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Now, as she came into the room deceiving me. Though a girl, you and closed the door, the woman she have the blood of heroes- she doubted came to meet her smiling, stopped suddenly. "No," she conand took both the girl's hands as she tinued, "none of these foolish noises, bent respectfully before her. "So, words of silly old men, have Mistress Meg,” she said, and went on frightened you." with words that were well enough, “I am not frightened, Madam.” though the tone of her voice was odd “Then

you are angry, agitated, and hollow, and her eyes studied wild. There, why do you start, and Meg's face till it Alushed and paled look at the door ?” again. “ You

to have your

“I thought

one had followed way, it seems,” she said. bridegroom will be here, and quickly ;

"Ah !

I knew well. Who is it a brighter day will not be long in that you fear? In this room you are dawning for your Harry. Verily, safe from English or foreign enemy, you

have taught him pretty or friend, or lover. So, the Italian language.”

gave not only my message, but his Meg's eyes fell, and she smiled own? I guessed it from your look, faintly. Lady Marlowe, holding her my maiden, as you came in at the wrists, still watched her curiously ; door. Insolent lackey! He shall then suddenly she let her go, but only suffer, when I have done with him.

, to hold her more closely, pressing And the black-eyed boy dared to tell hands and arms tightly round the you of his love, Margaret ?" slight figure, feeling and discovering The girl lifted her head proudly. something that startled her in the “ You warned me, Madam, only hurried pulses, the eyes still wild yesterday,” she said.

“You were with strange experience.

not wrong.

But not only did he tell "Meg,” she said, "you noble child, me that, he also threatened me. He what is it that disturbs you? Re- said that danger lay in wait for those member, my daughter, I claim your I loved, but he would save them, ifconfidence. You will not tell me ? Madam, what could he mean ?” I know your courage, but you have Lady Marlowe turned white to the felt some great alarm. You cannot lips, and laughed a little.

“ What deceive me; what are you hiding could he mean?” she repeated. from me? The truth-instantly!” You can answer that question as

"Nothing, nothing, Madam," Meg well as I. Have you answered it ?” murmured hastily, and tried to with- Meg looked down, and slowly draw herself from the clasp that only shook her head. Lady Marlowe, became tighter. Then, shivering staring at her, laughed again, but suddenly from head to foot, she went there was a light in her eyes, and on : "There is something terrible in lines about her mouth, that boded ill the night, though 'tis still and the for Antonio. So, slave, 'tis war to moon is shining. I would rather the the death !” she said in her heart. wind blew. Master Toste said that Aloud, in a voice wonderfully calm, misfortune was upon us--the dogs, she told Meg to forget the wretch's the screech-owls, you hear them --but presumption. As for his threats, Sir Thomas told him we were under they were to be treated as empty the protection of God. 'Tis true, I air. “Tomorrow, child,” she said, know, but yet--'

smiling, “you will have your own “Meg,” said Isabel, "you are champion, and this miserable play

some

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fellow of yours,—why, we will send doors, and hangings. He smiled in

. him back to Italy. I love not these his dreams, his weak arms moved transplanted creatures.”

jerkily. The disturbance in the air, “But my grandfather loves him," for him, had nothing to do with Meg said, and shivered again.

treason at home or with the civil war Lady Marlowe turned quickly away. that tore and distracted England. “He is unworthy,” she said. Then He was fighting in his dreams, attackshe stood still, listening a moment ing, resisting, commanding,—but not intently. To her quick senses, now at Ruddiford. A small army, halfsharpened to the utmost, the sound of starved, reckless, and determined, was a distant door announced the coming flinging itself upon a great force of of Antonio. “See here, Meg,” she knights and men-at-arms, a confused said. “I must make sure that you forest of banners and lances, crowded are safe, that your people are in into a valley where they could fight, waiting ; I will see to it myself ; you but not fly. It was Agincourt, and shall not be troubled by that serpent the young English squire, Will Roden, again." She opened the door of a was in the front of the fray, no one little oratory on the far side of her nearer to his adored King Harry than room. “Wait there for me," she he. Death was there, but he gave said. “I will lock you safely in,- it not a thought; the dream was all I must keep you for Harry, -I tried a glory of courage and triumph, as once to keep you for Richard." She the reality had been. Death indeed laughed. “You conquer us all and was nearer now, in his own castle, his our little plots, Mistress Meg," she own room, than in the thick of that said. “ Come, go in and say your

heroic fight. It came stealing in, prayers,

for
you
need them.”

sweeping with soft folds across the The girl, without a word, walked floor. into the tiny room and kneeled down The flaming logs had died down before the solemn crucifix hanging into red embers, and the white ashes there. Lady Marlowe looked after were falling in heaps ; the candleher, and the smile died from her light was dim. A tall figure with a mocking face; then she quickly shut pale face, with fierce eyes, and set the door and turned the key, taking lips, hovered about the room, gliding it out of the lock. "Not that, gradually, noiselessly, nearer to the Antonio, not that reward !” she said sleeping man. Round the back of to herself as she went out to meet his chair it came, and stood a moment him, for he was coming with swift on his left side, between him and the light feet along the gallery.

