Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

5 articles on this Page



(ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.) PHROUDED IN MYSTERY; OR, WHICH GIRL DID HE MARRY ? BY J. SKIPP BORLASE, Author of "For True Love's Sake," "Three Lovely Women," "Darker than Death," "An Ocean Secret," ''Recalled to Life," "Riches to Ruin," "Who Killed John CameronV" "Sword and LaBce," "Police Minister," &c. CHAPTER LXXXVII. LADY STEANRAERS ARRIVAL IN LONDON AND INTERVIEW WITH KING GEORGE. It is now high time for us to return to the adventures and the misadventures of Lady Stranraer in her efforts to save her noble- jnindv-d husband from the headsman's axe. She felt all the more doubtful of success on his behalf, not. only because of his oft-reite- rated conviction that he was thus fore- doomed to perish, but also by reason that in the dreadful dream which had preceded, and. in tact, produced, the swoon, in his endeavour to recover her from her which he had found the crisply-curled lock of chestnut hair that lad decided him as to his future course of desperate action, she had beheld his life ta-r.ei) from her. Yes, she had as clearly seen as if her wide open eyes had looked upon the real event— the grim fortalice, the paved courtyard, the assembled crowd, the block, and the execu- tioner—and had witnessed him kneel down, the axe gleam in the sunshine as it rose and eank, the spouting blood and the falling body, and she heard the hoarse cry of "Behold the head of a traitor as the beloved face was lielu on high by a, gory hand entwined in the hair, for public recognition and reprobation. 'n '-et, despite all this, she was determined not, to relax a single effort that could in any way tend to save him, and she had firmly resolved that if all lawful attempts failed she would then tndeavour to effect his delive- rance by some cleverly-concocted scheme, freely hazarding her own liberty and even life in the carrying of it out. Perhaps she had some faint hope that she would overtake Stranraer before he reaehsd London, and that in such case she would be able to induce him to forego his resolution of proceeding thither to deliver himself up, and instead to escape, or at all events endeavour to escape, to France with her. If she did hope that it might be so she was doomed to disappointment, as she reached London without gathering the slightest in- telligence of him on the way, but, as if in iH omen of the success of her own under- taking, the first thing that she heard talked about upon ariving there was the con- demnation a.nd execution of the Earl of Der- wentwater and; Lord Kenmuir at the Tower, and that half a. dozen lesser rebels had been hung. drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. Lady Stranraer remained many days in London, and yet could neither discover where her husband was confined nor obtain an in- terview with Royalty. Then, at last, she found out that Stranraer was imprisoned at Newgate, a disgrace that he oould certainly never have calculated on, though it might have been mitigated in his opinion by the knowledge that several of the so-called rebels were confined there likewise. She gathered, then, that he had surrendered himself at the Tower, but had been sent to Newgate because the State prison was already too full, and, in consequence, Lord Nithes- dale had already succeeded in escaping there- from. Stranraer had not yet been even tried, -o that there was still plenty of time for action on her part, or at all events it was natural to suppose so, though, for that matter, trials were rushed through at such speed, and exe- cutions followed so quickly after, that there no making sure of anything. Rose now learnt, to her great disappoint- ment that the Queen was in Holland, so that all her hopes seemed to rest upon the King: and, remembering what Captain Leigh had said concerning him, this fact caused her grtat annoyance, as well as grave uneasiness. She was somewhat comforted, however, by Sir Harry Howarth's steward, her travelling companion and careta.ker, handing her letter, and telling her his master desired that ishe would give that to his Majesty, if she was able to obtain an interview 'with him, .but only if other means—that was to say, her own pleading—failed. This missive gave her great comfort, and the at once put her own construction upon its strange conditions, which was that the generous-hearted baronet, feeling how sweet it would be to her to save her husband's life entirely through her own exertions, had bade •her keep back his letter as a last resource, in order to give her every opportunity of doing so, while she further encouraged herself with the belief that, used in case of neces- sity. it would be sure to be successful. She remembered now having once heard that Sir Harry had not only seen much foreign service, but had also served for a while in a foreign army that was acting in alliance with the British forces under the 'Duke of Marlborough against the French. a.nd -during that period that lie had preserved the life of some great Prince or other potentate on the battlefield, who had presented him with a sword and a diamond snuff-box by way of expressing his gratitude, and so she caught herself wondering if it was to the 'Hanoverian Army that he had been attached, and if the rescued Prince had been the Elector of Hanover, who now was the King of England. These wonderings, beliefs, and at last con- victions, made her more resolved than ever bv hook or by crook to obtain an audience with his Majesty, and chance soon favoured her design in a mex-t remarkable