« 이전계속 »
lifted her from her saddle, and carried her in his arms into the cavern, where he gently placed her on her feet upon dry ground.
He immediately went out, and as the cavern, though not lofty, was wide, he brought in her dripping horse, and presently after Paris arrived with the other two. The horses were ranged on one side of the aperture, close to the rock, and Paris squatted himself down near them.
"Is the ground you are sitting on damp ?" asked Mr. Le Vasseur. "No, massa, not damp; but he berry hard!"
"I am afraid I shall not be able in this rocky recess to find any seat for you, Miss Montresor," said Le Vasseur, "and as you may be detained here some little time, you will be fatigued standing. Do take my arm, and lean on me."
As he spoke he drew her arm within his, and she thought it would be ungracious to withdraw it; but she did not lean on him. He lamented her having got so wet, and trusted it would not bring on fever; while she thanked him again for his kindness in coming to her aid. She added, however, that she hoped the storm would soon pass over, at least sufficiently to admit of leaving the shelter of the dismal cavern.
"Oh! Miss Montresor," he exclaimed, "do not grudge me the happiness of being near you for a few fleeting minutes! To me, this rough cave seems a paradise
What more he might have said she did not hear, for his voice was drowned in a fearful and prolonged peal of thunder, which sounded as if the rocks were crashing around, and roared and reverberated among the cliffs above and below. Geraldine had never heard such thunder in England; she fancied that the rock beneath her feet was heaving, and in her terror she involuntarily clung more closely to her companion. Le Vasseur felt strongly tempted to throw his arm round the slender figure that was trembling at his side, but he checked the impulse, and only clasped her hand in one of his.
"Have no fear-there is no danger, dear Miss Montresor," he said. "You are quite safe in this retreat. I have often experienced earthquakes, and there is no sign of one at present, happily. It is a tropical storm; they are terrible while they last, but they are not generally of long duration. It will soon be over now."
They both remained silent for a time, while the thunder still roared at intervals, and the forked lightning, darting in, illuminated the sort of grotto which afforded them a shelter. At length the flashes of lightning became less vivid, and the thunder seemed to roll away over the foaming sea.
"Do you remember," said Mr. Le Vasseur, "the evening at Clare Hall, after that charming maroon? You dropped your little bouquet, and I ventured to take possession of it. You were not angry at me, hope ?"
Geraldine did not answer, and he continued: "I pressed the sweet flowers that had been worn by you, and now I keep them in a silver box in my private writing-desk. Dear Miss Montresor, these withered flowers are my greatest treasure!"
Geraldine was at a loss what to reply; she must not appear to take seriously what he had just said, even though he had spoken in a melancholy tone; her best plan would be to pretend to think he was joking. "If you are so exceedingly gallant as to pick up and preserve all the
bouquets that young ladies drop or throw away, you will soon have quite an herbarium," she said, with a faint laugh."
"I would care to keep no one's bouquets but yours. I wish I could hope" He stopped suddenly, and looked wistfully at her.
"What is he going to say now?" thought Geraldine. "I must rattle on to stop him.-Gentlemen take strange fancies sometimes. I know one who certainly was what is called a male coquette; he used to flatter ever so many girls, until he induced each to give him a lock of her hair, and when he had collected a good quantity, he said he was going to have a variegated wig made out of all their black, brown, red, and fair ringlets. But it is clearing now, and I think I must try to get home; my mother will be miserable at my long absence, and in such weather!"
Le Vasseur was neither pushing nor opaque; he perceived that Geraldine did not choose to hear what he wished to say, and he determined not to annoy her by another word relative to his own feelings. He went out to reconnoitre, and on returning told her that he thought she might now venture to leave the cave. He helped her to mount her horse, and then walking at its head, he guided the animal up the steep ascent, until the top of the hill was fairly gained. The moon was by this time struggling through the still dark masses of clouds, and casting her fitful beams over the more level road they were then to follow. Vasseur proposed to ride home with his fair charge, but she had the fear of her mother and her strictures on prudence before her and did not dare to accept his offer. In order to escape his accompanying her home, she said the weather looked still so bad, that she would only ride as far as Mrs. Mackenzie's house, and would borrow that lady's carriage to take her to Prospect Hill. Le Vasseur escorted her as far as the foot of the avenue, which, bordered on either side by a hedge of limes, and rows of tall mountain cabbage-trees, with their smooth pillar-like trunks, led to Mrs. Mackenzie's dwelling. There he took his leave, after having again received Geraldine's thanks, and her having cordially shaken hands with him.
