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THE KNIGHT-BARONET. j

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[ALL RIGHTS RBSEEVED.] THE KNIGHT-BARONET. AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE OF OLD-TIME CHESTER. BY EUSTACE de SALIS. BOOK I. CHAPTER IX. (Continued). Pretty fooling," ejaculated Renald Elsemare, who was standing in Eastgate- street at the corner of Peen-lane, "pretty fooling, indeed! Bah! The idiots would fthout for anything or anyone, it seems." "Hush," muttered Raphe Asslacke warn- ingly, 'twould never do if you were over- heard. But," he added ruminatingly, 'tis a senseless proceeding after all." Pat me on the back and I will pat you on yours sort of business," Renald Elsemare continued contemptuously. "Well," rejoined the other, laughing, "even if 'tis so, where's the harm? Why, 'twill mean money for us: Man, they will get so thirsty at the work that we shall be drunk out of house and home." Some truth in your words, to be sure. Does the King think this shouting means anything? He makes the greatest mistake if that is his notion. Upon my word," Renald went on earnestly, "I believe in those that set about their work without all this noise. Yelling and screaming never yet gained a kingdom nor turned a losing fight into a winning one! After all, much as I loathe him and his set, I would sooner have the baronet's way of going about the work." During this time Thomas Cowper had descended from his elevated position. Pre- ceded by the Sergeant-at-Mace, carrying that gilded emblem adorned with the escutcheon and the Royal Arms, and the City Sword-bearer bearing the sword- which, presented to Chester by Richard III., might by grant of an antient charter be carried point uppermost before the Chief Magistrate except in the actual presence of the Sovereign-the Mayor approached the Aipot where Charles, seated motionless in the midst of the semi-circle formed by his retinue, awaited his coming. Having arrived at this point, he took the sword from its custodian, and, sinking down on one knee, delivered it over to his Majesty, who, graciously acknowledging this act of allegiance, returned it saying, Not so, Mr. Mayor. In no worthier hands could we trust this emblem of our Royal authority in these parts." "Believe me, Sir," rejoined the Mayor, "if ever occasion arise, your Majesty shall see your confidence is well reposed, and that we know how to handle its counterpart in defence of your throne and sceptre." Aye, aye, your Worship," returned Charles, smiling slightly. "It may be that 'ere long we shall find fitting work to be executed by the inhabitants of a city that once harboured the famous Twentieth Legion." Thomas Cowper rose with a profound obeisance. Turning, he ordered the pro- cession to be marshalled, and taking his place at the head of it, immediately in front of the King, bare-headed and with sword point now up-raised, preceded the moving column to the Pentice, where Charles and his suite were to be most lavishly entertained by the civic authorities. Having made fools of themselves, they go now to make beasts of themselves," Renald Elsemare observed, as he vigorously elbowed his way through the crowd, which had broken free from the restraint of the barriers and was rushing up the street to see the King dismount. "Did you ever hear of a case where aldermen went home without a feed? They seize upon every occasion as an excuse for filling themselves at our expense." "Well," replied Raphe Asslacke laughing, "I trust the crowd will see fit to follow the example of their betters." "Their betters!" cried the other scorn- fully. "What nonsense have you got into that windy headpiece of yours, Raphe Asslacke? Our betters! To think you of all men should indulge in such a remark." "Easy, there. 'Tis a manner of speaking only." Thank heaven for one thing: Neither William Edwards nor Thomas Aldersey are likely to enjoy a feed at the same table as the King on this occasion. But as you were saying, perhaps it might be as well did we return to our houses and see how business is setting." With this sensible remark both the tavern-keepers turned, and separating, made their way to their respective "Lions," with the determination of reaping the harvest even though such a praiseworthy attention to business should rob them of the spectacle of a King of England regaling himself like any other ordinary individual with food and drink! Within the Pentice all was as gay as Haoney and willing hands could make it. The walls were hung with banners and pen- nants in which the arms of the city were conspicuously displayed alongside those of the Royal guest, the ceiling-in order to hide the blackened woodwork-being hung and festooned with garlands of roses and choice flowers. A long table ran down the entire length of that part of the building to which the public was ordinarily admitted, whilst the portion, which on those occasions was re- served for the use of the city magistracy, was now occupied by the cross high-table at which the King and his principal retainers, and Thomas Cowper and his leading col- leagues, seated themselves, the remainder of the company being at liberty to settle down just wherever they wished. If you know nothing else in these parts," observed one of the monarch's retinue to Thomas Mottershead during the progress of the banquet, "you cannot be taught any- thing in the art of entertaining royalty." "Yes," replied the Sheriff with a hearty laugh. We do know a thing or two here- abouts, although we are so distant from London, and so uncomfortably close to the borders of Wales! But as to royal entertain- ing? 