• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The Saxon priest
 An old English home
 Rufus and the primate
 The sudden call
 The confessor
 The eclipse
 Undergoing the ordeal
 The weary at rest
 The council of Westminster
 A patriot's appeal
 The lost one found
 A lonely grave
 Baby's blunder
 Sunshine overcast
 Daring the worst
 Tried and condemned
 The cottage by the sea
 A fading flower
 News at last
 Perils by the way
 The captive
 On the wood-cart
 Found out
 Escape for life
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The iron chain and the golden
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082100/00001
 Material Information
Title: The iron chain and the golden
Physical Description: 208 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: A. L. O. E., 1821-1893
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: T. Nelson and Sons
Place of Publication: London ;
Edinburgh ;
New York
Publication Date: 1893
 Subjects
Subject: Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Superstition -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Monks -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Husband and wife -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1893
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A.L.O.E.
Ownership: UA Library copy with presentation bookplate from Brighton & Preston School Board, dated 1896.
General Note: by A. L. O. E. author of "The Blacksmith of Boniface Lane," "Beyond the black waters," "Driven into exile," &c.
General Note: Title page printed in red and black.
General Note: Original red pictorial cloth.--C.f. C.R. Johnson (Dealer).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00082100
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002238839
notis - ALH9363
oclc - 182659348

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Frontispiece
        Page 3
    Title Page
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The Saxon priest
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    An old English home
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Rufus and the primate
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
    The sudden call
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
    The confessor
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    The eclipse
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
    Undergoing the ordeal
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
    The weary at rest
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
    The council of Westminster
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    A patriot's appeal
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
    The lost one found
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
    A lonely grave
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Baby's blunder
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
    Sunshine overcast
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
    Daring the worst
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
    Tried and condemned
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    The cottage by the sea
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
    A fading flower
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
    News at last
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
    Perils by the way
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
    The captive
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
    On the wood-cart
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
    Found out
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
    Escape for life
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
    Back Cover
        Page 209
        Page 210
    Spine
        Page 211
Full Text


































FG, I;.:"



lE ORGE WHITE,
I..1. I
SYDNEY COZENS-HARDY, :


I ''' '" ':':!

-*.*.**************** ..................* ............. ..........
J. & 8. 4000. 1. 98. F. NO. 42.






The Baldwin Library
SUniveni-a
Lgn


_ ----:-- -- -- --------- -T
















































- Ald sn Anllscls tecrn reproof ftll into the hiuts it Lihe last person whIn
Alphege would l ive wiile Il i read it."
I 11,t 17.


I
II


' t-.


,-


~-E~~


i








hk, I ROi tHAl!
IT and + QoLDEN


To-r '


"SOMrETHIuNG FOR CHRISTMIAS"


T. NELSON & SONS
t.ONt) oz rnDNoVsunI, s, WNW YaRir.


Page iS,









T HE IRON CHAIN
AND THE GOLDEN




BY

21. 9L. @. E.,
Author of "The Blacksmith of Boniface Lane,"
"Beyond the Black Waters,"
"Driven into Exile,"
&c.


T. NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and NVew York
1893
























(G ant ten t s.






I. THE SAXON PRIEST, ... ... ... ... .. 9
I. AN OLD ENGLISH HOME, ... ... ... .. 19

III. RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE, ... ... ... ... 26
IV. THE SUDDEN CALL, ... ... ... ... ... 35

V. THE CONFESSOR, ... ... ... ... ... 44
VI. THE ECLIPSE, .. ... ... ... .. .. 50

VII. UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL, ... ... ... ... 55
VIII THE WEARY AT REST, ... ... ... .. ... 66

IX. THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER, ... ... ... .. 72

X. A PATRIOT'S APPEAL, ... ... ... ... .. 83

XL THE LOST ONE FOUND, ... ... ... ... 95
XIL A LONELY GRAVE, ... ... ... ... .. 104
XIII. BABY'S BLUNDER, ... ... ... ... 111

XIV. SUNSHINE OVERCAST, ... ... ..... 118

XV. DARING THE WORST, ... ... ... ... ... 10
XVI. TRIED AND CONDEMNED, .. ... .. ... 137
XVII. THE COTTAGE BY THE SEA, ... ... .. 146

XVIII. A FADING FLOWER, ... ... .. ... ... 155

XIX. NEWS AT LAST, ... ... ... ... .. ... 160

XX. PEUILS BY THE WAY, ... .. .. .. ... 163

XXI. THE CAPTIVE, ... ... ... .. ... ... 177

XXII. ON THE WOOD-CART, ... .. ... ... ... 190

XXIII. FOUND OUT, ... ... ... ... .. ... 21
XXIV. ESCAPE FOR LIFE, ... ... ...... 204













THE IRON CHAIN AND

THE GOLDEN.




CHAPTER I.

THE SAXON PRIEST.

"I TELL ye, Cousin Alphege, priest and learned clerk
though ye be, ye stand in no small danger of ecclesias-
tical censures, and our abbot has his eye upon you.
Were not your mother and mine sisters, I should be
loath to be seen under your roof."
So spake Hyppolyte (whilom Codric Batson), the lean
"brother" of Basilton Abbey. He stood wrapt in his
"monk's shroud," his waist girdled by a rope from
which a black crucifix hung suspended, and a tonsure
on a head which nature had made so bald that the
razor had hardly been needed. Hyppolyte was a
wasted, hollow-eyed man, who looked as if he had had
more than his fair share of the fastings and penances
for which the monastery to which he belonged was by






THE SAXON PRIEST.


no means noted. The monk had about as much resem-
blance to his bright-eyed cousin as a salted herring has
to a fish cleaving its free way through the waters, ever
and anon in its vigorous life springing above them, its
scales flashing like silver in the sun. The elder man
belonged to what was called the regulars, attached to
some monastic-order; Alphege was one of those termed
the secular clergy, and held the position of what in
modern days we should call a village pastor. There
was a long-continued struggle in England between the
regulars and the secular; a good many of the latter
were married men, whilst the former took vows of
celibacy, and usually resided in monasteries.
What may my crimes and misdemeanours be ?"
asked Alphege in a voice whose rich, cheerful tones
contrasted with the monotonous drawl of his cousin's.
The clerk-as educated men were often called-was
seated on a bench engaged in mending a spinning-
wheel; his occupation engaged his hands and eyes, but
left his tongue free for conversation. As Alphege bent
over the wheel he occasionally gave a slight, quick toss
of his head, to prevent a rather profuse quantity of
auburn locks from falling over his eyes.
"In the first place," said the monk, looking with
grave disapprobation at the offending locks, "you have
let your hair so grow as to hide every vestige of the
tonsure."
Alphege gave a low laugh. "I wot my hair is my






THE SAXON PRIEST.


own," he replied, "and I wear it to please-" He did
not finish the sentence; for he could not add "myself"
in what was to him a matter of little importance, and
he did not choose to say "my wife to one of the regu-
lars bound by vow to abstain from marriage. As late
as the year 1129 ecclesiastics were still, without perfect
success, trying to force parish priests to give up their
wedded wives. At the earlier period of which I write
the full fury of the storm which was to burst upon them
had not yet swept over England, to make desolate once
happy homes, but its distant mutterings were ever and
anon heard.
You neglect some of the other rules of Holy Church,"
continued the monk in the same monotonous drawl;
"you do not strictly exact tithes."
I have let off a few poor wretches who had nothing
wherewithal to pay them."
"You do not sufficiently enforce penances-"
"I should like to inflict penances on some who now
get off scot-free!" exclaimed Alphege with a burst of
honest indignation. "I'd forbid all fasting by proxy;
no poor fellow earning his bread by the sweat of his
brow should be paid a penny to go without food, that
some fat sinner should feast with an easy conscience. I
should mightily enjoy seeing some abbots, who pamper
their flesh on what is wrung from their half-starved
villeins, fast upon stale oat-cake. I would give pen-
ances to such men as use God's house for a place wherein






THE SAXON PRIEST.


to crack jokes or quaff liquor in drunken bouts. I should
like," continued the Saxon, starting to his feet as he
warmed with his subject, "to enforce with rigour the
canons of Aelfric, Bishop of Ramsbury,* that priests are
not to get drunk, nor to wear arms, nor frequent
taverns, nor swear oaths. As for monasteries, you know
well-too well-what passes in many of them."
"I have no eyes to see such things," replied the
monk, looking down with affected humility; "I need
only to know what belongs to my office. I am but an
ostiary, whose business is to attend to the church doors
and bells, the lowest of the seven orders; I give notice
of the uht-song [matins], the prime-song, the undern-
song, the none, the even-song, and the compline. The
abbot also commands that the curfew be regularly
sounded, albeit no one now puts out his fire when he
hears it, as in the Conqueror's days."
"I hate the very name of curfew!" exclaimed the
Saxon. The light which Norman William sought to put
out was the pure light of gospel truth kindled by such
men as our glorious Alfred and venerable Bede. He
fain would have crushed out the spark of liberty in
English hearts; but he could not do it-no, not though
he wasted whole counties, and left hundreds-thousands
-tens of thousands of families to perish of hunger!"
It is better not to speak of these matters," quoth the
monk.


* See Student's History of England," page 126.






THE SAXON PRIEST.


"But, Codric-"
Call me not Codric; I am now Brother Hyppolyte,
called so after the blessed saint of that name," said the
monk, crossing himself as he spoke.
"A Norman saint, I trow," observed Alphege. "I
would rather have my good Saxon name, that of a saint
and martyr too."
"Archbishop Lanfrane (the saints give him peace!)
said that Alphege was no martyr, as he was slain by the
heathen Danes only for not paying a sum of money, not
for contending for the faith."
This was too much for the naturally fiery spirit of
the secular clerk, tempered as it was by genuine piety,
albeit piety not unmixed with the superstitions of the
age. "Archbishop Alphege died.because he was faithful
to his trust," exclaimed the Saxon; "he died because
he would not redeem himself from insult and danger by
giving up to pagan robbers the offerings of the poor.
He was as much a martyr dying under the ox-bones
hurled at his head as was blessed St. Peter on his cross.
But Normans will see no merit in an Englishman; they
have dared to open the tombs of our saints, and to
scatter their bones! Normans have made themselves
the slaves of Rome ever since their William got a Pope
to hallow with his blessing that piratical invasion of our
once merry England, which has crushed a land of free-
men under his iron heel."
You must have a care how you speak, brother," said






THE SAXON PRIEST.


Hyppolyte, raising his skinny finger with a warning
gesture, or, clerk as you are, you may end your days
in one of the dungeon keeps of a Norman lord."
"I spake foolishly, and not with the meekness of one
who seeks to follow the steps of Him who bade us love
our enemies," said Alphege penitently. "My temper is
like a fiery horse, and I have not yet learned as I ought
to curb it. May Heaven forgive me! I cannot yet forget
that my grandfather-and yours, Codric Batson-fell
by King Harold's side on the red field of Hastings."
Thus saying, the clerk resumed his seat, but not his
occupation.
There was a pause. A dark colour had risen on the
sunken cheek of the monk, a warmer flush on that of
his cousin.
Alphege was the first to break the silence. "Am I
accused of anything else, anything worse than being a
Saxon ?" he asked of the monk.'
"Yes, something much worse," was the deep-toned
reply. "You have dared, in defiance of what Rome en-
joins, to take to yourself a wife."
Alphege's face cleared like the blue sky after a
storm. "Sit down beside me, brother," he said, "and
hear why I have chosen the golden chain of matrimony
instead of the iron chain of a foreign Pope."
The monk slowly and demurely seated himself on the
bench beside his cousin.
"You know," pursued the Saxon, "that Frediswed






THE SAXON PRIEST.


and I loved each other from childhood; you know that
when you and I were boys together, I used to speak of
her as my little wife. Ours was the attachment of
years; we were as trees which, when saplings, had been
twined together, and so could not be torn apart. I be-
lieved, and Frediswed believed, that Heaven smiled on
our future union. When I became an acolyte under
our saintly Archbishop Anselm, and was destined for
the Church, then first a doubt arose in my mind. I
looked up to the prelate with intense reverence; he was
to me as one inspired, and I knew that he regarded the
marriage of priests as almost, if not altogether, a sin.
Then all my peace of mind was gone. I had a terrible
struggle with myself. I had honestly resolved to give
myself body and soul to the service of my Lord and
His Church, and it might be that Christ required the
sacrifice of all that I desired or loved upon earth. If
my Lord required the sacrifice, He would give me
strength to make it. For years I knew not one waking
hour of peace."
"And what made you decide that no such sacrifice
was required ?" asked the monk in a cold, hard tone.
"Hear me patiently, brother. I made a weary pil-
grimage to Rome-made it with bleeding feet, and an
almost broken heart. I would, I thought, strengthen
my faith by intercourse with holy men; I would see
for myself this hill of piety which dominated over the
earth, like the famous mountain Vesuvius, which I also






