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February 18th.—Ralph fetched Kate yesterday. She is to stay with us until her marriage, which is to be in about a month. Even bad she not been so recently bereaved, such is the state of public affairs, no one would be inclined to make merry on this occasion. Her recent troubles have softened Kate. She is much less haughty in manner, and I must say that this new gentleness sits very becomingly upon her. The Queen is going to Holland with the Princess Mary, who is betrothed to the Prince of Orange. The King bas withdrawn his charge against the members, but the delivery of Hull into the hands of Sir John has mightily displeased him.
I am weary with waiting, and longing for a letter from Andrew. When Ann comes to lament to me over this long silence, I try to cheer her, and find abundant reasons for the delay; but alas ! they do not suffice to allay my own fears. When Ralph first came he was very cold and distant towards me, but since Kate's arrival he has resumed something of his old friendliness. They both go with us to hear Mr. Nye, as do some of Sir John's soldiers, so that the mean little room where we used to meet became too small, and obliged us to hire a larger one in Dagger Lane. The ordering of wedding clothes has made Kate and me very busy, and Janet says she is glad that something is going to happen at last ; it seemeth to me that something happens most days now, and it is a curious change from politics and threatened invasion, to the making of satin gowns, the sorting of piles of snowy linen, and the attorney's tedious details about marriage portions and dowries.
CHAPTER XVII.-WILL LISTER TAKES HOME A BRIDE. On the first day of March, the Colonel's house in High Street put on its best appearance, for Kate was to be married that morning in the drawing-room. Only a small number of intimate friends had been invited, for Sir Guy Hildyard's recent death forbade any public display on this occasion.'
The Colonel, whose hair was silvering very fast, tried to smooth out, for one day at least, the lines of care from his still handsome face, and for that reason he avoided all conversation with Master Crowle before the ceremony, knowing it would soon turn on the present state of affairs, and betook himself to the side of Mistress Crowle, the comeliest matron in Hull. The bridegroom stood apart, listening for the coming footsteps; his manners were shy but not without a certain dignity, and altogether Will was much improved in mind and body since we first met him. Dame Lister, flurried and nervous, praised the early spring flowers to Mr. Nye, who stood waiting in his gown and bands; and round the hearth several others talked in low tones.
The door opened at last, and all eyes turned that way as Sir Ralph, dressed in a suit of ruby velvet, slashed with white silkwith ruffles and collar of the choicest lace-led in his sister, attired in a rich white satin gown. Her black hair-curling like her brother's, and scarce longer than his—almost hid her fair neck; and through the folds of her veil her dark eyes shone proudly as Sir William advanced to her side. Alice and Dorothy, her maids, followed, also robed in white, with knots of violets in their hair and bosoms.
Alice tried to rejoice with Kate, and to banish from her mind all thoughts of self; but how could she forget Andrew Marvel at such a moment, with everything to remind her of her vows? And when they knelt down the conviction came with overpowering force, that he would never return, that she might wait and wait, but it would all be in vain; and the solemn stillness of the room was broken by such a bitter sob, that Kate trembled as if an evil omen had been whispered in her ear. The Colonel glanced towards his darling,
. and his own eyes moistened to see her crouching attitude, and the convulsive clasp of her hand. But when they rose from their knees Alice had regained composure, and Ralph, who had not dared to look at her, was surprised to hear her wish Kate joy in her usual sweet, clear voice. But the bride was not so self-possessed; the tears streamed down her cheeks as she embraced her friend, and said, “My joy will be full when I know that Alice is as happy as I am this day.” Then her other friends pressed round with warm congratulations, and there was a confused naurmur of cheerful talk until they adjourned to the dining-room. The feast spread here was worthy of Winstead Hall itself.
A row up the river in Sir William's barge, which had been painted and cushioned anew, wiled away the afternoon, and early in the evening he led his new wife home. Dame Lister took up ber abode with Alice for a few weeks, that the bridal pair might spend their honeymoon alone.
Not many days after the wedding Ralph called upon his sister, and found her, like a good housewife, sitting with her own maid at work.
"I have come for a gossip, Dame Katherine," said he, significantly, and when Cicily was dismissed he asked, “Has Alice heard anything of Marvel ?"
“No; have you ?” said Kate, eagerly.
“Indeed, not I; but I tell you, Kate, little cause as I have to wish that fellow any good, I would be glad to carry her some tidings of him. I can't bear to see her with that patient look of endurance
on her face. I am wretched enough myself, but it is no consolation to know that she is equally miserable. Why does he not write ?"
“Now, Ralph, do be reasonable ; perhaps he has written, and the letters have miscarried. You know how unsettled everything is. I am grieved for Alice; and for you, too, dear brother ; but we can do nothing."
“It was a strange time to leave England, when timid women. folk want all the comfort they can get.”
“But it was the Colonel who advised him to go; and who could foresee all these troubles ? Alice says her great comfort is in knowing that everything is done for the best. She has made me believe that there is somewhat in religion; I have heard plenty of fine talking about faith, and being willing to trust when the dark days come; now I have seen one who can act better even than she can talk. When you told me that she was serious, I expected she would be always rebuking me for my folly and pride ; but never a word of censure has she spoken, though she had an excellent opportunity that Sunday afternoon at Winestead, when I made Will play at cards. I wished I had never asked him, but still I was not going to say I thought there was any harm it; so I went to her room, curious to hear what she would say. Instead of accusing me, she began to lament, and to say how hard she found it to do always what was right, and that she failed in something every day-and I know she meant what she said, too. If she had preached to me about my sins for an hour, it would not have done me half so much good as hearing her—dear little saint-complain of her weakness and cowardice. I went away more humble than I had ever felt in my life before.”