'Tis nothing new. There has been scarce a King since the Conquest who has not at some time or other accepted of this city's hcmpitality, and," he continued, lowering his voice, his eyes the meantime sparkling with merriment, "the worst of it is that we treated some of our Royal visitors in the past so well that they began to manifest a too decided preference for our ways to be altogether pleasing to us. You know what I mean, the Sheriff added, nodding his head sagaciously and proceeding to help him- self liberally from off a dish set before him. y'« the other with a Sn+ri. -wi, ?ut when you undertake to 4royalty y°u must submit to un- loosening the purse strings." —ves1106 1 £ 1f+W?yVandJor t,he R°yal benefit Kim self to r*l + when he cannot come iSffamilv cA 8°me dlstant member of his family or else some courtier to whom he is indebted, upon us-well-to say the truth 'tis a trifle hard. However, that has nothing to do with the present case. I thank God his Majesty has honoured us. It shall be Ho fault of ours if, so pleased with his dutiful and loyal reception, he does not speedily return in person." "Mr. Sheriff," said the visitor, "it strikes Hie you, I mean you yourself personally, know a thing or two. Your remark » Do you hear him, my lord," asked Thomas Mottershead, throwing back his head in pretended amazement and addressing his right hand neighbour. Do you hear what he thinks? Faith, from his manners and tone of voice, I really believe, the Sheriff continued, carefully scanning the stranger s appearance, yes, I really believe he regards us as barbarians." A little further acquaintance with us, replied James, Earl of Derby-who had only within the last fortnight succeeded to the earldom, in his quiet and thoughtful voice— would speedily convince him of his error. At any rate," 'he went on, with a smile spreading over his melancholy and prematurely-aged features, "let him just transgress some of our laws, Mr. Sheriff. I irrant he will soon discover we are neither anore behind-hand in method nor slower in execution than the parts of which he is a illative. "There." Thomas Mottershead exclaimed, as if the Earl's words settled the matter for gpod. "There now, I call that a very fair proposal. If you are still desirous of ^gauging the extent of our knowledge, and the manner in which we apply that know- ledge, just you quietly tweak his Worship's nose the very first time you get him by himself." Much obliged," laughed the stranger, "His lordship's word is quite good enough for me, I assure you. But faith, if we meet with this class of reception in the remainder of the cities of the west, 'twill be no fighting we shall have to face—our troubles will be to guard against being killed by the kindness of our supporters." "His lordship," resumed Thomas Motter- shead, could tell you more about that than I can, seeing how great a commander he is." "Tell our friend about what?" asked the Earl of Derby with a suddenly awakening I interest. About his chances of coming across the rebels in the west. He is spoiling for a fight," explained the Sheriff. Then turning to the stranger, he continued, The Earl of Derby, as I have said, is a great commander. Since he set about the business he has raised more than sixty thousand men for the King's service. Is that not so, my lord?" Quite correct," the latter replied. However, I do not take the credit entirely to myself. My name assisted me, and my friends contributed in no small measure to my success in this direction. But," with a shake of the head and a deep sigh, "but, Mr. Sheriff, I would not have you think that the sixty thousand still remain under the Royal standard. Alas! Disaffection has thinned the ranks of the forces I raised, and a large proportion of this number-for want of a little encouragement and a little considera- tion-have returned either to their own homes or," sinking his voice to an almost inaudible whisper, or have voluntarily joined the rebels." My lord," protested Thomas Mottershead, what about the others. The regiments you Taken out of mv hands—taken from my command, who might have done something with them, perhaps, to be drafted off to the main army," the Earl replied sadly. At this moment, out of the thousands who responded to my call, I have not an adequate force to even garrison Lathom." "Whew!" the Sheriff whistled, thoroughly startled at this announcement. "Whew! Your mansion house left unprotected?" "And my countess? Even so. But," Lord Derby hastened to add, fearing the Sheriff perhaps might imagine he would complain of the treatment he had met with at the hands of the Sovereign, "but 'tis all in his Majesty's sacred cause." Still and a11-" Thomas Mottershead began, when he was suddenly interrupted and his remarks brought to a hasty con- clusion by an emphatic nudge from the Earl and a glance in the direction of where Charles sat. The Sheriff remembered his surroundings in time. With a grateful look at his neighbour who had prevented his committing himself in the King's very hear- ing, he turned his attention to the table and settled himself down, as if determined to make up for the time lost in conversation, just as a general stir became visible. Although the banquet was far from being finished, Charles had signified his intention of retiring. Fatigued after the exertion of his twenty-eight miles' ride from Shrews- bury and the accompanying heat and dust of the day, and in want of rest, he was about to withdraw to the episcopal palace in Northgate-street, where he designed being the guest