THE SAXON PRIEST.


visited, to behold its mysterious light. Even as that
mountain, so found I the Church of Rome. If a few
lurid flames gleamed from the summit, they were lost
sight of in such a dense cloud of noisome smoke as
created darkness in the day. I will not dwell on the
luxury, the pride, the presumption, ay, and crimes of
simony, and others yet more revolting, which hung like
a pall over what men call the chair of St. Peter. What
likeness could be traced by superstition itself between
the true-hearted, simple fisherman of Galilee and the
pampered tyrant who called himself his successor ?"
Alphege, this is rank blasphemy. I dare not
listen!" cried Hyppolyte, rising.
Sit down; I will leave this subject and come to the
point, the gist of the matter," said Alphege. I lingered
many months in France on my return to England,
generally resting at monasteries on the way. Under
the instruction of my revered patron, Anselm, I had be-
come pretty deeply read, and Latin was as familiar to
me as my own native tongue. I had a passionate love
for study, and a very fervent desire to find out all that
is written in Scripture concerning the marriage of priests.
I concluded that the practice must be sinful, as so holy
a man as my master condemned it."
Of course, of course," chimed in the monk.
"At one monastery in France," pursued Alphege, "I
found what was to me a priceless treasure, an illumin-
ated copy of the entire New Testament, of which pre-
(317)






THE SAXON PRIEST.


viously I had seen but portions. By the favour of the
abbot I was permitted to examine and even make ex-
tracts from the precious manuscript. I cannot describe
to you, Codric Batson, the feverish eagerness with
which I searched the gospels and epistles through and
through; still less can I tell of the intense joy which I
felt when, one dark midnight, by the light of a dull
lamp, I came upon words which have ever since made
life sunshine to me."
"What words ?" inquired the monk, who himself
always lived in a fog.
"I wrote them out, and much more besides; but I
know them by heart," replied Alphege. "Listen,
brother, to what an inspired apostle wrote. St. Paul
tells us that St. Peter himself was married."
"That was when he was under the law," said the
monk. "When St. Peter became a Christian he put
away his wife." *
False-false and slanderous !" exclaimed Alphege
eagerly. Hear what is written in the Word of God
by St. Paul, in the ninth chapter of First Corinthians.
Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well
as the other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord,
and as Cephas ?-that is Peter. It is evident that it was
common with the Lord's apostles to take about with
them wedded wives, and St. Peter is specially mentioned

This answer, betraying gross ignorance of Scripture, was actually given
by a Church dignitary.
(317) 2






T8 THE SAXON PRIEST.

as one who did so. Think you that what was right in
him is sin in us ? There are other passages in Scripture
from which we can prove-"
"Stay! I have heard too much already !" exclaimed
Hyppolyte, raising his thin hands to his ears. "I should
have a grievous penance if it were known that I had
listened to such profane talk !" Rising hastily, and
shaking his garment as if it had been polluted, the
monk hurried out of the house.















CHAPTER II.


AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.

ALPHEGE was not long left alone. There was soon the
sound of a rapid step, so light that perhaps no ear but
that of a fond husband would have heard it at all.
Frediswed entered hastily, as if frightened, a bright
colour on cheeks usually pale, and an uneasy, troubled
look in the soft dark eyes, whose habitual expression
was that of serene calm and loving trustfulness. Fred-
iswed went up straight to her husband, threw her arms
round his neck, and hid her face on his breast.
"1My darling, has anything happened? why, you are
trembling!" said Alphege, drawing his wife still closer
to him.
Two bright drops fell on his fustian dress; but in
a few moments Frediswed lifted her head and looked
up at her husband, as if his presence, his protecting arms,
had already charmed trouble away.
Alphege made his wife sit very close beside him,
holding one of her small hands in his own.
"What is it that has frightened you, sweet heart ?






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


You came in looking like a startled fawn that hears the
hounds baying behind her."
"I will tell you all, Alphege-at least nearly all,"
said Frediswed; "nothing frightens me much when you
are at my side. I went out to carry a dish of porridge
for sick Allen's children, and some healing herbs for the
poor man himself. You know that the shortest cut is
by the abbey; there is a path across the fields."
"I do not care for you to go that way alone," said
Alphege gravely; "nor do I wish you to go near the
rookery of monks."
"I will not do so again," said Frediswed meekly; "I
only took the short path because I was in haste to get
back to prepare your meal. The sun had almost reached
his topmost height."
Did you meet any one ?" asked the Saxon.
"Yes; on my return I met two monks near the stile.
They had hoods over their shaven heads, and were pass-
ing the beads of their rosaries through their fat fingers;
but I wot that they were laughing rather than praying.
I tried to pass on the other side of the path, but they
stood right in my way, as if to stay me."
Alphege clenched his teeth and grasped his wife's
hand more tightly.
"'Why doesn't the pretty little woman come to con-
fession?' said the elder of the two, and he actually
patted me on the cheek. I started back,--the saints
forgive me the fierce anger that I felt "






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


"No forgiveness needed," muttered Alphege; "the
saints have more of that work to do in the cloisters."
"'Why don't you come to confession ?' said the other
monk,-he looked the worse of the two; 'I promise you
an easy shrift,' and added an oath.
"'Why should I confess to you?' I cried angrily
enough; 'I only confess to God and my husband. My
husband is a priest himself, and eke as learned a clerk
as any in the land.'" Frediswed again hid her blushing
face on Alphege's breast as she continued her story:-
" dearest, the two monks burst out laughing, and
said;--but I cannot repeat even to you the shocking
wicked things that they said."
"If I had been there with my oaken staff, belikes I
should have broken their shaven polls !" exclaimed the
indignant husband. "But staffs and staves are not
weapons which God's servants should wield," added Al-
phege, struggling to keep down the anger which boiled
in his breast. "What happened then ?" he inquired.
Oh, I made a dart towards the stile and crossed it-
I don't exactly know how. I ran across the field; the
monks were too fat to overtake me. But I could not
bear for all this to happen again. Would it not be well
to complain to the abbot ?"
"The abbot !" cried Alphege somewhat fiercely; "do
we ask the wolf to chide his cubs for worrying lambs ?
The Abbot of Basilton is-but I had better not say what
he is. God knows; God is the righteous Judge, to whom






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


we must commit our just cause. He will not suffer the
innocent-the pure--to be oppressed for ever."
"When I next go to Allen's," began Frediswed, but
her husband did not give her time to finish the sentence.
You shall never go again; I will myself carry to the
sick man whatever you please to send him."
"But you have so many sick to visit, so many serv-
ices to conduct."
It matters not; I must give more time to the work,"
said Alphege, gathering up his carpentering tools and
carrying them to a recess sunken in the thick wall. "I
must devote myself more entirely to my study, the care
of my flock, and my wife." He put a fond emphasis on
the last word, and closed the conversation by impressing
a kiss on the fair brow of his English bride.
Frediswed hastened off to her cooking operations, and
whilst she is engaged in preparing a savoury stew for
her husband, we will take a brief glance, first at her, and
then at the home of which she is the sunshine.
Sweet and winsome is the face, slight and graceful
the form of her who is now stirring up the fagots to a
brighter blaze, the homeliness of her occupation by no
means detracting from a quiet matronly dignity which
sits well on the pastor's wife. One of the greatest of
attractions is unconsciousness of being attractive: Fredis-
wed's perfect simplicity is one of the chief charms of her
who, to the guilelessness of a child, adds the thoughtful-
ness of a loving woman. Frediswed, by her winning






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


ways, is one easily to win affection, and by her higher
qualities firmly to retain it. To love Frediswed once is
to love her always: gilding wears away with rubbing,
but that only brightens pure gold.
The Saxon dress which Frediswed wears, with its
folds, unmarred by flounce or trimming, descending to
her feet, is of simple material but almost statuesque
grace. When, as at this time, pursuing household occu-
pations, Frediswed throws aside the large linen veil or
mantle, resembling what daughters of India now wear,
which, when she goes out, with its soft folds completely
covers every part of the head but the face, and shrouds
the upper part of her person. Not a sparkle of jewel-
lery is seen, save the one little gold circlet on her finger,
the pledge of connubial love, a representative link of the
golden chain which binds her heart to her husband.
The clerk's house is a substantial one, built principally
of solid oak. True, there is no glass in the windows;
true, the fireplace is in the midst of the kitchen, and the
rafters above it are blackened by smoke; but still the tene-
ment is by no means destitute of such comforts as were
known to upper-class franklins in the days of Henry the
First. Of course there is no clock to tell the time, for
clocks have not been dreamt of; but there is a stand,
deftly carved by Alphege, to hold the candle from which
little metal balls drop at regular intervals, as the flame
round the wick reaches the threads by which they are care-
fully suspended. But the sun and the stars, heaven's own






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


grand chronometers, are the usual measurers of time for
the parish priest and his wife, supplemented by the
crowing of cocks and the twitter of birds in the morning.
The furniture is heavy and mostly ancient, for Alphege
is a scion of an old Saxon line, being a descendant of
Ethelbert, the first Christian king of Kent, who reigned
in the days of the Heptarchy. The massive silver bowl
on a shelf is a precious heirloom: it is a family tradition
that St. Augustine himself once drank mead out of that
cup. A curtain of rich tapestry hangs by the outer
door; it is drawn aside in warm weather, but is very
useful in winter to keep out the wind and cold. Some
skins are spread on the rushes that cover the floor; and
a pair of stag's antlers adorn the wall, the spoils of a
quarry killed in the time of Edward the Confessor,
before forest laws were enacted.
Beyond the open door we see a little garden, cultivated
by the clerk himself, and chiefly filled with vegetables,
and a few herbs used in medicine. There is, however,
a portion kept for flowers; not the imported beauties
which now adorn our parterres, but the simple, old-
fashioned blooms which grew as freely in old England
in the days of Alfred as they do now in our fields.
Cowslips, orchis, and the lovely white flower called
wild onion, blue-bells, primroses, and violets adorn Fredis-
wed's garden in spring. There is also a luxuriant vine
hanging gracefully over her porch and peeping in at
her glassless windows. In autumn, the season in which






AN OLD ENGLISH HOME.


my story opens, this vine shows some clusters, not such
as would figure on our tables now, nor perhaps equal in
sweetness the blackberries ripening on the outer hedge
which divides the garden from the road. At a little
distance a grove of trees, some of great age, with gnarled
roots and bossy stems, their foliage tinted here and
there with yellow or red, breaks on the horizon line, and
adds to the peaceful charm of an English home. A chorus
from winged songsters comes from those trees in spring.
No marauding Dane has ever brought devastation to
this quiet retreat; even the Normans have not plundered
it, at which the neighbourhood marvels. Alphege the
priest leads such a life of active usefulness and practical
piety that he is regarded by the intruders themselves
with a kind of respect. Probably, however, the chief
cause of his immunity from annoyance is the well-known
fact that he has long been a favourite disciple of An-
selm, once the Abbot of Bee, who has now for more
than eight years held the very high position of Arch-
bishop of Canterbury and Primate of England.
















CHAPTER III.


RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.

