Thou, God of winds, that reignest in the seas,
That reignest also in the continent,
At last blow up some gentle gale of ease,
The which may bring my ship, ere it be rent,
Unto the gladsome port of her intent.


During the winter and the untoward late spring, Richard had endured his captivity. The warm happy summer season, calling all nature to a jubilee, at first saddened, then animated him to contrive new projects of escape. The promised interview with his White Rose tempted him to delay; while an inner spirit rebelled even against this dear enticement, and bade him fly.

On the evening of the ninth of June, he was permitted to attend vespers in a secluded chapel of Westminster Abbey. During the short passage from the palace to the cathedral, it seemed to him as if a new life were awake everywhere; an unknown power, on the eve of liberating him. Never before had he prayed so fervently for freedom: the pealing organ, the dim arched venerable vault above, acted as stimulants to his roused and eager soul; he stood tiptoe, as on the eve of the accomplishment of his desire.

A deep and awful sound suddenly shook the building; a glaring, lurid flash, filled with strange brilliancy the long, dark aisle. A clap of thunder, loud, and swiftly repeated, rever- berated along the heavens; the shrill scream of women answered the mighty voice. The priest who read the service, saw his sacred book glared on by so keen a flash, as blinded him to the dimmer light that succeeded. Every being in the church sank on their knees, crossing themselves, and striving to repeat their Paternosters and Aves; while Richard stood fearless, enjoying the elemental roar, exulting in the peal, the flash, the tempestuous havock, as powers yet rebellious to his conqueror. Freedom was victorious in the skyey plains; there was freedom in the careering clouds, freedom in the sheeted lightning, freedom in the cataract of sound that tore its way along. On his poor heart, sick of captivity, and enforced obedience, the sweet word liberty hung as a spell: every bird and tiny fly he had envied as being free; how much more things more powerful, the chainless destructions of nature. The voice of God speaking in his own consecrated abode was terrible to all; soothing to himself alone. He walked to the southern entrance of the edifice to mark the splashing shower, as it ploughed the stones: two of his keepers remained on their knees, paralyzed by terror; the two others followed trembling. At that moment a louder, a far, far louder clap burst right above them, succeeding so instantaneously the blinding flash, that, while every object was wrapped inflame, the pavement and fretted roof of the abbey shook with the sound. A bolt had fallen; the priest at the altar was struck; with mingled horror and curiosity one of York's remaining guards rushed towards the spot; the only remaining one was kneeling in an agony of terror. York stood on the threshold of the porch; he advanced a few steps beyond; a new fear possessed the fellow. "He will escape!—halloo!—James!—Martin!" The very words imparted the thought to the prince, who filled erewhile with wonder and religious awe, had forgotten his own sad plight. He turned to the man, who was doubtful whether to rush into the chapel for his comrades, or singly to seize his prisoner—his dagger was drawn. "Put up that foolish steel," said York, "it cannot harm one whom God calls to freedom—listen, He speaks;—farewell!" The lightning again flashed; with blue and forked flame it ran along the blade of the weapon raised against him; with a shriek the man dashed it to the earth. Richard was already out of sight.

The rain poured in torrents: it came down in continuous cataracts from the eaves of the houses. On this sunny festival few had remained at home; and those, terror-stricken now, were on their knees; no creature was in the streets as the fugitive sped on, ignorant whither he should go. London was a vast, unknown labyrinth to him: as well as he could divine, he directed his flight eastward, and that with such velocity, that he might compete with a horse in full career. If any saw him, as thus with winged heels he flew along, they did not wonder that a person should hasten to shelter out of the storm. It was of slight regard to him that rain and hail ploughed the earth, and continued thunder echoed through the sky; that alone and friendless he fled through the streets of his victor's chief city. His exulting heart, his light, glad spirit told him that he was free; if for a few minutes only, he would joyfully purchase with his life those few minutes' emancipation from his frightful thraldom. No words could speak, no thought image the supreme gladness of that moment.

