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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 27. Returns Home
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 27. Returns Home Post by :Zoderami Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2338

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 27. Returns Home

CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN. RETURNS HOME

Next morning John Deane set out to Nottingham, mounted on his strong horse, with a hanger slung to a sash over his shoulder, a laced coat, having an undoubted nautical cut about it, with a cocked hat, his waistcoat with long flaps, also richly embroidered. Altogether, with his hat cocked rakishly on one side, though he was unaware of the fact, he presented a gallant and bold appearance. He was just crossing the bridge over the Trent, into the town, when he saw a party of ladies and gentlemen on horseback approaching him. First came a gentleman in a laced riding-suit, wearing a fair peruke with a buckle, as the mode then was, engaged in low conversation with a young lady in a cherry-coloured riding-habit, her long hair hanging in loose curls over her shoulders. In the first he recognised his brother Jasper, and in the lady, the fair Alethea. She glanced slightly at Jack's bronzed countenance, surrounded by a bushy beard and whiskers, and well-knit figure. He drew his horse on one side to let the party pass. But though she looked up a second time, she evidently did not recognise him, nor did his brother.

Following them came another young gentleman with his merry sister Polly by his side. She was laughing loudly, as was her wont, either at her own jokes or at something her companion had said. Jack fully thought that she at all events would find him out, but she was possibly too much engaged in her own pleasant thoughts to do so, for though she gave a look at the naval gallant whom she was passing, she took no further notice of him.

"I won't stop them," thought Jack, "but go home and have a talk with father and mother first; and if Jasper is the gentleman who it is said is going to marry Alethea, the sooner I'm off to sea again the better! It looked something like it, for it's certain he never used to dress so bravely; and, by the way he was looking at her, I cannot help thinking it's too true. Well, I wish him every happiness. There's no use repining; and I don't see how I could have expected it to be otherwise. Of course he would fall in love with her; and she certainly never gave me any reason to suppose that she cared especially for me."

Such were the thoughts which occupied his mind as he rode up to the well-known door of his father's house in the market-place. The servant who opened the door bowed respectfully to the gallant stranger who was inquiring for Mistress Deane, and Jack had actually entered the parlour, where his mother was sitting with her knitting in hand, and been desired to take a seat, when he wonderfully astonished the old lady by springing up and throwing his arms round her neck. She knew him then well enough; and after giving him a maternal embrace in return, holding him by both hands, she looked again and again into his honest countenance, as if to trace his well-known features.

"Yes, Jack," she exclaimed, "you are my boy! I would not believe any one who told me otherwise, though the sun and the sea air have given you a more brazen face than I ever expected you would wear, and you have grown into a big, sturdy young man, well able to fight the king's enemies."

Old Mr Deane soon afterwards entered, hearing that a stranger had been inquiring for him. He confessed that if Mistress Deane had not been there to swear to him he should scarcely have known his own son.

Jack did not allow any thoughts which would mar his happiness to intrude while he sat between his kind parents, each of them holding one of his hands in theirs, while he gave them an account of his various proceedings since he had last written, among which he described his rescue of the Dutch gentleman, and his visit to Mr Gournay. His mother told him of Mr Harwood's supposed death abroad.

"Yes, dame. It was not so unfortunate, however," observed Mr Deane; "the poor gentleman was so deeply implicated in the Jacobite plots, that he would have lost his property if he had come back; but through the interest of many friends, and I may say I was one of them, we contrived to preserve his estates for Alethea. Poor man! his last days were very sad. He went to James's court at Saint Germain's, where he expected to be received with respect, as having suffered in the cause of the king. He wrote me an account of his visit. The palace in which James resided was magnificent. A handsome pension was allowed him by the French king, and he had guards, and a large establishment of hounds and huntsmen, and every means of amusing himself. He was, however, surrounded by ecclesiastics who ruled every thing, including the king himself. Nothing indeed could be more dull than the life spent by the courtiers, their sole employment appearing to be backbiting each other. Mr Harwood soon found also that he himself had committed a great crime in the eyes of those by whom he was surrounded. He was a Protestant. He, with all the other Protestant Jacobites who appeared at the court, were treated with the greatest indignity by the Roman Catholics. In every instance the Roman Catholic was preferred to the Protestant, and in every quarrel the Roman Catholic was supposed to be right. Several Protestant clergy who had given up their livings, and sacrificed every thing in the cause of James, were grossly insulted by the Romish priests. When they requested to be allowed to hold a service for their Protestant countrymen, their prayers were refused. The Protestant ministers were kept away from the death-beds of the Protestants, who were allowed to be beset by the Romish priests; these men endeavouring by all the arts they possessed, and often by force, to win them over to their church. Several Royalists, indeed, who died, were denied a Christian burial, and were thrown into holes dug in the fields at the dead of night, without any form or ceremony. The unfortunate Earl of Dunfermline, who had lost every thing for James, and had fought bravely for him at the battle of Killiecrankie, was treated in this way. While alive, he had been grossly insulted on several occasions. A number of Scotch officers who had served under him, requested that they might be formed into a company, and that he might be placed at their head; but this was refused on the plea that he was a Protestant, and therefore unfit to command men serving a Catholic prince. Those only who at the last gasp, scarcely conscious what was being done, were turned into Catholics, by having the consecrated wafer thrust into their mouths, were buried with all the pomp of the Romish Church. Poor Mr Harwood expressed his fears that he should be treated in the same way. He died at last of a broken heart, though he was able a short time before his death to remove from the court. His account shows us how James would have acted had he recovered the English throne, and we may be truly thankful to heaven that he was prevented from obtaining his wishes."