WHILE the bacon and vegetables were stewing in the
pot, and their savoury scent gave a foretaste of the
coming meal, Frediswed (keeping, however, an eye on
the fire) came and sat down at her husband's feet, her
favourite position. Alphege laid aside the parchment
which he had been studying, and gave up the brief
time before the food should be ready to the enjoyment
of conversation with his wife.
You had just begun to tell me the story of our good
Archbishop Anselm and Rufus the king when you had
to go to vespers," said Frediswed. I have heard bits
of the story before; but I want one clear, unbroken
thread, such as I like to spin on my own wheel."
"It is difficult for a village clerk to spin a clear
thread, there are so many breaks," observed Alphege,
smiling. But if Lubin come not for a mash for his
sick cow, nor poor old Edwy to complain of his dame's
shrewd tongue, if none of the young villeins appear to
consult me about marriage, and no other interruption






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


occur, mayhap I shall finish my story before the final
bubble and sputter announce that our stew is ready."
You must be more than ready for it," said Fredis-
wed; it is mid-day, and you have tasted nothing yet,
though you were up at cock-crow. In the morning
you were called off just as you were seated at the table;
and as I knew not when you could return, I hurried
off to Allen's. We are hours later than usual. I
thought that the franklin whose babe you baptized
would surely give a feast on such an occasion, and you
would certainly share it."
The man is a bit of a churl; or perhaps, poor fel-
low! the Normans have emptied his poultry-yard and
drained his cask of brown ale. As regards feasting, I
saw not a crust. I came back fasting, just as I went.
But such trifles are not worth a thought. To what
point in my story had I come yestereven ?"
To the time when, after the death of Archbishop
Lanfranc (rest his soul!), the red Norman king, William,
refused for years to fill up the vacant see."
That he might himself plunder the Church of the
large revenues belonging to it," said Alphege indignantly.
Our Saxon Alfred would rather have died than have
committed so sacrilegious a deed."
And you were beginning to tell me what our present
great and holy archbishop did," said Frediswed.
"Archbishop Anselm held not that title then; he
was Abbot of Bec when first I knew him, and loved






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


and honoured him as I never deemed that I could
love and honour a monk from the other side of the
Channel. It was he who came once and again to
our sorely oppressed England. We were groaning
under the exactions of the wicked Ralph Flambard, to
whose care King Rufus had made over the church and
lands of Canterbury, that he should squeeze out of them
gold, even if life-blood should follow. There was such
indignation in England at the rapine and profanity
which prevailed, that the nobles resolved to ask the
king's leave to have prayers offered in all the churches
that God might incline his heart to fill up the see of
Canterbury. Anselm himself, at the nobles' earnest
request, drew up this singular petition."
"Singular, indeed!" exclaimed Frediswed, smiling.
I should like to have seen the face of the Red William
when he heard the petition read."
"I did chance to see it," said Alphege, reflecting the
smile of his wife; "for young as I was, I was in at-
tendance on one who bore it. I shall not soon forget
that face reddened with anger up to the roots of the
fiery hair, or how Rufus showed his white fangs in a
mocking laugh as he gave his royal assent. The
Church may pray as much as it likes,' he growled; 'I
shall nevertheless do just as I please.' Some one present
-I wot not who-ventured to remind the king that
Anselm was a holy man, who loved nothing but God.
'Except the Archbishopric of Canterbury!' cried the






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


mocking Norman, who dared to impute a worldly motive
to the most saintly of men. 'I do not think that
Anselm wishes the dignity,' observed the old noble.
' He would run to it dancing and clapping his hands,'
cried the king; and then he added, with a blasphemous
oath, 'Neither he nor any one else shall be archbishop
at this time except myself.'"*
0 my Alphege, what a wicked and profane man this
king must have been !" exclaimed Frediswed. But the
tyrant had not his will ?"
No; for Rufus was opposing the will of Him who
ruleth over the mighty of the earth, of Him who can
crush them like worms at His feet. Our just God heard
the groans and prayers of His people; Rufus was smitten
with sore sickness, and a rumour spread through the
land that the spoiler of the Church was going to die."
And that he was repenting of the foul sins which
he had committed ?"
Ay, when Rufus thought that death, like a thunder-
bolt from a wrathful God, was going to descend upon
him," said the Saxon priest. Rufus wanted to confess
and be forgiven-he would fain make a clean breast;
and as a bribe to Divine justice, he resolved to do what
good he could in his last hours to make up for a life
spent in sin. Prisoners were released from dungeons;
Rufus promised to fill up vacant benefices; Anselm him-
self should be raised to the see of Canterbury;-what
Eadmer.






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


more could be done to appease the righteous wrath of
Heaven ?"
Was the holy Abbot of Bec glad, think you, to be
appointed to a place so high ?"
No," said Alphege with emphasis. I was in at-
tendance on my patron when the king's message came,
and can bear witness to the overpowering dismay with
which the good abbot shrank from the post of honour,
which was a true martyrdom to a man such as he.
The abbot was made archbishop almost by violence.
Hurried to the chamber of the sick king, Anselm had
the symbolic ring forced on his unwilling hand. He
foresaw that a conscientious primate must be engaged
in almost perpetual conflict with an unscrupulous king.
'I am like an old ram yoked with a furious young
bull,' was the pious prelate's own description of his new
position."
The king, I know, recovered from his illness,"
Frediswed observed.
Yes; he recovered to be again a scourge to the land,
recovered to plunge yet more deeply into sin, recovered
to perish at last by a violent death which left him not
a minute's space for a second repentance."
"And the holy Anselm still lives."
"Heaven prolong his life !" cried Alphege with
fervour.
0 dearest, I should like so much, so very much, to
see him, to have his blessing, to receive the house [sacra-





RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


ment] from his holy hand. Would it be impossible to
persuade your first patron and friend to stop at our
humble dwelling, which lies on his road from London
to Canterbury ?" cried Frediswed eagerly, her face
brightening with happy excitement at the thought.
" Would the archbishop deign to cross our threshold ?
would he condescend to leave his golden footprints on
our floor, and drink out of St. Augustine's cup ?" she
added, glancing up at the silver bowl.
The beaming look of enthusiasm on the wife's lovely
face was met by a grave, almost sad one on that of her
husband. Alphege pressed his lips together and looked
down. I could not ask the archbishop to stop here,"
he said, even if there were a storm, and no other place
of shelter nigh."
Why ? Surely holy Anselm is not proud ?" Fredis-
wed exclaimed in surprise.
It is not pride that would keep the archbishop
away from us," said Alphege, suppressing a sigh.
"Then why?" Frediswed paused abruptly as a
painful thought crossed her innocent mind, and ob-
served in an altered tone, Can it be that the good
archbishop does not approve of our marriage ?"
Alphege made a mute sign of assent.
"But that can soon be set right," said Frediswed
cheerfully. You have only to write to the archbishop
all that you have said to me; you are such a good clerk
that you can make it all clear. You will tell him that






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


you can show warrant from Scripture that marriage is
honourable in all, which of course must include the
priests. You will tell him that apostles were married
men; that Christ Himself blessed the bridal feast,
and said that man and wife are one flesh. 0 darling,
you remember how miserable we both were for nearly
two years, when you thought that the safety of your
soul depended on our being severed for ever You re-
member the agony of our parting, as we believed, never
to meet on this side of the grave When you went to
Rome and left your poor Freddie behind, I should in
my blind wretchedness have gone into a convent, had not
my sick mother needed my care. Her long, long illness
was the means of preserving me for the happiness which
now I enjoy; it was God's means-of that I feel cer-
tain-to save me from my foolish despair. When you
came back suddenly to claim me, when you told me
that God's Word sanctioned our union, when my dear
mother on her deathbed joined our hands and said, like
old Simeon, 'Lord, now let Thy servant depart in peace,
I felt my conscience at rest, so perfectly at rest, every
care, every scruple removed. Are you not satisfied, my
beloved husband, that our marriage was made in heaven,
that we are united only in the Lord ?"
I am satisfied," was Alphege's calm reply.
And the dear archbishop will be satisfied also, if
only you write and explain."
Alphege gravely shook his head. He had written.






RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.


he had explained, and had received such a reply as had
caused him acute pain, though no emotion of anger, nor
the least doubt as to the lawfulness of his marriage.
Do write," pleaded the gentle wife, pressing her lips
on her husband's hand, which she held within both her
own.
My love, you know not our saintly archbishop.
Grand, pure as marble as his character is, in matters
such as these he is as cold, almost as hard. Anselm has
never known what it is to love as I love."
Frediswed again kissed the hand which she clasped.
Her husband's affection was the whole world to her.
Alphege wished to change a painful subject. "There
will be a grand council held at Michaelmas in St. Peter's
Church, Westminster," said he; "the bishops, archbishops,
and abbots of the realm will be gathered together.
It is said that King Henry and his nobles will also
attend by our great prelate's special desire, as one of
the great objects of the synod will be the correction of
morals."
I am sure that such a council must be much needed,"
observed Frediswed, especially if there be many abbeys
like that of Basilton here. I am so glad that king,
barons, and holy bishops are to join together to bring
about a reform. We shall have happier times when we
have holier times in this dear land of England. Do
you not think, my Alphege, that the grand council will
prove a great blessing ?"
(317) 3






34 RUFUS AND THE PRIMATE.

I hope so, in some ways," was the clerk's grave and
guarded reply.
"But surely-" Frediswed had no time to finish
her sentence, as the bubble and sputter of which Alphege
had spoken announced that, unless the good housewife
should hasten to the rescue, the savoury contents of the
stew-pot would soon be hissing on the fire.
"Your dinner is ready for you at last," cried Fredis-
wed, lifting up the steaming vessel.
"And I am well pleased to break my long fast,"
observed Alphege, anticipating a pleasant meal, to be
shared by his wife, with the relish which is given by
hunger.















CHAPTER IV.


THE SUDDEN CALL.

THE deft hands of Frediswed had spread the table, and
her husband with a thankful heart had just pronounced
the benediction, when an interruption occurred. The
door was open, for the September air was mild and the
dwelling faced the sunny south. Suddenly, and with-
out ceremony, a Saxon peasant strode into the room.
He was a manly-looking fellow, with broad shoulders,
gray eyes, and tawny hair. His head and legs were
bare; he wore a kind of tunic girt with a leather belt
a good deal the worse for wear. From the stranger's
coarse dress it was at once seen that he.belonged to the
class of churls or villeins--husbandmen bound to the
soil that they tilled, "a condition above actual slavery,
though below freedom. The villeins were, in fact,
labourers whose wages were paid not in money, but in
a small holding." As these peasants were not allowed
to change their masters, under a cruel and rapacious one
their lot was hard; they were at the mercy of a tyrant,
Thompson's History.






THE SUDDEN CALL.


Alphege did not know the man who had so uncere-
moniously entered his home; but he recognized him at
once as a fellow-countryman, and, as such, bidding him
welcome, asked him to sit down and share his meal.
But the villein remained standing, resting one of his
bony, sinewy hands on the oaken table.
"I come on an errand to you, Sir Clerk," said the
stranger; your offices are needed by the Baron La
Fleche of Fortlamort Castle."
Alphege was surprised. The Norman baron was one
with whom he had never had any intercourse, nor did
he wish to have any. The clerk had often congratulated
himself that Fortlamort was good six miles away from
his village: could he have had his will, that distance
would have been increased to sixty.
What is the baron's chest ? asked Alphege.
"ThM Baron La Fleche is in sore sickness, and like to
die," said the peasant. "He bade me call a priest to
hear his confession, shrive him, house him, and anoint
before the death-grapple come on."
"There are many priests and monks who live nearer
to Fortlamort than I do," observed Alphege, who was
by no means desirous to go on such an errand to such
a place. "Why does not the baron send for one of
them ?"
"It is you, Sir Clerk, that must come, and no other,"
said the peasant with blunt decision, striking his hand
on the table to enforce his words. "I ween there are






THE SUDDEN CALL.


priests and monks by the score, but there is work to be
done at Fortlamort which needs a man like you. I wot
you do not know me-my name is Jackson; but I have
heard enough of you from Offa of the Fen to know of
what metal you are made."
Offa of the Fen-I remember him, a fine bold Saxon
who won a prize for stone-hurling at a fair held in the
last king's reign. Is the tall yeoman living still ?"
"Mayhap he is, mayhap he isn't," replied Jackson,
evading giving a direct reply. "It is you as is wanted,
Sir Clerk; and you must come quickly, lest the baron die
without shrift." There was a peculiar expression on the
villein's rough features as he uttered the last word which
aroused vague uneasiness in Frediswed's mind.
Alphege rose from his seat at the table.
0 dearest, you must take your meal first," cried
the wife.
You forget I cannot give the house but when fast-
ing," was the priest's reply. Let this good fellow have
the food, whilst I go and bring from the church what is
needful for celebrating high mass."
Frediswed obeyed, but she could not help heartily
wishing that Jackson had come an hour later, or had
gone somewhere else. She showed the hospitality ex-
pected of a Saxon dame, and the villein took voraciously
the food which was set before him.
"Did the baron specially name my husband ?" Fred-
iswed inquired.






THE SUDDEN CALL.