Meanwhile, dark night, aided by the thick clouds which still poured down torrents of rain, had crept over the dim twilight, and began to imbarrier with doubt the path of the rejoicing fugitive. He found at last that the lines of houses receded, and that he was in an open space, in the midst of which rose a gigantic shadow, stretching itself in stillness and vastness on the summit of the rising ground before him;—it was the cathedral of St, Paul's. Now, cloaked by the dark and inclement night, he began to reflect on his actual situation: London might swarm with his partizans, but he knew not where to find one. Probably all those who were occupied by his fate resided in Westminster, whence he had precipitately fled; whither assuredly he would not return. These reflections perplexed him, but in no way allayed his transport at finding himself free; he felt that if he wandered to the wide fields, and died of hunger there, it were bliss enough to see the sky "unclouded by his dungeon roof;" to behold the woods, the flowers, and the dancing waves; nor be mocked with man's shape, when those who wore it had sold man's dearest privilege—that of allowing his actions to wait upon the free impulses of his heart.

Still, therefore, he hurried along, and finally became completely bewildered in some swampy, low fields, intersected by wide ditches. The night was pitchy dark; nor was there any clue afforded him by which he could even guess whether he might not be returning on his path. Suddenly a small ray of light threaded the gloom; it went and came, and at last remained stationary. With wavering will and irregular steps the prince proceeded towards it; for he would rather have died where he stood, than discover himself, so to fall again into captivity. Once or twice he lost sight of this tiny earth-star, which evidently shone through some low casement; and, as at last he caught sight of the solitary miserable hut where it was sphered, the recollection of his former asylum, of ill-fated Jane Shore's penurious dwelling, flashed across him: with speedy, reassured pace he hurried on, leaping a ditch that obstructed his path, careless of every physical obstacle, when the malice of man was no longer to be apprehended. "Poor Jane!" he ejaculated: and again he reflected with some wonder that, in every adversity, women had been his resource and support; their energies, their undying devotion and enthusiasm, were the armour and weapons with which he had defended himself from and attacked fortune. Even one so fallen and so low as poor Jane Shore, was, through the might of fidelity and affection, of more avail than all his doughty partizans, who, in the hour of need, were scattered and forgetful.

The low-roofed cot was before him unmistaken. The crevice whence the light emanated was too small to admit his inquiring glance; amid the driving, pattering rain he fancied that he distinguished voices within; but, with a boldness which bade him fear nothing, he lifted the latch, and beheld in truth a sight of wonder;—Monina, with a shriek started from her seat; she folded him with wild joy in her fair arms, and then, blushing and trembling, threw herself on the neck of Lady Brampton; and Jane herself rose from her couch of straw, more wan, more emaciated than ever;—yet even over her sad pale face a smile wandered, showing in yet more ghastly hues the ruin it illumined.

Questions, ejaculations, wonder and delight, burst from every lip: "He is here to our wish; the means of escape are secured, and he is here! Oh, dearest Lady Brampton, do not the blessed angels guard him?" Monina spoke, and her soft luminous eyes were fixed on him, as if not daring to believe the vision; it was not the chastened delight of age, but the burning, ardent joy of a young heart, who had but one thought, one desire, and that about to be accomplished; her flushed cheeks betokened her rapture: "I have repined, despaired, almost blasphemed; yet he is here: how good is Almighty God! Listen, dear my lord, how wondrously opportune your arrival is: Lady Brampton will tell you all. Oh, this new miracle is the blessed Virgin's own achievement—you are free!"

Scarcely less animated, the zealous lady detailed the circumstances that united so favourably for him. She had been for some time at Brussels with the Duchess Margaret, who was more grieved than could be imagined at the capture of her beloved nephew. She lived in a state of terror on his account. That his life was awhile spared, availed little to pacify her; the midnight murders and prison-assassinations, so rife during the wars of York and Lancaster were present to her imagination. She exhausted every device, every bribe, to gain partizans for him to achieve his freedom. Among others, most liberal of promises, was the false Clifford. After Richard had escaped from him in the New Forest, he fell in with Frion, whose double plot being defeated, he strove to capture and accuse the accomplice whom, in fact, he had deceived. The knight fled; he escaped to the Low Countries; and by a glozing tale easily gained the ear of the duchess. Lost in England, perhaps he wished to rebuild his fallen fortunes; aided by her munificence, perhaps he prepared some new treachery; however it might be, he was trusted, and was the soul of the present enterprise. De Faro's vessel, refitted and well manned, was now anchored in the mouth of the Thames. Clifford undertook the task of foisting some creature of his own, or even himself, disguised, of undertaking the part of one of Richard's keepers, when he doubted not to be able to secure his flight.

