|The Tory Lover - Atlantic Contents|
THE TORY LOVER
The Atlantic Monthly Serialization
Chapters 31 - 34
June 1901 -- 87: 801-817
Paragraphs are not numbered in the Atlantic text.
1 One morning late in spring the yellow primroses were still abloom on the high moorlands above Plymouth; the chilly sea wind was blowing hard, and the bright sunshine gave little warmth, even in a sheltered place. The yard of the great Mill Prison was well defended by its high stockade, but the wind struck a strong wing into it in passing, and set many a poor half-clad man to shivering.
1A The dreary place was crowded with sailors taken from American ships: some forlorn faces were bleached by long captivity, and others were still round and ruddy from recent seafaring. There was a constant clack of sharp, angry voices. Outside the gate was a group of idle sightseers staring in, as if these poor Yankees were a menagerie of outlandish beasts; now and then some compassionate man would toss a shilling between the bars, to be pitifully scrambled for, or beckon to a prisoner who looked more suffering than the rest. Even a southwesterly gale hardly served to lighten the heavy air of such a crowded place, and nearly every one looked distressed; the smallpox had blighted many a face, so that the whole company wore a piteous look, though each new day still brought new hopes of liberty.
2 There were small groups of men sitting close together. Some were playing at games with pebbles and little sticks, their draughts board or fox-and-geese lines being scratched upon the hard trodden ground. Some were writing letters, and wondering how to make sure of sending them across the sea. There were only two or three books to be seen in hand; most of the prisoners were wearily doing nothing at all.
3 In one corner, a little apart from the rest, sat a poor young captain who had lost his first command, a small trading vessel on the way to France. He looked very downcast, and was writing slowly, a long and hopeless letter to his wife.
4 "I now regret that I had not taken your advice and Mother's and remained at home instead of being a prisoner here," he had already written, and the stiff, painfully shaped words looked large and small by turns through his great tears. "I was five days in the prison ship. I am in sorrow our government cares but little for hir subjects. They have nothing allowed them but what the British government gives them. Shameful, -- all other nations feels for their subjects except our Country. There is no exchange of prisoners. It is intirely uncertain when I return perhaps not during the war. I live but very poor, every thing is high. I hope you have surmounted your difficulties and our child has come a Comfort to imploy your fond attention. It is hard the loss of my ship and difficult to bare. God bless you all. My situation is not so bad but it might be worse. This goes by a cartel would to God I could go with it but that happiness is denied me. It would pain your tender heart to view the distressed seamen crowded in this filthy prison, there is kind friends howiver in every place and some hours passed very pleasant in spite of every lack some says the gallows or the East Indias will be our dreadful destiny. 't would break a stone's heart to see good men go so hungry we must go barefoot when our shoes is done. Some eats the grass in the yard and picks up old bones, and all runs to snatch the stumps of our cabbage the cooks throws out. some makes a good soup they say from snails a decent sort that hives about the walls, but I have not come to this I could not go it. They says we may be scattered on the King's ships. I hear the bells in Plymouth Town and Dock pray God 't is for no victory -- no I hear in closing 't is only their new Lord Mayor coming in" --
5 As this was finished there was another man waiting close by, who caught impatiently at the thrice-watered ink, and looked suspiciously to see if any still remained.
6 "Harbert said 's how I should take it next," grumbled the fellow prisoner, "if so be you've left me any. Who'll car' our letters to the cartel? They want to send a list o' those that's dead out o' the Dolton, an' I give my promise to draw up the names."
7 There were many faces missing now from the crew of the Dolton brigantine, taken nearly a year and a half before, but there were still a good number of her men left in the prison. Others had come from the Blenheim or the Fancy; some from the Lexington; and the newest resident was a man off the Yankee Hero, who had spent some time after his capture as sailor on a British man-of-war. He was a friendly person, and had brought much welcome news, being also so strong and well fed that he was a pleasant sight to see. Just now he sat with Charles Herbert, of Newbury, in Massachusetts, whom they all called the scribe. For once this poor captive wore a bright, eager look on his scarred face, as he listened to the newcomer's talk of affairs; they had been near neighbors at home. The younger man had been in prison these many months. He was so lucky as to possess a clumsy knife, which was as great a treasure as his cherished bottle of ink, and was busy making a little box of cedar wood and fitting it neatly together with pegs. Since he had suffered the terrible attack of smallpox which had left his face in ruins, and given him a look of age at twenty, his eyesight had begun to fail; he was even now groping over the ground, to find one of the tiny dowels that belonged to his handiwork.
8 "'T is there by your knee; the rags of your trouser leg was over it," said Titcomb, the new man-of-war's man, as he reached for the bit of wood.
9 "Who's this new plant o' grace, comin' out o' hospit'l?" he asked suddenly, looking over Herbert's shoulder, with the peg in his fingers. "'T is a stranger to me, and with the air of a gentleman, though he lops about trying his sea legs like an eel on 's tail."
10 "No place for gentlemen here, God help him!" said the young scribe sadly, trying to clear his dull eyes with a ragged sleeve as he turned to look. "No, I don't know who 't is. I did hear yisterday that there was an officer fetched here in the night, from the nor'ard, under guard, and like to be soon hanged. Some one off of a Yankee privateer, they said, that went in and burnt the shipping of a port beyond Wales. I overheared the sentinels havin' some talk about him last night. I expect 't was that old business of the Ranger, and nothin' new."
11 There was a rough scuffling game going on in the prison yard, which made all the sick and disabled men shrink back against the walls, out of danger. The stranger came feebly from point to point, as the game left space, toward the sunny side where the two Newbury men were sitting. As they made room for him, they saw that he was dressed in the remains of a torn, weather-stained uniform; his arm was in a sling, and his shoulder fast bound with dirty bandages.
12 "You're a new bird in this pretty cage," said poor Herbert, smiling pleasantly. He was a fellow of sympathetic heart, and always very friendly with newcomers.
13 The stranger returned his greeting, with a distressed glance toward their noisy companions, and seated himself heavily on the ground, leaning back against the palisade. The tumult and apparent danger of finding himself trodden underfoot vexed and confused him in his weakness; presently he grew faint, and his head dropped on his breast. His last thought was a wish to be back in the wretched barracks, where at least it was quiet. At that moment two men pushed their way out of the middle of a quarreling group of playmates, and ran toward him.
