: and do you not recognise behind them my good aunts Conynghame?"
"It is so, I believe," replied Edward. "Yes, now that Edith smiles, I'm sure it is they."
"Yes," replied Grenville, "there can be no doubt of that; but will they, think you, recognise us?"
"We shall see," replied Edward, as they now approached within a few yards of the window; for while they had been speaking the procession had stopped.
"Is it possible," thought Edward, "that these can be the two girls in russet gowns that I left at the cottage? And yet it must be. Well, Chaloner, to all appearance, your good aunts have done justice to their charge."
"Nature has done more, Edward. I never thought that they would have grown into such lovely girls as they have, although I always thought that they were handsome."
As they passed Edward caught the eye of Edith, and smiled.
"Alice, that's Edward!" said Edith, so loud as to be heard by the king, and all near him.
Alice and Edith rose and waved their handkerchiefs, but they were obliged to cease, and put them to their eyes.
"Are those your sisters, Edward?" said the king.
"They are, your majesty."
The king rose in his stirrups, and made a low obeisance to the window where they were standing.
"We shall have some court beauties, Beverley," said the king, looking at him over his shoulder.
As soon as the ceremonies were over, and they could escape from their attendance on the king's person, Edward and his two friends went to the house in which resided the Ladies Conynghame and his sisters.
We pass over the joy of this meeting after so many years' absence, and the pleasure which it gave to Edward to find his sisters grown such accomplished and elegant young women. That his two friends, who were, as the reader will recollect, old acquaintances of Alice and Edith, were warmly received, we hardly need say.
"Now, Edward, who do you think was here to-day -- the reigning belle, and the toast of all the gentlemen?"
"Indeed! I must be careful of my heart. Dear Edith, who is she?"
"No less than one with whom you were formerly well acquainted, Edward -- Patience Heatherstone."
"Patience Heatherstone," cried Edward, "the toast of all London!"
"Yes; and deservedly so, I can assure you: but she is as good as she is handsome, and, moreover, treats all the gay gallants with perfect indifference. She is staying with her uncle, Sir Ashley Cooper; and her father is also in town, for he called here with her to-day."
"When did you hear from Humphrey, Edith?"
"A few days back. He has left the cottage now, altogether."
"Indeed! Where does he reside then?"
"At Arnwood. The house has been rebuilt, and I understand is a very princely mansion. Humphrey has charge of it, until it is ascertained to whom it is to belong."
"It belongs to Mr Heatherstone, does it not?" replied Edward.
"How can you say so, Edward? You received Humphrey's letters a long while ago."
"Yes, I did; but let us not talk about it any more, my dear Edith. I am in great perplexity."
"Nay, dear brother, let us talk about it," said Alice, who had come up and overheard the latter portion of the conversation.
"What is your perplexity?"
"Well," replied Edward, "since it is to be so, let us sit down and talk over the matter. I acknowledge the kindness of Mr Heatherstone, and feel that all he asserted to Humphrey is true; still I do not like that I should be indebted to him for a property which is mine, and that he has no right to give. I acknowledge his generosity, but I do not acknowledge his right of possession. Nay, much as I admire, and I may say, fond as I am (for time has not effaced the feeling) of his daughter, it still appears to me that, although not said, it is expected that she is to be included in the transfer; and I will accept no wife on such conditions."
"That is to say, because all you wish for, your property and a woman you love, are offered you in one lot, you will not accept them; they must be divided, and handed over to you in two!" said Alice, smiling.
"You mistake, dearest; I am not so foolish; but I have a certain pride, which you cannot blame. Accepting the property from Mr Heatherstone is receiving a favour, were it given as a marriage portion with his daughter. Now, why should I accept as a favour what I can claim as a right? It is my intention of appealing to the king and demanding the restoration of my property. He cannot refuse it."
"Put not your trust in princes, brother," replied Alice. "I doubt if the king, or his council, will consider it advisable to make so many discontented as to restore property which has been so long held by others, and by so doing create a host of enemies. Recollect also that Mr Heatherstone and his brother-in-law Sir Ashley Cooper have done the king much more service than you ever have, or can do. They have been most important agents in his restoration, and the king's obligations to them are much greater than they are to you. Besides, merely for what may be called a point of honour, for it is no more, in what an unpleasant situation will you put his majesty! At all events, Edward, recollect you do not know what are the intentions of Mr Heatherstone; wait and see what he proffers first."
