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[ALL RIGHTS Rzsjmvim.) THE KNTGrHT BARONET. AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE OF OLD-TIME CHESTER. | BY EUSTACE de SALIS. 0 BOOK III. CHAPTER XIII. At day-break on the third of February, 1646, the city gates, which had been kept continuously closed for over two years, were thrown wide open once more. Lord Byron, losing no time, had set to work after the meeting at which the assent of the civic authorities to his communicating with Sir William Brereton had been gained, to open up negotia- tions with that rebel General, and the latter, who was anxiously desirous of being able to point to his successful reduction of the most strongly fortified city in the kingdom, and thus save his tottering reputation, had only been too delighted to meet the Royalist Commander-in-Chief. But the course of the treaty proceedings had not run at all smoothly. Frequent differences of opinion manifested themselves amongst the Commissioners appointed to act on behalf of the Governor of Chester, which more than once threatened to end in total rupture. The Cestrian, however, was beginning to feel the pinch of acute starvation, and as one day passed and then another and then yet another, and still the treaty formalities pended without exhibiting much indications of progression; realising the utter hopelessness of his situation; seeing that he would infallibly be starved to death if there were any further unnecessary delay; desirous of deriving every possible advantage from the total cessation of hostilities, and urging that no time was to be lost, he brought pressure to bear upon his repre- aentatives and insisted upon the proceedings being carried through forthwith. At length, after six weary days of proposals and counter-proposals; rejections and counter-rejec- tions; of the Royalists demanding certain con- cessions to have them instantly refused; of the rebels then offering certain terms to have them Contemptuously flung aside without considera- tion of disputes and contentions, and of the city Commissioners retiring from the conference to eventually return only for the other side to act in a similar fashion, the conditions of the capitula- tion were agreed upon. These latter covered a very extensive range of ground, and consisted of eighteen articles, which left neither side any loop- hole for committing future depredations, so thoroughly in earnest and so true to his word had Lord Byron been. They were approved of and signed by twelve of the Royalist representatives; and then, having been drafted into a handy form, were placed in the hands of the Governor, by whom-after having been agreed to by a majority of the inhabitants of Chester-they were confirmed an3 promulgated. Both parties were early astir on that dismal February morning. The rebels, as was natural, when they gloated over the coming promotions and rewards, gave themselves up to the wildest and most uncontrollable joy—the Royalists were correspondingly depressed. Not, however, that the latter had any real cause of complaint beyond the actual fact of having to yield the city over to a hated and despised foe; for according to his promise the Governor had obtained such terms as had astonished all-terms he could never have ventured to demand had he not been perfectly well aware of the fact that Sir William Brereton would go to almost any lengths, and would grant the most extraordinarily generous treaty, so terribly anxious was he to obtain possession of Chester and the mastery over her people. All troops were free to depart whithersoever they pleased. For those who desired to accom- pany Lord Byron in his march to Conway-the rendezvous fixed upon by the Royalist Commander- in-Chief—a convoy of two hundred horse was to be provided, and six clear days after the fall of the oity allowed them to make the journey; and further, no attempt was to be made to inveigle or entice with any promises or inducements what- soever any of the Royalist soldiery. The citizens and civilian population were to be permitted to remain in undisturbed possession of their goods and ohattels, and were to be molested in no way. Merchants and others of the tradesmen class were tD be at liberty to travel and trade in any manner they pleased, provided neither was to the prejudice of the public peace nor likely to cause friotion. All prisoners were to be released and allowed their unconditional freedom, and a specific guarantee was entered into by the baronet that none of the churches, monuments, mor other publio buildings, or objects of historical interest, should be mutilated or in any way defaced. Further than this none had expected the Governor to go; but before he would consent to