fire; its right hand, holding a slim, Left alone in his room, Sir William shining, pointed dagger, hung by its Roden slept on, not without dreams. side. In this way, stealing by night, It would be hard to believe that the came Death to Sir William Roden. strange sounds and doings outside, He was smiling, his hands were the warning alarm of beast and bird, moving again, and he began to mutter the sudden though silent changing of in his sleep. The woman who watched the guard, the cries of his old friends, him thought that he was waking. dragged so horribly down from the With a quick shudder and a grimace, moonlight into black depths of making a step forward, she lifted her dungeon, had no influence on the right hand and struck him sharply good old master, though shut out below the left collar-bone. The blow from them by thick walls, heavy waked him, but he was still at Agincourt, and cried aloud, opening his “That are you now, Antonio," she blue eyes wide: “God save King said. “Rise, miserable boy. Do you Harry! Now we be brothers in pretend to have loved your master ? arms, Harry Marlowe !"

Come here to me, I say." For him, the fight was over. It She turned back into the room, and ended in the dream as in reality, with he tremblingly followed her. a blow on the shoulder ; the blow of Slowly and steadily, carrying the King Harry's sword, from which the light, she approached the figure in squire rose up Sir William, was never the chair, and set it down near him. consciously changed into the murder- He had fallen a little aside, his hands ous stroke of a woman's poisoned clenched; but the heavy eyelids were dagger.

closed and there was no horror in Her husband's name, the last on the face; the smile of his dreams had his old friend's lips, made Lady Mar- returned and was even deepening ; lowe tremble from head to foot. She the pale skin was hardly yet paler had almost fled from the room, leaving than in life. the dagger there to accuse her of this Antonio, for an instant, thought crime; but her presence of mind came that Sir William was still sleeping. back instantly. She withdrew the " He sleeps," he said, and went slender blade, wiped it, slipped it quickly towards him. · No, you back into its place, and hidden in shall not hurt him. I will defend the shadow waited for the last heavy, him, cost what it may.” long-drawn breaths with which the She looked upon him with bitter gallant old man set out, without priest scorn. “ Fool ! he is dead." to absolve or child to watch him, for My God !” Antonio exclaimed the loyal land whither his fellow- under his breath. He went softly fighters had gone before.

up to the old man, fell on his knees When all was still, Lady Marlowe before him, touched his hand, stared went to the secret door under the up into his face.

“ Dead ? It cannot hangings. It was ajar, as she ex- be," he muttered. “ But where pected, and Antonio was waiting in how" the gallery.

He started violently “ 'Tis plain that you were bred in when she came upon him, for she clumsy England,” Lady Marlowe said, looked terrible, and gazed upon him, her voice, though very low, seeming by the light of a candle she had taken to ring like a knell through the room. up, almost as if her wits had left her. “ Dead, yes, and little sign of how She beckoned to him without a word. the death-stroke was given. It need The Italian threw himself suddenly scarce be known. The leech is in the on his knees, his teeth chattering so dungeon. Let no old women that he could only stammer out his about him ; thou and I, Antonio, words. “Nay, Madam, not that, I must prepare him for his burial, and beseech you! You know I cannot my men shall take up the stones of help you there, not even now for the the chapel floor and lay him under reward you refused me. Madam, them. What, fool, weeping? Didst spare him!

I swear to you that think such a life as this would stand blood need not be shed. I will keep long between Edward of York and him safe,-he is helpless, the place a strong place on the road to the is in your hands -he cannot resist north ? On my life, wretch, I'll kill you. Spare him, I implore you! I thee, too! Ha! and you dared speak will be your servant for ever

of love to Mistress Roden, when I

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you ?”

or

had refused her to you? By heaven, the silent, awful figure in the chair. I want you not, nor your service—" With Antonio's help, he shivering in

Antonio was on his feet, Aushed the nervous horror that had seized and passionate. " What? She told him, and marvelling at her super

natural strength, she carried “ Whom should she tell ? Mark me, dragged Sir William to his own bed villain, she is safe from you, double- in the adjoining room, laid him there, dyed traitor as you are, to your master with out-stretched limbs and folded and to me! Attempt to see her again, hands, and then with the same terand this point can pierce a young

rible calmness placed a crucifix at skin, even more easily—but what are his head and four lighted candles at we doing here ?"