"But, my dear sister, it appears to me that his intentions are evident. Why has he rebuilt Arnwood? He is not going to surrender my property and make me a present of the house."
"The reason for rebuilding the mansion was good. You were at the wars; it was possible that you might or that you might not return. He said this to Humphrey, who has all along been acting as his factotum in the business; and recollect, at the time that Mr Heatherstone commenced the rebuilding of the mansion, what prospect was there of the restoration of the king, or of your ever being in a position to apply for the restoration of your property? I believe, however, that Humphrey knows more of Mr Heatherstone's intentions than he has made known to us; and I therefore say again, my dear Edward, make no application till you ascertain what Mr Heatherstone's intentions may be."
"Your advice is good, my dear Alice, and I will be guided by it," replied Edward.
"And now let me give you some advice for your friends, Masters Chaloner and Grenville. That much of their property has been taken away and put into other hands, I know; and probably they expect it will be restored upon their application to the king. Those who hold the property think so too, and so far it is fortunate. Now, from wiser heads than mine, I have been told that these applications will not be acceded to, as is supposed; but, at the same time, if they were to meet the parties, and close with them at once, before the king's intentions are known, they would recover their property at a third or a quarter of the value. Now is their time: even a few days' delay may make a difference. They can easily obtain a delay for the payment of the moneys. Impress that upon them, my dear Edward, and let them, if possible, be off to their estates to-morrow and make the arrangements."
"That is advice which must be followed," replied Edward. "We must go now, and I will not fail to communicate it to them this very night."
We may as well here inform the reader that the advice was immediately acted upon, and that Chaloner and Grenville recovered all their estates at about five years' purchase.
Edward remained at court several days. He had written to Humphrey, and had despatched a messenger with the letter, but the messenger had not yet returned. The court was now one continual scene of fêtes and gaiety. On the following day a drawing-room was to be held, and Edward's sisters were to be presented. Edward was standing, with many others of the suite, behind the chair of the king, amusing himself with the presentations as they took place, and waiting for the arrival of his sisters. Chaloner and Grenville were not with him, they had obtained leave to go into the country, for the object we have before referred to -- when his eyes caught, advancing towards the king, Mr Heatherstone, who led his daughter Patience. That they had not perceived him was evident; indeed her eyes were not raised once, from the natural timidity felt by a young woman in the presence of royalty. Edward half concealed himself behind one of his companions, that he might gaze upon her without reserve. She was indeed a lovely young person, but little altered, except having grown taller and more rounded and perfect in her figure; and her court-dress displayed proportions which her humble costume at the New Forest had concealed, or which time had not matured. There was the same pensive sweet expression in her face, which had altered little; but the beautiful rounded arms, the symmetrical fall of the shoulders, and the proportion of the whole figure, was a surprise to him; and Edward, in his own mind, agreed that she might well he the reigning toast of the day.
Mr Heatherstone advanced and made his obeisance, and then his daughter was led forward, and introduced by a lady unknown to Edward. After he had saluted her, the king said, loud enough for Edward to hear --
"My obligations to your father are great. I trust that the daughter will often grace our court." Patience made no reply, but passed on; and, soon afterwards, Edward lost sight of her in the crowd. If there ever had been any check to Edward's feelings towards Patience -- and time and absence have their effect upon the most ardent of lovers -- the sight of her so resplendent in beauty acted upon him like magic; and he was uneasy till the ceremony was over, and he was enabled to go to his sisters.
When he entered the room he found himself in the arms of Humphrey, who had arrived with the messenger. After the greetings were over, Edward said --
"Alice, I have seen Patience, and I fear I must surrender at discretion. Mr Heatherstone may make his own terms; I must waive all pride rather than lose her. I thought that I had more control over myself; but I have seen her, and feel that my future happiness depends upon obtaining her as a wife. Let her father but give me her, and Arnwood will be but a trifle in addition!"