hear a word of treaty Lord Byron had insisted on each individual who quitted Chester being allowed—according to his rank if a soldier, or social status if a oivilian-to take away a certain sum of money with him for personal use. In fact, beyond obtaining bare possession of a prao- tically ruined oity, inhabited by a practioally death-ridden population, the Royalists had the advantage in every detail. As the sun rose, struggling with all his might to pieroe the fog and gloom, the streets began to fill alowly, until at nine o'clock, the hour named for the final handing over of the city keys- emblematical of possession and control-a dense, ragged, half-starved crowd filled every nook and cranny of Esatgate-street-overflowing into all the streets and lanes which gave off this principal thoroughfare. Punctually as the hour of nine sounded from the clock in the tower of the church of 88. Peter and Paul, Lord Byron, surrounded by his personal staff and accompanied by Charles Walley and the Corporation, moved slowly down between the double row of soldiery which lined both sides of the road from the Pentice to the East gate. Arrived at the latter point, the gates were re- closed, locked, and double-barred, and the Governor and Mayor of Chester, with the various military and oorporate officials clustered around in a semi-circle, awaited the rebel summons from the outside. TJie last soene of the drama, Thomas Cowper," Francis Gamull whispered. In a few minutes all will be over! Chester will have fallen for the first time in history and her reputa- tion for invincibility be destroyed." Aye, aye. We are unwilling witnesses of the incident," was Thomas Cowper's reply-his reference being to his own refusal and the refusals of his companions, Francis Gamull, Robert Brerewood and Charles Walley, to assent to the terms of the capitulation treaty. I do not know what good we did refusing to sign the articles when the majority of the Com- missioners did so," Francis Gamull continued. "But I could not, consistently with my ideas of duty and loyalty to the King, take any hand or part in the delivery over of Chester to the rebels —disobedient subjects of a monarch who never harmed them in any way." It makes no difference now. The mischiet has been done." "For the King and Parliament! Open, open," accompanied by a couple of heavy knocks, came the cry from the outside of the gate, interrupting Thomas Cowper's reply. The -use of the demand?" Lord Byron asked in stentorian tones. In acoordance with the terms of the treaty agreed upon between the Right Honourable John, Lord Byron, Royalist Governor of Chester, acting for the King, and the Honourable Sir William Brereton, knight and baronet, Com- mander-in-Chief of the Parliamentary forces in Cheshire and the neighbourhood, I, Thomas Aldersey, an alderman of the city, empowered by the said baronet, do call on you, John, Lord Byron, to open your gates and admit us— nominated to carry through the provisions of the treaty aforesaid-forthwith." Lord Byron turned towards the men standing within the aroh and made a alight movement with one hand. To the accompaniment of a shrill exultant call on the rebel bugles, the huge gate swung slowly open, disclosing Sir William Brereton with his principal officers congregated beyond the drawbridge awaiting admittance. At a sign from the baronet his followers moved forward. The Commander-in-Chief, leading, rode by himself, glancing proudly and defiantly around. Next came John Yerworth, also by himself. Not a whit behind his master, he rode forward casting contemptuous glances right and left. Then came Thomas Aldersey, with Michael Jones on the one hand and James Louthaine on the other; and immediately in rear of this trio John Aldersey, William Edwards, Calvin Bruen of Stapleford and Riohard Golbome made their appearance. The head of the rebel foot—told off to patrol the principal quarters of the town and to mount guard at the various gates—turned the comer out of Cow-lane at the moment that the baronet and his principal assistants rode in under the archway of the East gate. As Sir William Brereton passed before Lord Byron the latter bowed courteously. But the baronet ignored the compliment. Although he entered Chester apparently the head of a con- quering army, Thomas Aldersey had taken upon himself the conduct of the entire day's proceed- ings, to such an extent that the Commander-in- Chief realised he was only going to be permitted to play a very secondary part indeed. This did not at all suit his views, but he felt himself compelled to do as the alderman ordered. Ever since his attempt to arrest his two chief subordinates and Thomas Aldersey the baronet had been steadily losing ground with his