The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck/Chapter 41
ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND.
From Ireland thus comes York to claim his right.
If I am not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused gurnet.
On the deck of the sea-worn Adalid, watching the renovated strength, and attending on the still remaining weakness of her lord, the soft heart of the princess possessed to fulness all its desires; while Monina, among the wild rude Cornish rebels, exerted herself to inspire zeal for his cause, and to increase the number of his partisans, winning them by her thrilling eloquence, ruling them by her beauty and enthusiasm. She had found the whole population ready to second him; but fitting leaders, noble and influential men, were absolutely wanting. She sent her father to urge Richard to this new attempt, and when he should appear, attended, as she fondly hoped, by a train of high-born Irish lords, of gallant Scotch cavaliers, and devoted English warriors; he would be able to give a martial form to the rout of Cornish insurgents, to discipline their wild, untamed valour, to attract others by name and rank, and Tudor at last must grow pale upon his throne. With eagerness she awaited the fleet that was to bring the chosen band of heroes; when, after a long and calm voyage, on the third of September, the Adalid ran into White Sand Bay, on the western coast of Cornwall, and Plantagenet, at Richard's command, disembarked and proceeded forthwith to Bodmin.
It was strange that the chief partizan of the White Rose should, on his invasion of the island, find a Spanish girl the main source of information—the chief mover of the rebellion by which he was to profit. Yet Plantagenet almost forgot his mortal struggle for a kingdom, in the anticipation of seeing Monina. Plantagenet, prouder, more ambitious for his cousin than Richard for himself—Plantagenet, who had but one object, to be the guardian, supporter, defender of York, now wandered in thought far back through many years to their Spanish home; to his tenderness for the sweet child of Madeline; to the development of the beauty and virtues of the lovely Moor. Thrown apart by their several destinies, he had scarcely seen her since then; and now, in place of the dark, laughing-eyed girl, he beheld a woman, bright with intelligence and sensibility; whose brow wore somewhat the sad trace of suffering, whose cheek was a little sunk, but in whose eyes there was a soul, in whose smile an enchantment not to be resisted. She was all life, vivacity, and yet softness: all passion, yet yielding and docile. Her purpose was steady, stubborn; but the mode of its attainment, her conduct, she easily permitted to be guided. Edmund scarcely recognized her, but she instantly knew him; her elder brother, her kind but serious guardian, whom she had loved with awe, as the wisest and best of men. Now he bore a dearer name, as the unfailing friend of him she loved. To both their hearts this meeting was an unexpected joy. Monina had thought too much of Richard to remember his cousin. He had half forgotten his own sensations; or, at least, was quite unprepared for the power and effect of her surpassing beauty.
After the first overflowing of affection, Monina eagerly detailed the forces raised, and dwelt on the spirit and courage of the insurgents. "They are poor fellows," she said, "but true; burning with zeal to right themselves, and to avenge their losses at Blackheath. They are gathered together by thousands. They want merely leaders, discipline, arms, money, ammunition, and a few regular troops to show them the way: these, of course, you bring."
"Alas! no," said Edmund, "we bring merely ourselves."
"Could Ireland, then, furnish no warlike stores?" continued the zealous girl, "But this can be remedied, doubtless. Yourself, your leader, Lord Desmond, Lord Barry, the gallant Neville; tell me who else—who from Burgundy—what Irish, what Scottish knights?"
The last word was said with difficulty: it made a pause in her rapid utterance; while Edmund, aghast, replied, "Indeed! none of all these, or very few: in a word, we have fled from Waterford in the Adalid. His highness and myself are the sole English knights. The good old mayor of Cork must represent all Ireland, gentle and simple, to your eyes—our fair duchess, Scotland: her attendants will follow in due time, but these are but needy servitors." Monina laughed. "We came to seek, not bring aid," continued Plantagenet, gravely.