“I always told you, Kate, that Alice would not offend you with her pious notions. I suppose Marvel is of the same mind about religion, and no doubt I shall appear a great reprobate in her eyes."
“I think it pleases her that you go and hear Mr. Nye."
“[ greatly admire him, Kate; and Alice cannot think now that I gu to win favour from her. I could never descend so low as to mat religion a tool to gain a woman's sinile. I met Ann Marvel yesterday, and made free to ask her if she had heard from her brother. She looked as incensed as if I had insulted her, and hardly deigned me a reply. I was more amused than vexed to see the child put on such airs."
“ “ Alice says that Ann cannot endure being asked about Andrew, having nothing but the old doleful answer to give. You have not told me, Ralph, if there is anything new being talked of. Will went out to see the Colonel, and has not come back yet.”
“I was at the King's Head just now, and heard Sir John's man say that his master had nad letters from London. The King has left Canterbury, and it is supposed that he is thinking of coming to the north again. The Commons very much mis-doubt the wisdom of allowing the Queen to go to Holland; there are still so many rumours of foreign assistance being sent, that the King may defy bis Parliament. We are not at the end of our troubles yet, Kitty."
CHAPTER XVIII.-THE KING KNOCKS IN VAIN AT THE GATES
OF HULL. It was true that Charles had left Canterbury, and was at that very time stealing away towards the north, when the state of England, and especially of Ireland, rendered it most necessary that he should be near the seat of government.
The Queen, safely out of England, was bending her haughty spirit to conciliate the wealthy Dutch merchants, and pawning her jewels to raise money to assist her husband's despotic measures ; and while Charles continued to declare that he desired nothing so much as to satisfy his subjects, and to protect their privileges, he was aiming secretly to undermine the foundations of their dearest rights. He was so intensely satisfied with his own wisdom and judgment, that experience failed to teach him a single lesson. He seemed to have a natural predilection for crooked ways and double meanings; and, however becoming truth and honesty might be in private life, he did not seem to think it at all necessary to practise these virtues in dealing with the public. By a long course of deceit and falsehood, he was weaning the respect and love of his trusting people from his person and office.
Believing that their worst fears were about to be realised, that a foreign army was shortly to land in Hull, and join the Scotch royalists, it was most important for Parliament to secure that town, and at once to possess themselves of its stores; and it was the wish of the Commons that Sir John Hotham should ship these stores and send them to the Tower of London; but before the order arrived the town had need itself of all the arms and ammunition that its magazine contained.
Charles had also perceived the advantage it would give him to obtain a hold of this port, and, as we have seen, endeavoured to do this by stratagem. It was now in Hotham's hands, the man who had stood up before the Commons and declared, “Fall back! fall edge! he would carry out the wishes of the Parliament."
The end of March found the King again in York, from which place he issued proclamations, and commands, and declarations, which were all nullified by the reading before Parliament of private
letters, that showed the real mind and disposition of the King and his supporters. Clarendon says that the chief reason why Charles came down into Yorkshire was to seize upon the vast magazines of Hull; and, though foiled in his first attempt, he still kept his eye upon the town. His next plan was so arranged that he could have felt no doubt of its success, but it was the most unfortunate step he had yet taken, and was fatal to his interests.
On the 22nd of April, amongst the crowd of country people flocking into Huil to attend the market, several gentlemen passed in unnoticed. They loitered in the town, seeming to observe everything, asking questions about the vessels lying in the river, and seeming curious as to the strength of the bulwarks, and the repairs going on; and as these five or six gentlemen carried marks upon them of superior birth and breeding, their presence could not long be concealed from the authorities—who, since the Earl of Newcastle's visit, had felt a mistrust of strangers.
The Mayor called upon Sir John Hotham, who had himself just received intelligence that six gentlemen were come-as they said " to see the town.”
“I will soon know their real business, Master Barnard, if it is to be discovered,” said Sir John. “My son has spoken with them, and offered to show them into the Town Hall, and thither we will repair, if your worship approves."
Directly Sir John set eyes on the strangers, he uncovered, and, with the utmost respect, bent the knee before the youngest of the party—à mere child. It was the Duke of York, who, with the regal air of the Stuarts, extended his hand graciously, first to Hotham, and then to the Mayor, who had quickly followed the Governor's example. The gentlemen with him were the King's nephew, the Prince Palatine, and the Lords Newport and Willoughby, with two other personages of distinction.
“I am sorry that we did not know of the honour your Highness intended to confer on our poor town,” said the Mayor, " that we might have received your Highness with the respect befitting your royal birth.” Then, after begging the Prince and his friends to accept of his hospitality that day, the Mayor showed them over the whole place; and so soon as the illustrious titles of these strangers became known, a great multitude collected and followed them in their tour. The governor invited them to dine with him the next day at the Trinity House, when the Guild would be celebrating St. George's day with a great feast. Late that night an express arrived from London, commanding Sir John "to take care that no foreign ship entered the port without strict examination. That no English, or other forces be suffered to enter but those already appointed to be the garrison there; by the wisdom and authority of both Houses