14 "'T ain't never you, sir!" cried one.
15 "'T is Mr. Roger Wallingford, too! Don't you think I've got sense enough to know?" scolded the other, both speaking at once, in tones which conveyed much pity and astonishment to the Newbury men's ears.
16 "By God! it is, an' he's a dyin' man!"
17 Gideon Warren was a Berwick sailor of the old stock, who had known the lieutenant from a child, and was himself born and reared by the river. "What've them devils used him such a way for?" he demanded angrily. "He looks as ancient as the old judge, his father, done, the week afore he died. What sort of a uniform's this he's got on him?"
18 The other men looked on, and, any excitement being delightful in so dull a place, a crowd gathered about them quickly, pushing and jostling, and demanding to know what had happened. Warren, a heavily-built, kind-faced old mariner, had fallen on his knees and taken the sick man's head on his own ample shoulder, with all the gentleness of a woman. There was more than one old Berwick neighbor standing near. The general racket of noise began to be hushed.
19 "Git him some water, can't ye?" commanded Warren. "I misdoubt we've got no sperits for him. Stand to t' other side, there, some on ye, an' keep the sun off'n him!"
20 "'T ain't no British fightin' gear, nor French neither, that's on him," said Ichabod Lord, as he leaned forward to get a better view of the red waistcoat, and, above all, the gilt buttons of the new prisoner's coat.
21 "'T is an officer from one o' our own Congress ships; they'd keep such news from us here, any way they could."
22 "Looks to me different," said the Newbury man who was with Herbert. "No, I'll begretch it's anything more'n some livery wear and relic o' fashion. 'T is some poor chap they've cotched out'n some lord's house; he mought be American-born, an' they took him to be spyin' on 'em."
23 "What d' you know o' them high affairs?" returned Warren indignantly. "Livery wear? You ain't never been situated where you'd be like to see none! 'T is a proper uniform, or was one, leastways; there's a passel o' anchors worked on him, and how he ever come here ain't for me to say, but 't is our young Squire Wallin'ford, son an' heir o' the best gentleman that was ever on the old Piscataqua River.["]
24 "When we come away, folks was all certain they had leanin's to the wrong side; his mother's folks was high among the Boston Tories," explained Ichabod Lord wonderingly. "Yet he must ha' been doin' some mischief 'long o' the Patriots, or he'd never been sent here for no rebel, -- no, they'd never sent him here; this ain't where they keep none o' their crown jew'ls! Lord! I hope he ain't goin' to die afore he tells some news from the old Landin' an' Pound Hill, an' how things was goin' forrard, when he left home, all up along the Witchtrot road!"
25 These last words came straight from the depths of an exile's heart, and nobody thought it worth while to smile at the names of his localities; there was hardly a man who was not longing for home news in the same desperate way. A jail was but a jail the world over, a place to crowd a man lower down, soul and body, and England was not likely to be anxious about luxuries for these ship's companies of rebels and pirates, the willful destroyers of her commerce; they were all guilty of treason, and deserved the worst of punishment.
26 There was a faint flicker of color now on the stranger's cheeks, and Charles Herbert had brought some water, and was fanning him with a poor fragment of headgear, while some [one] else rubbed his cold hands. They were all well enough used to seeing men in a swoon; the custom was to lay them close to the wall, if they were in the way, to recover themselves as best they could, but this man with the stained red waistcoat might have news to tell.
27 "I'll bate my head he's been on the Ranger with Paul Jones," announced Ichabod Lord solemnly, as if he were ready to suffer for his opinions. "That's what 't is; they may have all been taken, too, off the coast."
28 "Why, 't is the uniform of our own Congress navy, then!" exclaimed young Herbert, with his scarred cheeks gone bright crimson like a girl's, and a strange thrill in his voice. He sprang to his feet, and the men near him gave the best cheer they could muster. Poor Wallingford heard it, and stirred a little, and half opened his eyes.
29 "I've above two shillings here that I've airnt makin' of my workboxes: some o' you fellows run to the gates and get a decent-looking body to fetch us some brandy," begged Herbert hastily.
30 "I'm all right now," said Wallingford aloud; and then he saw whose stout arms were holding him, and looked into a familiar face.
31 "Good God! we had news at home long ago that you were dead, Warren!" he said, with wide-eyed bewilderment.
32 "I bain't then, so now," insisted the honest Gideon indignantly, which amused the audience so that they fell to laughing and slapping one another on the shoulder.
33 "Well, I bain't,"repeated Warren, as soon as he could be heard. "I've been here in this prison for seven months, and 't is a good deal worse 'n layin' at home in Old Fields bur'in' ground, right in sight o' the river 'n' all 's a-goin' on. Tell us where you come from, sir, as soon 's you feel able, and how long you are from Barvick! We get no sort o' news from the folks. I expect you can't tell me whether my old mother's livin'?" The poor man tried hard to master his feelings, but his face began to twitch, and he burst out crying suddenly, like a child.
34 "Looks like they've all gone and forgot us," said a patient, pale-faced fellow who stood near. Wallingford was himself again now, and looked with dismay at those who looked at him. Their piteous pallor and hungry-eyed misery of appearance could give but little sense of welcome or comfortable reassurance to a new captive. He was as poor as they, and as lacking in present resource, and, being weak and worn, the very kindness and pity of the arms that held him only added to his pain.
35 "If I had not come the last of my way by sea," he told them, trying to speak some cheerful hope to such hopeless souls, "I might have got word to London or to Bristol, where I can count upon good friends." But some of the listeners looked incredulous and shook their heads doubtfully, while there were those who laughed bitterly as they strolled away.
36 "Have you any late news from Captain Paul Jones?" he asked, sitting straight now, though Warren still kept a careful arm behind him. "I was at Whitehaven with him; I belong on the frigate Ranger," and his eyes grew bright and boyish.
37 "They say that one of her own officers tried to betray the ship," sneered a young man, a late comer to the Mill Prison, who stood looking straight into poor Wallingford's face.
37 "'T was true enough, too," said Roger Wallingford frankly; "'t is by no fault of mine that you see me here. God grant that such treachery made no other victim!"
38 "They say that the Ranger has taken a mort o' prizes, and sent them back to France," announced the Newbury sailor. "Oh, Lord, yes, she's scared 'em blue ever sense that night she went into Whitehaven! She took the Drake sloop o' war out o' Carrickfergus that very next day."
