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to fight ?” asked Alice, advancing to the window, the colour coming and going in her cheeks.
“I will go and see what it is all about, dear Alice, if you will lie quietly down again," answered Kate.
“No, I will go down with you; I have kept up here too long. Father is afraid to tell me of this, but I will show him that I am a true soldier's daughter. I have heard him say that my mother always fastened on his belt, and no one but her child ought to do it now.”
Kate followed her feeble steps downstairs in amazemen“, and with equal amazement the Colonel saw her enter the parlour.
“Eh ! sweetheart, this is an advance ;" and he came forward to lead her to a seat, inwardly discomposed that she should find him half-dressed in armour. He had not meant to say anything to her of the intended sortie, but now all must be explained. As briefly as possible he told her that Parliament had received information that a sbip called the Providence had been fitted out with arms and ammunition by the Queen, and had set sail from Holland for the northern coast. Several men-of-war had chased, and driven her up the Humber; but as she was a small vessel, she had escaperi them by sailing higher up the river into such shallow water that her pursuers were unable to follow her. The captain of the Providence had driven her ashore at Kayingham, on the Holderness coast; and the commander of the disappointed fleet had sent woril to Hull, that they might take her by land, and prevent her cargo getting into the King's hands; for it was well known that Charles would have commenced active hostilities some time ago had be possessed the necessary means.
“Why did you not tell me, father, that there was danger near ?" said Alice. “Let me fasten those buckles, Simon. No one ought to help your master put on those pieces but the lady of the house.”
Simon gladly gave place to his mistress, pleased beyond measure to see her amongst them again; but the Colonel felt doubly anxious, lest when this sudden excitement was over she would relapse into deeper me lancholy than before. However, he suffered her to have her way, trying to smile cheerfully upon her as she knelt to buckle his
spurs. “ One would think I was a young knight being armed for his first battle," he remarked playfully.
“ You are better than that, father. You are a well-tried soldier, in whom men have confidence. What colours will you wear to-day? Those I wrought last year ?"
“No, my child ; the same I have worn in every engagement, though this is likely to be only a slight skirmish, not worth the
name of a fight.” He went to an oaken cabinet and took out a faded embroidered badge, and reverently kissing it handed it to Alice to tie across his breast. His own motto and arms were wrought in tarnished silver in the centre, with the shield of the Gordon family, to which his wife belonged. It had been her gift soon after their betrothal.
The confusion in the streets increased, and could be plainly heard in the parlour, which overlooked the courtyard. There the Colonel's horse, like his master, was being harnessed for the coming fray, and when be heard the roll of drums and caught the shrill bugle note he pricked his ears and shook his head with impatience to be gone. Just as the Colonel was ready Kate's husband and brother burs unceremoniously into the room.
"'Tis time we were mounted, uncle," exclaimed Will; but, catching sight of Alice, he stopped short. “By my faith! Why, I did not think to see you here, fair cousin ; this is hardly the scene for an invalid methinks.”
“I am better now, Cousin Will,” replied Alice, whose ashy face belied her words.
As for Ralph he stood speechless, with a choking sensation in his throat. At last he stammered out a few words about the pleasure it was to see her down again.
“I make no doubt we shall soon be back, my Alice, and don't trouble thy dear heart about me while I am gone. Perhaps we shall secure the prize unmolested,” said the Colonel, embracing his daughter, with further injunctions to rest and get strong.
Will was taking a loving adieu of his wife, who tried to hide all appearance of uneasiness, though she had a legion of fears for her knight under her satin boddice. “Good bye, coz,” said Will, tearing himself away from Kate, and kissing Alice's cheek. away, Ralph.
We have no time to lose ; ” and Ralph, bidding his sister and Alice a basty farewell, quickly followed him.
The Colonel led out a strong detachment from the garrison; but the people of Holderness, whom Sir John Hotham had in some way offended, and who, therefore, were determined to oppose and annoy him, had already raised the alarm, and collecting their own and neighbouring train bands, and being joined by the Beverley troops, so well defended the passage to the vessel that it was found im. possible to gain access to her without much bloodshed. Mortifying as it was to the Colonel to be defeated in his purpose, he knew that the rulers in Westminster bad resolved that they would not be the first to take to the sword, and he never dreamt of questioning their wisdom. The men of Holderness seemed also aware of this resolu. tion, for they used the greatest caution in maintaining the defensive.
“What is the use of wearing these swords, if we mayn't cut down a few of those rascals !” growled Sir William, turning his horse towards Hull in high dudgeon, and half doubting his uncle's bravery, of which he heard so much. He had so longed to distinguish himself, that Kate might be proud of her husband.
“We should have needed our weapons, Will, if those men hadn't known something of the orders from Parliament before they deserted our cause. All they wanted was to keep us at bay while they unshipped and secured the cargo. They knew I should not contend for the empty wreck. But if they had used their pikes, as I expected they would do, we should have had some sharp fighting. You are disappointed, and so is Ralph; but believe me in this case • discretion was the better part of valour,' and when you have seen as many of your fellow-men lying stiff and cold on the battle field,
v and remembered that most of them had wives, and mothers, and little children, you will not be so eager to draw your sword, though you cannot be more vexed than I am to return home unsuccessful.” “ But, Colonel,” said Ralph,“ we have but hastened on a general
” war by abstaining from taking the lives of a few men. We know Charles can't fight until he has powder, and shot, and guns; if we had stormed the ship at first, and fired on those men who were removing the cargo, we might have prevented a dozen battles; now the King will be able to fit out his men and bring them beneath our own walls."