She did not say a word to the gossiping Mrs. Mackenzie of her having met Le Vasseur, but on her return home she mentioned to her mother his having ridden down the dangerous, path in the midst of the storm on her account, and that lady graciously permitted Mr. Montresor next day 'to despatch a note of thanks to the preux chevalier.
Geraldine never mentioned Mr. Le Vasseur's name to any one, not even to her friend Helen, but it is not so certain that she never repeated it to herself. Sometimes in her dreams-she could not control theseand perhaps occasionally even in her waking moments, the deep blue eyes and sweet smile appeared before her. And assuredly her image was almost constantly in his mind's eye, though he never spoke of her at home. Was it fear of the domestic ruler of his establishment, or some better feeling, that prevented his ever naming the pleasing girl of whom he thought so much in the presence of one so different from her?
Geraldine did not meet Mr. Le Vasseur again so as to have an opportunity of speaking to him, but she saw him now and then at a review, or on the race-ground, when she invariably made a point of bowing to him, a recognition with which he seemed always much pleased. She observed that he was never accompanied by any female on these occasions, and she took sufficient interest in him to hope that this was a sign of reformation on his part.
RANSACKINGS IN A ROYAL WRITING-DESK.*
"LETTERS are the key to history; they unlock difficulties, detect false interpretations, and expose erroneous deductions. Written to convey the knowledge of facts, we gather simple and unvarnished facts from them; and, if it were possible to discover a full and unbroken chronological series of them, most of the obstacles which the historian now finds in his way would be removed."+
Mr. Hingeston does not overrate the value of the materials with which he has been appointed to deal. No more useful contributions to our historical store were ever made than the volumes of "Original Letters, including numerous Royal Letters," published some years ago by that veteran scholar Sir Henry Ellis, and the extensive work on the English Privy Council, consisting mainly of letters, edited by the late Sir N. H. Nicolas, in the years 1834-7. The present volume is the first of a series which will supplement and, in a manner, bring to completion these earlier works for a period of our history of which we know comparatively little-the reigns of the Princes of the House of Lancaster. We trust, however, that the editor's labours may not be limited to a few years, but that the publi cation of all the extant royal and other historical letters will be steadily proceeded with. One volume of such material is worth half a dozen of second-rate chronicles, one-third of which consists commonly of deliberate piracies of earlier MSS., while the writers' bias and prejudices too frequently disfigure and mar the usefulness of the remainder. "Characters," says Sir Henry Ellis, truly, "are drawn by those who could not know the they describe; facts are imperceptibly diverted to the uses of party, and events which owe their origin to the simplest are often traced back to the remotest causes. . . . But letters "bear the impress of their respective times; and whilst many of them regard affairs in which the writers were actively engaged, all afford a closer and more familiar view of characters, manners, and events than the pen of the most accomplished compiler of regular history, even if he might be trusted, could supply. They unravel causes of action which, without their aid, would be impenetrable, and even throw new light upon parts of history which superficial readers suppose to be exhausted.'
Another characteristic of Letters is, that they are not only the most useful of all our historical materials, but they are the most interesting also. They are even-to use an expressive word-entertaining. Of course we know that in most cases the reverse of this is generally true; at least, we have a feeling, right or wrong, that the more practical a science is, the harder and duller it is. But about this there can be no mistake, as our readers shall see. Mr. Hingeston has enabled them to
* Royal and Historical Letters during the Reign of Henry the Fourth, King of England and of France, and Lord of Ireland. Edited by the Rev. F. C. Hingeston, M.A., of Exeter College, Oxford, Incumbent of Hampton Gay, and Domestic Chaplain to Viscountess Falmouth, Baroness le Despencer. Published by the Authority of the Lords Commissioners of H.M. Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls. Vol. I., A.D. 1399-1404. Longman and Co. 1860. See the Preface, page x.
Quoted by Hingeston, page ix.
❝ransack" for their benefit the writing-desk of the first King of the House of Lancaster, and to revel among its mysterious contents undisturbed.
Wales, as we all know, was a thorn in Henry's side from the beginning of his reign almost to the end. Owen Glyndwr, a brave and independent mountain chief, though an arch-traitor (we suppose) withal, contrived to wage perpetual war against the English, and even prevailed on the King of France to become his ally, and to send a large army to his relief.
Accordingly, as we might reasonably expect, one of the pigeon-holes contains a batch of Welsh letters, and very curious productions they are. Ellis and Nicolas had the first choice, and have published many of them, but they left Mr. Hingeston a good picking, nevertheless.
