His father was a right good lord,
His mother a lady of high degree;
But they, alas! were dead him frae,
And he loved keeping companie.
To spend the day with merry cheer,
To drink and revel every night;
To card and dice from eve to morn,
It was, I ween, his heart's delight.
The Heir of Lynne.
It had been Monina's design to return to the protection of Lady Brampton, immediately on the fulfilment of her task in England. The appearance of Clifford suggested other ideas. It was the duty of every friend of York to declare his existence, and claim the allegiance of his subjects. It might seem a hopeless enterprise for her, a young foreign girl, to do this in the heart of the usurper's power; and yet she fancied that she might attempt it with success. The most distant prospect of serving her beloved friend was hailed by her with romantic ardour; while the knowledge possessed by Stanley and Clifford promised to render her undertaking less nugatory in its effects. Her purpose was quickly formed. She resolved to postpone her departure, and to busy herself in replanting, in Tudor's own city of London, the uprooted rose-bush, parent of the spotless flower. None but a woman's fond enthusiastic heart can tell the glow of joy, the thrilling gladness, that diffused itself through her frame, as this plain spread itself, clear as a map, beautiful as a champagne country viewed from some overtopping mountain peak, to her keen mind's eye. She rode to London occupied by these thoughts, and on her arrival, announced to the merchant friend, at whose house she resided, her intention of remaining in England: the vessel that was on the morrow to have conveyed her away would bear instead a letter to Lady Brampton, explanatory of her hopes and intentions: that very night, in the seclusion of her chamber, she robbed some hours from sleep to write it; her enthusiasm animated her expressions; her cheeks glowed as she wrote, for she spoke of services she might render to him who was the. idol of her thoughts; though with his idea she consciously mingled no feeling save that of devoted friendship and an intense desire to benefit. The weariness of spirit that oppressed her in his absence, she did not attribute to him.
Thus intently occupied, she was unaware of a parley in the room beneath growing into a loud contention, till steps upon the stairs recalled her wandering thoughts; she looked up from her task; but her gaze of inquiry was changed to an expression of heartfelt pleasure, when Sir Robert Clifford entered the apartment. Here then her enterprise commenced. There was something that did not quite please her in the manners of her visitant, but this was secondary to the great good she might achieve through him. Her eyes danced in their own joy, as she cried, "Welcome, gallant gentleman! you are here to my wish: you come to learn how best you may prove your allegiance to your rightful sovereign, your zeal in his cause."
These words grated somewhat on the ear of a man who had hitherto worn the Red Rose in his cap, and whose ancestors had died for Lancaster. He did not, therefore, reply in the spirit of her wish when he said, "We will not quarrel, pretty one, about names; sooth is it, that I came to learn tidings of my princely gossip, and I am right glad that fortune makes thee the tale-bearer. Prolong as thou wilt, I shall never cry hold while my eyes serve to make true harmony to the sound of your sweet voice."
Much more he said in the same strain of gallantry, as he placed himself beside the maiden, with the air of one whose soft speeches ever found ready hearing. Monina drew back, replying, gently, "I am the partizan, the vowed conspirator for a cause, whose adherents walk as over the thread-broad ridge spanning an unfathomable gulph, which I have heard spoken of by the Moors in my own Granada; I beseech you, as you are a gentleman, reserve your fair speeches for the fortunate ladies of your native land. I will be a beacon light to guide you, a clue for your use through a maze, a landmark to point your way; meanwhile, forget me as I am; let me be a voice only."
"As soon forget sunshine or moonshine, or the chance of play when the dice-box rattles," thought Clifford, as she clasped her little fingers in the fervour of her wish, and raised on him her soft, full eyes: but though he gazed with unrepressed admiration, he said nothing as she told the story of Duke Richard's Spanish adventures, and last of his attempt in Ireland and the embassy sent to him by King Charles. How eloquently and well she told his tale! speaking of him with unfeigned admiration, nothing disguising her zealous devotion. "Sir Clifford," she continued, "you are his friend. His cause will sanctify your sword; it will call you from the paltry arts of peace to the nobler deeds of chivalry; it will give you grace in the eyes of her you love, defending and asserting your king."
