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“I had many cautions about it, so did not trust it in my bag. I doubt not the young gentleman thought it of more consequence than all the State business.”
While he spoke Alice was trying to decipher the impression on the seal, and it vexed her to feel her cheeks redden as she discovered from whom this missive came, and to see the courier smile significantly. Still she was puzzled, and asked, “How did you get this, since you have come straight from London ?"
“I will tell you, lady. I stopped a few hours in Cambridge, on my way, for my horse cast a shoe just outside the town, and I was forced to wait and get the beast shod; and, as I was standing at the forge door, and telling the blacksmith to make more hastefor I was bound on State business for Hull—a young gentleman stopped and asked what I said. Seeing no harm in him, I said I was on my way to Hull.”
“What was the gentleman like ? " interrupted Alice.
“He had a pleasant face when he smiled, my lady. I marked his eyes, and should know him again anywhere. He was of middle height, and had brown hair, I think. He asked me who I had letters for, and when I told him for his worship the mayor, and for Colonel Lister, he said if I could take a little packet for him to the Colonel's daughter he would make my purse heavier. His college was close by, he said, and he would return in half an hour. He was gone longer than that; but my horse was only just ready when he came running out. He need not have feared. I would have waited to oblige so kindly spoken a gentleman, and am glad I did not disappoint so pretty a lady."
Giving the man a coin for his trouble—not for his complimentAlice dismissed him to the kitchen. The Colonel had heard nothing of this colloquy, and when she asked leave to open her letter, he bade her wait a moment.
“Now, sweetheart, what have you got there?” he asked, folding up his own epistle. She told him it was a letter from Master Marvel.
“Andrew Marvel, eh! and how did it come?” Alice repeated all the messenger had said. “Well, little daughter, open it and read it, and when I come back you can tell me what he says.
I am going to speak to the Mayor." He moved towards the door, but suddenly turned bacả, put his hands on Alice's shoulders, and looked laughingly in her face ; then, with a kiss, and a fervent“ God bless thee, Alice,” he left her to her letter.
She quickly cut the silken thread, and something dropped out which she saw was written in verse. She thought, sweet, simple soul! that it was the best letter she had ever read; but then it was a
rare thing for her to have one of her own; and, as there were no secrets in the student's, we may as well transcribe it:
" Trinity College, Cambridge,
the 30th day of May, 1640. " To Mistress Alice Lister. "DEAR AND HONOURED LADY,—You will doubtless be astonished, but, I venture to hope, not seriously offended, at my boldness, in presuming to take up my pen to write your name. Our long and intimate acquaintance must plead with you to pardon this want of ceremony; my words must be very brief, for the mes. senger is waiting to carry them, and in this little space I must make good my excuse for writing even these few lines.
“You may have forgotten some melodious lines I repeated in your hearing, composed by our courtly versifier, Edmund Waller ; but I have not forgotten your desire to possess a copy of the song, nor my promise to gratify your wish, in fulfilling which I do myself much pleasure and honour. The beautiful lady, to whom Waller addressed his verses, and whom he apostrophises under the name of Sacharissa, was united last year in marriage to the Earl Spencer ; and although the noble lady did not favour Waller's suit, yet her charms have inspired the poet to write such measures as will make bis name immortal. I trust that the reading of the song may please you as much as the hearing of it did. I am constrained to envy the courier who will so soon be within sound of your voice; he will tell you by what strange chance I met with him.
“I pray you to present my hearty respects to your honoured father; and again beseeching your grace and favour, I kiss your hands, and desire ever to rest, dear lady, your humble and faithful servant and knight,
“ ANDREW MARVEL.”
We hope our readers will not find the verses tedious if we copy them also.
“Go, lovely Rose,
That now she knows,
" Tell her that's young,
That, had'st thou sprung,
• Small is the worth
Bid her come forth,
Then die! that she
May read in thee,
Alice was still musing over her letter when her father returned, and, sitting down beside her, asked, “What does Andrew say?"
“ You had better read for yourself, father; it is not so long an epistle as yours.”
He read the letter and glanced over the verses. “A pretty song; but you should ask Andrew to write you out some of his own verses."
“He might not like it, father. Don't you remember how confused he was when his sister Ann found those lines he had written; but perhaps some day he will print them. You will think me conceited, father, to fancy I can espy a fault in Master Waller's sentiments; but the third verse I like not so well as the others. Beauty must have some worth, even when it blooms in solitude, and nothing can be made fair in vain."
“ Your words remind me of a sermon our good Mr. Marvel once preached, in which he said, "There is always one eye that sees into the heart of the wilderness, and down into the depths of the sea, and marks beauties that our blind eyes cannot discover, for beautiful things are made for the glory and praise of God, more than for the enjoyment of sinful man. I wonder where that dear minister is sleeping now. At least one eye sees, however deep in the ocean his bed is made. But,” said the Colonel, starting up, " that man must be off at sunrise to-morrow, and I have much to say to my worthy friend that must be written to-night.”