manner. She was approaching the palace one day through the park, followed at a little dis- tance by her sturdv protector. Miles Joyce, when she encountered a little man in a.n im- mense wi. and a. diminutive cocked hat perched atop of it, whose eyes and nose-tip were alike turned skywards, and who was closely followed by a. long, slim individual, carrying the little man's snuff-box on an out- stretched palm. "The King, my lady," said Miles Joyce, fining a little upon Lady Stranraer to make Lie '.alf-whispered announcement, and then falling back again to the same respectful dis- tance as before. Rome's resolution was at once taken, and, throwing herself on her knees before George the First, as he came up, she exclaimed m tremulous and touching accents "Pardon, sire, for one who but for your known love of mercy must perish on" the scaffold. Pardon, sire, for one who owes his present position to his fealty to his friends rather than to any disloyalty to your Majesty." "Eh, what's this? The wife or sister of a rebel approaching our sacred person without any let or hindrance, and in our own park, too?" ex ,tt\imed the King, soiurJing all his p's hke b's and vice versa. ^vt then his tone and manner siJJenly changed as he continued: "\VeH, well, as she is here, we will listen to what she lias to say. If your friend or relative has rebelled against lis. madam, he 9uM Ulte the OMfKqiMBOM. A dutifal ob- ject should love Iris monarch even before his awn brother." "Ah, sire, answering you almost in the "words of Scriptuie, he may find it easier to love his brother whom lit hath seen than to love his king whom he hath not seen," re- sponded Rose. The reply seemed to please the little monarch exceed ngly, for he at once responded, "That is'not bad reasoning. And so you think that I only require to be seen to be loved ? Those don't sound like the words of a rebel, at any rate. Who is it that you are pleading for, madam ?" "For my husband, sire." "That is a recommendation after so pretty a speech, and now his name?" "Fergus Cameron of Stranraer, and your Majesty never had a nobler foe, or one whom clemency would change into a stauncher friend," said Rose, boldly. "Fergus Cameron of Stranraer? His name seems to be familiar to me--ave, very lately familiar to me. Devereux, can you tell me anything about the man?" and the King turned round to his tall, slim companion. "I can tell you a great deal about him. sire, responded that individual. "He is a Scottish chieftain of little note, but he joined the Pretender with every clansman who could bear arms, and so steeped were they in the blackest treason that they perished to the last man in attempting to hold Preston against your Majesty's forces." "And my husband would have fallen, and for that end also, but for his brilliant sword- manship. He left not the breach until his last follower was down, and his own weapon was confronted by a score. But, your Majesty, surely a brave foe is as worthy of clemency as a craven one?" answered Rose, almost passionately. The King made no immediate reply, for he seemed to be puzzling out something in his mind. All at once, however, he turned again upon his attendant, and exclaimed "Didn't this Stranraer journey to London voluntarily and deliver himself up a prisoner at the Tourer? And, again, last night, when Mackintosh and fifteen other Jacobites broke out of Newgate, after having overpowered the turnkeys and disarmed the sentinels, wasn't Stranraer the man who refused to leave his cell, although his fellow-rebels broke open its door and invited him to accompany them?" "Yes, sire, lie is the man most certainly." "Then," exclaimed the King, with an oath, "as the desperate rebel clearly wants to die-- and it is our duty to show the disloyal that they are not going to have everything their own way-our sovereign mandate is that this obstinate fellow shall neither be executed nor kept a prisoner. Gadzooks, does he think that the King of England's gaols built and maintained at the cost of a, nation for folks who like to live in them ? I'll have him turned out, as he won't go quietly-aye, turned out and sent home and I hold you. madam, answerable for his good conduct in the future." The King spoke as though he was terribly angry, but there was a merry twinkle in his eyes the while, which encouraged the still- kneeling Rose to say, after she had poured forth an impetuous torrent of thanks that came straight from her heart, on her hus- band's account, that there was yet another individual whom she would humbly beseech his Majesty to pardon. "A brother this time, I'll be bound," ex- claimed George. "No, sire, merely a chivalrous young gentleman, who, seeing my husband beset by three armed men at once. couldn't resist the temptation of striking a blow on the weaker side." "Now, that's a folly that I abhor and detest," broke in the King. "To aid the weaker party is to render both sides more equal, and only to prolong the mischief. This stupid supporting of the weaker side has pro- longed wars and every other species of strife, and deluged the world with blood again and again. No, no, I hold it that the truly humane man always joins the stronger side, and then the other goes to the wall at once, and everything is quickly settled and over, That is the speediest and best way of turning the sword into a plough-share. And so this headstrong young man did his best to pro- long the straggle, did: he? Now, madam, if that struggle happened to be against my soldiers "It was against your soldiers, sire, but he was not a soldier himself, and he was also