followers, and in answer to the complaint he had made to headquarters in connection with this fact, he had been told that unless he entered the city very shortly indeed other arrangements would be come to for the con- duct of the attack on Chester. But, he thought, as he soanned the sullen upturned faces of his stubborn foes, once he had nrmly seized the reina of municipal government, and with the credit of the capture of the city at his back, his position would be immeasurably strengthened. Then Thomas Aldersey should be made to pay heavily for the outrageous fashion in which he had con- ducted himself for many, many months past! Coming back to his surroundings somewhat comforted by this reflection, Sir William Brereton caught a sight of Thomas Cowper, beside whom Cicely Roseengreave and Nicholas Wyrvin were standing. Well, friend Cowper," he cried satirically, reining in his charger, my words have come true. Mind you that day in the Pentice? I vowed never to re-enter your gates until I should do so in the position of your conqueror-your reduoer. Behold me now, sir." "Sir William Brereton's personal exertions have had little to do with our misfortunes, I believe." Thomas Cowper, slightly inclining his head, addressed his remark to those within hearing. For if report speaks truly the honourable and gallant," for Thomas Cowper there was a well-defined sneer at the word, the honourable and gallant baronet has devoted most of his time during our siege to other localities—I should explain that whilst we have been engaged in aotual conflict Sir William Brereton has wisely refrained from putting in an appearance." Ah, still the same untamed tongue, sir," oried the baronet, flushing hotly at the very direct manner in which his taunt had been repaid. "Well, well, well. When we have taken over what remains of the city we must see whether we cannot devise some method whereby a little civility and commonsense may be introduced into your manners and speech." The baronet is an excellent judge of courtesy, I feel assured," was Thomas Cowper's cutting reply. Ha, fellow, what mean those words? See you not the foolishness of your course in essaying to irritate me, when I shall shortly be master both of your possessions and lives-and lives! Mark that!" Both are safeguarded in the articles of our surrender," said Thomas Cowper, still disdaining to address the baronet personally. In the past, however, we learnt how much reliance to place on the sacred promise of Sir William Brereton, knight and baronet; and I for one should not be in the least astonished if every provision by which we have sought to protect our future were broken by Say no more, sir. For less than that many better men than yourself, similarly situated, have been driven forth from home. Were I not con- vinced that your powers for good and evil were infinitesimal, I would order you to be thrust out as you stand. Did you return, you might know the welcome awaiting you." Thomas Cowper turned aside to hide the effort it cost him to repress the rejoinder that rose to his lips. He saw the futility of prolonging the discussion, realising that his aggressor was in a position to insult him to his heart's content; and, seeing he was a married man, with a family growing up, it behoved him to keep within dis- cretionary bounds for the sake of his children, whose rightful inheritance had been swallowed up by the various assessments rendered necessary by the pitiful condition of his native city. Bitter beyond expression were the reflections which accompanied the fall of Chester in Thomas Cowper's mind; but more bitter and more humiliating was the recollection that the victorious party were represented by the person of his haughty antagonist, who had, as all in Chester very well knew, so long as any danger or risk had to be incurred, with more prudence than bravery, kept himself well in the background. He would not have minded either Michael Jones or James Louthaine, but for Sir William Brereton to ride into his native city in that impudently aggressive fashion. The thought was absolutely unbearable! We have silenced his ex-Worship, have we, hah?" cried the baronet exultantly. Sir William Brereton," exclaimed Lord Byron, stepping to the front and interposing his ngure between the baronet and Thomas Cowper. I call upon you to hold your peace. You have not obtained possession of Chester as yet. You may have heard-you cannot know from personal experience, according to rumour—of what our people are capable of when inflamed. Beware how you act, or "What is this, my lord?" asked the rebel Commander-in-Chief sternly. Do I hear you aright? Are we or are you the victor?" Absolutely immaterial and foreign to the question." No, sir. Neither