Mayhap he did, mayhap he didn't," was the peasant's
evasive answer, as he emptied his wooden platter.
Within half-an-hour Alphege was on his way to Fort-
lamort, with Jackson striding at his side. The priest
was hungry, very hungry; he had the healthy appetite
of a vigorous man who has eaten nothing for nigh
twenty hours. A doubt crossed the mind of Alphege-
he tried to put it away as a sin-whether any command
in the Scriptures enjoined that the holy sacrament
should be taken fasting. Was it not enough that the
Roman Church commanded the custom, and that holy
saints had practised it ? Alphege, intelligent as he was,
had become too much accustomed to the iron chain of
superstition to make, in such a matter, even an effort to
break it, as he was aware that some less scrupulous
members of his order frequently did.
Jackson did not seem disposed for conversation, and
his companion was too weary and hungry to care to
begin one. Alphege amused his own mind by thinking
how Frediswed would pass the hours of his absence.
He pictured her at her spinning, or at her sewing-class
for village girls, telling them stories from Holy Writ
while their nimble fingers plied the needle. Then, in
his mind's eye, Alphege saw Frediswed watering the
flowers in her garden, feeding her chickens, scattering
grain to the pigeons which fluttered around her, or milk-
ing her brindled cow. It was still pleasanter to image
her sitting by the old blind woman who lived down the






THE SUDDEN CALL.


lane, and singing to cheer her in her lifelong darkness.
Even to think of gentle Frediswed was a refreshment
to her husband. Often had Alphege said to himself,
" My wife is my guardian angel; without her, what a
savage, ill-tempered brute I should be !" Pride was not
the besetting sin of the Saxon clerk.
"And is it not so with others ?" thought Alphege.
"The very best priests that I know-dear, good Wilfred
and clear-headed Wolfstan-are both of them married
men. Albeit the spouse of the latter be a somewhat
high-tempered dame, yet well doth she order her house
and show hospitality to many. Are not married clerks
humanized by having little children's feet pattering
about the house ? Are their lives not purified, elevated,
by their love for their virtuous wives ? Why should
man presume to sever those whom God hath joined to-
gether ? In such a matter as this I will be ruled by
neither prelate nor pope."
More than half the distance between the parsonage
and the castle had been accomplished before Jackson
chose to break his dogged silence, and then he did so
abruptly :-
"Do you think it a priest's business, Sir Clerk, to
send robbers, tyrants, and murderers to heaven by put-
ting a few drops of oil on their brows, or a bit of wafer
into their mouths ?"
Speak more reverentially of holy things," said the
priest.






THE SUDDEN CALL.


"I crave your pardon," said the peasant. "I am a
plain spoken man, and maybe put the question too
roughly. Nevertheless I want an answer. Can shriv-
ing, and anointing, and that sort of thing, help a tyrant
and murderer to heaven ?"
Of course there must be confession on the part of a
sinner before he can be shriven, and restitution also,"
quoth Alphege.
Restitution, ay, restitution-giving back-righting
the wronged!" cried Jackson eagerly. "That is just
what I hoped that you would say, and thunder into the
ears of that vile baron also. It was because I had
heard that you are a true-born Saxon, and a brave,
honest man, that I went to you instead of to any
shaven monk that might live nearer to a den of thieves.
You will insist on the dying ruffian doing all that can
be done now to repair the foul wrong wrought by him
on Offa of the Fen." Jackson clenched his fist as he
spoke, and his swarthy, sunburned visage glowed with
fierce indignation. He could hardly bring out his words
distinctly.
Had Offa of the Fen offended the Baron La Fleche?"
asked Alphege.
Both the Saxons stood still as they spoke.
"Offa had but sought to protect his daughter, his
own flesh and blood, as any Englishman-albeit only a
villein-would have done!" exclaimed Jackson. "He
knocked a proud Norman down, and laid him sprawling






THE SUDDEN CALL.


in the dust-that was all. The fellow got up again-
more the pity! For this Offa's cottage was burned, his
wife and children turned out to starve, he himself
thrown into a dungeon, with no light and little food,
just enough to prolong his misery and satisfy a bad
man's love of revenge."
How long has Offa lain in prison ?" asked Alphege,
the hot blood mounting to his cheek.
Months-eight-ten-more," replied Jackson, count-
ing on his fingers. Offa was seized, bound, lashed like
a dog, thrown into darkness, some weeks afore Yule-tide
last year."
"He shall not remain there one day longer, if I can
help it!" cried Alphege. "I will not shrive the baron,
nor house, nor anoint, until my poor injured brother be
free."
Jackson caught hold of the priest's hand and wrung
it. It was the peasant's only way of expressing thanks,
for he could not speak.
Alphege strode on again over the wide heath which
spread before him. He was aware that he was entering
on a work of great difficulty and more than possible
danger, but from that he was not the man to shrink.
In silence and in prayer the Saxon walked on, till, at
some distance, on a wooded hill, were seen the tall
towers of a gloomy castle, one of those with which the
Norman conquerors had studded the land.
"There lies the oppressor in his keep, almost within






THE SUDDEN CALL.


sound of the groans of his victim in the dungeon below!"
cried Jackson, gloomily pointing to the stone pile.
The Saxon clerk had never before entered a castle;
the very sight of one reminded him of tales of rapine
and wrong. To go forward was to Alphege something
like entering a wild beast's den. But the priest ad-
vanced with steady resolution, onward and then up-
ward, when it came to ascending the steep, narrow path
which led up to the castle. Fortlamort was encircled
with a moat, but the bridge by which alone it could be
crossed had been let down, and the iron-studded port-
cullis which protected the entrance had been raised.
The warder stood at the door, expectant of the coming
priest, and many retainers of the baron thronged the
inner bailey, or enclosed court-yard, beyond which
towered the lofty keep. Moat, portcullis, and the
narrow loop-holes in the massive walls, all betokened a
fortified place, made to stand a siege; and most of the
retainers were more or less armed. Alphege, however,
passed in without hindrance, and the seneschal of
Fortlamort met him at the inner gate which admitted
into the keep.
"Thou hast tarried long, Sir Priest," said the sene-
schal, eying the Saxon with .no glance of favour, for
the Norman had expected to see some sandalled, ton-
sured monk.
"Conduct me to the baron's chamber," said Alphege;
"I hope that he is living still."






THE SUDDEN CALL.


"Ay, living; though the leech says that his hours are
numbered. The baron, after quaffing a bowl of sack,
has fallen into a heavy sleep, from which he must on no
account be awakened. I will show you into a chamber,
where you can wait until he be ready to be shriven."
With scant courtesy Alphege was guided to a small
almost unfurnished apartment. There he threw himself
on a settle, to prepare by prayer and meditation for
what he felt to be a severe ordeal before him. The
window, or rather open slit in the stone wall, which ad-
mitted but little light, was too high for the clerk to see
anything out of it except a strip of blue sky. This
strip gradually changed its colour, as weary hour after
hour rolled on, reddening with sunset glow, then darken-
ing into twilight gray. Alphege seemed like one shut
up in prison; never had he passed a more tedious time
than that in Fortlamort. At length, weary with fast-
ing, he fell into troubled, uneasy slumber, from which he
was suddenly and rudely awakened.

















CHAPTER V.


THE CONFESSOR.

" AROUSE ye, arouse ye, Sir Priest; the baron is awake,
he is calling for a confessor!"
Alphege sprang up at the call, and, guided by two
men, one of whom held a torch which threw a dull
gleam on the gray stone walls, he mounted a steep,
narrow, winding stair which led to the uppermost room
in the tower. There, under a canopy, gaudy with scarlet
and heavy with gold, lay the dying Baron La Fleche.
The ashen hue on his bloated features, the convulsive
gasp which heaved his breast, the clutching of his hands
at the silken coverlet, all told that the death-struggle
could not be very long delayed.
"I must be alone with him," said Alphege, waving
back the attendants who crowded the room. The torch
was stuck into a horn-shaped ornament on the wall,
silver cressets shed their light in the now almost empty
chamber, when the Saxon clerk, after closing the door,
returned to the baron's side, and bent down his ear to






THE CONFESSOR.


catch the words, mingled with groans, which came from
the sufferer's dying lips.
As Alphege listened his brow was knit with indigna-
tion, not at the sins avowed by La Fleche, but at the
puerility and insincerity of what a man of notoriously
wicked life would fain have passed off for a confession.
"I did-I did-eat-venison and boar's head-in
Lent. I forgot to fast-on Fridays."
"Nothing else ?" asked the confessor sternly.
I did not pay due reverence to holy relics-not even
to-a nail from St. Peter's cross."
The baron paused. Alphege bade him go on.
"I burned no candles before St. Veronica's shrine."
There was a longer pause than before. Was the dying
man's conscience troubled by nothing worse than the
neglect of ceremonies and ordinances made by man,
when he had trampled, and was trampling still, on the
holy commandments of God ?
"Have you nothing more that lies heavy on your
soul-no innocent blood shed, no homes desolated and
burned ? Is there at this moment no prisoner dying by
inches in a foul dungeon beneath us ?" asked Alphege
sternly.
The baron's bloodshot eyes rolled wildly; they told
of rage, but not of repentance.
"You must produce the foully-wronged Offa of the
Fen; you must set him free ere you die," said the
Saxon






THE CONFESSOR.


With a horrible oath far too blasphemous to tran-
scribe, the baron yelled out, "I will never set him free;
he shall rot where he lies !"
"Then I will never shrive you, nor house, nor give
you extreme unction. You shall never be deceived by
me into thinking that a bold, impenitent sinner can
escape by any priestly rite from the dread punishment
of his guilt!" Alphege raised his hand as he spoke
with the calm dignity of an Anselm reproving a royal
sinner.
The baron was filled with fury. With fingers that
trembled violently from weakness and rage, he seized
hold of a silver bell which lay on the pillow beside him,
and rang it so furiously that a number of retainers
who were waiting outside rushed into the room.
"Seize the false priest-tie him hand and foot-fling
him over the battlements !" yelled the baron.
"We must have a care what we do," said a squire
who was present; "this clerk has as patron the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury himself."
These words saved Alphege from fatal violence, for
the powerful primate was dreaded almost as much as
King Henry himself. Yet Alphege felt the grasp of
rude hands; he was uncertain as to the fate which his
honest rebuke might bring upon him, for he was sur-
rounded by wicked and lawless men accustomed to
deeds of blood. But at that moment the bugle hung at
the outer gate of the castle sounded loud and clear






THE CONFESSOR.


from below. Startled at the clarion, some of the men
rushed to the window which commanded a view of the
gate.
"Torches-many-borne by hooded monks-there's
the Abbot of Basilton Abbey himself, just dismounted
from his mule !"
"Let the abbot be admitted at once-bring him
hither-quickly !" gasped La Fleche. "I will promise
-a thousand marks-double-treble-and lands-if
hq will shrive me-save me from-"
"Purgatorial fires," said the seneschal, in a low,
hollow voice, completing the unfinished sentence.
"As for that Saxon dog there-kick him out !" cried
the baron, glaring at Alphege.
The command was almost literally obeyed. With
insult, derision, even blows, Alphege the Saxon was
pushed down the narrow staircase. It was well that it
was narrow and winding, as that lessened the number
of those who could torment him at once. The clerk, by
what he had to endure, was reminded of the fate of the
martyr whose name he bore;. but even the rude re-
tainers of La Fleche dared not lay murderous hands on
a priest, especially on one favoured by Anselm the
primate.
At the bottom of the staircase the clerk met the train
of monks, headed by the stout abbot himself, wearing
his richly embroidered vestments. The consecrated
wafer, in a golden pix, was borne before him. At the






THE CONFESSOR.


sight of it the lawless band of La Fleche fell on their
knees. Alphege could now pass out unnoticed by the
men within the castle, but not by a motley crowd
gathered in the bailey. The Saxon was not only
bruised in body, but more painfully wounded in spirit.
The baron's vassals had known comparatively little of
what passed in the village of Basilton; but the abbot's
attendants, who waited below, were ready enough to
fling insulting jests at the priest, and the woman-
some used a worse word-who was sharing his home.
Like a hunted creature, but not a timid one-rather like
the stag that turns to face the yelping hounds-Alphege
quitted the castle of Fortlamort. The night, with its
deep shades and cooling air, brought some relief to one
whose powers, both physical and mental, had undergone.
a very severe strain.
Ere midnight the death-bell was heard from the
tower of Fortlamort. The bell was tolled only for
the proud baron, but two souls had passed on that night
to their last account-one from a tapestried chamber,
the other from the dungeon beneath; one stained with
more sin than Dives, the other a greater sufferer than
Lazarus: each went to his own appointed place. The
poor prisoner's skeleton-like corpse was thrown into
some ditch; the baron's pampered body was enclosed in
a coffin emblazoned with silver armorial bearings and
covered by a magnificent pall. After a while over the
baron's grave was raised a grand marble monument, on






THE CONFESSOR.


which his name and titles were inscribed, with the ful-
some praises given to a benefactor of Holy Church.
Masses were said for the soul of La Fleche; they were
to be said till the day of doom, for such had been the
will of the terrified sinner who, on the brink of perdi-
tion, had grasped desperately at such hope as sacraments
and prayers for the dead could give. But what would
sacraments or masses, the sculptured stone or its lying
inscription, avail to revoke the sentence, The wages of
sin is death. The wicked shall be cast into hell?
Such honours paid to La Fleche, the Lord of Fortlamort,
were but as painting and gilding a ghastly skull.

















