If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then, despite of space, I would be brought
To limits far remote, where thou dost stay.


There is a terror whose cause is unrevealed even to its victim, which makes the heart beat wildly, and we ask the voiceless thing wherefore; when the beauty of the visible universe sickens the aching sense; when we beseech the winds to comfort us, and we implore the Invisible for relief, which is to speed to us from afar. We endeavour, in our impotent struggle with the sense of coming evil, to soar beyond the imprisoning atmosphere of our own identity; we call upon the stars to speak to us, and would fain believe that mother earth, with inorganic voice, prophesies. Driven on by the mad imaginings of a heart hovering between life and death, we fancy that the visible frame of things is replete with oracles. Or is it true; and do air and earth, divined by the sorrow-tutored spirit, possess true auguries? At such dread hour we are forced to listen and believe: nor can we ever afterwards, in common life, forget our miserable initiation into the mysteries of the unexplained laws of our nature. To one thus aware of the misfortune that awaits her, the voice of consolation is a mockery. Yet, even while she knows that the die is cast, she will not acknowledge her intimate persuasion of ill; but sits smiling on any hope brought to her, as a mother on the physician who talks of recovery while her child dies.

The Lady Katherine had yielded to Richard's wishes, because she saw that he really desired her absence. Alone in a monastery, in a distant part of Cornwall, she awaited the fatal tidings, which she knew must come at last She was too clear-sighted not to be aware, that the armed power of a mighty kingdom, such as England, must crush at once his ill-organized revolt. She was prepared for, and ready to meet, all the disasters and humiliations of defeat; but not to be absent from her husband at this crisis. She ordered horses to be kept perpetually in readiness, that she might proceed towards him on the first intimation of change and downfall. She watched from the highest tower of her abode, the arrival of messengers: before she dared open her letters, she read in their faces, what news of Richard? It was a bitter pang to hear that Plantagenet was dangerously wounded; that the prince had advanced further forward, at the head of his rabble soldiers.

She had no friends, save humble ones, and very few of these: they borrowed their looks from her, yet hoped more than she did. Quickly she was aware of a change in them: they spoke in a low, subdued voice, as if awe-struck by some visitation of destiny. That very day letters arrived from the prince: they were of ancient date, nor could she lay his terms of endearment and cheering to her heart and be consoled. In the afternoon a torn, soiled billet was brought her from Edmund. In spite of his wound, he had dragged himself as far as Launceston, on his way to her. Forced to stop, he sent her tidings of all he knew—Richard's mysterious flight, Henry's bloodless victory, the eagerness the king expressed to learn where she was, and the despatching of troops in search of her. He besought her to fly. It might be hoped that the prince had escaped beyond sea, whither she must hasten; or falling into his enemy's hands, she would never see him more.

Perplexed and agitated, knowing that dishonour would result from Richard's strange disappearance, yet persuaded that he had some ulterior view which it behoved her not to thwart, she hesitated what step to take.

An incident occurred to end her uncertainty. Suddenly, in the evening, Monina stood before her. Monina came with the safety-laden Adalid, to bear her to the shores of Burgundy. She brought the history of the fraud practised upon York, of the ambush laid for his life, of his escape, and the arrival, immediately succeeding to hers, of his followers at the Abbey of Beaulieu; how the pawing and trampling of a horse at the gates had brought out the monks, who discovered the hapless prince senseless on the dark sod. He was carried in, and through her care his name was entered in the sanctuary. She had attended on his sick couch two days and nights, when his first return to reason was to implore her to seek Katherine, to carry her beyond Tudor's power, out of the island prison. Her father's caravel was hovering on the coast. A favouring southeast wind bore her to these shores: she came at his desire: the Adalid was there, and she might sail, not to Burgundy, but even to the spot which harboured Richard. She also could take sanctuary in Beaulieu.

The monastery in which the duchess of York had taken refuge was situated on St. Michael's Mount, not far from the Land's End. The land projects romantically into the sea, forming a little harbour called Mount's Bay. Towards the land the acclivity is at first gradual, becoming precipitous towards the summit: now, at high water, the tide flows between the rock and the land, but it was in those days connected by a kind of natural, rocky causeway. Towards the sea it is nearly perpendicular. A strong fortress was connected with the church; and a stone lantern was attached to one of the towers of the church. Not far from the castle, in a craggy and almost inaccessible part of the cliff, is situated Saint Michael's Chair, which, on account of its dangerous approach, and the traditions attached to it, became the resort of the pious. Many a legend belonged to this spot. Its thick woods, the hoar appearance of the crags, the wide-spread sea, for ever warring against the land, which had thrust itself out into the watery space, usurping a part of its empire, made it singularly grand ; while the placid beauty of the little bay formed by the rock, and the picturesque grouping of the trees, the straggling paths, and numerous birds, added every softer beauty to the scene.

Often did Katherine watch the changeful ocean, or turn her eyes to the more grateful spectacle of umbrageous woods, and rifted rock, and seek for peace in the sight of earth's loveliness. All weighed with tenfold heaviness on her foreboding soul. For the first time, they wore to her the aspect of beauty, when now she hoped to leave them. Hopes so soon to fail. A south wind had borne the caravel swiftly into the bay, but the breeze increased to a gale, and even while the ladies were making a few hasty preparations, De Faro had been obliged to slip his moorings, and run out to sea, to escape the danger of being wrecked on a lee shore. With a pang of intense misery, Katherine saw its little hull hurry over the blackening waters, and its single sail lose itself amidst the sea-foam. The mariner had even, on anchoring, anticipated a storm; he had informed his daughter of the probability there was, that he should be driven to seek for safety in the open sea; but he promised with the first favourable change of wind to return. When would this come? Fate was in the hour, nor could even Katherine school herself to patience.