the corners of his bed. Antonio shrugged his shoulders. Then she ordered Antonio to watch His eyes were full of hatred and till her return, and went alone down fury, but he had prudence enough to the great staircase, intending to inkeep back the defiance that rose to spect the castle, to see, by the bright his lips. She had the power ; the shining of the moon, that all her castle was in her hands; for the men were in their appointed places. moment, Meg too was in her hands, They must be ready to receive Lord and he would gain nothing by bluster. Marlowe and Sir William's men, at His old master was dead ; at the any hour in the morning, with the last, he would have saved him ; his news that the old knight had died death touched him more than he had suddenly, and that she had taken thought possible. But he was dead : possession of Ruddiford Castle in the he could not be brought back; and name of the White Rose. now it was a question of fighting for It was not likely that Antonio one's own hand, at least to gain Mar- would remain where she left him, garet. With hurrying hands and feet, alone with the kind old master be and without another word, he set to had betrayed. A few minutes he obeying her. First, she ordered him waited there on his knees, watching to give her his master's will, which the white face on the pillow, as it made her guardian of Margaret. He gradually lost its first look of life and knew where to find the old man's became more waxen, more majestickeys; and in a few minutes he had ally calm, passing further every inunlocked the great chest where the stant from the jarring turmoil of life. deeds of the estate were, and had The strange creature who watched taken out the parchment signed on

the dead face was almost surprised to that November night, in which Sir find that tears were running down his William, contrary to the advice of cheeks. He had not known what it his best friends, had shown such fatal would be. An hour or two ago, he loyalty to the name of Marlowe. would have given Sir William's life

“ And the rest of the deeds are and all the lives in the castle, to be for me,” she said, leaning greedily taken by his own hand, for the proover the depths of the chest. “The mise of Margaret. . She had been executors are as good as dead; I am refused him : her guardian and herthe one authority. Lock the chest self had alike refused him, with the again, and give me the keys."

scorn he might have expected; but As he hesitated, she snatched them his disappointment had not been Sir from him, and thrusting the will in- William's salvation. In all this mat. side her dress, turned back again to ter Lady Marlowe's strong will had

He crept

had its way, and would have it, so morse or ancient love would make him far as he could see, to the end. The renounce the hope of winning for himunholy alliance with her had not self what Sir William had assuredly helped Antonio, and never would. never given him, a greater treasure He cared not much, he thought, for than all the castles in England, money and power; he did not be- However, the promise once made, lieve in her promises ; he saw York life and courage, deadened by Lady triumphing by her means, and him- Marlowe's baleful influence, seemed self, the poor stepping-stone, thrown to come back to Antonio. He slipped out upon a dunghill. All he had from the room and stole down the had, or ever would have, it seemed, stairs. At a corner he stopped sudwas the small satisfaction of cheating denly, for there was a gleam of light Lord Marlowe and Jasper Tilney, so below, and voices talking. that neither of them should have the along the wall like a shadow,-no prize denied to him, and of seeing one could move more noiselessly-and his contemptuous old enemies, the saw Lady Marlowe at the foot of the vicar, the lawyer, the apothecary, stairs, and old Dame Kate with her. flung into the dungeon and in danger The old woman, white and frightof death.

ened, was muttering fears and fancies But there might be a greater satis- into Lady Marlowe's impatient ear. faction still. He knew, in the depths There was something wrong, she was of his heart, that the one thing he sure: the women and maidens could now longed for was revenge on Lady not sleep for fear; the noises of the Marlowe, vengeance for her insolent night were terrible ; she had heard scorn of himself, vengeance for the screams of murder and treason; it murder of Sir William. No! If she was very late, and Mistress Meg had believed that Antonio, a craven slave, not yet come to her bed chamber. would let her work out her designs No doubt she was still with Sir unchecked, that he, like the other William, but Dame Kate was on her poor sheep of Ruddiford, but without way to call her; she must not wander

' their excuse, being neither gagged about the castle so late alone. nor chained, would give up the castle “ With our men away and the dogs to York and its mistress to any howling a-that'ns !” muttered the old Yorkist noble Lady Marlowe might dame anxiously. choose,-if she believed this, as it Lady Marlowe laughed softly; seemed, she was mistaken.

something in her tone made Antonio He rose from his knees, and his shiver again. “You are a wise soul, deep eyes rested a moment on the dame," she said. “Comfort yourself. face of his master. The selfish, Your master has gone to rest, Antonio wicked youth, treacherous as he had attending him ; your young mistress been and guilty of the old man's is in my lodging, and will spend the death, still loved him in his own night with me. Bad dreams, bad mysterious way. He stooped and dreams! You and your maids have touched the folded hands with his eaten too much, -and in Lent, for lips, then started back with chatter- shame !" ing teeth ; but he vowed to Sir “ But Mistress Meg will want me," William that, if he could save it, the old nurse pleaded, puzzled and Ruddiford should not be lost to the doubtful. “May I follow your LadyRed Rose. Even here, true to him. ship? But verily my lamb would self, he was half-hearted, for no re- sleep better in her own bed.”

a

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