39 "I knew there was such business afoot!" cried the lieutenant proudly; but he suddenly turned faint again, and they saw a new bright stain strike through the clumsy bandages on his shoulder.
1 The less said of a dull sea voyage, the better; to Madam Wallingford and her young companion their slow crossing to the port of Bristol could be but a long delay. Each day of the first week seemed like a week in passing, though from very emptiness it might be but a moment in remembrance; time in itself being like money in itself, -- nothing at all unless changed into action, sensation, material. At first, for these passengers by the Golden Dolphin, there was no hope of amusement of any sort to shorten the eventless hours. Their hearts were too heavy with comfortless anxieties.
2 The sea was calm, and the May winds light but steady from the west. It was very warm for the season of year, and the discouragements of early morning in the close cabin were easily blown away by the fresh air of the quarter-deck. The captain, a well-born man, but diffident in the company of ladies, left his vessel's owner and her young companion very much to themselves. Mary had kept to a sweet composure and uncomplainingness, for her old friend's sake, but she knew many difficult hours of regret and uncertainty now that, having once taken this great step, Madam Wallingford appeared to look to her entirely for support and counsel, and almost to forget upon how great an adventure they had set forth. All Mary's own cares and all her own obligations and beliefs sometimes rose before her mind, as if in jealous arraignment of her presence on the eastward-moving ship. Yet though she might think of her brother's displeasure and anxiety, and in the darkest moments of all might call herself a deserter, and count the slow hours of a restless night, when morning came, one look at Madam Wallingford's pale face in the gray light of their cabin was enough to reassure the bravery of her heart. In still worse hours of that poor lady's angry accusation of those whom she believed to be their country's enemies, Mary yet found it possible to be patient, as we always may be when Pity comes to help us; there was ever a certainty in her breast that she had not done wrong, -- that she was only yielding to an inevitable, irresistible force of love. Fate itself had brought her out of her own country.
3 Often they sat pleasantly together upon the deck, the weather was so clear and fine, Mary being always at Madam Wallingford's feet on a stout little oaken footstool, busy with her needle to fashion a warmer head covering, or to work at a piece of slow embroidery on a strip of linen that Peggy had long ago woven on their own loom. Often the hearts of both these women, who were mistresses of great houses and the caretakers of many dependents, were full of anxious thought of home and all its business.
4 Halfway from land to land, with the far horizon of a calm sea unbroken by mast or sail, the sky was so empty by day that the stars at night brought welcome evidence of life and even companionship, as if the great processes of the universe were akin to the conscious life on their own little ship. In spite of the cruelty of a doubt that would sometimes attack her, Mary never quite lost hold on a higher courage, or the belief that they were on their way to serve one whom they both loved, to do something which they alone could do. The thought struck her afresh, one afternoon, that they might easily enough run into danger as they came near land; they might not only fall an easy prey to some Yankee privateer (for their sailing papers were now from Halifax), but they might meet the well-manned Ranger herself, as they came upon the English coast. A quick flush brightened the girl's sea-browned cheeks, but a smile of confidence and amusement followed it.
5 Madam Wallingford was watching her from the long chair.
6 "You seem very cheerful to-day, my dear child," she said wistfully.
7 "I was heartened by a funny little dream in broad daylight," answered Mary frankly, looking up with something like love itself unveiled in her clear eyes.
8 "It is like to be anything but gay in Bristol, when we come to land," answered Madam Wallingford. "I had news in Halifax, when we lay there, that many of their best merchants in Bristol are broken, and are for a petition to Parliament to end these troubles quickly. All their once great trade with the colonies is done. I spent many happy months in Bristol when I was young. 'T was a noble town, with both riches and learning, and full of sights, too; 't was a fit town for gentlefolk. I sometimes think that if anything could give back my old strength again, 't would be to take the air upon the Clifton Downs."
9 "You will have many things to show me," said Mary, with a smile. "You are better already for the sea air, Madam. It does my heart good to see the change in you."
10 "Oh, dear child, if we were only there!" cried the poor lady. "Life is too hard for me; it seems sometimes as if I cannot bear it a moment longer. Yet I shall find strength for what I have to do. I wonder if we must take long journeys at once? 'T is not so far if Roger should be at Plymouth, as they believed among the Halifax folks. But I saw one man shake his head and look at me with pity, as I put my questions. He was from England, too, and just off the sea" --
11 "There is one thing I am certain of, -- Roger is not dead," said Mary. "We are sure to find him soon," she added, in a different tone, when she had spoken out of her heart for very certainty. The mother's face took on a sweet look of relief; Mary was so strong-hearted, so sure of what she said, that it could not help being a comfort.
12 "Our cousin Davis will be gathering age," Madam Wallingford continued, after a little while. "I look to find her most sadly changed. She had been married two years already when I made my first voyage to England, and went to visit her."
13 Mary looked up eagerly from her work, as if to beg some further reminiscences of the past. Because she loved Madam Wallingford so well it was pleasant to share the past with her; the old distance between them grew narrower day by day.
14/1 "I was but a girl of seventeen when I first saw Bristol, and I went straight to her house from the ship, as I hope we may do now, if that dear heart still remains in a world that needs her," said the elder woman. "She is of kin to your own people, you must remember, as well as to the Wallingfords. Yes, she was glad of my visit, too, for she was still mourning for her mother. Being the youngest child, she had been close with her till her marriage, and always a favorite. They had never been parted for a night or slept but under the same roof, until young Davis would marry her, and could not be gainsaid. He had come to the Piscataqua plantations, supercargo of a great ship of his father's; the whole countryside had flocked to see so fine a vessel, when she lay in the stream at Portsmouth. She was called the Rose and Crown; she was painted and gilded in her cabin like a king's pleasure ship. He promised that his wife should come home every second year for a long visit, and bragged of their ships being always on the ocean; he said she should keep her carriage both on sea and on land. 'T was but the promise of a courting man. He was older than she, and already very masterful; he had grown stern and sober, and made grave laws for his household, when I saw it, two years later. He had come to be his father's sole heir, and felt the weight of great affairs, and said he could not spare his wife out of his sight, when she pleaded to return with me; a woman's place was in her husband's house. Mother and child had the sundering sea ever between them, and never looked in each other's face again; for Mistress Goodwin was too feeble to take the journey, though she was younger than I am now. He was an honest man and skillful merchant, was John Davis; but few men can read a woman's heart, that lives by longing, and not by reason; 't is writ in another language.