With her usual vivacity Lady Brampton gave this account; but no explanations on her part could dissipate the horror York felt at the name of Clifford, or inspire him with anything but distrust of his intentions. Monina, before silenced by her sanguine associates, now gave expression to the terror and abhorrence his interference occasioned; she had come, exposing herself to a thousand perils and pains, merely that she might watch over his acts, and awaken her too credulous friends to a knowledge of his duplicity. But the danger was past; before Clifford could know that he had escaped, York might reach the Adalid.

Almost as an answering echo to these words there was a sound of hurrying steps. "It is he: the traitor comes. Oh, bar the door!" There was no bar, no mode of securing this dwelling of penury; three women alone were his guard: Monina, pale and trembling; Lady Brampton, endeavouring to reassure her; while Richard stood forward, his gaze fixed on the opening door, whose latch was already touched, resolved to meet, with perfect show of frank reliance and intrepidity, the intruders.

Sir Robert Clifford entered. Confusion, attempted boldness, and, last, sullen malice painted his aspect when he beheld the prince. He was much changed, and looked almost an old man; his dark and profuse hair was grizzled; his grey eyes hollow: and his dress, though that of a cavalier, exhibited signs of habitual neglect. His person, always slight, had been redeemed from insignificance by its exquisite grace and elegance; every trace of this was flown; and his haggard countenance and diminutive size made even York scarcely credit that this was indeed the gay, reckless Robin. His resolve had been already made; he addressed him kindly, saying, "Sir Robert, I hear that you are willing to renew to me your broken vows: may you hereafter keep them more faithfully."

Clifford muttered a few words; he looked towards the door, as if desirous of escape; he struggled with shame, guilt, and some other emotion. As soon as a consultation began as to the means to be adopted for the prince to reach the sea in safety, he conquered himself, entering; into it with spirit and zeal. The plan he proposed was crafty, his own part in it the principal. He spoke of disguising the prince as a female attendant on Monina; of his and O'Water's accompanying them along the river banks as soon as daylight.

"And wherefore not now? Or rather, wherefore even now do we not hasten to the Thames, and seize a boat?"

"Because," said Clifford, interrupting Monina, "his highness's flight is already known; a line of boats intersects the Thames below London Bridge; and lower still every craft is on the alert."

Each one exchanged looks; the knight continued: "You all distrust me, and I wonder not. I am in your power now; here are my unarmed hands; even a woman may bind them. Go forth yourselves: seek the path to the sea: before an hour elapses the duke will be again a prisoner. You may in this wild spot plant your daggers in my heart to avenge, but that will not save him; for I have no power here. But set me free, confide to my care, and, by the God that made me, he walks the deck of the Adalid ere the setting sun. I could tell you how this can be, and ye would not the more trust me, if I spoke of such alliance with, such power over, the rogues and vagabonds of this saintly city, as enables me to move strange engines to execute my will; even if you credited me you would disdain that your hero should owe his life to such base means. Be it as you will: believe me; and I pledge my life that his grace will ride the dancing waves beyond King Henry's reach to-morrow night."

"I accept the pledge," replied York, who had eyed him earnestly as he spoke. "I commit myself to your care; act speedily, without fear of balk or suspicion on my part."

Clifford's lips curled into a triumphant smile; because again he was trusted, or because again he would betray, it was hard to divine. "I must beseech your patience in the first place," said Sir Robert: "I cannot get the fitting disguises during the night."

"Night is no more," replied Richard, throwing open the casement; and the dusky room was illuminated by the day. In the east there was a very fountain of light, which, welling up, flooded the flecked and broken clouds with rosy hues: the stars were gone; a soft azure peeped between the breaking vapours; the morning air was deliciously fresh; the birds chirped; a distant watch-dog barked. Otherwise all was silent; and security seemed to walk the earth.