“What you say is quite true and reasonable, Ralph ; but our orders were very strict, and those under authority must not follow their own judgment; a soldier's first duty is to obey.”
Somewhat crest-fallen, but conscious of having done their duty to the letter, the little detachment returned to Hull; and the triumphant protectors of the Providence escorted most of her valuable supplies to the King at York. His Majesty now felt himself in a position to gain an entrance into Hull by force, after failing to do this by other means, and he began to show a spirit and energy that no one had believed him to possess. It was imperative to him that Hull should be subdued, not only on account of what she contained, which, if he could seize upon, would enable him to fit out a large army without delay, but she had despised his authority and afforded a precedent to other towns; they would feel encouraged to resist him when they knew that this northern stronghold was firm in its support of the Parliament.
The gentlemen who had flocked round Charles at York, now subscribed together to pay for the newly-armed troops, that by July had increased to three thousand foot and seven or eight hundred horse; with these the King set out to put his designs against Hull into execution. He stayed several days in Beverley, issuing procla
mations, and hoping that the people, seeing him in earnest, might be induced to deliver up the town without further strife. The news of the King's march, of course, flew quickly through the country, and no sooner did it reach London than both Houses voted “that ap army should be immediately raised, and the command of it given to the Earl of Essex.” This was resolved on the eighth day of July.
Sir John Hotham had already dispatched three messengers in quick succession to the King, praying him not to turn his arms against the town, persisting that he and the townsfolk were all loyal subjects, and desired to remain so. Charles detained the messengers and returned no answer; and Hotham was so irritated, that a council of war was called, and it was determined to pull up the sluices and cut the banks of both the Hull and Humber. This was done that same evening, and being the time of spring tides, the next morning the whole country round for two miles was covered with a considerable depth of salt water, and thus the King's passage to the town by land was cut off. Great was the excitement within the walls, and the friends of Charles were sufficiently numerous to cause Hotham some uneasiness. The outworks were strengthened and fortified with brass guns; a battery was erected before each gate, and a breastwork was thrown up with a deep trench before it, while the Myton and Hessle gates were quite closed up with earth. But besides these precautions, the hospital of the Charter Housecalled “ La Maison Dieu," which had been founded in the 12th century by Michael de la Pole-was completely destroyed, with several other houses without the walls, lest the besiegers should use them to the disadvantage of the town.
The Royalists were considerably chagrined when they looked forth and beheld the inundation, and saw also that Hotham was securing the only weak point, which lay on the west side, too high for the waters to protect, by casting up a royal fort about four hundred
paces from the walls. It only remained for the King to prevent, if possible, all provisions and assistance from being introduced into Hull, and to divert the current of fresh water that supplied the town into the Humber. He then speedily erected two forts, one at Paul and the other at Hessle Cliff, to command the river.
In all the councils held within the walls at this time, Hotham manifested the warmest attachment to the Parliament, writing to Westminster and saying, that “neither fortune, wife, nor children should make him desert the good cause ; that he would sacrifice life rather than surrender a town of such importance to their enemies, whose design was to enslave them.” But there was no honest foundation of principle to support his good intentions, and even the steadfast manner in which he discharged his trust at the beginning of the war did not altogether allay the fears of his more discerning allies. Nor did his zeal deceive some members of the royal party with regard to his real character, only, unfortunately for themselves, they relied too much upon his treachery. There was a man in Hull just then who was in extreme disfavour with the Parliament. This was Lord Digby, who had been captured by one of the vessels that vainly pursued the Providence, and sent as a prisoner to this town disguised as a Frenchman. Digby felt that his case was desperate, and all hope of serving the King was at an end while he remained under confinement. But he possessed rare courage, and having some knowledge of Hotham he contrived to see him alone, and so awakened his fears and wrought upon his covet. ousness and ambition that, after some delay, the governor consented to set Digby free and to deliver up the town as soon as the King should appear before the walls. But on broaching the subject to his son and a few of the officers, he found them utterly opposed to a surrender ; and meanwhile the King, being over-persuaded by Digby, advanced upon Hull when still very ill-prepared to maintain a siege, hoping to enter without striking a blow. We may imagine Digby's rage at the watery reception the Royalists received, and the reproaches that neither King nor courtiers would spare. Charles has been much blamed for setting out with such inadequate resources by those who were not in the secret of the plot to corrupt Hotham; but they who will trust one proved to be a traitor, must not be astonished if they are foiled and duped and sent on fruitless expeditions.
Messengers went backwards and forwards between Charles and the two Houses ; his subjects would not now accept the terms that would have satisfied them some months ago. The Kiog had shown himself perfectly indifferent to laws of the country-ready to defy them at the first opportunity; and he showed, too, how unchanged bis mind was, by still insisting that the six members should be given up to him. Parliament felt that the country must be taken out of the power of a man who had not the remotest respect for justice or truth, or it would be inevitably ruined ; and thus the nation was compelled to offer terms to their King which it would have scorned to offer to a monarch it could trust and honour.
CHAPTER XXII.—THE FIRST SIEGE OF HULL. On the morning of the fifteenth of July, in this same year of 1642, there was a special service held at the little meeting-house in Dagger Lane. The congregation was chiefly composed of officers and men from the barracks, though there was a spriukling of women and a few civilians present. And these soldiers, who had