"Do not be angry," replied Monina. "There is more bitterness and sorrow in my laugh, than in, methinks, a widow's tears, My dear friend, God send we are not utterly lost. Yet his highness and yourself may work wonders. Only report truly our state, that the duke be not too dissatisfied with our appearance. Tell him Lord Audley headed a worse organized troop: tell him that Master Heron, the mercer, has no silken soul—that Master Skelton, the tailor, disdains a smaller needle than a cloth-yard shaft."
"And is it to head men like these we have been drawn from our Irish friends?" cried Edmund; "better return. Alas! our path is besieged; the very sea is subject to our enemy; in the wide world the king of England has no refuge."
"That he is king of England," said Monina, "let not him, let none of us forget. The very name is powerful: let him, on his native shores, assume it. Surely, if their liege king stand singly in the land of his forefathers, at his sacred name thousands will congregate. He has dared too little, when he had power: at the worst, even now, let him dare all, and triumph."
Her bold, impetuous language had its effects on Edmund; it echoed his own master passion, which ever cried aloud, "He is a king! and, once give himself that sacred name, submission and allegiance from his subjects must follow." Buoyed up by these thoughts, his report on board the Adadid was free from those humiliating details, which, even if he had wished, he would have found no voice to communicate to his royal cousin.
Monina's task of imparting to her friends the destitute condition in which their sovereign arrived, was even easier. "He is come among tall men," said the pompous Heron, "who can uphold him for the better king, even to the satin of his doublet."
"And fight for him, even to the rending of our own," cried Skelton.
"And die for him, as he must too, when all's done," said Trereife. "A soldier's death is better than a dastard's life."
"We will have our men in goodly array," said Heron. "Master Skelton, are the doublets cut from that piece of sad-coloured velvet, last of my wares, slashed with white, as I directed?"
"Slash me no doublets but with a Spanish rapier," squeaked Skelton, "Have I not cast away the shears? Yet, look you now, good lack! I lie. Here in my pouch be a sharp pair, to clip Master Walter of Horneck's ears—if, by the help of the saints, we can lay him as flat on the field as his own grey suit was en my board when a shaping; by the same token that he never paid for it."
"In good hour, Sir Taylor," said Monina: "but the talk now is, how duly to receive his grace, how induce him to accept your aid."
"Ay, by Saint Dunstan!," cried Trereife, "he has ruffled in France and Burgundy, my masters, and will look on you as clowns and base-born burghers; but no man has more to give than his life, and if he waste that heartily, time was, and time may be, when villains trod on the necks of knights, as the ghost of Charles of Burgundy could tell us. Courage is the beginning and end of a soldier's catechism."
Such were the chiefs Monina found desirous, and in their own conceit capable, of placing England's diadem on Duke Richard's head. Heron, the bankrupt mercer, who fancied himself the base-born offspring of the late earl of Devonshire, and whose first deed of arms would find him Heron no more, but Sir John Courtney; Skelton, a luckless wight, whose shears ever went astray (the true cause why Walter of Hornbeck paid not for his misshapen suit), and who, therefore, believed himself born for greater things; and Trereife, the younger prodigal son of a rural Franklin, who, cast off and disinherited, had served in the wars. in Flanders, gaining in that country no small reverence for the good Duchess Margaret, and ready therefore to right her nephew; besides, like a true hero, he abhorred this silken time of peace, and hoped to gather spoil, if not laurels, in the meditated insurrection.
The noble passengers disembarked from the Adadid. "Welcome to England, sweet Kate! welcome to the country of which thou art queen," said York; "and even if her reception be cold or rough, love her for my sake, for she is my mother."
"A stepmother I will not call her, dear my lord," replied the princess, "but the maternal embrace is strangely wanting on these deserted sands: the narrow deck of yonder caravel, were, methinks, a kindlier home: may we go on and prosper; but, if we fail, my lord will pardon me, if I welcome the day when I embark again on board the Adadid; to find, when the wide earth proves false, safety and happiness on the free waves of ocean."