of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese during his stay in the city. This order had been communicated to the principal members of the monarch's suite, and the King was just about to rise, when, craving his pardon for the interruption, Thomas Cowper in a few well-chosen words, on behalf of the citizens of Chester, presented his Royal guest with the sum of two hundred pounds in gold and an addition of half that sum as Chester's gift to her future Earl- the youthful Prince of Wales. "Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor," cried Charles warningly, after he had accepted the gift, and had returned thanks in suitable and graceful terms, this reception and these presents will make us forget the stern realities which lie before us. We are no acknowledged and revered Sovereign now, making a triumphal procession throughout our kingdom and being suitably entertained by our loyal subjects! We have work to do —no less than the subjugation of our kith and kin. Alas! that such a bloody duty should have fallen to our lot-to the lot of Charles Stuart!" "We of Chester," replied the Mayor firmly, concern ourselves little with affairs which take place outside our Walls. Within the latter we acknowledge no jurisdiction save yours, Sir. We acknowledge you as the Chief called by God to the head of a great State, and, whilst we draw breath, we are prepared to maintain this belief with our lives, despite the exertions of a dozen Houses of Parliament." "Well, well," observed Charles, his brow becoming overcast at the Mayor's reference to the action of the Commons, "we must take our departure for his lordship's palace, as it grows late. Oh, Mr. Mayor," the King cried, as Thomas Cowper, turning away with a low bow, left the Royal presence, see that you wait on us to-morrow at the Lord Bishop's in order that we may concert what steps we should take to conserve this city- this bright jewel in our crown-to our own uses and interests." Before leaving the Pentice for his own house that night, Thomas Cowper and some of his fellow aldermen discussed the events of the day and the perfect success that had attended their efforts. "His Majesty," remarked the Recorder, plainly shewed how gratified he felt at the warmth of his reception." "Yes," assented the Mayor. "We may congratulate ourselves that the event passed off without a single hitch." That reminds me," Thomas Mottershead interposed. What has brought his Majesty to Chester? For I do not suppose that it was any desire for entertainment that induced him to take a step which I learn has caused a considerable confusion in his plans." "I should be inclined to believe," Thomas Throppe said, "that the King has come amongst us with a view to seeing for himself how we are situated and what defence we could offer did the rebels attack us." As a matter of fact his Majesty has com- manded me to wait upon him to-morrow after morning service," Thomas Cowper ex- plained. No doubt he is anxious to go fully into matters connected with Sir William Brereton's attempt." We shall be very grateful to his Majesty for any suggestions he may see fit to make. But, Thomas Cowper," the senior Sheriff continued warningly, remember the advice we all gave you at the time you communi- cated with Charles about the riot: We know how we are circumstanced, and we know if it comes to the worst what we shall have to contend with. That being the case, I would strongly urge you not to be influenced by either the King or his advisers to the prejudice of your colleagues, who have the local knowledge derived from an intimate connection with the affairs of their city. If his Majesty should suggest a course which is opposed to what the Council advise, I say with all humility that the recommendation of the latter should be given the preference." Sheriff, you are at the old game again," cried Thomas Cowper shortly. "No, I am not," replied Thomas Motter- shead sharply. "But I heard something to-day which makes me feel very uncomfort- able. The Earl of Derby is one of the King's most ardent and most capable sup- porters. In spite of this, and forgetful of what his lordship has already done for the Royal cause, all power has been taken out of his hands, with the result that the thousands he raised for his Majesty's army have either forsaken their colours or gone over to the enemy. Now do listen to me. We know best what we want, and how we are to set about getting it. Let us stick to that, or else we shall find our city delivered into the keeping of some incompetent courtier. added the Sheriff gravely, "with Sir William Brereton, Thomas Aldersey, William Edwards, and some others at liberty, you know very well what we may look forward to. It was a fatal mistake to liberate either the baronet or the two aldermen. That how- ever, cannot be recalled, but we can, by acting like sensible men, minimise to a certain degree the ill-effects of our recent stupidity. Yes, for 'twas crass stupidity and nothing else-absolute folly." CHAPTER X. Never within the memory of living man had the venerable cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary of Chester, founded within the site of the ancient Benedictine Abbey of St. Werburgh, been so crowded as it was at the ten o'clock service the day after Charles's entry into the city. In accordance with the custom of the period, the King had announced his intention of attending divine service in the morning, and this intimation having become bruited abroad, the public eagerly crowded into the sacred edifice, filling the nave-the transepts —the spacious side