14/2 "You have often heard of the mother, old Mistress Goodwin, who was taken to Canada by the savages, and who saw her child killed by them before her eyes? They threatened to kill her too because she wept, and an Indian woman pitied her, and flung water in her face to hide the tears," the speaker ended, much moved.
15 "Oh yes. I always wish I could remember her," answered Mary. "She was a woman of great valor, and with such a history. 'T was like living two lifetimes in one." The girl's face shone with eagerness as she looked up, and again bent over her needlework. "She was the mother of all the Goodwins; they have cause enough for pride when they think of her."
16 "Then she had great beauty, too, even in her latest age, though her face was marked by sorrow," continued Madam Wallingford, easily led toward entertaining herself by the listener's interest, the hope of pleasing Mary. "Mistress Goodwin was the skillful hostess of any company, small or great, and full of life even when she was bent double by her weight of years, and had seen most of her children die before her. There was a look in her eyes as of one who could see spirits, and yet she was called a very cheerful person. 'T was indeed a double life, as if she knew the next world long before she left this one. They said she was long remembered by the folk she lived among in Canada; she would have done much kindness there even in her distress. Her husband was a plain, kind man, very able and shrewd-witted, like most Goodwins, but she was born a Plaisted of the Great House; they were the best family then in the plantation. Oh yes, I can see her now as if she stood before me, -- a small body, but lit with flame from no common altar of the gods!" exclaimed Madam Wallingford, after a moment's pause. "She had the fine dignity which so many women lack in these days, and knew no fear, they always said, except at the sight of some savage face. This I have often heard old people say of her earlier years, when the Indians were still in the country; she would be startled by them as if she came suddenly upon a serpent. Yet she would treat them kindly."
17 "I remember when some of our old men still brought their guns to church and stood them in the pews," said Mary; "but this year there were only two poor huts in the Vineyard, when the Indians came down the country to catch the salmon and dry them. There are but a feeble few of all their great tribe; 't is strange to know that a whole nation has lived on our lands before us! I wonder if we shall disappear in our own turn? Peggy always says that when the first settlers came up the river they found traces of ancient settlement; the Vineyard was there, with its planted vines all run to waste and of a great age, and the old fields, too, which have given our river neighborhoods their name. Heaven knows who cleared and planted them; 't was no Indian work. Peggy says there were other white people in Barvick long ago; the old Indians had some strange legends of a fair-haired folk who had gone away. Did Mistress Goodwin ever speak of her captivity, or the terrible march to Canada through the snow, when she was captured with the other Barvick folk, Madam?" asked Mary, with eagerness to return to their first subject. "People do not speak much of those old times now, since our own troubles came on."
18 "No, no, she would never talk of her trials; 't was not her way," protested Madam Wallingford, and a shadow crossed her face. "'T was her only happiness to forget such things. They needed bravery in those old days; in our time nothing can haunt us as their fear of sudden assault and savage cruelty must have haunted them."
19 Mary thought quickly enough of that angry mob which had so lately gathered about her old friend's door, but she said nothing. The Sons of Liberty and their visit seemed to have left no permanent discomfort in Madam's mind. "No, no!" said the girl aloud. "We have grown so comfortable that even war has its luxuries; they have said that a common soldier grows dainty with his food and lodging, and the commanders are daily fretted by such complaints."
20 "There is not much comfort to be had, poor fellows!" exclaimed Madam Wallingford rebukingly, as if she and Mary had changed sides. "Not at your Valley Forge, and not with the King's troops last year in Boston. They suffered everything, but not more than the rebels liked."
21 Mary's cheeks grew red at the offensive word. "Do not say rebels!" she entreated. "I do not think that Mistress Hetty Goodwin would side with Parliament, if she were living still. Think how they loved our young country, and what they bore for it, in those early days!"
22 "'T is not to the purpose, child!" answered the old lady sharply. "They were all for England against France and her cruel Indian allies; I meant by 'rebels' but a party word. Hetty Goodwin might well be of my mind; too old to learn irreverence toward the King. I hate some of his surrounders, -- I can own to that! I hate the Bedfords, and I have but scorn for his Lord Sandwich or for Rockingham. They are treating our American Loyalists without justice. Sir William Howe might have had five thousand men of us, had he made proclamation. Fifty of the best gentlemen in Philadelphia who were for the Crown waited upon him only to be rebuffed."
23 She checked herself quickly, and glanced at Mary, as if she were sorry to have acknowledged so much. "Yes, I count upon Mr. Fox to stand our friend rather than upon these; and we have Mr. Franklin, too, who is large-minded enough to think of the colonies themselves, and to forget their petty factions and rivalries. Let us agree, let us agree if we can!" and Madam Wallingford, whose dignity was not a thing to be lightly touched, turned toward Mary with a winning smile. She knew that she must trust herself more and more to this young heart's patience and kindness; yes, and to her judgment about their plans. Thank God, this child who loved her was always at her side. With a strange impulse to confess all these things, she put out her frail hand to Mary, and Mary, willingly drawing a little closer, held it to her cheek. They could best understand each other without words. The girl had a clear mind, and had listened much to the talk of men. The womanish arguments of Madam Wallingford always strangely confused her.
24 "Mr. Franklin will ever be as young at heart as he is old in years," said the lady presently, with the old charm of her manner, and all wistfulness and worry quite gone from her face. She had been strengthened by Mary's love in the failing citadel of her heart. "'T is Mr. Franklin's most noble gift that he can keep in sympathy with the thoughts and purposes of younger men. Age is wont to be narrow and to depend upon certainties of the past, while youth has its easily gathered hopes and its intuitions. Mr. Franklin is both characters at once, -- as sanguine as he is experienced. I knew him well; he will be the same man now, and as easy a courtier as he was then content with his thrift and prudence. I trust him among the first of those who can mend our present troubles.
25 "I beg you not to think that I am unmindful of our wrongs in the colonies, Mary, my dear," she added then, in a changed voice. "'T is but your foolish way of trying to mend them that has grieved me, -- you who call yourselves the Patriots!"
