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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 5. Jack's Visit To Harwood Grange...
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 5. Jack's Visit To Harwood Grange... Post by :johnnyk Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1497

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 5. Jack's Visit To Harwood Grange...

Chapter 5. Jack's Visit To Harwood Grange--Is Urged To Assist In The Jacobite Plot

Jack accordingly donned his best suit, and his sister Polly put his hair, which had been considerably singed by the fire, in as good order as it was capable of. His left hand was still in a sling, but he had no difficulty in mounting his horse with the aid of his right, and managing him as well as most people could with two hands at liberty. With a note from his father on business, and numerous messages from his mother and sisters, he set out on his expedition. He rode merrily along through the green wood, often indulging in daydreams, which, had he known more of the world, he might have suspected that there was little probability of being realised. The fair Alethea formed a prominent feature in most of them. Cousin Nat had charged him not to heat his blood by galloping, lest it might retard his recovery; but when he came to the commencement of a fine open glade, it was hard to restrain either the horse or his own feelings, and more than once he found himself flying over the ground as fast as he would have done had a pack of hounds been before him in full chase of a deer. In a shorter time than he had calculated on, therefore, he arrived at the front of Harwood Grange. It was a mansion built in the time of Elizabeth, with high roof and pointed gables, richly ornamented with the arms of the family, deeply carved in stone, over the principal entrance. It had no moat nor other means of defence having originally been a hunting-lodge. It was also out of the highway, and had thus escaped being turned into a fortress, and suffering the fate of many mansions throughout England during the wars between the "Cavaliers" and the "Roundheads." It was of considerable size, the outbuildings affording ample accommodation for horses and dogs.

Both the Squire and his daughter were at home, and had seen him approach as he rode up the avenue. He received a cordial welcome from the Squire in the old hall, into which the entrance-door opened. It was hung round with the usual trophies of the chase, hunting-poles, boar-spears, deer-horns, old cross-bows, and modern fire-arms, as well as curious pieces of ancient armour, which had done good service when worn by his father and his retainers in the time of the first Charles, under whose banner the family had ranged themselves. In the corner stood whole suits of armour, placed on lay figures, while on a table at the farther end lay hawk's jesses, and hoods, and bells, and other apparatus of the gentle sport of heronry. A long massive oak table, with a side board of the same wood and style of construction, and numerous high-backed chairs, completed the furniture of the room, while at the inner end was a huge fire-place, with a mantel-piece high above it, and carved oak seats on either side. The hall was used generally for banquets and other entertainments; smaller rooms leading off it were more usually occupied by the family.

Alethea had followed her father into the hall to welcome Jack, which she did in as cordial a manner as he could have desired, though the perfect self-possession she exhibited, and the total want of timidity, might have created some uncomfortable doubts in the mind of a person better acquainted with the female heart than Jack could have been. The Squire insisted on Jack's remaining to dine with them at the usual hour of noon, telling him that he had a good deal to talk about, and if he still proposed setting off on the journey he had spoken of, he would entrust him with several letters to be delivered on the road.

While the Squire went to write his letters--a task which, although they were not very long, took him a considerable time--Jack was left to the society of Alethea. He was more inclined to be sentimental than he had ever been before in his life; but she seemed in such good spirits, and laughed so heartily at some of the remarks he made, that he very soon returned to his natural manners. She seemed, indeed, more anxious to persuade him that the Jacobite cause was the right one, than to attempt to induce him to give up his proposed journey. Now she praised the late king, and his energy, and the numerous good qualities which she declared he possessed; and now she did her best to lower William in Jack's opinion.

"Such a king as he is!" she exclaimed: "his manners are positively repulsive, and he has no love for the fine arts: why they say that he hates 'bainting and boetry,' as he calls them; and when they have brought him poor diseased children to be touched for the king's evil, as used to be done by the royal Stuarts, he absolutely refused to put his hand upon them. Now, you know, if he really had been a king, his touch would most certainly have cured them."

"That never struck me before," answered Jack; "but I know when I have read accounts of his various actions, I have often thought that he was like a great hero: I am sure he was at the battle of the Boyne. Have you never read an account of it? I found one only the other day in an old 'News-letter,' I think it was, or it might have been in the 'post-boy,' or the 'Flying Post' The tide was running fast in the river, and the king's charger had been forced to swim, and then was almost lost in the mud. As soon, however, as the king reached firm ground, taking his sword in his left hand--for his right arm was still stiff with a wound and the bandage round it--he led his men to the spot where the fight was the hottest. The Irish horse retired, fighting obstinately. In the midst of the tumult of pistols flashing and swords cutting in all directions, William rode up to the gallant Enniskilleners.

"'What will you do for me?' he cried out; but not being immediately recognised, a trooper, taking him for an enemy, was about to fire.

"'What!' said he, 'do you not know your friends?'

"'It's his Majesty!' exclaimed the colonel of the regiment.

"On hearing this, a loud shout of joy burst from the men, who were all Protestant yeomen.

"'Gentlemen!' said William, 'you shall be my guards to-day. I have heard much of you; let us now see something of each other, and what we can do.'

"With this he led them forward against the enemy, who at length took to flight, and in a short time there was no doubt that the battle was won.

"Since I have read that account, I have always looked upon the king as a real hero."

"As a mere fighter or a leader of men in battle, he may not be contemptible," answered the young lady, not quite liking Jack's remarks; "but, for my part, I should prefer acknowledging the sovereign 'who is every inch a king,' as William Shakspeare says."