immaterial nor foreign to the subject. I would have you I tell you, Sir William Brereton," cried Lord Byron, raising his voice so that his words might be heard near and far, that your speeoh is scandalous. Far greater commanders than your- self, and no disparagement to you, have acquitted themselves of similar tasks with less effrontery and a kinder consideration for the feelings of those involved. For unparalleled I decline to listen to your lecture, my lord. Greater soldiers than yourself, and no disparage- ment to you," the baronet continued with a curling lip, have had to bow down to the inevitable. Your successful resistance—due to the want of proper management during my frequent absences-has emboldened you. You forget I represent the conquering side." "Sir, I have little more to say. Your attempt," Lord Byron went on, seizing the opportunity the other's words had afforded him of creating dis- sension in the rebel ranks, your attempt to ascribe the duration of the siege to the incapacity of your subordinate officers is no business of mine. I can well leave them to take care of themselves. But I warn you that if you cannot oomport yourself like a. man and be silent, I will not hold myself responsible for any disastrous consequences that may ensue." A low, angry growl resounded on all sides. The garrison, although weakened in numbers, and, for want of food and through sickness, enfeebled in health, were in no mood to put up with Sir William Brereton's jeering tones. The rebels too, irritated at what they deemed an unmerited slur cast on their bravery, shewed every disposition to openly resent their Commander-in-Chief's words. Hearing the growl and guessing its import, the baronet relapsed into a sulky silence, and, muttering some threats below his breath, moved slowly forward to the Pentice, where he intended to be formally installed as the military Governor of the city on behalf of Lieutenant-General Cromwell and the Parliament. This, however, was not to be until a fracas had taken place between one of his followers and one of the garrison. John Yerworth, ever ready to imitate his master, thought the present oppor- tunity, of demonstrating how little he cared for the incident of his confinement in the pillory, an excellent one; so as he was passing abreast of Thomas Cowper he called out mockingly, "I have not forgotten the eighth of August three years back, Thomas Cowper." Rejoiced-phew-phew; rejoiced to hear it," Nicholas Wyrvin, suddenly appearing at his foster-father's elbow, shouted loudly. A good thing you remember the day and the event in which you played such a leading part. Had you forgotten the pillory, others would not have. See you profit by your unique experience," he added ironically. John Yerworth pulled up his horse with violence. Something would really have to be done to put down that presumptious youth. He must needs take a strong hand with Nicholas Wyrvin if he desired future peace—he must demonstrate in an unmistakably plain fashion to all that he would no longer tolerate disrespectful treatment from any one. Arrived at this inflated conclusion, he cast about in his mind for some channel through which to strike his hated rival, and catching sight of Cicely Roseengreave, Ah, Nickie, dearest," he cried mincingly. Like a bad ha pence you have turned up again. When, lad," he went on in a patronising fashion, and, in order to look more important, standing up in his stirrups, "when will you learn dis- cretion? Must I needs dismount," for the first time in his life looking the other squarely in the face, and administer a corrective here and now. I have done so once." Thomas Cowper opened his mouth as if to rebuke the baronet's follower, but Nicholas Wyrvin, laying a restraining hand on his foster- father's arm, remarked quietly, "Let him alone, sir. Let me hear what more he has to say. Given a long enough swim, a pig is bound in the end to destroy itself." Dear me," was John Yerworth's reply. Then cutting short his further premeditated abuse, he asked, And how is the wench? Quite consoled at ray having called off" eh t Do you enjoy the reversion of my-1" Forcing his way through the press with one bound, Nicholas Wyrvin was upon John Yer- worth. Seizing him by the left leg in a vice-like grasp, and, before his opponent had any oppor- tunity either of calling for aid or of making the slightest resistance, the Royalist youth, in the presence of the armies of both sides, unhorsed the baronet's protege and administered to him one of the severest thrashings that it was ever the lot of one mortal to receive at the hands of another. (To be continued.) COMMENCED IN No. 11,372, AUGUST 2ND, 1899.






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