26 Mary smiled again and kept silence, but with something of a doubtful heart. She did not wish to argue about politics, that sunny day on the sea. No good could come of it, though she had a keen sense that her companion's mind was now sometimes unsettled from its old prejudices and firm beliefs. The captain was a stanch ["staunch" in first edition] Royalist, who believed that the rebels were sure to be put down, and that no sensible man should find himself left in the foolish situation of a King's antagonist, or suffer the futility of such defeat.
27 "Will Mistress Davis look like her mother, do you think?" Mary again bethought herself to return to the simpler subject of their conversation.
28 "Yes, no doubt; they had the same brave eyes and yet strangely timid look. 'T is but a delicate, womanish face. Our cousin Davis would be white-headed now; she was already gray in her twenties, when I last saw her. It sometimes seems but t' other day. They said that Mistress Goodwin came home from Canada with her hair as white as snow. Yes, their eyes were alike; but the daughter had a Goodwin look, small-featured and neatly made, as their women are. She could hold to a purpose and was very capable, and had wonderful quickness with figures; 't is common to the whole line. Mistress Hetty, the mother, had a pleasing gentleness, but great dignity; she was born of those who long had been used to responsibility and the direction of others."
29 Mary laughed a little. "When you say 'capable,' it makes me think of old Peggy, at home," she explained. "One day, not long ago, I was in the spinning room while we chose a pattern for the new table linen, and she had a child there with her; you know that Peggy is fond of a little guest. There had been talk of a cake, and the child was currying favor lest she should be forgotten.
30 "'Mrs. Peggy,' she piped, 'my aunt Betsey says as how you're a very capering woman!'
31 "'What, what?' says Peggy. 'Your aunt Betsey, indeed, you mite! Oh, I expect 't was capable she meant,' says Peggy next moment, a little pacified, and turned to me with a lofty air. 'Can't folks have an English tongue in their heads?' she grumbled; but she ended our high affairs then, and went off to her kitchen with the child safe in hand."
32 "I can see her go!" and Madam Wallingford laughed too, easily pleased with the homely tale.
34 "Ah, but we must not laugh; it hurts my poor heart even to smile," she whispered. "My dear son is in prison, we know not where, and I have been forgetting him when I can laugh. I know not if he be live or dead, and we are so far from him, tossing in the midseas. Oh, what can two women like us do in England, in this time of bitterness, if the Loyalists are reckoned but brothers of the rebels? I dreamed it was all different till we heard such tales in Halifax."
35 "We shall find many friends, and we need never throw away our hope," said Mary Hamilton soothingly. "And Master Sullivan bade me remember with his last blessing that God never makes us feel our weakness except to lead us to seek strength from Him. 'T was the saying of his old priest, the Abbé Fénelon."
36 They sat silent together; the motion of the ship was gentle enough, and the western breeze was steady. It seemed like a quiet night again; the sun was going down, and there was a golden light in the thick web of rigging overhead, and the gray sails were turned to gold color.
37 "It is I who should be staying you, dear child," whispered Madam Wallingford, putting out her hand again and resting it on Mary's shoulder, "but you never fail to comfort me. I have bitterly reproached myself many and many a day for letting you follow me; 't is like the book of Ruth, which always brought my tears as I read it. I am far happier here with you than I have been many a day at home in my lonely house. I need wish for a daughter's love no more. I sometimes forget even my great sorrow and my fear of our uncertainty, and dread the day when we shall come to land. I wish I were not so full of fears. Yet I do not think God will let me die till I have seen my son."
38 Mary could not look just then at her old friend's fragile figure and anxious face; she had indeed taken a great charge upon herself, and a weakness stole over her own heart that could hardly be borne. What difficulties and disappointments were before them God only knew.
39 "Dear child," said Madam Wallingford, whose eyes were fixed upon Mary's unconscious face, "is it your dreams that keep your heart so light? I wish that you could share them with the heavy-hearted like me! All this long winter you have shown a heavenly patience; but your face was often sad, and this has grieved me. I have thought since we came to sea that you have been happier than you were before."
40 "'T was not the distresses that we all knew; something pained me that I could not understand. Now it troubles me no more," and Mary looked at the questioner with a frank smile.
41 "I am above all a hater of curious questions," insisted the lady. But Mary did not turn her eyes away, and smiled again.
42 "I can hold myself to silence," said Madam Wallingford. "I should not have spoken but for the love and true interest of my heart; 't was not a vulgar greed of curiosity that moved me. I am thankful enough for your good cheer; you have left home and many loving cares, and have come with me upon this forced and anxious journey as if 't were but a holiday."
43 Mary bent lower over her sewing.
44 "Now that we have no one but each other I should be glad to put away one thought that has distressed me much," confessed the mother, and her voice trembled. "You have never said that you had any word from Roger. Surely there is no misunderstanding between you? I have sometimes feared -- Oh, remember that I am his mother, Mary! He has not written even to me in his old open fashion; there has been a difference, as if the great distance had for once come between our hearts; but this last letter was from his own true heart, from his very self! The knowledge that he was not happy made me fearful, and yet I cannot brook the thought that he has been faithless, galling though his hasty oath may have been to him. Oh no, no! I hate myself for speaking so dark a thought as this. My son is a man of high honor." She spoke proudly, yet her anxious face was drawn with pain.
45 Mary laid down her piece of linen, and clasped her hands together strongly in her lap. There was something deeply serious in her expression, as she gazed off upon the sea.
46 "It is all right now," she said presently, speaking very simply, and not without effort. "I have been grieved for many weeks, ever since the first letters came. I had no word at all from Roger, and we had been such friends. The captain wrote twice to me, as I told you; his letters were the letters of a gentleman, and most kind. I could be sure that there was no trouble between them, as I feared sometimes at first," and the bright color rushed to her face. "It put me to great anxiety; but the very morning before we sailed a letter came from Roger. I could not bring myself to speak of it then; I can hardly tell you now."
47 "And it is all clear between you? I see, -- there was some misunderstanding, my dear. Remember that my boy is sometimes very quick; 't is a hasty temper, but a warm and true heart. Is it all clear now?"
48 Mary wished to answer, but she could not, for all her trying, manage to speak a word; she did not wish to show the deep feeling that was moving her, and first looked seaward again, and then took up her needlework. Her hand touched the bosom of her gown, to feel if the letter were there and safe. Madam Wallingford smiled, and was happy enough in such a plain assurance.