CHAPTER VI.


THE ECLIPSE.

ALPHEGE, as he struggled along what seemed to be the
almost interminable miles between him and his home,
could at first hardly collect his thoughts; he felt be-
wildered as well as exhausted. Yet something was
haunting his soul-words; he could hardly remember
by whom they had been spoken. These words were
about sending robbers and tyrants to heaven by putting
drops of oil on their brows, or a wafer into their
mouths.
"That abbot doubtless shrived and so deceived the
expiring wretch before him, and with wicked hands per-
formed the greatest miracle which-" So spake the
Saxon to himself, but he suddenly stopped in his walk;
a doubt, to him terrible indeed, had suddenly flashed on
his mind-a suspicion which, to a man nursed in super-
stition, appeared almost like the sin of heresy. Could
the doctrine of transubstantiation be itself a gigantic
lie, proceeding from Rome, that fountain-head of false-






THE ECLIPSE.


hood ? Could the Evil One have dared to tamper even
with the holy sacraments ordained by Christ? It
would be necessary for the reader to have been himself
brought up in the darkness of medieval superstition to
comprehend the horror with which Alphege regarded the
doubt which had entered his soul, never to leave it again.
Had the doctrine which gave such enormous power to
the priesthood any real warrant in Scripture ? Alphege,
with racking brain, taxed his memory, well stored with
Bible truths, for confirmation of the dogma, but nothing
came to recollection but such texts as these: Christ was
ONCE offered to bear the sins of many (Heb. ix. 28);
We are sanctified through the '.ii;. ',l, of the body of
Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL (Heb. x. 10); Christ, being
raised from the dead, dieth no more......for in that He
died, He died unto sin once (Rom. vi. 10); By ONE
offering He hath PERFECTED FOR EVER them that are sanc-
tified (Heb. x. 14). Alphege could not recall one verse
on which the sacrifice of the mass could rest, though he
could remember decrees of Councils or fulminations of
Popes. The grand scriptural idea of one complete, full,
and perfect sacrifice for sin was summed up in the
Saviour's triumphant dying cry, It is finished. The
doctrine of transubstantiation gives the lie to these
glorious words.
"But, 0 my Mother Church, dearer to my soul than
life, I cannot-will not-dare not believe that thou hast
wandered into deadly error !" exclaimed the priest, as






THE ECLIPSE.


he gazed on the round bright orb of the moon which
had now risen in beauty. "I have thought thee pure
and bright, even as yon moon; I have loved to walk in
thy light, and to believe that thou art the chosen bride
of my Lord. Now-but what do I see ?-not a cloud
-no! The rim of the moon is becoming black, the
light is waning; it appears as if an unholy shadow,
growing wider and wider, were blotting out the heavenly
beauty! What is the evil cause ?"
Alphege stood motionless for several minutes, watch-
ing the slow progress of the first total eclipse that he
ever had seen. It is unnecessary to remind the reader
how much gross ignorance pervaded the minds of even
intelligent men in the dark ages regarding astronomical
phenomena. To Alphege the moon was chiefly dear as
a type of the Church, and as that type he regarded her
now. Foolish as it may appear, it was an actual relief
to the Saxon when the blackness of an unnatural night
gradually passed away, and he saw that the shadow was
not a part of the moon herself, but a shadow cast upon
her, resembling that of error and sin.
"If there be something looking like a stain now on
Christ's Church, His blood-bought Church, it will not
dim her beauty for ever. A time will come, though I
may never see it, when England will emerge from dark-
ness, and a pure scriptural worship be offered to God.
A time may come when Bibles in the mother tongue, at
least portions of them, may not be within reach only of






THE ECLIPSE.


the rich and mighty, but shed radiance on humble homes.
A time may come when oppressors shall cease to grind
down the poor, when Normans and Saxons may meet as
brethren, and there shall be one law, one justice for all.
Is it impossible that a descendant of our own glorious
Alfred may sit on his throne, to do justice and love
mercy as he did ?"
Such hopes seemed to give the weary clerk strength to
struggle once more on his way. It was no longer such a
dark one, though many troubles and doubts, like night-
clouds, hung over his earthly path. At length Alphegewith
joy saw the well-known gleam of the light in his home.
He would yet have strength to reach his door, and the
welcome there would repay him for all he had suffered.
The Saxon had not to wait for that welcome till he trod
the little path through his garden. Frediswed had been
for hours waiting at the gate, and when she caught a
glimpse of her husband's form in the moonlight, she
darted forth with a cry of joy to meet him. It was no
slight shock to her, however, to see the plight in which
her Alphege returned; he was pale even to his lips, his
hair in disorder, his vestments torn and stained with
blood, his step feeble, almost staggering, as that of
one who was sorely hurt.
"0 Alphege, my beloved! what has happened?" cried
the frightened wife, as her husband folded her in his
arms.
"A little rough work," replied Alphege, speaking in






54 THE ECLIPSE.

cheerful tones to reassure her. I am well and happy,
now that I am with you. I trow that you have kept
something for a hungry man's supper; no food has
passed my lips since yestereven, so I shall eat with a
relish now."

















CHAPTER VII.


UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.

"WHAT have you for me to take to Allen to-day?"
asked Alphege of his wife on the following day.
"Only a porringer of butter-milk," was Frediswed's
reply. "But, Alphege, dearest, I am loath that you
should take it."
"Why so, sweet heart? I shame me that I have
neglected a sick man so long. But Allen is not one of
my flock, and I thought that as he lives so close to the
monastery, it was the business of the monks to look
after the patient who holds land adjoining those of the
abbey."
"The monks would never go near him," said Fredis-
wed. "Do you not know that Allen was convicted,
after trial by ordeal, of firing the abbot's corn-rick ?
Allen was very, very heavily mulcted; and though his
beeves were sold, he had not money enough to pay the
fine. So the abbot got all the poor man's land; Allen
has not a hide of ground left, only the patch on which






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


his cottage stands. He and his family are almost
starved, and he was once a wealthy franklin."
"The worse for him, I trow," said Alphege gravely.
"The monks have always had an eye to his fat pastures
and lowing kine. I knew that a man had undergone
trial by ordeal on a charge of burning the abbot's rick,
but I wist not that the crime was laid at Allen's door."
0 husband, is it wrong to think that Allen was not
guilty?" said Frediswed, in a tone of hesitation, for it
was next to heresy to doubt the efficacy of an appeal
to the judgment of Heaven. "Allen seems to me like
one who would do no wrong to any being on earth."
Alphege knitted his brows in gloomy thought. Per-
haps he has suffered wrong," he said slowly, rather as if
thinking aloud than as addressing himself to his wife.
Every one said that if Allen were innocent, the hand
which he had to plunge in boiling water would, after
three days, show no sign of hurt. All the prayers were
prayed; the monks invoked the Lord and all the saints
to guard innocence from harm and expose the guilty to
shame. The poor scalded hand was carefully bandaged-"
"By whom ?" asked Alphege abruptly.
"By the monks; it was their business. No one
opened the bandages for the three appointed days,
though Allen says that his hand burned as if in a flame;
he could scarce restrain himself from screaming aloud,
so great was the anguish. When, at the end of the
three days, the bandages were removed, the hand was






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


found to be in a fearful state-so bad that it was thought
that nothing but cutting it off would save the sufferer's
life. Poor Allen was preserved from that; but the use
of his right hand is lost-he will never grasp hatchet
again."
The gloom on Alphege's expressive features deepened.
"Foul play," he muttered under his breath.
"Alphege, I have not dared to speak to any one,
scarce to allow myself to harbour such a thought," said
Frediswed, sinking her voice to a whisper, and glancing
.around to see that no listener but her husband was near;
"but-but Allen says that he is sure that his hand was
poisoned !"
Alphege gave a slight start, and then, forgetful of
the porringer, with rapid strides hurried out of the
house.
"Oh, I would that I had not told him!" exclaimed
the anxious wife. "Alphege, wise, learned, good as
he is, can never set such wrong right. If he try to
do so, he will only bring down on himself the wrath of
the abbot, and be thought an unbeliever for questioning
the decision of Heaven "
Alphege walked on rapidly, painful thoughts acting
on him as a spur. He never paused till he came near
the beautiful abbey, most picturesquely situated on a
gentle rise, beneath which a winding stream flowed
through a verdant meadow bordered by trees arrayed in
the gorgeous hues of autumn. Fair and stately as was






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


the building consecrated to the service of God, Alphege
looked on it with no eye of satisfaction.
"If those walls could speak," he murmured to himself,
"would they tell only of holy prayers rising from saintly
lips ? I trow they would have a different tale to tell."
An abrupt turn in the road brought the clerk in sight
of Allen's dwelling, still at some little distance. Ere
Alphege reached it he came suddenly on the tall, gaunt
form of Hyppolyte the monk, who had been standing in
the shadow of a large tree, against whose trunk he was
leaning.
I may learn something from him," thought Alphege;
"Codric must know much of what passes in the monas-
tery to which he belongs.-Well met!" said the clerk
to his cousin, who looked somewhat startled at the un-
expected greeting. "Come you from the cottage of the
maimed franklin Allen ? "
"All the saints forfend !" cried the monk; "I never
go near him. Wot you not that Allen is under the
curse of the abbot, whose corn-rick he fired ?"
How know ye that Allen fired the corn-rick ?" asked
the clerk.
"Have you not heard that there was a solemn appeal
to the judgment of Heaven ?" Hyppolyte looked as
if he wished to escape from further questioning, but
Alphege laid his firm, strong arm on his cousin's shoulder.
List to me, Codric, and answer. Were you present
at that trial by ordeal ?"