Lord Grey de Ruthyn "was, by his unjust invasion of the lands and rights of Owen Glyndwr, the immediate cause of the rebellion. He contrived, however, by an unworthy stratagem, to transfer the blame from himself to the man whom he had injured, and he was commissioned by the English king to put down the revolt." Arriving at Ruthyn, he received a furious letter of defiance, written by Griffith ap David ap Griffith (printed by Sir Henry Ellis). He at once wrote to the Prince of Wales, and begged him "to witte that the strengest thief of Wales sent me a lettre, which lettre I send to you, that ye mowe knowen his goode wyll and gouvernance, with a copie of an other lettre, that I have sent to him agayn of an answare." Both these letters, and the "copie " itself of the third, are preserved in the Cottonian Library. Mr. Hingeston has printed the last, which alone remained unpublished. It is too long for insertion, but we really cannot help giving an extract or two: the writer may have been much provoked, but his language is inexcusable, and unmitigated Billingsgate:
"LORD GREY DE RUTHYN TO GRIFFITH AP DAVID AP GRIFFITH. "GRUFFUTH AP DAVID AP GRUFFUTH,-We send the greting welle, but no thyng with goode hert.
"And we have welle understande thy lettre to us sent by Deykus Vaghan, our tenaunt.
"Furthermore, ther as thu knowlechest by thyn own lettre that thy men hath stolle our horsen out of our parke, and thu recettour of hem, we hoope that thu and thy men shalle have that ye have deserved. For us thynketh, thegh John Welle hath doon as thu aboven has certefied, us thynketh that that sholde noght be wroken towarde us.
But we hoope we shalle do the a pryve thyng;
A roope, a ladder, and a ring;
Heigh on gallowes for to heng:
And thus shalle be your endyng.
And He that made the be ther to helpyng,
And we on our behalfe shalle be welle wyllyng;
For thy lettre is knowlechyng."
To clothe all these maledictions in jingling verse was, indeed, a refinement of malice. Poor Griffith was more polite himself: his letter is a rude affair, no doubt, but he had the grace to close it in a gentlemanly fashion, "Gode kepe your worschipfull astate in prosperite!" The Lord of Ruthyn's "Vale" is scarcely less civil and certainly much more
tantalising than the coarse but homely expression, "Go, and be hanged!" Doubtless, the royal hands shook as Henry put this little packet of letters into his desk, and wondered what would befal him next from those Welsh barbarians. And well he might, for trouble was indeed in store. By the year 1403 the rebellion had reached its height, and the king was compelled to go in person to confirm the faith of his despairing friends, and (as they vainly thought) to frighten the rebels into submission. On the 3rd of September, Richard Kingeston, archdeacon of Hereford, wrote to him the following alarming letter. It is "partly in French and partly in English, the two languages being mingled in a wonderful manner, as though the writer thought French the proper thing, but at times were so led away by his eagerness in begging the king to come as to be unable to endure the trammels of the less familiar language, and so resorted to his native tongue." We give the French in Mr. Hingeston's translation, and the English in Kingeston's words, preserving the original orthography:
"MY MOST SOVEREIGN, MOST MIGHTY, AND MY MOST DREAD LORD, -I commend me to your most high lordship. . . . May it please you to consider that to-day, after noon, I was informed that there were come into our country more than four hundred of the rebels of Owen, Glynn, Talgard, and many other rebels besides, from the marches of Wales, and they have captured and robbed within your county of Hereford many men, and beasts in great number, our truce notwithstanding; as my friend and companion, and your esquire, Miles Walter, the bearer of these presents will more fully tell you by mouth than I can write to you at present.... To whom may it please you to give good cheer, thanking him for his great labour, and good and loyal service which he has done and shown you. within your county, and at Brecon. For, my most dread lord, by the faith which I give to God, and to you, I hold him to be one of the most valiant of the men of arms that you have within your county
or march, as you will most certainly find at your most gracious arrival among us-and that it please you to promise to him good and gracious lordship, and to comfort him, for he has lost all that he had, and that to a large amount.
"Besides this, my most sovereign and most dread lord, may it please you of your gracious lordship, and for the preservation of your said county and of all the march, to send me this night, or early to-morrow morning at the latest, my most honoured Master Beaufort, or some other valiant person, who is willing and able to labour, with one hundred lances and six hundred archers, until your most gracious arrival to the salvation of us all. For, otherwise, my most dread lord, I hold all our county to be destroyed; for the hearts of all your faithful lieges in your county, with the commons, are utterly lost, and for this-that they hear that you are not coming to this place in your own person (which God avert). For, my most dread lord, you will find for certain that, if you do not come in your own person to await your rebels in Wales, you will not find a single gentleman that will stop in your said county.
"War fore,* for Goddesake, thinketh on your beste frende, God; and
* The French words intermingled with this English are printed in italics.