"With respect to the conditions upon which you are to possess Arnwood," said Humphrey, "I can inform you what they are. They are wholly unshackled, further than that you are to repay by instalments the money expended in the building of the house. This I am empowered to state to you, and I think you will allow that Mr Heatherstone has fully acted up to what he stated were his views when he first obtained a grant of the property."
"He has, indeed," replied Edward.
"As for his daughter, Edward, you have yet to 'win her and wear her,' as the saying is. Her father will resign the property to you as yours by right; but you have no property in his daughter, and I suspect that she will not be quite so easily handed over to you."
"But why should you say so, Humphrey? Have we not been attached from our youth?"
"Yes, it was a youthful passion, I grant; but recollect, nothing came of it, and years have passed away. It is now seven years since you quitted the forest, and in your letters to Mr Heatherstone you made no remark upon what had passed between you and Patience. Since that, you have never corresponded or sent any messages; and you can hardly expect that a girl, from the age of seventeen to twenty-four, will cherish the image of one who, to say the least, had treated her with indifference. That is my view of the matter, Edward. It may be wrong."
"And it may be true," replied Edward mournfully.
"Well, my view is different," replied Edith. "You know, Humphrey, how many offers Patience Heatherstone has had, and has every day, I may say. Why has she refused them all? In my opinion, because she has been constant to a proud brother of mine, who does not deserve her!"
"It may be so, Edith," replied Humphrey. "Women are riddles -- I only argued upon the common sense of the thing."
"Much you know about women," replied Edith. "To be sure, you do not meet many in the New Forest, where you have lived all your life."
"Very true, my dear sister; perhaps that is the reason that the New Forest has had such charms for me."
"After that speech, sir, the sooner you get back again the better!" retorted Edith. But Edward made a sign to Humphrey, and they beat a retreat.
"Have you seen the Intendant, Humphrey?"
"No; I was about to call upon him, but I wanted to see you first."
"I will go with you. I have not done him justice," replied Edward, "and yet I hardly know how to explain to him -- "
"Say nothing, but meet him cordially; that will be explanation sufficient."
"I shall meet him as one whom I shall always revere, and feel that I owe a deep debt of gratitude. What must he think of my not having called upon him?"
"Nothing. You hold a place at court. You may not have known that he was in London, as you have never met him; your coming with me will make it appear so. Tell him that I have just made known to you his noble and disinterested conduct."
"You are right -- I will. I fear, however, Humphrey, that you are right, and Edith wrong, as regards his daughter."
"Nay, Edward, recollect that I have, as Edith observed, passed my life in the woods."
Edward was most kindly received by Mr Heatherstone. Edward, on Mr Heatherstone repeating to him his intentions relative to Arnwood, expressed his sense of that gentleman's conduct, simply adding --
"You may think me impetuous, sir; but I trust you will believe me grateful."
Patience coloured up and trembled when Edward first saw her. Edward did not refer to the past for some time after they had renewed their acquaintance. He wooed her again, and won her. Then all was explained.
About a year after the Restoration there was a fête at Hampton Court, given in honour of three marriages taking place -- Edward Beverley to Patience Heatherstone, Chaloner to Alice, and Grenville to Edith; and, as his majesty himself said, as he gave away the brides, "Could loyalty be better rewarded?"
But our young readers will not be content if they do not hear some particulars about the other personages who have appeared in our little history. Humphrey must take the first place. His love of farming continued. Edward gave him a large farm, rent free; and in a few years Humphrey saved up sufficient to purchase a property for himself. He then married Clara Ratcliffe, who has not appeared lately on the scene, owing to her having been, about two years before the Restoration, claimed by an elderly relation, who lived in the country, and whose infirm state of health did not permit him to quit the house. He left his property to Clara, about a year after her marriage to Humphrey. The cottage in the New Forest was held by, and eventually made over to, Pablo, who became a very steady character, and in the course of time married a young girl from Arnwood, and had a houseful of young gipsies. Oswald, so soon as Edward came down to Arnwood, gave up his place in the New Forest, and lived entirely with Edward as his steward; and Phoebe also went to Arnwood, and lived to a good old age, in the capacity of housekeeper, her temper becoming rather worse than better as she advanced in years.
This is all that we have been able to collect relative to the several parties; and so now we must say farewell.