"I have never read any of Shakspeare's plays, or seen them acted either; but of one thing I am very sure, that King William would not allow such doings as have been long taking place in France, and which James Stuart would ere long have imitated. Just think, Miss Harwood, of the way the poor Protestants are treated there. If they refuse to turn Romanists, they are persecuted in every possible manner. The roughest soldiers are quartered in their houses, and allowed to treat them as they think fit. The ministers are driven from the country, and if any Huguenot gentlemen are captured attempting to make their escape, they are sent to the galleys, and have there to row on board those vessels, chained to the oar like slaves. Had King James remained in the country, there is no saying whether he might not have treated us Protestants in the same way."

Alethea was a little disconcerted at Jack's matter-of-fact view of the Stuart cause.

"But then, you know," she exclaimed, "James was the rightful sovereign; you cannot deny that."

"My father says that both his father, King Charles the First, and he broke their vows; and that, had they proved faithful to the people, the people would have proved faithful to them. We none of us believe it was right to cut off King Charles's head; but when it was very evident that James wished to make himself a despot, and to introduce the Romish faith again, we all think it was quite right that he should have been dismissed from the country."

"Oh, you are a dreadful Roundhead!" answered Alethea, in a half-vexed tone, though she laughed at the same time. "I am afraid we shall never convert you to our principles; and yet, if you come to view the matter in the light we do, you may see that King James has right on his side."

Alethea then entered into arguments in favour of King James, more fully than is necessary here, and which it might weary the reader to repeat. Sometimes, indeed, so well did she argue her cause, that Jack was inclined to agree with her. Then again remembering the opinions which he had heard his father and Cousin Nat express, he thought the present state of things was satisfactory. However, in the end Alethea contrived to leave him very much in doubt about the matter, and certainly at that moment, if she had put a sword in his hand, and told him that King James was coming back, and that he must go and fight under his banner, he would very probably have obeyed her orders.

The dinner hour at length arrived, when Mr Harwood returned with several letters in his hand. The Squire treated him with every kindness and attention, as the son of an old friend, and did not in any way allude to the subject on which his daughter had been so energetically expatiating. A stranger coming in would not have heard any thing to make him suppose that the owner of Harwood Grange was one of the greatest Jacobites in that part of the country.

"Remember," said Alethea, as Jack's horse was brought round to the front door, and he was about to mount, "I shall expect to hear that my arguments have had due effect, and that you will be ready to drink the health of the king over the water, whenever you hear it proposed."

He gallantly kissed the fair hand held out to him; and receiving a hearty shake from that of the Squire, he mounted his horse and took his way towards Nottingham. He returned at a much slower pace than he had come. A variety of thoughts and feelings troubled his head and his heart. He thought Alethea the most beautiful creature he had ever set eyes on. He wished to please her in every way in his power. If she had desired him to give up his intention of accompanying Will Brinsmead, he would have done so, or he would even have gone to college, and tried to study like his brother, if she had desired it; but she had not intimated a wish on either of these subjects, and seemed perfectly content that he should follow out his own inclinations. And yet she evidently desired to influence him in some way, and that was what most puzzled him. He had always heard William spoken of as the best king for England, and James as a man likely to prove an opponent of religious liberty and of the advancement and prosperity of the country.

He was even more than usually silent when he reached home, and Polly had to stir him up before he would give any account of his visit to the Grange. He, however, said nothing on the subject which Alethea had discussed with him.

A few days after this, having been declared perfectly convalescent, Jack set off to pay his respects to Mr Strelley, and to receive that gentleman's last orders. As he approached the door, he saw Cousin Nat's scarlet cloak a little ahead of him. He soon overtook the worthy doctor.

"Well, Jack, I am glad to find you," said his cousin: "I want to have a few words with you before you start, and there's no opportunity like the present. Let me advise you, as you have entered into this business, to stick to it, and you will find it as lucrative, at all events, as any you could well engage in. You will pass in your journeys many a fine park and noble palace going to decay through the fines and alienations which have fallen upon them, and you will thus see for yourself how truly it has been lately written, that 'an estate is but a pond, but trade a spring;' for you will also come upon fair houses, whose owners' names were unknown before the late Civil Wars, and you will find them flourishing by means of trade, honourably carried on from father to son, whereby not only wealth, but titles too have been won for this generation, and which promise to last for many yet to come."

Mr Strelley received Jack pleasantly, not the less so, perhaps, that he was accompanied by the doctor, who told him of the advice he had been giving his young kinsman.

"Ah, indeed!" observed the worthy manufacturer, "the wool trade is the great staple, and next to it I place the cattle trade. I will not detain you now to give you an account of these two great sources of wealth; you shall see them another time in my study: and take heart, my young friend; you have your foot on the ladder, and will climb some day to the top, if you gain all the knowledge your honoured kinsman is ready to give you, and are guided by his advice."

"And by your own good sense, Jack," added Cousin Nat. "Don't wish to be master before you have learned to be man, and don't trust every one you may meet, however civil they may be and pleasant in their manners; and above all things, my boy, do not forget that there is a God in heaven who watches over you, and sees and knows every thing you do. Do not fear to displease man, but dread greatly displeasing God. Remember that He is your friend, and that you can go to Him on all occasions. If you go boldly and frankly, as He has told you to do, trusting in His Son who died for you, He will never turn aside from your petitions."

Mr Strelley enforced what Cousin Nat had said with further arguments, and then having given Jack various directions for his conduct on the road, and for the commissions he was to perform for him, shook him cordially by the hand, and wished him every prosperity on the journey which was to commence the following morning.

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