Page images


Now hoist the anchor, mates-and let the sails
Give their broad bosom to the buxom wind,
Like a lass that wooes a lover.


THE presence of the Countess dispelled the superstitious feeling, which, for an instant, had encroached on Julian's imagination, and compelled him to give attention to the matters of ordinary life. "Here are your credentials," she said, giving him a small packet carefully put up in a seal-skin cover; -66 you had better not open them till you come to London. You must not be surprised to find that there are one or two addressed to men of my own persuasion. These, for all our sakes, you will observe caution in delivering."

"I go your messenger, madam," said Peveril; "and whatever you desire me to charge myself with, of that I undertake the care. Yet allow me to doubt whether an intercourse with Catholics will at this moment forward the purposes of my mission."

"You have caught the general suspicion of this wicked sect already, said the Countess, smiling, "and are the fitter to go amongst Englishmen in their present mood. But, my cautious friend, these letters are so addressed, and the persons to whom they are addressed so disguised, that you will run no danger in conversing with them. Without their aid, indeed, you will not be able to obtain the acVOL. II.- 5


curate information you go to seek. None can tell so exactly how the wind sets, as the pilot whose vessel is exposed to the storm. Besides, though you Protestants deny our priesthood the harmlessness of the dove, you are ready enough to allow us a full share of the wisdom of the serpent;-in plain terms, their means of information are extensive, and they are not deficient in the power of applying it. I therefore wish you to have the benefit of their intelligence and advice, if possible." "Whatever you impose on me as a part of my duty, madam, rely on its being discharged punctually," answered Peveril. "And now, as there is little use in deferring execution of a purpose when once fixed, let me know your ladyship's wishes concerning my departure."

"It must be sudden and secret," said the Countess; "the island is full of spies; and I would not wish that any of them should have notice that an envoy of mine was about to leave Man for London. -Can you be ready to go on board to-morrow?" "To-night-this instant if you will," said Julian," my little preparations are complete."

[ocr errors]


"Be ready, then, in your chamber, at two hours after midnight. I will send one to summon you, for our secret must be communicated, for the present, to as few as possible. A foreign sloop is engaged to carry you over; then make the best of way to London, by Martindale Castle or otherwise, as you find most advisable. When it is necessary to announce your absence, I will say you are gone to see your parents. But stay-your journey will be on horseback, of course, from Whitehaven. You have bills of exchange, it is true; but are you provided with ready money to furnish yourself with a good horse?"

"I am sufficiently rich, madam," answered Julian; and good nags are plenty in Cumberland.

There are those among them who know how to come by them good and cheap."

"Trust not to that," said the Countess.


is what will purchase for you the best horse on the Borders. Can you be simple enough to refuse it?" she added, as she pressed on him a heavy purse, which he saw himself obliged to accept.

"A good horse, Julian," said the Countess, "and a good sword, next to a good heart and head, are the accomplishments of a cavalier."

[ocr errors]

"I kiss your hands, then, madam," said Peveril, "and humbly beg you to believe, that whatever may fail in my present undertaking, my purpose to serve you, my noble kinswoman and benefactress, can at least never swerve or faulter."

"I know it, my son, I know it; and may God forgive me if my anxiety for your friend has sent you on dangers which should have been his. Go-go -May saints and angels bless you. Fenella shall acquaint him that you sup in your own apartment. So indeed will I; for to-night I shall be unable to face my son's looks. Little will he thank me sending you on his errand; and there will be many to ask whether it was like the Lady of Latham to thrust her friend's son on the danger which should have been found by her own. But O, Julian, I am now a forlorn widow, whom sorrow has made selfish."

"Tush, madam," answered Peveril; "it is more unlike the Lady of Latham to anticipate dangers which may not exist at all, and to which, if they do indeed occur, I am less obnoxious than my noble kinsman. Farewell! All blessings attend you, madam. Commend me to Derby, and make him my I will expect a summons at two hours af


ter midnight."

They took an affectionate leave of each other; the more affectionate, indeed, on the part of the Countess, that she could not entirely reconcile her gener

ous mind to exposing Peveril to danger on her son's behalf; and Julian betook himself to his solitary apartment.

His servant soon afterwards brought him wine and refreshments; to which, notwithstanding the various matters he had to occupy his mind, he contrived to do reasonable justice. But when this needful occupation was finished, his thoughts began to stream in upon him like a troubled tide-recalling at once the past, and anticipating the future. It was in vain that he wrapped himself in his riding cloak, and, lying down on his bed, endeavoured to compose himself to sleep. The uncertainty of the prospect before him-the doubt how Bridgenorth might dispose of his daughter during his absence-the fear that the Major himself might fall into the power of the vindictive Countess, besides a numerous train of vague and half-formed apprehensions, agitated his blood, and rendered slumber impossible. Alternately to recline in the old oaken easy-chair, and listen to the dashing of the waves under the windows, mingled, as the sound was, with the scream of the sea-birds; or to traverse the apartment with long and slow steps, pausing occasionally to look out on the sea, slumbering under the influence of a full moon, which tipped each wave with silver-such were the only pastimes he could invent, until midnight had past for one hour, when the next was wasted in anxious expectation of the summons of departure.

At length it arrived-a tap at his door was followed by a low murmur, which made him suspect that the Countess had again employed her mute attendant as the most secure minister of her pleasure on this occasion. He felt something like impropriety in this selection; and it was with a feeling of impatience alien to the natural generosity of his temper, that, when he opened the door, he beheld the

dumb maiden standing before him. The lamp which he held in his hand showed his features distinctly, and probably made Fenella aware of the expression which animated them. She cast her large dark eyes mournfully on the ground; and, without again looking him in the face, made him a signal to follow her. He delayed no longer than was necessary to secure his pistols in his belt, wrap his cloak closer around him, and take his small portmantle under his arm. Thus accoutred, he followed her out of the Keep, or inhabited part of the Castle, by a series of obscure passages leading to a postern gate, which she unlocked with a key, selected from a bundle which she carried at her girdle.

They now stood in the castle-yard, in the open moonlight, which glimmered white and ghastly on the variety of strange and ruinous objects to which we have formerly alluded, and which gave the scene rather the appearance of some ancient cemetery, than of the interior of a fortification. The round and elevated tower-the ancient mount, with its quadrangular sides facing the ruinous edifices which once boasted the name of Cathedral-seemed of more antique and anomalous form, when seen by the pale light which now displayed them. To one of those churches Fenella took the direct course, and was followed by Julian, although he at once divined, and was superstitious enough to dislike, the path which she was about to adopt. It was by a secret passage through this church, that in former times the guard-room of the garrison, situated at the lower and external defences, communicated with the Keep of the Castle; and through this passage were the keys of the Castle every night carried to the Governor's apartment, so soon as the gates were locked, and the watch set. The custom was given up in James the First's time, and the passage aban

« PreviousContinue »