very young." "And did he kill one of them?" "He was unfortunate enough to do so, sire. But it was when his blood was up, and he was very sorry for it afterwards." "Oh, you are sure that he was sorry for it afterwards?" "He felt it keenly, sire, because he had never spilt a. fellow-creature's blood before." "And he was a thorough-paced Jacobite?" "On the contrary, your Majesty has not a more loyal subject." "Then let him prove it by taking the place of the loyal servant he has robbed me of, and it strikes me that he is made of just the right stuff to do it creditably. Not that a soldier who could be so easily worsted by a civilian untrained to arms, and who had never dra.wn blood before, is much of a loss to either army or me, but the young rascal has to atone for a grave fault besides, and that is the! only way in which I will allow him to do it. Tell him that he will have to serve me well, and that I shall keep an eye on him to see that lie does it. Let him show me that he deserves the epaulette, and he shall in due time have it. You may tell him that also. As for your husband, I make him the same offer, with a pair of epaulettes and the command of a company in a Highland regi- ment at once, if he chooses to accept it. He has proved that he possesses the heart of a lion, to say the least, and those are the kind of leaders I want. As for his fealty to the Stuarts, theirs is a lost cause, and all sensible men know it to be so by this time so advise him to henceforth think more of country than of dynasty, and to serve the land that gave him birth, no matter 'whom Providence or- dains to rule over it. Do you understand, madam ?" Rose acknowledged that she did, amidst a flood' of grateful tears and renewed expres- sions of gratitude, which the King cut short by turning to his attendant and asking him if he had anything in the shape of pencil and paper about him. Thereupon that individual fished a, memo- randum book, with a pencil attached, out of his pocket, and handed it to the little monarch with much ceremony. The King at once opened the book. found two blank leaves, and wrote upon one, "Cameron of Stranraer, pardoned uncondi- tionally. upon the petition of his wife.— George Rex." On the other, after first learn- ing from Rose his name, he wrote:—"Lancelot Leigh, pardoned for killing one of my soldiers upon condition that within three months he takes his place. This is at the solicitation of Lady Stranraer.—George Rex." Tearing out the two leaves, he handed them to Rose, and then, turning to Devereux. "Ýou will at once accompany this lady to Newgate, and set her husband free. See, furthermore, that they have sufficient funds. and' every other means placed at their dis- Eosal, either for remaining for a while in ondon or returning at to Scotland, whichever they may prefer, for when it pleases us to be gracious we do not care to do things by halves, and it is one of our le't plea-sfntest prerogatives to occasionally tem- ,nte.,t I pe, i'f>tice with ruc-rey." He then inquired of Rose if lie could be of service to her in any other way, and, upon her answering in the negative and again com- mencing to pour forth her gratitude and the Em? rated hm tondi to hie liys, and with a deprecating gesture hurried off1 palacewards as fast as he could. CHAPTER LXXXVIII. RE-UNION—ONCE MORE BACK AT ROCHDALE—CONCLUSION It would be impossible to describe Rose's joy at the result of her interview with the King, and it would be equally difficult to do justice to the meeting of husband and wife within the strong, grim walls of the great Metropolitan prison. Happily, this story deals with facts rather than with .emotions, knowing our weakness in portraying which -w6 have ever kept clear of even making the attempt. Suffice it, then, to say that when Lady Stranraer was first ushered into her husband's presence lie fancied that she had journeyed all the way to London in order to take a final farewell of him, and felt grateful for even that attention on her part. But when she told him with breathless earnestness that she had come to save him. and, furthermore, had saved him, and how, he could scarcely realise the truth of what .,he w as saying, and his deep gratitude was mingled with a pity and a regret on her account, which found vent in the words: "And for my sake you have shipwrecked your own happiness—aye, and that of another as well, for as long as I live you can never become the wife of Lancelot Leigh." But they had been left alone ere this, and so in answer Rose assured her husband that from the first day—or at all events from the first week—of meeting him, she had ceased to care for Leigh other than as a friend and when he in turn told her about the ourl of chestnut hair, and how its discoverey in her bosom, and his immediate recognition of it as Leigh's, had at last fixed his long half- formed determination to proceed to London and deliver himself up to the Government, she replied that the lock of hair had been given her long before she had known him. and that she had only refrained from at last throwing it away because she had thought it would be ungrateful to do so after the giver had done and hazarded so much on behalf of both. Well, to cut a long story short, for we are in the last chapter of our tale, a mutual and complete understanding was soon arrived at. and Cameron of Stranraer then found that lie was the sole possessor of the devoted love of a young and beautiful woman, whom lie was bound at length to admit (to himself, and notwithstanding the buried affections of long ago) lie loved with equal fondness in