49 "Oh yes!" Mary found herself saying next moment, quite unconsciously, the wave of happy emotion having left her calm again. "Oh yes, I have come to understand everything now, dear Madam, and the letter was written while the Ranger lay in the port of Brest. They were sailing any day for the English coast."
50 "Sometimes I fear that he may be dead; this very sense of his living nearness to my heart may be only -- The dread of losing him wakes me from my sleep; but sometimes by day I can feel him thinking to me, just as I always have since he was a child; 't is just as if he spoke," and the tears stood bright in Madam Wallingford's eyes.
51 "No, dear, he is not dead," said Mary, listening eagerly; but she could not tell even Roger Wallingford's mother the reason why she was so certain.
1 Miss Mary Hamilton and the captain of the Golden Dolphin walked together from the busy boat landing up into the town of Bristol. The tide was far down, and the captain, being a stout man, was still wheezing from his steep climb on the long landing stairs. It was good to feel the comfort of solid ground underfoot, and to hear so loud and cheerful a noise of English voices, after their six long weeks at sea, and the ring and clank of coppersmiths' hammers were not unpleasant to the ear even in a narrow street. The captain was in a jovial temper of mind; he had some considerable interest in his cargo, and they had been in constant danger off the coast. Now that he was safe ashore, and the brig was safe at anchor, he stepped quickly and carried his head high, and asked their shortest way to Mr. Davis's house, to leave Mary there, while he made plans for coming up to one of that well-known merchant's wharves.
2 "Here we are at last!" exclaimed the master mariner. "I can find my way across the sea straight to King's Road and Bristol quay, but I'm easy lost in the crooked ways of a town. I've seen the port of Bristol, too, a score o' times since I was first a sailor, but I saw it never so dull as now. There 't is, the large house beyond, to the port-hand side. He lives like a nobleman, does old Sir Davis. I'll leave ye here now, and go my ways; they've sarvents a plenty to see ye back to the strand."
3 The shy and much-occupied captain now made haste toward the merchant's counting-room, and Mary hurried on toward the house, anxious to know if Madam Wallingford's hopes were to be assured, and if they should find Mistress Davis not only alive and well, but ready to welcome them. As she came nearer, her heart beat fast at the sight of a lady's trim head, white-capped, and not without distinction of look, behind the panes of a bowed window. It was as plain that this was a familiar sight, that it might every day be seen framed in its place within the little panes, as if Mary had known the face since childhood, and watched for a daily greeting as she walked a Portsmouth street at home. She even hesitated for a moment, looking eagerly, ere she went to lift the bright knocker of the street door.
4 In a minute more she was in the room.
5 "I am Mary Hamilton, of Barvick," said the guest, with pretty eagerness, "and I bring you love and greeting from Madam Wallingford, your old friend."
6 "From Madam Wallingford?" exclaimed the hostess, who had thought to see a neighbor's daughter enter from the street, and now beheld a stranger, a beautiful young creature, with a beseeching look in her half-familiar face. "Come you indeed from old Barvick, my dear? You are just off the sea, by your fresh looks. I was thinking of Mistress Wallingford within this very hour; I grieved to think that now we are both so old I can never see her face again. So you bring me news of her? Sit you down; I can say that you are most welcome." Her eyes were like a younger woman's, and they never left Mary's face.
7 "She is here; she is in the harbor, on board the Golden Dolphin, one of her own ships. I have not only brought news to you; I have brought her very self," said the girl joyfully.
8 There was a quick shadow upon the hostess's face. "Alas, then, poor soul, I fear she has been driven from her home by trouble; she would be one of the Loyalists! I'll send for her at once. Come nearer me; sit here in the window seat!" begged Mistress Davis affectionately. "You are little Mary Hamilton, of the fine house I have heard of and never seen, the pride of my old Barvick. But your brother would not change sides. You are both of the new party, -- I have heard all that months ago; how happens it that the Golden Dolphin brought you hither, too?"
9 Mary seated herself in the deep window, while Mistress Davis gazed at her wonderingly. She had a tender heart; she could read the signs of great effort and of loneliness in the bright girlish face. She did not speak, but her long, discerning look and the touch of her hand gave such motherly comfort that the girl might easily have fallen to weeping. It was not that Mary thought of any mean pity for herself, or even remembered that her dear charge had sometimes shown the unconscious selfishness of weakness and grief; but brave and self-forgetful hearts always know the true value of sympathy. They were friends and lovers at first sight, the young girl and the elderly woman who was also Berwick-born.
10 "I have had your house filled to its least garrets with Royalists out of my own country, and here comes still another of them, with a young friend who is of the other party," Mistress Davis said gayly; and the guest looked up to see a handsome old man who had entered from another room, and who frowned doubtfully as he received this information. Mary's head was dark against the window, and he took small notice of her at first, though some young men outside in the street had observed so much of her beauty as was visible, and were walking to and fro on the pavement, hoping for a still brighter vision.
11 "This is Miss Mary Hamilton, of Barvick," announced the mistress, "and our old friend Madam Wallingford is in harbor, on one of her ships." She knew that she need say no more.
12 Mr. John Davis, alderman of Bristol and senior warden of his parish church, now came forward with some gallantry of manner.
13 "I do not like to lay a new charge upon you," said his wife, pleading prettily, "but these are not as our other fugitives, poor souls!" and she smiled as if with some confidence.
14 "Why, no, these be both of them your own kinsfolk, if I mistake not," the merchant agreed handsomely; "and the better part of our living has come, in times past, from my dealings with the husband of one and the good brother of the other. I should think it a pity if, for whatever reason they may have crossed the sea, we did not open wide our door; you may bid your maids make ready for their comfortable housing. I shall go at once to find the captain, since he has come safe to land in these days of piracy, and give so noble a gentlewoman as his owner my best welcome and service on the ship. Perhaps Miss Hamilton will walk with me, and give her own orders about her affairs?"
15 Mary stepped forward willingly from the window, in answer to so kind a greeting; and when she was within close range of the old man's short-sighted eyes, she was inspected with such rapid approval and happy surprise that Mr. Alderman Davis bent his stately head and saluted so fair a brow without further consideration. She was for following him at once on his kind errand, but she first ran back and kissed the dear mistress of the house. "I shall have much to tell you of home," she whispered; "you must spare me much time, though you will first be so eager for your own friend."