aisles-overflowing into the choir even, which had been set apart for the use of his Majesty and his suite and the members of the Corporation, who were to attend in state. Thare was no sermon, and even had there been, as the Bishop had been expressly in- structed to make no reference to the pre- vailing state of affairs, the public would not have learnt anything as to his Majesty's opinions of the recent riot. It was the plain Cathedral morning service, without elaboration or addition. Having, after the anthem, heard a Latin oration delivered in the western end of the building by one of the scholars from the free school, Charles, accompanied by some mem- bers of his retinue, returned to the palace, where, dismissing the latter, he entered the Bishop's library, remaining closeted with his lordship for some considerable time. With Dr. Bridgeman, the monarch cast aside his reserve, and went fully into the general circumstances and details connected with the revolt. Without any reservation, he opened his heart to his host, disclosing many of the fears by which he was beset, and touching forcibly on the almost insur- mountable difficulties by which he found himself surrounded. Buckingham foully slain; Strafford executed by order of the rebellious Commons, and his Grace of Canterbury a prisoner, destined doubtless to tread in the late Lord- Deputy's steps!" he exclaimed, a deep gloom settling down on his features. Where, my Lord Bishop," cried Charles fretfully, after a pause, where, oh where, are we to turn for guidance and advice? To what quarter address ourselves for that assistance of which we stand in such sore need?" Your Majesty, there is One who has numbered the very hairs of your Royal head," replied the Bishop of Chester gravely. There is One without Whose knowledge not even a sparrow falleth to the ground. In His Own good time, never doubt, Sir, but your enemies will be delivered over to you." Oh, that we could only bring ourselves to believe all will come right in the end," the King exclaimed fervently, and that God has us in His keeping. And yet, my lord, had prayer been of any avail, the Earl of Strafford had not surely suffered thus ignominiously. Why, ah, why," he con- tinued, in an agonised voice, did we not exert our prerogative and save him. 'Twould have been far better to have thus acted even did the step cost us our throne and realm." "But, your Majesty," protested the Bishop, did not the Earl but eight days before he met his death on Tower Hill write you a letter in which he entreated you, for the sake of the public peace,- to put an end to his unfortunate, however innocent, life, and to quiet the tumultuous people by granting them the request for which they were so importunate?" The King signified his assent by a slight forward movement of the head, and waited for his host to continue. It is well known that your Majesty, after a week's violent agitation, granted a com- mission to four noblemen to give the Royal assent to the Bill. This being so, I cannot see what cause your Majesty has for self- reproach and self-accusation." My Lord Bishop," said Charles slowly and distinctly. "Matters were even as you have stated them-that is, so far as they could possibly be known to you. But after the Earl's death, and when 'twas too late, news of the most terrible, the most afflicting nature, was brought us. Ah," he ex- claimed, "why could not the fact have been kept from us altogether then? Of what avail to speak when 'twas too late? That phantom is ever before our eyes, and leaves us not day or night." The Lord Bishop of Chester successfully contrived to hide the intense astonishment he felt at these words, but it was not so easy a task to repress the start of amazement. My lord," Charles continued slowly, "you most certainly know of the details con- cerning Strafford's trial and execution. Your brother William of London, whose courage is not inferior to his other virtues, alone ventured to advise us by no means to consent to the Bill of Attainder if our conscience did not approve of it. Some plans for the Earl's escape were devised, and abandoned, for, on hearing them, Strafford is alleged to have written the letter you a moment ago referred to." 'Alleged,' cried the Bishop, aghast at the possibilities opened out by his Royal visitor's words, "'Alleged'! Then did not Strafford pen it himself ?" The facts have never passed our lips before, and are known but to two of our Ministers. Strafford, my Lord Bishop, never wrote that or any other letter bidding us not to mind his life so long as the blood- thirsty demands of the people were complied with. That letter was-was-it was a— forgery." What," exclaimed Dr. Bridgeman, My Gracious God," he added tremulously. "A forgery! Is it possible?" Had Strafford written that letter to our- selves, think you," Charles questioned with intense bitterness, "when Secretary Carleton went to inform him of the final resolution necessity had extorted from us, that he would have risen from his seat exclaiming, 'Put not your trust in princes'?" No, your Majesty," the Prelate admitted, 'twas hardly like the Earl to have so spoken had he verily writ the letter. But who could have been the author of ?" And, my lord," Charles went on, and yet even after that remark, which proved the falseness of the document, Secretary Carleton said-, nought to us until after the Earl's head had fallen. Had we but known the truth in time but that were useless to discuss now." (To be continued.) COMMENCED IN No. 11,372, AUGUST 2ND, 1899.

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