She paused, breathless from her own agitation; she looked up into his thoughtful face and placed her hands on his; the soft touch awoke him from a reverie in which he had lost himself.
"Maiden," he replied, "you plead your cause even too well; you have cast a spell upon me; so that at this moment I would readily swear to perform your bidding, but that, when I do not see your witch's eyes, nor hear your magic voice, another wind may blow me right to the other side. Do not call this courtly gallantry, would by Saint Cupid that it were! for I am not pleased to behold my sage self fined down into a woman's tool: nor is it love;—Thor's hammer could not knock a splinter from my hard heart, nor the Spanish sun thaw its seven-fold coat of ice. I never have loved; I never shall: but there is some strange sorcery about you. When I next see you, I will draw a circle round, knock my head three times on the eastern floor, and call out 'aroint!' This twinkling light too, and darkling hour—I must away:—sunshine shall, when next we meet, protect me from your incantations. Will you trust yourself? At tomorrow's noon a servitor of mine shall await you at the gate of St. Paul's: dare you commit yourself to one in the devil's pay?"
All this incoherent talk was spoken at intervals; he rose, sat down, stood over her as she patiently let him run his tether's length: his last words were said in an insinuating, and, as well as he could command, a soft voice, as he pressed her hand in his. She crossed herself, as she replied, "Our Lady and my cause shall protect me, while I adventure life fearlessly for its sake! Adieu till then, sir knight: the saints guard you, and give you better thoughts."
The cavalier proceeded homewards, considering deeply the part he was to act. He thought of what he might gain or lose by siding with the duke; and he was angry to find that the image of Monina presented itself even more vividly, than his ambitious dreams. "God assoil me," thought he. "I will repeat a paternoster backwards, and so unsay her sorceries. She has persuaded me, even as my own soul did before, that the best mode to mend my broken fortunes, and better still to regild my faded escutcheon, is to join Duke Richard. Yet, after all, this may be mere magic; for once I will act a wise man's part, and seek old gray-beard, my Lord Fitzwater."
Lord Fitzwater endured impatiently the harsh countenance Henry bore to him, ever since he had permitted his young rival to escape. Some question of right and law, which implicated a large portion of his possessions, had, as he believed, been unjustly decided against him through the interposition of the king, who, on every occasion, sought to mortify and injure the old man. He lived as the disgraced and impoverished servants of a court are wont to live, neglected and forgotten. He had no family. He loved Robert Clifford better than any other in the world; and he, when suffering from disappointment or loss, when his own pain reminded him of that of others, sought his ancient friend—too seldom to please him with a show of reverence, often enough to keep alive his affection.
If it were good for him to aid in the replanting of the White Rose, so also were it well that Lord Fitzwater joined the same party. He talked even to himself of asking his experienced friend's advice; he really meant to endeavour to seduce him into a companionship in the projected rebellion against Henry Tudor. In this spirit he paid his visit; nearly three months had elapsed since his preceding one. The noble received him coldly; so at once to break through the ceremony that fettered their discourse, he cried, "I hear from soft Sir William Stanley, that his majesty has again said that he will find a way to thank you for a service you rendered him some six years ago."
"I have long had knowledge of his grace's good memory on that point," answered his lordship, angrily; "and yours, methinks, might remind you of the part you played. By St. Thomas, Robin, I believe you saw further in the game than I. But what makes the king harp on this out-worn tale?"
"Few know—we may guess. Have you not heard him tell of a new king of kerns and gallow-glasses? a phantom duke, whose duchy lies without the English pale in Ireland? a ghost whose very name makes the king's knees knock together as he sits on the throne? This ruffler, who calls himself son of Edward the Fourth, the Prince Richard of York, escaped from the Tower, bears a strange resemblance to the hero of Lisle. Perkin Warbeck."
"Would, by St. George, he were the same!" exclaimed the noble; "my dagger should sever the entwined roses, our armed heels tread to dust the cankered red blossom."
"You speak treason, my lord," said Clifford; "but you speak to a friend. Let us talk more calmly. I, the playmate of the imprisoned prince, know that he, Perkin Warbeck, and the Irish hero are the same—this I can prove: so much for the justice of our cause; as to the expediency,—we, my good lord, are styled Lancastrians, but our meed therefore is small. Tudor is a niggard king; Plantagenet, a young and generous adventurer. What shall we say? Shall Fitzwater and Clifford place the sacred diadem on this boy's head, and become chiefs in the land where they now pine obscurely?"