16 "We shall find each other changed, I know, -- we have both seen years and trouble enough; but you must tell Mrs. Wallingford I have had no such happiness in many a year as the sight of her face will bring me. And dear Nancy Haggens?" she asked, holding Mary back, while the merchant grew impatient at the delay of their whispering. "She is yet alive?" And Mary smiled.
17 "I shall tell you many things, not only of her, but of the gay major," she replied aloud. "Yes, I am coming, sir; but it is like home here, and I am so happy already in your kind house." Then they walked away together, he with a clinking cane and majestic air, and kindly showing Miss Hamilton all the sights of Bristol that they passed.
18 "So you sailed on the Golden Dolphin?" he asked, as they reached the water side. "She is a small vessel, but she wears well; she has made this port many a time before," said John Davis. "And lumber-laden, you say? Well, that is good for me, and you are lucky to escape the thieving privateers out of your own harbors. So Madam Wallingford has borne her voyage handsomely, you think? What becomes of her young son?"
1 Late that evening, while the two elder ladies kept close together, and spoke eagerly of old days and friends long gone out of sight, John Davis sat opposite his young guest at the fireplace, as he smoked his after-supper pipe.
2 The rich oak-paneled room was well lit by both firelight and candles, and held such peace and comfort as Mary never had cause to be so grateful for before. The cold dampness of the brig, their close quarters, and all the dullness and impatience of the voyage were past now, and they were safe in this good English house, among old friends. 'T was the threshold of England, too, and Roger Wallingford was somewhere within; soon they might be sailing together for home. Even the worst remembrance of the sea was not unwelcome, with this thought at heart!
3 The voyagers had been listening to sad tales of the poverty and distress of nearly all the Loyalist refugees from America, the sorrows of Governor Hutchinson and his house, and of many others. The Sewalls, the Faneuils, and the Boutineaus who were still in Bristol had already sent eager messages. Mistress Davis warned her guests that next day, when news was spread of their coming, the house would be full of comers and goers; all asking for news, and most of them for money, too. Some were now in really destitute circumstances who had been rich at home, and pensions and grants for these heartsick Loyalists were not only slow in coming, but pitiful in their meagreness. There was a poor gentleman from Salem, and his wife with him, living in the Davis's house; they had lodged upward of thirty strangers since the year came in; 't was a heavy charge upon even a well-to-do man, for they must nearly all borrow money beside their food and shelter. Madam Wallingford was not likely to come empty-handed; the small, heavy box with brass scutcheons which the captain himself had escorted from the Golden Dolphin, late that afternoon, was not without comfortable reassurance, and the lady had asked to have a proper waiting maid chosen for her, as she did not wish to be a weight upon the household. But there were other problems to be faced. This good merchant, Mr. Davis, was under obligations to so old a friend, and he was not likely to be a niggard, in any sense, when she did him the honor to seek his hospitality.
4 "I must go to my library, where I keep my business matters; 't is but a plain book room, a place for my less public affairs. We may have some private talk there, if you are willing," he said, in a low voice; and Mary rose at once and followed him. The ladies did not even glance their way, though the merchant carefully explained that he should show his guest a very great ledger which had been brought up from his counting-room since business had fallen so low. She might see her brother's name on many of the pages.
5 "Let us speak frankly now," he urged, as they seated themselves by as bright a fire of blazing coals as the one they had left. "You can trust me with all your troubles," said the fatherly old man. "I am distressed to find that Madam Wallingford's case is so desperate."
6 Mary looked up, startled from the peace of mind into which she had fallen.
7 "Do you know anything, sir?" she begged him earnestly. "Is it likely" -- But there she stopped, and could go no further.
8 "I had not the heart to tell her," he answered, "but we have already some knowledge of that officer of the Ranger who was left ashore at Whitehaven: he has been reported as gravely wounded, and they would not keep him in any jail of that northern region, but sent him southward in a dying state, saying that he should by rights go to his own kind in the Mill Prison. You must be aware that such an unprovoked attack upon a British seaport has made a great stir among us," added the merchant, with bitterness.
9 Mary remembered the burning of Falmouth in her own province, and was silent.
10 "If he had been a deserter, and treacherous at heart, as I find there was suspicion," he continued; "yes, even if his own proper feelings toward the King had mastered your lieutenant, I do not know that his situation would have been any better for the moment. They must lack spirit in Whitehaven; on our Bristol wharves the mob would have torn such a prisoner limb from limb. You must remember that I am an Englishman born and bred, and have no patience with your rebels. I see now 't was a calmer judgment ruled their course when they sent him south; but if he is yet in the Mill Prison, and alive, he could not be in a worse place. This war is costing the King a fortune every week that it goes on, and he cannot house such pirates and spies in his castle at Windsor."
11 Mary's eyes flashed; she was keeping a firm hold upon her patience. "I think, from what we are told of the Mill Prison, that the King has gone too far to the other extreme," she could not forbear saying, but with perfect quietness.
12 "Well, we are not here to talk politics," said the alderman uneasily. "I have a deep desire to serve so old and respected a friend as this young man's mother. I saw the boy once when he came to England; a promising lad, I must own, and respectful to his elders. I am ready to serve him, if I can, for his father's sake, and to put all talk of principles by, or any question of his deserts. We have been driven to the necessity of keeping watchers all up and down the coast by night and day, to send alarm by beacons into our towns. They say Paul Jones is a born divil, and will stick at nothing. How came Colonel Wallingford's son to cast in his lot with such a gallows rogue?"
13 "If you had lived on our river instead of here in Bristol, you would soon know," replied Mary. "Our honest industries have long been hindered and forbidden; we are English folk, and are robbed of our rights."
14 "Well, well, my dear, you seem very clear for a woman; but I am an old man, and hard to convince. Your brother should be clear-headed enough; he is a man of judgment; but how such men as he have come to be so mistaken and blind" --
15 "It is Parliament that has been blind all the time," insisted Mary. "If you had been with us on that side of the sea, you would be among the first to know things as they are. Let us say no more, sir; I cannot lend myself to argument. You are so kind, and I am so very grateful for it, in my heart."
16 "Well, well," exclaimed the old man again, "let us speak, then, of this instant business that you have in hand! I take it you have a heart in the matter, too; I see that you cherish Madam Wallingford like her own child. We must find out if the lad is still alive, and whether it is possible to free him. I heard lately that they have had the worst sort of smallpox among them, and a jail fever that is worse than the plague itself. 'T is not the fault of the jail, I wager you, but some dirty sailor brought it from his foul ship," he added hastily. "They are all crowded in together; would they had kept at home where they belong!"