Evening shades gathering round them; the princess, growing each minute more unquiet and miserable, sought in some kind of activity for relief to her sufferings. "I will go to Saint Michael's Chair," she said; good spirits for ever hover near the sainted spot; they will hear and carry a fond wife's prayer to the throne of the Eternal."

In silence Monina followed the lady. They were both mountain-bred, and trod lightly along paths which seemed scarcely to afford footing to a goat. They reached the seat of the rock; they looked over the sea, whose dark surface was made visible by the sheets of foam that covered it; the roar of waves was at their feet. The sun went down blood-red, and, in its dying glories, the crescent moon showed first pale, then glowing; the thousand stars rushed from among the vast clouds that blotted the sky; and the wind tore fiercely round the crag, and howled among the trees. O earth, and sea, and sky! strange mysteries! that look and are so beautiful even in tumult and in storm; did ye feel pain then, when the elements of which ye are composed battled together? Were ye tortured by the strife of wind and wave, even as the soul of man when it is the prey of passion? Or were ye unmoved, pain only being the portion of the hearts of the two human beings, who, looking on the commotion, found your wildest rage calm in comparison with the tempest of fear and grief which had mastery over them.

Sickened by disappointment, impatient of despair, each remained, brooding mutely over their several thoughts. Poor Katherine; her dearest wish was set upon sharing in all its drear minutiae the fortune of her lord, her gallant knight, her most sweet Richard. He was her husband; he had taken her, timid yet confiding, from the shelter of her father's roof; they had entered the young world of hope and hazard together. Custom, the gentle weaver of soft woman's tenderness, had thrown its silken net over her; his disasters became hers; his wishes, and their defeat, were also hers. She only existed as a part of him; while enthusiastic love made her fondly cling even to the worst that betided, as better in its direst shape than any misnamed good fortune that unlinked them.

"My love, my altar-plighted love! must I then wake and say no good day to thee; and sleep, my rest unbenisoned by thy good night! The simple word, the we, that symbolized our common fate, cut in two, each half a nothing so disjoined."

While Katherine thus struggled with necessity, Monina was given up to patience. The present hour had fulfilled its fear; her busy thoughts fashioned a thousand plans for his escape, or tremblingly painted a dark futurity. He was a part of her being, though no portion of herself was claimed by him. She was not his, as a lover or a wife, but as a sister might be; if in this ill world such heart's concord could exist: a sharing of fate and of affection, combined with angelic purity. As easily might she fancy animal life to survive in her body after the soul had fled, as soon imagine that the beating of her heart could continue when the living impulse which quickened its palpitations was still, as that he, her childhood's playfellow, the golden dream of her youth, the shrine at which she had sacrificed that youth, should die, and she live on in the widowed world without him.

The stars glittered over their gentle heads, and the moon went down in the west; fitful, thread-like rays were shed upon the raging sea, whose heady billows foamed and roared at their feet: both these fair, gentle creatures remained, careless of the wild wind that swept their limbs, or the spray which, high as they stood, besprent their hair: both young, both lovely, both devoted to one, yet confiding in the reality of virtue and purity, trusting fully each other, the one accepting the heart's sacrifice which the other unreservedly made, they watched for the Adalid, which, a plaything of the waves, was carried afar. Day dawned before they could resolve to quit this spot; then they took refuge in the near monastery, and from its towers looked out over the sea.

A few anxious hours brought the dreaded consummation of their fears. The ascent of a troop of horse up the steep, told Katherine that she was discovered. Their sudden appearance before her proved that she was a prisoner. For the first time she saw the White and Red Rose entwined; the earl of Oxford was announced to her as their leader, and he soon appeared to claim his prize.

Katherine received him with dignified sweetness; she conquered her ill fate by smiling at its blows, and looked a queen, as she yielded herself a slave. The watching of the night had all disordered her dress, and deranged her golden tresses; but her wondrous fairness, the soft moulding of her face, her regal throat, and arched open brow, bending over her intelligent, yet soft, blue eyes; her person majestic, even in its slim beauty, were tokens of a spirit, that in destitution must reign over all who approached it.

Her first words, to ease the awe-struck earl, were an entreaty to be conducted to the king. She showed more earnest desire than he to present herself to her royal victor. In a very few hours they had descended the Mount, and hastened out of hearing of the roar of the ocean, which had so cruelly deceived her hopes. In her eyes could only be read the mastery she had obtained over her thoughts; no lurking weakness betrayed fear, or even disappointment, Surely yet she cherished some dear expectation; yet how, lost to liberty, could she hope to attain it?

But thus we are, while untamed by years. Youth, elastic and bright, disdains to be compelled. When conquered, from its very chains it forges implements for freedom; it alights from one baffled flight, only again to soar on untired wing towards some other aim. Previous defeat is made the bridge to pass the tide to another shore; and, if that break down, its fragments become stepping-stones. It will feed upon despair, and call it a medicine which is to renovate its dying hopes.