Lord Fitzwater fastened his keen eyes on his companion, while his hand involuntary grasped his dagger's hilt. "I am not an old man," he cried; "fifty-seven winters have shed no snows upon my head. I remember when, at Tewkesbury, I smote an iron-capped yeoman who raised his battle-axe against our young Edward, and clove the villain to the throat. I can wield the same weapon—do the same deed now; and I am thrown like a rusty sword among old armour—refused permission to lead my followers to Calais. War in France!—it will never be: the word is grown obsolete in England. Ambassadors thrive instead of valiant captains; crafty penmanship in lieu of straightforward blows. Art sure, Robin, that this youth is King Edward's son?"
This was the first step Clifford took; and the eagerness of Fitzwater quickly impelled him to spread wider the narrow circle of conspirators. The intelligence, meanwhile, that the king of France had received in Paris with meet honour a Yorkist pretender to the crown burst at once over England, spreading wonder and alarm. Some few despised the pretensions of the youth; the greater number gave to them full and zealous credence. Many, dreading Henry's sagacity and harshness, recoiled from every thought rebellious to him; others hailed with joy the appearance of a rival who would shake his throne, and hold forth hope of disturbance and change. As yet this was talk merely; nay, there was more thought, than spoken. Men expected that some other would make the first move, which would put in play the menacing forces mustered on either him, many reverent and powerful partizans were secured. Her presence added to the mterest which the mere name of Richard of York excited. Many who disbelieved his tale were eager to behold his lovely advocate: they listened to her syren eloquence, and ranged themselves on her side. Clifford watched jealously the influence she acquired. When he first saw her, she had been an untaught girl in comparison with the graceful, self-possessed being who now moved among them. One feeling in her heart separated her indeed from the crowd—but this was veiled, even to herself; and she appeared courteous, benign to all. Clifford often flattered himself that when she spoke to him her expressions were more significant, her voice sweeter. He did not love—no, no—his heart could not entertain the effeminate devotion; but if she loved him, could saints in heaven reap higher glory? Prompted by vanity, and by an unavowed impulse, he watched, hung over her, fed upon her words, and felt that in pleasing her he was for the present repaid for the zeal he manifested for the duke her friend. Strange he never suspected that she was animated towards the prince by a deeper feeling. They had lived like near relations from their childhood; that were sufficient to raise the flame that shed so bright a light over her soul: that he was a prince, and she the daughter of a Spanish mariner, forbade their union; and he paid the just tribute to innocent youth, in not judging of its upright purity by the distorted reflection his depraved heart presented, whenever he dared turn his eyes inward.. saw with joy the work well begun. She remembered the queen's injunction to seek the Dean of St. Paul's: in acquiring
Foundation was thus laid in England for a momentous combination. Intelligence from the continent was gathered with keen interest. Early in December the army of Henry recrossed the Channel: they brought word of the favour and esteem Richard enjoyed at the French court, of the zeal of the exiled Yorkists, of their satisfied assurance of his truth. Next was spread abroad the news of his reception by the dowager duchess of Burgundy, and the brilliant figure he made at Brussels. What step would be taken next to advance his cause?
This was a fearful question for the actual king of England. He redoubled his artful policy, while he wore a mask of mere indifference. The Yorkists, not yet considerable enough to act openly, or even covertly to combine for any great attempt, felt fresh bonds thrown over, new and vexatious tyrannies in exercise against them. This served to unite and animate their chiefs; they each and all resolved that, when fit opportunity armed their prince, their swords should at the same moment leap from the scabbards, darkly to be dyed ere resheathed, or struck useless from their lifeless hands. The days of St. Alban's and Tewkesbury passed in all their grim conclusions before their eyes, but the event was worth the risk: defeated, they lost nothing; victorious, they exchanged a narrow-hearted, suspicious, exacting tyrant for a chivalrous and munificent sovereign; Henry Tudor, the abhorred Lancastrian, for the grandson of York, the lineal heir of Edward the Third—the true representative of the kings of the glorious and long line of the .