17 "You speak hard words," said the girl impatiently, and with plain reproach, but looking so beautiful in her quick anger that the old man was filled with wonder and delight before his conscience reminded him that he should be ashamed. He was not used to being so boldly fronted by his own women folk; though his wife always had her say, she feared and obeyed him afterward without question.
18 "I wish that this foolish tea had never been heard of; it has been a most detestable weed for England," grumbled the old merchant. "They say that even your Indians drink it now, or would have it if they could."
19 "Mr. Davis, you have seen something of our young country," said the girl, speaking in a quiet tone. "You have known how busy our men are at home, how steadily they go about their business. If you had seen, as I did, how they stood straight and dropped whatever they had in hand, and were hot with rage when the news came from Boston and we knew that we were attacked at Lexington and Concord, you would have learned how we felt the bitter wrong. 'T was not the loss of our tea or any trumpery tax; we have never been wanting in generosity, or hung back when we should play our part. We remembered all the old wrongs: our own timber rotting in our woods that we might not cut; our own waterfalls running to waste by your English law, lest we cripple the home manufacturers. We were hurt to the heart, and were provoked to fight; we have turned now against such tyranny. All we New England women sat at home at first and grieved. The cannon sounded loud through our peaceful country. They shut our ports, and we could not stand another insult without boldly resenting it. We had patience at first, because our hearts were English hearts; then we turned and fought with all our might, because we were still Englishmen, and there is plenty of fight left in us yet."
20 "You are beset by the pride of being independent, and all for yourselves," Mr. Davis accused her.
21 "Our hearts are wounded to the quick, because we are the same New England folk who fought together with the King's troops at Louisburg, and you have oppressed us," said Mary quickly. "I heard that Mr. John Adams said lately -- and he has been one of our leaders from the first -- that there had not been a moment since the beginning of hostilities when he would not have given everything he possessed for a restoration to the state of things before the contest began, if we could only have security enough for its continuance. We did not wish to separate from England. If it has come, it is only from our sad necessity. But cannot you see that, being English people, we must insist upon our rights? We are not another race because we are in another country."
22 "Tut, tut, my dear," said the old man uneasily. "What does a pretty girl like you know about rights? So that's the talk you've listened to? We may need to hear more of it; you sound to me as if Fox had all along been in the right, and knew the way to bring back our trade." He began to fidget in his elbow chair and to mend the fire. "I can't go into all this; I have had a wearying day," -- he began to make faint excuse. "There's much you should hear on England's side; you only know your own; and this war is costing Parliament a terrible drain of money."
23 "Do you know anything of Lord Newburgh, and where he may be found?" asked Mary, with sudden directness.
24 "My Lord Newburgh?" repeated Mr. Davis wonderingly. "And what should you want with him? I know him but by name. He would be the son of that Ratcliffe who was a Scotch rebel in the year '45, and lost his head by it, too; he was brother to the famous Lord Darwentwater. 'T was a wild family, an unfortunate house. What seek you at their hands?"
25 Mary sat looking into the fire, and did not answer.
26 "Perhaps you can send some one with me toward Plymouth to-morrow?" she asked presently, and trembled a little as she spoke. She had grown pale, though the bright firelight shone full in her face. "The captain learned when we first came ashore that Lord Mount Edgecumbe is likely to be commander of that prison where our men are; the Mill Prison they said it was, above Plymouth town. I did not say anything to Madam Wallingford, lest our hopes should fail; but if you could spare a proper person to go with me, I should like to go to Plymouth."
27 The old man gazed at her with wonder.
28 "You do not know what a wild goose chase means, then, my little lady!" he exclaimed, with considerable scorn. "Lord Mount Edgecumbe! You might as well go to Windsor expecting a morning talk and stroll in the park along with the King. 'T is evident enough one person is the same as another in your colonies! But if you wish to try, I happened to hear yesterday that the great earl is near by, in Bath, where he takes the waters for his gout. You can go first to Mr. George Fairfax, of Virginia, with whom Madam Wallingford is acquainted; she has told me that already. He is of a noble house, himself, Mr. Fairfax, and may know how to get speech with these gentlemen: why, yes, 't is a chance, indeed, and we might achieve something." Mr. Davis gave a satisfied look at the beautiful face before him, and nodded his sage head.
29 "I shall go with you, myself, if it is a fair day to-morrow," he assured her. "I am on good terms with Mr. Fairfax. I was long agent here for their tobacco ships, the old Lord Fairfaxes of Virginia; but all that rich trade is good as done," and he gave a heavy sigh. "We think of your sailors in the Mill Prison as if they were all divils. You won't find it easy to get one of them set free," he added boldly.
30/31 Mary gave a startled look, and drew back a little. "I hear the King is glad to ship them on his men-of-war," she said, "and that the Mill Prison is so vile a place the poor fellows are thankful to escape from it, even if they must turn traitor to their own cause."
32 "Oh, sailors are sailors!" grumbled the old man. "I find Madam Wallingford most loyal to our government, however, so that there is a chance for her. And she is no beggar or would-be pensioner; far from it! If her son had been on any other errand than this of the Ranger's, she might easier gain her ends, poor lady. 'What stands in the way?' you may ask. Why, only last week our own coast was in a panic of fear!" John Davis frowned at the fire, so that his great eyebrows looked as if they were an assaulting battery. He shrugged his shoulders angrily, and puffed hard at his pipe, but it had gone out altogether; then he smiled, and spoke in a gentler tone:
33 "Yes, missy, we'll ride to Bath to-morrow, an the weather should be fair; the fresh air will hearten you after the sea, and we can talk with Mr. Fairfax, and see what may be done. I'm not afraid to venture, though they may know you for a little rebel, and set me up to wear a wooden ruff all day in the pillory for being seen with you!"
34 "I must speak ye some hard words," the old man added unexpectedly, leaning forward and whispering under his breath, as if the solid oak panels might let his forebodings reach a mother's ears in the room beyond. "The young man may be dead and gone long before this, if he was put into the Mill Prison while yet weak from his wounds. If he is there, and alive, I think the King himself would say he could not let him out. There's not much love lost in England now for Paul Jones or any of his crew."
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