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


"Of course-we were all present-to join in the
solemn prayers offered up," said Hyppolyte, vainly try-
ing to get away. But Alphege did not relax his grasp.
"As you are a man and a Saxon, answer me, Codric
Batson. Have you any reason to think that the ordeal
was not conducted fairly, that the franklin was given no
chance of escape from condemnation ?" Alphege's keen
blue eyes were fixed on the monk's sallow face, which
grew more cadaverous under that gaze, which Hyppolyte
made no attempt to meet. His evident confusion con-
firmed his cousin's suspicions.
If an innocent man has been cruelly wronged, have
you no courage to speak out ?" asked Alphege.
"You forget-I have the vows upon me-I am
bound hand and foot," was Hyppolyte's agitated reply.
"You were a man before you were a monk!" ex-
claimed Alphege; and your conscience-"
"My conscience is in the care of my superiors; I
have no right, no wish to think for myself !" cried
Hyppolyte, and with a sudden effort he wrenched himself
from the grasp of Alphege, and hurried towards the
monastery, which adjoined the abbey.
Poor slave!" exclaimed the Saxon with pity not
unmingled with contempt; his whole soul has been
cramped, his conscience seared till he knows not right
from wrong. And wrong has evidently been done; but
what can I do to clear an innocent man? Only one
thing-make an appeal to the righteous Anselm; ask






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


him to interpose his authority to command a fair trial
for the accused." Alphege intuitively slackened his
pace as he realized the difficult and painful position into
which such an appeal must bring a married priest.
" The archbishop would hardly consent to see me; or if
he granted an interview, it would be to torture me by
urging me to act against my honour, my reason, my
conscience, the word of my God, by abandoning the
faithful wife who trusts and loves me. 0 my early
patron and friend, you whom I almost worshipped, I
now realize why our Lord forbade us to call any one on
earth our master or our father: no reverence for the
holiest of mortals must make us take his word for our
guide, his example for our model, in the place of that of
our blessed Redeemer's."
Alphege was too much engrossed with his thoughts
when he reached Allen's half-ruined tenement to notice
that an ass, with a pillion on its back, was grazing out-
side. When the priest entered, with the customary
form of blessing, he observed that Alien's three children
were seated on the floor, so eagerly engaged in eating
a large dumpling studded with plums that they did not
raise their heads to see who had come. Their father,
seated on a broken chair, looked pale and sickly, as if
he would never know health again. In a corner sat an
elderly woman of very diminutive size and peculiar
appearance. Her face, from which peered very small
but piercing black eyes, in its hue and with its wrinkles






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


had something in resemblance to a wizened apple.
Her dress was unmistakably French. Alphege bowed
courteously to her-he was always courteous to women-
but he felt annoyed at the presence of a stranger, before
whom he must speak with restraint. There was a
curious half-smile on the woman's lips as she responded
to the salutation, which did not prepossess the Saxon in
her favour. She looks like a French witch," thought
Alphege; what brings the old woman here ? There is
nothing in this ruined home which even a Norman can
carry away."
This is Dame Elise, the widow of my brother," said
Allen, introducing the stranger. She waits on the
Lady Warrenne."
Alphege knew the name as that of the wife of a
wealthy Norman noble, whose castle lay on the other
side of Basilton, beyond the limits of his own parish,
but not much more than a mile from his home. The
Warrennes were almost constantly in London, and spent
so little of their time on their Kentish estate that even
their own vassals scarcely knew them by sight. War-
renne had the character of an easy-going man, who, like
his lady, loved a life of luxurious ease. They oppressed
none, but helped none, and were little more than ciphers
as regarded the villeins who dwelt on their lands.
Allen's children, having finished their feast, ran out
to play. Alphege heartily wished that Dame Elise
would follow them; but the old woman provokingly sat






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


still, watching the priest with her sharp little eyes, her
tiny hands folded demurely upon her knees.
Alphege gave some words of religious comfort, to
which Allen listened with respect, though with no great
attention. The clerk then spoke on other topics, pur-
posely choosing such as, he thought, could in no wise
interest a woman. Still Dame Elise kept her seat, still
she watched Alphege with that half-smile which both
annoyed and perplexed him. Will the witch never
leave us alone together ?" he said to himself; I can-
not speak freely whilst she is here, and my time is
precious."
At last, when the patience of Alphege was almost
exhausted, a sharp cry of pain from outside the house,
following the noise of a fall, told that some mishap had
occurred. Elise, shrewdly conjecturing that the children
had been attempting to mount her donkey, rose, and,
still silent as a shadow, glided out of the room. Alphege
seized the opportunity of saying what he wished to
Allen.
My friend," began the clerk in an earnest but sub-
dued tone, watching the door lest Dame Elise should
suddenly return, let me speak to you freely; I have
your interest at heart. You were accused-men said
that you were convicted, through trial by ordeal, of
burning a rick of corn."
"I never burned it-never went near it-never so
much as thought of setting fire to the rick," said the






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


poor, maimed franklin, speaking in a manner that
carried conviction to his hearer that he was telling the
truth.
And you suspect that the monks put something into
the bandage round your scalded hand which prevented
it from healing ?"
"I do not suspect-I know it," was the irritable
reply, and Allen held up the injured member.
Then in what way can I help you to obtain justice,
that justice which is every Englishman's right ?" said
Alphege. "If I should go to London, see the holy
primate Anselm, ask him to investigate the-"
Allen was too much alarmed and annoyed at the pro-
posal to suffer his visitor to finish the sentence. Never!"
he cried in excitement, "never 1 What could the arch-
bishop do but command a second trial by ordeal ? more
torture for a poor wretch to endure! I have lost one
hand; would you deprive me of both ? Something of
anger mingled with the passionate appeal.
"I seek but to obtain justice for you, my poor
brother," said Alphege mildly; I do not wish that you
and yours should always remain in this state of misery,
if any effort on my part could relieve you."
Allen little guessed how great was the effort which
Alphege was ready to make for one with whom he had
never exchanged a word before.
"Leave us alone!" cried the sick man pettishly;
" we are not without friends to help us. Dame Elise,






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


my worthy sister-in-law, has secured for me a good
place in Castle Warrenne. I am to take care of the
fine things there while my lord and lady are away, and
they are almost always away. My eldest boy will earn
groats by looking after the pigs. We shall fare well,
and have no one to trouble us. Sister Elise has been a
rare friend to me;" and Allen looked gratefully at the
little, dapper, wizened Frenchwoman, who, having
soothed the crying child, now re-entered the dwelling.
Still that half-smile was on her lips, but how differently
did Alphege regard it now He was angry with him-
self for the ungenerous prejudice which he had enter-
tained towards one of whom he had known nothing,
except that she belonged to the conquering race. What
lack of charity, even of justice, had the Saxon shown!
Unable to apologize with his lips for what had been a
wrong only in thought, Alphege rose intuitively, and
going up to the little Frenchwoman, held out his hand
with the respectful courtesy which he felt to be her
due.
You have relieved my mind of a burden of anxiety,"
he said; "may the Master bless and reward you for
what you have done to help the oppressed!"
I need no reward for what is a pleasure, Sir Priest,"
was the cheerful reply. "Yet am I going to ask a
favour of you. I hear that your wife is the kindest
and sweetest of women, and I want to judge of that foi
myself. Castle Warrenne is not so very far from your






UNDERGOING THE ORDEAL.


home; could not Mistress Frediswed now and then walk
over and see us ? If brother Allen were never to meet
his good friend again, he would think that he had done
ill in exchanging an angel for a wrinkled old woman
like me."
Alphege, much gratified, readily made the promise. He
knew not of what importance its fulfilment might prove
to his wife.
The Saxon, bidding adieu to Elise and Allen, left the
place with a lighter heart, but reproaching himself still
for the prejudice which he had felt.
It is no Christian conduct," reflected the pastor,
"under the influence of blind passion, to mistake pearls
for pebbles, and so trample them under foot. Not every
Norman is an oppressor, nor does the hood of a monk
always cover a hypocrite's head."















CHAPTER VIII.


THE WEARY AT REST.

As Alphege neared his own dwelling, the sight of Jack-
son's stalwart form at a little distance reminded him
that he had another wrong to right of even more cruel
nature than that sustained by Allen. Had not the
Saxon pledged his word to do all that lay in his power
to procure the release from his dungeon of the unfor-
tunate Offa ?
Jackson had caught sight of the priest, of whom he
was in quest, and came with hasty strides to meet him.
The peasant, as he drew near, looked at Alphege's face,
which showed signs of the ill-usage which he had met
with at Fortlamort.
"You have been in the wars, Sir Clerk," said the
villein. "I trow those scars are as honourable as any
crusader can show." Then, changing his tone, the
peasant abruptly said, The wicked baron is dead !"
I know it; the news soon spread far and wide. The
abbey bell was being tolled half the night. The baron
is succeeded by his brother, who is much of the same






THE WEARY AT REST.


temper, I hear, and is not likely to empty the dungeons
soon, either from a sense of justice or of pity; but I
have not forgotten my promise to do all that I can to set
poor Offa free."
Offa is free," said Jackson sternly. We found his
corpse this morning in a ditch. We could hardly tell
that it was his, he looked so changed-so starved!
Offa of the Fen was once the finest fellow in the Hun-
dred; no one could plough so straight a furrow, or hurl
a stone so far as he."
Alphege sighed in bitterness of spirit; he well re-
membered the man. Where will you bury him?"
asked the priest; "in the graveyard beside the abbey ?"
"Never !' cried Jackson fiercely. La Fleche's car-
cass is to lie in the abbey; d'ye think Offa could rest
quiet in his grave if his murderer's were so near ? No,
no; we'll dig for him a quiet resting-place near a tree
at a cross-road, where birds sing and monks never
come." Then the rough peasant added, in a softened
tone, But we'd be loath to bury Offa without a priest
to speak a blessing over his grave. We leave pomp to
the oppressor; but Offa of the Fen should not be buried
like a dog, though in life he was, treated worse than a
dog. Offa thought so much of you, Sir Clerk, and of
some words about his soul which you spoke to him at
that fair. Will you come and do the service at the
funeral of an honest man? No one else would, I wis;
but you are a secular and a Saxon,"






THE WEARY AT REST.


Alphege could not refuse the villein's request. He
was thankful that poor Offa had treasured up the few
words from Scripture which the pastor had found op-
portunity of speaking to the winner of the prize. Maybe
they had been a light to the dying man in his dungeon.
"When will the burial take place ?" asked Alphege.
"Two hours after sunset," was the reply. "The moon
will give light enough, and we, Offa's old companions,
will carry him to the grave ourselves: we're digging it
deep. I will be at the turn of the road to show you
the place."
Jackson went off, refusing an invitation to rest at the
pastor's house, and Alphege returned to his home.
Frediswed was distressed and alarmed when she heard
that her husband was to make another wearying jour-
ney to the neighbourhood of that dreaded Fortlamort.
"But yesterday you scarcely escaped from it with
your life," exclaimed the anxious wife, "and you have
not recovered yet from the effects of that expedition.
Alphege, my Alphege, why should you go again ?"
"Because I have plighted my word to do so," was the
quiet reply.
So, in the stillness of night, the ministering servant
of God stood by a lonely grave to pay the last tribute
of respect to a murdered man. The service was solemn
and impressive, though few were present, Offa's family
having left the place after his cottage was burned down.
The moon looked down like a pure bright spirit, silver-






THE WEARY AT REST


ing the leaves that rustled gently over the peasant's
grave. Alphege did not restrict himself to Latin
prayers. He took the opportunity of giving a short
but earnest address in English, taking as his text the
words from Scripture which he had spoken to Offa:
Run the race which is set before you, looking unto Jesus,
the author and finisher of your faith. Alphege dwelt
briefly on the Christian's faith, the Christian's hope, and
of that glorious coming day when God's eternal justice
shall be shown forth in the presence of men and angels.
Alphege paid the penalty of his two nights' visits to
Fortlamort in a slight attack of fever, which his vigor-
ous constitution soon threw off. He merely, as he said,
gave Frediswed an opportunity of showing her skill in
making a posset.
The clerk did not forget his promise to Dame Elise,
and Frediswed found her way more than once to Castle
Warrenne, when a suitable escort could be found.
Frediswed returned delighted with the castle, its goodly
rooms, its surrounding woods, and above all was she
charmed with Dame Elise. The Saxon wife expatiated
on the apt wit, ready kindness, and good humour of the
Norman widow-a kind of good fairy in Frediswed's
eyes.
"Dame Elise is so clever with her fingers-so clever
in everything, except, of course, reading and writing!"
(In these accomplishments Frediswed had made such
progress under her husband's tuition as might have done






THE WEARY AT REST.


credit to an intelligent child of six years old in these
modern days.) "Dame Elise has taught me some secrets
in cooking, and others besides; in short," added Fredis-
wed, laughing, "my good fairy has given me so many
wrinkles that I wonder that she has any left for herself !"
Alphege liked to listen to the playful talk of his wife,
but his own mind was much absorbed in thoughts of
the coming great council to be held at Michaelmas-tide.
Frediswed was also interested in this. She was full of
hope that the king and the archbishop between them
would set everything right. Good decrees would be
made. King Henry had promised at the beginning of
his reign that the laws of the pious Edward the Con-
fessor should again be observed in England. Then
surely there would be a reform in the abbeys; good,
holy Anselm could never abide the evil manners of the
monks. There would also, Frediswed hoped, be some
restraint put on the lawless nobles, who played the part
of petty tyrants to all the country around them.
"We shall soon know all about the results of the
great council from the wise clerk Wolfstan," observed
Frediswed; "though he be a Saxon, he has some office
about the court."
Wolfstan will, if possible, get a copy of the decrees
when they have been passed," said Alphege.
You will like to hear them," observed his wife.
"But you look grave, my Alphege. The decrees are
not likely to affect us-are they ?"






THE WEARY AT REST. 71

The Saxon clerk gave no reply, and Frediswed was
too discreet to press the question, but went on with the
spinning in which she was engaged, but in which she
showed somewhat less than her usual skill.
"I do not know what has come over my yarn, it is
always breaking !" cried Frediswed. "There it goes
again! But I will be patient," she added with a smile;
"happily there are some threads which no one can break,
let the wheel go round as it may!"