"I will go seek the needful dresses," said Clifford. "Your Grace will await my return, even though my stay, lengthened beyond my expectation, give some reason for the distrust I read n every eye."

"It is but too natural," said the prince, "that my kind friends should suspect you; for myself, I have said the word; I place myself in your hands: half measures were of no avail. If indeed you are a traitor, bring Tudor's hirelings here to seize their prey. I cannot fear; I will not doubt; and, if in my soul any suspicion lurk, my actions shall not be guided by it. Go; let your return be speedy or otherwise, I await you here."

Scarcely had the door closed, when Monina, whose eyes had been fixed on Clifford's countenance during the whole scene, exclaimed:—"This moment is our own! Fly, my prince; trust me—I know that bad man; if he find you here when he returns, you are lost."

"Hist!" Jane spoke the word, and a dead silence fell upon the anxious band. The steps of a horse were heard: Monina flew to the casement. "It is our faithful Irish friend, my lord; it is O'Water." The door was opened; and each one crowded round the visitant. He uttered a "By the mischief!" which sounded like a benediction, when he saw the duke of York, adding, "All is well, all in readiness; I left the Adalid, after the storm yester evening, in safe anchorage."

"Oh yes, safety," cried the enthusiastic Spaniard; "safety or death! Trust not false Clifford—seize the fleeting, precious opportunity,—O'Water's horse——"

"Is blown," said Richard; "he cannot carry me."

"And the ways strangely beset," said the mayor. "Just now I saw a young gentleman seized, much to his annoyance, by some patrol. He bribed dearly, but they would not listen—the whole country is alarmed."

"I will wait for Clifford," continued York; "and trust in Providence. Some kind friend only bestow a dagger on me: I would not be taken like an unarmed girl."

"A tramp of steeds—they are coming, Clifford guides them hither; we are lost!" cried Lady Brampton.

"Oh, fly—fly—my liege," said O'Water, "expose not these women to the assault. Poor Rose Blanche can yet bear you fast and far."

The sound as of a troop of horse neared. The prince saw O'Water blocking up the casement, and then draw his sword. Monina, wild with agony, fell at his feet:—"Fly, my lord, fly for the Lady Katherine's sake: fly for mine own: must I see you die? I, who have lived—alas! how vainly. Lady Brampton—beseech—command—he must fly. O, they will be here—to seize, to murder him!"

"Here is my dagger, my lord," said O'Water, coolly!—"Defend yourself—meanwhile—now at our last hour—for surely it is come, Our Lady recommend us to God's holy grace."

The gallop of a troop grew yet more distinct; Richard looked round: Jane was kneeling, her face buried in her hands: Lady Brampton pale, but resolved, was ready to sacrifice the life she had spent for him. O'Water had resigned himself to the final act of a life of peril, sealed in his blood. The lovely Spaniard alone lost all her self-possession; tears streaming from her uplifted eyes; her arms twined round his knees: to fly—fly! was the only thought she could express. "I yield," said York; "throw open the door." O'Water's horse had been led within the hut; he vaulted on his back; he placed the dagger in his belt. "That way," Lady Brampton cried, "it leads to the river's side below."

A scream from Monina followed his swift departure. "He perishes—he betrays us!" cried O'Water. Richard galloped on not across the field away from town, but right into danger; there, whence the troop was certainly approaching. He was lost to view on the instant, in a straggling lane which stretched out half across the field. A moment after coming from the other side, unobserved till in the hut, Clifford entered alone. He bore a large bundle; his steps were cautious and swift; his look told that he was intent only on the object of his errand. "I have succeeded beyond my hope. My life on it all is safe. Where have ye hid the prince? Oh, prithee, fear not, nor trifle: each second is precious."

The confused wondering looks of all present replied to him. Clifford laughed, a short, sarcastic, bitter laugh: and then, with a fiendlike expression of face, he said, "The prince has done well; and ye have all done well: and his Grace will thank you anon. Ye grudge me, maybe, the Duchess Margaret's bounty. She promised largely; 'twere pity to share the boon among so many. Now mark the event!"

These words displayed the baseness of his motive, yet vouched for his sincerity. He threw a menacing glance around, and then quitted the hut; and with hurried pace hastened across the field towards the town.