return. The result of these discoveries 'was that he ceased to be a visionary, and no longer re- garded himself as doomed to perish on the block, as indeed, how could he after what had just happened ? He resolved to stay in London for a while instead of returning at once to Scotland, and this with a view of swearing fealty to the house of Hanover, and accepting King George's generous offer of the command of a company in one of the loyal Highland regi- ments, a. step, however, which he assuredly would not have taken had he not lielieved that his native line of monarchs, the Stuarts, never would or could make another attempt to recover the crown of England. At the earliest possible opportunity, ho v- ever, Stranraer and his wife journeyed up to Rochdale, though there was no urgent neces- sity for doing so, since days previously Rose had heard of her sister's restoration to, and complete reconciliation with, her husband, and a special messenger had been despatched northwards to convey the intelligence to Lan- celot Leigh that his pardon had been ob- tained, and on what conditions, and Rose Stranraer had known from the first that those conditions would please him well, as he had always longed to follow the glorious profes- sion of arms, and the opposition of his father had alone prevented him from doing so until now. It 'was, nevertheless, a pleasant thing to give his pardon, in the King's own hand- writing, into "her old friend's hands, and to be able to assure him that his monarch had promised to keep an eye on him, and, as soon as he had fairly earned it, to give him his epa.u- lette and, lastly, but by no means leastly, to tell him that if he desired it lie might join her husband's regiment and even com- pany, wherein, while still a. private soldier, he would be sure of being treated as a gentle- man. Need we add that the offer was accepted, that under the stipulated three months Lance- lot was sufficiently recovered to join the colours, that shortly afterwards the regiment was ordered upon foreign service, and in the very first battle in which it wag engaged the promised epaulette was gallantly won As for Cameron of Stranraer, ha :tt last rose to be the commander of the gallant corps, nor abandoned it until he had lost his right arm as a tribute to a French cannon- ball, whereupon he retired to his Scottish estates and the society of his still eharming wife. But Lancelot Leigh served his country with courage and honour until he was grey- headed, and never married, for his was a nature that could love but once. Sir Harry Howarth smiled when. on her return to Rochdale, Lady Stranraer returned him his letter to the King unopened, and he cut short her thanks, therefore, by saying that he was glad her husband owed his life to her unaided efforts on his behalf. "Aye," lie added, "and that young Leigh owes even-thing to you also. I am devoutly thankful if only for the consequent heaping of coals of fire upon the head of his rascally old father, who, I hope, now feels thoroughly ashamed of the cruel and infamous way in which he treated you." Whether he really did fed so must remain a. matter of very great doubt. Old John Radclitfe recovered from his attack of the horrors, and his two daughters badgered him until he at last foreswore the brandy bottle altogether, and in consequence lived to a green old age. No unpleasantness resulted from the hor- rible death of Halcamus Greenwood, nor even to Dewdrop, who was regarded as having done more than his duty in defnding his master and his home from an armed burglar. As for Lady Howarth. she henceforth made as good a wife as her sister, and a higher tribute of praise it is out of our power to bestow on her. She was ever a. mother and a sister in one to poor Lucy. who recovered her reason to a great degree, but never to such an extent as to lie quite like other girls; yet she was nothing more than sad. dreamy, thoughtful, and at times absent-minded, notwithstanding which she was. thanks mainly to Ruth, as ham> apparently as most people. The first -na.dv Howarth, on the strength of Dame Dorothy's written confession, was removed from her marble mausoleum under Owl Hill, and at last given a Christian burial in St. Chad's Churchyard, which was a great comfort to the baronet. As for Clegg Hall, though the outer walls, owine to their great thickness, 'wei'e as strong as ever, and the interior was easily restor- able. Ruth declared that she could never live therein, nor, indeed, 'had Sir Harry any desire to do so, more esneciallv as it might exercise a most prejudicial effect upon the mind of his daughter: so. though the house was restored after a. fashion, it I was onlv in such a way as to do duty as a roadside tmblic- house. its first tenant being Jim Nuttall. who stocked it out of the thousand guineas' reward that he had received for the restora- tion of Lady Howarth. and who bestowed 110011 it the strange name of "The Black Sloven." Shortly afterwards Sir Harry rturshased a mansion and estate near to Stranraer in Scotland, in order that his wife might be near her sister. If the reader would like to know more about Parvm BeHoe he had totter fata wp • that most interesting little work, "Old and New Rochdale," by William Robertson, wherein a great deal is said about that eccen- tric divine, who seems to have continued to live and flourish in the town till about the years 1735, when, for some offence or other, he had to run the country, and some years later was discovered by a Rociidoift ^Tftvalkr to be living at Madeira. THE END


-------------A DARING RIDER.


[No title]