CHAPTER IX.


THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.

MICHAELMAS arrived, and the momentous Council of
Westminster met, with a good deal of pomp and display.
As Basilton was but fifteen miles from London, and
Wolfstan possessed a good horse, Alphege knew that he
should have early tidings of the result of the grand
synod of 1102 A.D. Sympathizing with the anxiety
of Deacon Wilfred, an old friend of the family, whose
parish was more remote from London, Alphege had in-
vited him to stay in his parsonage till the decrees of
the council should be known. Alphege, however, half
repented of his proffered invitation when his clerical
guest arrived. The thin, anxious father of seven chil-
dren, the husband of a sickly wife, Wilfred could think
of nothing, talk of nothing but the danger of some
decree being passed against the married clergy. The
pastor of Basilton had hitherto, as far as possible,
shielded Frediswed from the full knowledge of the dan-
ger which lay before her-a danger which he hoped and
prayed might yet be averted. But poor clerk Wilfred,






THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.


prematurely old with care, a man of bent fgure and
furrowed brow, did not, and perhaps could not, show
any reticence on the subject which haunted him night
and day.
"The Master of the Grange was courting my lass,"
Wilfred bitterly observed on the day after the council
closed; "my wife and I thought that the eldest of our
seven would be well provided for, and a protector found
for the rest. But now the suitor is hanging back, and
he said lately, and in my girl's presence too, about
priests' marriages not being lawful! Poor Elgiva's heart
is half broken. She has sent back the trinkets which
the master gave her; and my wife is so upset that, if
the bishops give us trouble, I think that it will be her
death. My poor dear has had worries enow already
bringing up her large family, with her own health so
weak, four children dead and seven alive, and scarce
enough from tithes and the Grange to keep the pot
a-boiling. It will bring a curse on the land, it will, if
women such as my Mary are to be turned out of their
homes, and with the brand of disgrace upon them !"
Alphege saw Frediswed turn very pale, and made an
attempt to turn the conversation.
"Wolfstan, the archdeacon, seems to be in King
Henry's favour, and to have some influence with him.
Do you know, Wilfred, how he won his way ?"
"The archdeacon is an eloquent man, and did the
king good service amongst his English subjects when






74 THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.

the Norman barons wanted to seat Duke Robert upon
the throne. Wolfstan is a leading man, able to manage
any one but his wife, and she is shrewd and sharp.
The dame is not one to submit tamely either to insult
or wrong. She would face out, ay, and scold out, the
great archbishop himself."
"Surely the holy Anselm would never countenance
either insult or wrong to a woman," said Frediswed
with a quivering lip and eyes brimming with tears,
though she tried to hinder them from falling.
"Here comes Wolfstan at last!" exclaimed Alphege,
starting up from his seat; "I hear the hoofs of his
horse !"
"He comes, and doubtless brings with him the copy
of the decrees," cried Wilfred, trembling with agitation.
"We will hear them at once."
But they were not to be heard at once, however im-
patient the two Saxon clerks and Frediswed might be.
Wolfstan was a portly, well-fed man, and prided himself
on never being in a hurry. He must dismount, see his
horse led to the stable and fed, and must himself par-
take deliberately of a plentiful meal, before anything
could be got out of him by questioning, beyond, "Pa-
tience you shall hear all after supper; one thing at a
time."
At last it was finished, that wearisome, as it seemed,
almost interminable meal. Wilfred had talked nerv-
ously, almost incessantly; Wolfstan had hardly opened






THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.


his mouth, except to fill it with food. When supper
was ended, and the lamp lighted, then the archdeacon
seated himself in the only chair which had arms, slowly
opened his leather satchel, and drew out a roll of
parchment.
0 Alphege," whispered Frediswed to her husband,
"may I not stay to hear it? I will not utter a word.
I will say nothing, only listen."
Alphege gave a silent sign of assent; he felt that his
wife had a right to know all.
Deliberately unrolling the parchment, while his lis-
teners sat, as it were, on thorns, Wolfstan began reading
the Latin document aloud in a sonorous voice, translat-
ing it sentence by sentence as he went on, specially for
the benefit of Wilfred, who was not much of a scholar.
We will confine ourselves to the translation as given in
the history of the time, though of course even that was
couched in language which would be unintelligible in
our modern days.
"First canon. That bishops do not be at secular courts
of pleas; that they be apparelled not as laymen but as
befits religious persons; and-"
"Never mind that first canon," cried Wilfred im-
patiently; "none of us here are bishops."
"We cannot read the future," said Wolfstan, sen-
tentiously; but pitying the anxiety expressed in the
faces around him, he went on with his reading.
"Second. That archdeaconries be not let out to farm."






76 THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.

Good !" said Alphege emphatically.
Third. That archdeacons be deacons."
Wolfstan paused before the fourth canon, and some-
thing in that ominous pause, and the little cough which
followed it, made the heart of Frediswed flutter like a
terrified bird.
Fourth. That no archdeacon, priest, deacon, or canon
marry a wife, or retain her if married!"
Wolfstan could not read on, such a bitter wail burst
from poor Wilfred beside him. "My wife's knell!"
exclaimed the poor deacon, and he buried his thin face
in his trembling hands.
Alphege laid his hand on Frediswed's arm, and mur-
mured in the words of Ruth, The Lord do so to me,
and more also, if aught but death part thee and me."
The rest of the twenty-nine decrees were read, but
they appeared scarcely to be listened to, except that
Alphege smiled bitterly at the thirteenth, "That the
tonsure of clerks be visible." It seemed like mockery
that such a trifle as the cutting of hair should engage
the attention of king, lay and spiritual lords. The roll
was ended. Wolfstan deliberately fastened it up and
replaced it in his satchel.
"One satisfactory bit of work was done by the coun-
cil," he observed. Six abbots were deposed for simony"
(he gave their names, which we need not repeat); three
others, amongst them your fat abbot here, were dis-
graced for other offences."






THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.


"Yes; our archbishop does seek to do his duty by
the guilty," observed Alphege. "Would that he would
spare the innocent," he added with a sigh.
"My wife, my seven poor children!" groaned the
unhappy Wilfred.
"What course shall we take ?" asked Alphege of
Wolfstan. "I for one will die rather than submit to
so infamous a decree."
"I know it, for I know you and others like-minded,"
quoth the archdeacon, "men, ay, and women, who are
made of good English metal. I said as much to King
Henry last night."
You saw the king-you spoke with him-tell us
all," cried Alphege eagerly, while Wilfred raised his
tear-stained face to listen.
"'Are you and your brother clerks going to give up
your wives?' quoth the king. He was engaged in
eating lampreys, and seemed to give as much attention
to the fish as to the question which he asked.
"'No, an't please you,' said I; 'they have not done
it, and they don't mean to do it.'
"The king laughed at the stoutness of my answer.
'You are prepared, then, to do battle with the primate,
armed as he is with the decrees.'
"' We look to your grace for help in the fight,' quoth
I, whereat the king laughed louder still.
"'What if I take the matter into mine own hands,
said the Norman, pushing back his platter, for he had






78 THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER

finished the fish. I see a way of replenishing our
royal coffers out of the business. I'll inflict a good
heavy fine on priests wicked enough to keep their wives,
and see that no one but myself gives them trouble about
the matter.'"
Oh, preserve us from falling into the hands of a
Norman king!" cried Wilfred. "But how could even
Henry get fleece from a luckless sheep shorn to the
quick already? I've not a silver penny to give."
"I'd rather give my last penny than give up my
wife," said Alphege, in a low, determined voice.
"The king will make us buy our dames as dear as
he can," observed Wolfstan. "Luckily mine has a store
of jewels, and they shall go first," he added with a
philosophic smile.
But will not the archbishop oppose the king ? and
Anselm is not a man easy to grapple with, as Rufus
proved," observed Alphege with a cloud of care on
his brow.
"Oh, Anselm is so fiercely engaged in fighting the
king on other ground," said Wolfstan, laughing, "that
he may let us poor clerks escape in the scrimmage.
There is a grand battle going on about the investiture
and consecration of bishops. The primate maintains
that the pall, the ring, and the staff can only be received
from Rome. Henry, on his part, is resolved that every
bishop in England shall be 'a king's man,' as he calls it.
'What has the Pope to do with my concerns ?' he cried






THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.


in my hearing. 'That which my predecessors enjoyed.
is mine; if any one take it away, he is my enemy.' I
desire to take nothing away,' quoth Anselm; 'but I
would rather lose my head than yield in this.' So
there the two go at it tooth and nail; we'll see who
proves to be the better man." Wolfstan laughed again;
but the other three had no heart for mirth.
"It is resolved," continued Wolfstan, "that the arch-
bishop should himself go to Rome to consult the Pope
concerning this weighty matter."
"May he go soon, may he go soon," cried Wilfred,
and leave us poor clerks in peace."
It did indeed appear that the evil day might be
postponed, at least if enough gold could be squeezed out
of the married clergy to satisfy the rapacity of their
royal protector, who cared little about their domestic
concerns save as a means of increasing his wealth.
Wolfstan and Wilfred remained in the parsonage for
the night, which was a sleepless one to Alphege and
his wife. Both were silently calculating how much
their heirlooms and the gifts received by Frediswed
at her bridal would bring, and how they could reduce
their daily expenditure without ceasing to help their
sick poor. Alphege decided on drinking water instead of
ale or mead, and having but two meat meals in the week.
In the morning Frediswed said to her husband, Poor
brother Wilfred is far worse off than we are-his wife
so sick, so many mouths to feed, and his poor daughter






8o THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.

never likely to be mated, as the deacon told me last
night with tears in his eyes. Could we do nothing, my
Alphege, to help them ? It would be a work well pleasing
to God."
"We shall be rather hard put to it ourselves," was
Alphege's reply. "But do what you will, my sweet
one; no one is the poorer for what he lends to the
Lord."
Armed with her husband's permission, Frediswed
went forth into her garden, where Wilfred was rest-
lessly pacing up and down the path with his hands be-
hind his back. Frediswed approached the deacon so
softly, and he was so absorbed in distressing thoughts,
that he did not hear her step, and started nervously
when he turned and saw her.
"Brother, I fear that I have disturbed you," said
Frediswed gently, looking up with heart-felt pity into
the poor deacon's face. My husband and I have been
thinking that your wife being weak and your house
rather crowded, you might spare us one of your chil-
dren, to be brought up as if our own, though never
ceasing, of course, to be yours."
Wilfred was so overcome by this unexpected kind-
ness that he burst into tears. It pained Frediswed's
kindly heart to see him weep.
"Perhaps I made the proposal too abruptly," she
said timidly-" a father would not willingly part with
his child, even for a few years; but I thought that as






THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.


your Elgiva is in trouble, a change might do her good,
or that perhaps one of your six boys might come and
learn under my husband, so as maybe in time to be-
come a clerk himself."
"No son of mine will ever be a priest; no bishop
would consecrate him," said Wilfred with extreme bitter-
ness. My boys must turn cobblers, or till the soil and
earn scant bread by the sweat of their brows. As for
Elgiva, we cannot part with our only girl. My poor
wife is so ill that our daughter can in no wise be spared
from the house where soon, perhaps, there will be no
mother." Wilfred paused, then with an effort went on.
"But we have a sickly little fellow, Edgar, rising twelve
years of age, who is weak, and needs better food than
we can give him. Edgar cannot eat our coarse bread;
we see him wasting away before our eyes. If you could
give him a home, the lad might be spared to us yet."
"We will welcome your sick laddie with all our
hearts," cried Frediswed. "He will have a warmer
house here than in your more northern home, and I
hope that he will thrive on the good milk of my brin-
dled cow."
Her kindness warmed the heart of the poor deacon.
A little comforted, or rather a little less despondent,
Wilfred, about an hour afterwards, set out on his home-
ward way. Frediswed had tied up a bundle of good
things to refresh Wilfred on the long journey which
poverty compelled him to make on foot. When the
(317) 6






82 THE COUNCIL OF WESTMINSTER.

traveller opened that bundle at mid-day, he found two
silver pieces neatly inserted in the cake which Fredis-
wed had made for her parting guest. Fervently the
deacon blessed the kind hand that had put the coins
there, and earnestly he prayed that the pious pair who
so tenderly cared for the afflicted, might even in this
world receive a bounteous reward from the Giver of
good.
