Mrs Deane and Jack heartily responded to this sentiment.

"You know Alethea, Jack? a pretty, sweet girl she is, I can assure you; though you saw so little of her, that you might not have discovered her good qualities," continued the old gentleman.

Jack's heart sank somewhat. He expected to hear his father give an account of the intended marriage of Alethea to Jasper. The old gentleman went on for some time enlarging on her beauty and accomplishments, and other attractive qualities.

"Your father means to say, Jack, that it has not been her fortune which has captivated your brother Jasper, for you must know that he has won her heart, and in the course of another week is to possess her hand. You have just come in time for the wedding. I am sure it will be a great pleasure to you to see Jasper made happy, as it adds greatly to our pleasure to have you back again amongst us."

Poor Jack's heart sank down to zero. His worst anticipations were thus realised. For some moments his head was in a whirl, and he knew not what to say. He speedily, however, recovered himself.

"I am thankful to hear of Jasper's expected happiness," he forced himself to say at last. He said it sincerely in one sense, for he loved his brother, and he felt that if Alethea was not to be his, he was glad that she should become Jasper's wife.

The time passed so rapidly, that he was surprised when at length the riding-party returned just in time to get ready for dinner. His brother and sister were truly glad to see him. Alethea received him with some little embarrassment, not that she was conscious of having given him any encouragement; but she recollected how she had endeavoured to draw him into the Jacobite plot, and she fancied that she was the principal cause of separating him from his family and sending him away to sea. Polly and her intended husband, who was something in her own style, soon, by the racket they made, and the shouts of laughter in which they indulged, drove away any thing like sentiment, and set every body at their ease. Kind cousin Nat shortly made his appearance, and holding Jack at arm's length, scanned him all over.

"I was not quite certain when I first saw you whether you were a buccaneer from the Spanish Main, or some other cavalier of fortune; but I now see that you are my own honest, good Jack, in spite of your somewhat ferocious appearance!" he exclaimed, shaking him by both hands. "You should get yourself, however, trimmed and docked, Jack, and you will be much more presentable in polite society."

Jack had not come without a few curiosities and trinkets which had been collected on board the prizes, or taken on shore. He was thus able to bestow some acceptable presents upon the intended brides.

Again the old house in the market-place was the scene of festivity. Two couples were to pledge their faith to each other, and guests from far and near assembled to do honour to the occasion. Jack wrung Jasper's hand.

"I wish you every happiness the world can give you!" he exclaimed, though as he spoke his voice trembled and the tears stood in his eyes.

Alethea looked more beautiful and attractive than she had ever done before, and Polly was more merry and full of life, not a bit abashed by the ceremony through which she then had to go. Jack performed his part well throughout the whole of it, and in the evening no one danced more lightly and merrily, or laughed louder than did he. At supper he sang some of his best sea-songs; and every one declared that Jack Deane was one of the finest young fellows who had appeared at Nottingham for many a long day.

Nottingham at that time could boast of some of the most agreeable society to be met out of London. It had been assigned as the residence of Marshall Tallard, the opponent of the great Duke of Marlborough at the battle of Blenheim, who was now a prisoner of war with a number of other gallant and polished French officers, who bore their captivity with resignation and cheerfulness, making themselves perfectly at home, and doing their best to amuse those among whom they lived.

Several curious traditions of their stay in the town still linger there. It was a French prisoner who first observed celery growing wild on the rock on which Nottingham Castle stands, Alainon Franchise, and having cultivated it successfully in his own little garden, he made that pleasant addition to English tables, from that time forth common every where throughout the kingdom. French rolls were also introduced from a receipt sent by the Marshall himself to a baker in Bridlesmith-gate.

It had been arranged that cousin Nat should reside with Jasper Deane, to whom he purposed giving up his practice when he should retire, which he expected to do in the course of a few years.

Jack was received in a friendly way wherever he went. The errors and wild pranks of the boy were entirely forgotten, when it was known that he had been fighting bravely for his king and country, and that he had by his own good conduct gained the rank he already held in the navy.

Jack, however, very soon got tired of leading an idle life. Routs and card-parties were not at all to his taste, and although Nottingham was not destitute of damsels possessed of a fair amount of beauty, he did not find himself attracted by any of them. He had speedily taught himself to think no more of Alethea, but in her stead another young and pretty form often rose up before him. He met with no one indeed, in his opinion, to be compared with sweet little Elizabeth Pearson, or rather, as he believed she should be called, Elise de Mertens. He made up his mind, therefore, to leave home at a short notice and hasten down to Portsmouth, where he saw in the columns of the _Post-boy that a fleet was fitting out, under the brave Admiral Benbow, for the West Indies.

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