Alice thought it was more likely to be morning before her father filled the great folio sheet that he spread out before him; but she did not say so.
She knew the labour he had in penmanship, therefore did her best to help by examining the state of his quills, and putting them in the best working order.
“Did you hear the courier say that Vane had been knighted?” “Yes, father; are you not surprised ?"
“Not much; it is only a bait, I suspect, held out by his father and the King. But His Majesty may confer what honours he pleases on Harry Vane, he will not win him over to sell his country for royal favours. He has also just been appointed treasurer of the navy, with Sir William Russell—a post of great profit; but gold will no more tempt him than a title.”
The matters to be dwelt upon to Vane were numerous, and as Alice had foreseen, daylight shone through the library curtains before the soldier's bold signature was attached to his closely written
sheets; he was just sealing them when the messenger, ready booted and spurred, knocked at his door.
The disturbances in the country daily increased; for in July the army from Scotland obtained possession of Northumberland, and it was reported that they would soon be in York. The Colonel watched the tide of events with growing anxiety; he had not hunted for three months, and his neighbours who dropped in could hardly persuade him to take a hand in his favourite game of chess. But, to Alice's comfort, he seemed to love her society more than ever, concealing nothing from her, so that she could look abroad and think of the future with less dread.
CHAPTER VI. ALICE'S DIARY_NEWS FROM YORK. 1640-August 24th.—The King arrived yesterday at York, and my father has gone with cousin Will Lister to wait upon His Majesty; he wishes also to observe all that is done, and especially to watch the movements of my Lord Strafford, who is High Steward of this town—for many evils have fallen upon us through his ill advice to the King. All day the waggons have been leaving the town, full of powder and shot for the King's army at York; more than a hundred loads are to be sent from the Manor Palace, and fifty pieces of ordnance from the blockhouses.
When my father was gone, to keep up my heart I went down to see Aunt Lister; but she had more need of cheer than I, for I found her wandering in the garden, watering a flower here and there with her tears. She said the house was so dreary and silent that she was constantly listening for poor uncle's voice and step, and then would remember that she should never hear it more. She wept again as she pointed to the trees he had planted and trained, and gathered the blossoms he loved most. I tried to talk about the happiness he now enjoys, but wondered meanwhile whether I should sorrow less if father were taken from me. Aunt shook her head at my talking, and said it seemed hard to think that he could be so entirely bappy away from her, and she so wretched. I saw that I was not a comforter, so persuaded her to go with me and look at the new hospital that is building, to be called “Lister's Hospital." I know she likes to see how the workmen are getting on, and feels as if she vere doing something to please uncle by attending to this last wish of his. Coming home again we met good Mistress Crowle, who had been visiting the sick and poor, and dispensing her charity.
“ You will be lonely, Alice," said she," without the Colonel. Do come and see me; my daughters say you are a poor neighbour. But I tell them 'tis not because you are gadding elsewhere, but your dear father loves to have you always beside him. Now he is away you may reasonably oblige your friends."
" I never see Mistress Crowle's kind face without remembering that I am motherless; and wishing, oh! so much, that my mother was living.
September 1st.—I had just stepped in this morning to ask Dolly Crowle to show me how to work the new tapestry stitch, which she calls tambour, and we were busy at the window when a man passed on horseback.
“Look!” cried Dolly, “ that is one of your Cousin Will's servants, come back from York. How hot he seems, and covered with dust!” We looked out and saw him stop at the King's Head Inn, where he got down and walked away up the street. “ Flow excited you are, Alice,” said Dolly, smiling.
I replied, “There will be news now, and something important, or the man would have ridden home first."
"Well, we shall soon hear,” said she, “ for my father is at the Mayor's, and the servant went towards his house; so do not go away,”—for I was putiing on my hood, in haste to be gone; but, urged by her, I took it off, and waited for Master Crowle. It seemed very long, and I must have tried Dolly's patience in learning lier new stitch; but she knew where my wind was gone, and is too like her mother to be soon vexed. At last Master Crowle returned.
"Where is your mother?” said he to Dorothy; then, seeing me, he exclaimed—“Oh, Alice ! are you here? I was going to your house with a letter from your father. I bade the man give it to me, that I might see how happy you would look."
I suppose I did look glad, for he said, kindly—“There, you may go now, I am quite satisfied; your sun is come out, and you will be dancing in its rays all day.”
I soon reached home, and, shutting myself up, ate my sweet morsel alone. But it was not all sunshine in my letter. I could feel
my father was depressed, and indignant too. After writing of his journey, and other matters, he went on to say—“I had some talk with my Lord Strafford, the day after we came here, and took courage to speak of the discontent that is felt everywhere at the King's measures,-even amongst His Majesty's own troops, who have mostly been pressed into the service. I told him that people were not slow to condemn him, as one of the chief causes of these murmurs; and bade him beware how he advised the King at this crisis, lest he roused up a spirit that not even his strong influence could subdue. His lordship was very civil in his manner; but my
. Lord Say and Sele, who happened to be present, says I have made him my enemy for ever by such plain speaking. I care not,