CHAPTER X.


A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.

A FEW events which occurred in the next year, 1103
A.D., must be briefly recorded. That of most public
importance was Archbishop Anselm's journey to Rome,
whither the crafty king had sent an envoy, one William
Warelwast, to oppose him. But all the envoy's dexter-
ity did not suffice to make a Pope renounce his claim to
giving investitures in England, though Warelwast, as
is suspected, enforced his patron's arguments by bribes,
too common a custom in Rome. Anselm, returning
triumphant, was in his homeward passage through
France informed by Henry's envoy that unless the
archbishop would return as "the king's man," the
monarch would prefer his not coming at all. On re-
ceiving this unwelcome message, Anselm, as history in-
forms us, decided to remain at Lyons, which he did for
a year and a half, hoping that the Pope would take his
part and excommunicate King Henry. This is a sad
blemish on a life in which we see so much to admire.
It is grievous to behold a great and good man so in-






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


toxicated by the cup of Rome's sorceries as to be led to
desert a God-given post, desire evil to be wrought on
his king, leave a people to crime and misery, and appear
himself to be incapable at last of discerning between
right and wrong. The unscrupulous king, as might
have been expected, seized upon the estates of the see
of Canterbury in the primate's absence, appointing as
receivers of the revenues two of the archbishop's men.
Terrible disorders followed, and Anselm must be con-
sidered as partly responsible for the evils consequent on
his keeping away from the post of duty.
A very commonplace event, yet to the Alpheges one
of great interest, occurred that same year in their quiet
home,-Frediswed had the delight of seeing a lovely
little babe in a rejoicing father's arms. Blue-eyed,
golden-haired Winnie, an infant cherub in her parents'
eyes, was received as a direct gift from Heaven. She
seemed like a sign of God's approval of her father's
resolution never to break a holy bond which the Lord
Himself had made.
Edgar, Wilfred's son, had 'been for some time an
inmate of Alphege's home. The delicate boy, under
Frediswed's fostering care, had struggled through the
winter. The milder climate of Kent had done much for
the lad, with warm wraps made by Frediswed's hands,
and the good milk of her brindled cow. When May
came, and the infant May-blossom with it, Edgar wel-
comed the babe with pleasure almost equal to that of






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


her parents. He was never weary of carrying the babe
in his now strong arms.
While the expenses of Alphege's little household had
increased, his means of meeting them had sensibly
diminished. Henry the First did indeed make his
clergy pay dear for the privilege of keeping their wives.
A requisition had been received by Alphege early in the
year which had startled him not a little. The sum de-
manded by his royal protector was far beyond the small
amount of money which, by rigid economy, the clerk had
managed to save. We will go back some months to
relate what occurred.
"Has anything happened to trouble my Alphege ?"
asked Frediswed, who came into the room just after the
king's officer had departed.
Alphege did not wish to lay the burden of his cares
on his wife, or change to anxiety the bright cheerful-
ness with which she had entered the parlour. Instead
of replying to her question, he said, So Dame Elise has
been here on her ass. I had hoped to have seen her ere
she left, but a far less welcome visitor engrossed all my
time and attention. What said the good dame to our
home ? As this was her first visit, I suppose that you
showed her all that was to be seen."
Everything without and within," replied Frediswed
gaily, from the pans in the kitchen to the brindled cow
in the yard. What charmed the dame most was St.
Augustine's cup; I could hardly persuade her to drink a






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


little milk out of the silver bowl which the lips of the
first Archbishop of Canterbury had touched. 'It is an
honour too great,' she said, 'for a wizened little body
like me, but one which I will remember all my days.
My Lord de Warrenne,' added Elise, 'quaffs his mead
from a silver bowl, but it has no value beyond that of
the metal. The earl would give ten times its weight in
silver for such an heirloom as yours.'"
Would he ?" said Alphege thoughtfully, a shadow of
care and perplexity crossing his face for a moment.
"Perhaps when I said that Dame Elise liked the cup
best of all our good things, I made a little mistake,"
observed Frediswed. My visitor seemed most delighted
with my little golden reliquary holding a lock of the
hair of St. Anne. Dame Elise declared that the rich
countess herself, amongst all her jewels, has nothing so
pretty and rare. She said that she was sure that Lady
de Warrenne would gladly buy the reliquary, and give a
good round sum for it too."
"What replied you to that ?" asked Alphege.
'" Oh, of course I laughed, and said that I did not
choose to sell the most precious thing given to me on
my wedding-day except one," and Frediswed glanced
fondly at the plain gold ring on her finger, placed there
by Alphege at her bridal.
The Saxon did not pursue the subject, but again and
again he recalled the words of Elise when the rapacious
contractor employed by King Henry to fleece his clerical






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


subjects became more loud and threatening in his de-
mands. At last the state of affairs could no longer be
hidden. Alphege took down St. Augustine's cup from
the place of honour which it had occupied in the family
home from generation to generation, and repressing every
sign of reluctance, gave it into the hands of his wife,
who was about to start to pay a visit to her kindly old
friend.
"Edgar is going with you to Castle Warrenne; he
will carry this bowl, and we will see if your good fairy
can indeed change it for ten times its weight in silver."
Frediswed looked startled and distressed. "You
would never part with your cup, the most precious thing
which you possess!" she exclaimed.
"I have something far more precious, with which I
never will part," said Alphege, pressing a kiss on the
brow of his wife.
The truth flashed on Frediswed's mind in a moment.
She had known of the last visit of the king's purveyor,
and had more than guessed the nature of his errand,
recalling what Wolfstan had said.
"If your bowl go, so shall my little treasure," sighed
Frediswed, taking her reliquary from her bosom, for she
usually kept it hung round her neck. But do you not
think that St. Anne might be angry," she added with
the nacvete of a child, "if I sold her hair to the
countess ?"
"I think that the saint would forgive you," replied





A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


Alphege with a smile which had nothing of mirthful-
ness in it. "During eleven hundred years the relic had
doubtless been often sold, had passed through many
hands before it came to yours."
And so the two most valued jewels in the parsonage
were parted with without a grumble, but certainly not
without pain. Elise skilfully managed the sale, and the
sum realized seemed more than enough to satisfy any
claims that could be made on the purse of the clerk.
The king was indeed satisfied, but not so the purveyor
for the king. Unfortunately this man had had a
glimpse of Frediswed milking her brindled cow, and had
resolved to make that cow his own. Resistance to ex-
tortion was vain; the decrees of the council hung over
the heads of married priests like a Damocles's sword;
they dared not refuse to give what was demanded, how-
ever unjust the claim. Edgar had to lead away the cow
to her new master, and most reluctantly he did so.
"I can hardly grieve now that my poor dear mother
has been taken to a place where there are no tyrants
or extortioners to grind down the poor," muttered the
indignant young Saxon.
To Alphege the bitterest thought was that the sacri-
fices made to avert present danger gave no assurance
of safety for the future. The family were still at the
mercy of a king who might be capricious, and of ecclesi-
astics who would regard persecution as a sign of superior
piety. Even if no open censure were to be met, there






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


was contempt to be endured, the pillory of public opinion,
in which Alphege and his pure, faithful wife might be
exposed to the scorn of the unreasoning crowd, to be
pelted with coarse epithets and unseemly jests.
Who can measure the height of cruelty and the depth
of suffering comprehended in one clause of the scriptural
description of the great falling away, forbidding to
marry?
Notwithstanding the trials which have been just de-
scribed, the first years that followed the birth of her
child were, on the whole, happy years to the Saxon
mother. Frediswed had little time for brooding over
the troubles prevailing throughout the land. Alphege,
though alike as a Christian and a patriot he was sorely
burdened, had always a bright look and word of cheer
for his wife. Frediswed knew little of what was
passing beyond her own small circle; the greatest dis-
tance to which she ever wandered, and that but rarely,
was Castle Warrenne. Alphege's wife indeed some-
times wondered why Archbishop Anselm did not come
back, but she secretly scarcely wished him to do so.
She saw her darling child expand like a flower before
her eyes, gradually making those steps in progress which
so delight a proud mother: Winnie could first crawl,
then walk, then clamber up on her father's knees; the
child could first lisp two or three sweet words, then
gradually learn to clasp her little hands together and
repeat an infant's prayer. She could do all this before





A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


Anselm returned to England, for his absence lasted three
years. At any time the primate could have returned if
he would have yielded on one disputed point-that of
the investiture of bishops by England's king instead of by
the Pope of Rome. But Anselm would not yield; rather
would he remain idle at Lyons or Bee, whilst grievous
wolves were ravaging his flock, than make a compromise
with the king.
Alphege heard, with burning indignation, of the wide-
spread distress in poor parishes caused by the cruel
exactions of Henry. Two hundred presbyters in their
albs and stoles appeared barefooted before the monarch
to implore his mercy. They were rudely repulsed by
the king.* In vain bishops, almost in despair, entreated
Anselm to return; always came the disappointing reply
that he was waiting for envoys from Rome. To English-
men like Alphege, who longed for freedom from a galling
yoke, the very name of Rome was becoming hateful.
Notwithstanding the efforts made by Alphege to guard
his Frediswed from the sufferings which he himself
endured, he was of too frank and she of too loving a
nature for her not to perceive that heavy anxieties were
weighing on the mind of her husband. Frediswed
marked silver threads prematurely mixing with his
auburn hair; she saw that, except when conversing with
herself or playing with his child, Alphege's habitual ex-
pression had become one of deep thought and care. The
A historical fact.






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


wife felt that some sore trouble might be at hand, and
tried to strengthen her gentle heart to endure it by faith
and prayer. As time rolled on, the thought of the
decree of that dreadful council more and more haunted
Frediswed like a phantom, but she never spoke of it to
her husband or any one else.
One day Frediswed gently stole up to her husband
when he was engaged in writing. Golden-haired Winnie
was in her arms, the child's dimpled chubby hands hold-
ing a daisy-chain, her first work of art, accomplished by
her mother's aid and that of a crooked pin. Winnie, in
her baby heart, was as proud of her chain as Frediswed
was of the first yard of elaborate lace which Dame Elise
had taught her to make; the child was eager to slip the
daisies round her father's neck with an unexpected kiss.
Winnie put the chain very softly over her father's head,
and then startled him by the sudden energy of her em-
brace, given in baby fashion by moist rosy lips very
tightly pressed on his cheek.
My darling! my little cherub!" cried Alphege,
taking the child into his arms; but he looked vexed at
seeing that his sudden movement had caused a blot of
ink to disfigure the parchment on which he was writing.
Parchment was expensive and not to be wasted; but
Alphege was penning something too important to be
marred by a blot. "I must write it over again," said
the clerk.
"I think that I could erase the blot," observed his






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


wife. Is the letter which you are penning, dearest, too
secret to be intrusted to my hands ?"
I do not see why my Frediswed should not read it,"
observed Alphege after a moment's hesitation. He felt
a strong yearning to make his wife a partner in some
of his cares, as she always was in his pleasures. "I
am writing to the archbishop, now at Lyons, having an
opportunity of sending a letter, which does not often
occur. It has been laid on my heart to make an effort
to induce the primate to return to his see, where his
presence is needed more and more."
"His coming might perhaps bring us some trouble,"
observed Frediswed in a tone of hesitation.
Nothing personal must weigh against the sufferings
of England," said Alphege, who had deeply revolved the
subject. "I know that the persuasions of wiser and
better men than myself have failed; but God can use
the feeblest instrument, and-my revered patron loved
me once."
Here the little one in her father's arms asserted her
claim to notice. "Winnie loves oo, so-so big!" and
the small plump arms were stretched out to their widest
extent.
"I wish you to pray for me, Frediswed, my love,
that a blessing may go with this letter."
"Moder pray, Winnie pray, Winnie say, 'Pray God
bless fader,' said the child, who was taught to repeat
her infant prayer in her native tongue,






A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.


Yes, pray for father, my darling; he needs your
prayers," cried Alphege, pressing his little one close and
closer to his breast, and almost covering her face with
passionate kisses.
This letter is matter of history, though the name of
the writer is not recorded in the "Student's History of
England." As its substance has been preserved by the
Saxon Eadmer, we may believe that Anselm himself,
however resolved not to follow its advice, set some
value upon it. The letter being interesting, I will
transcribe what is written regarding it in the pages of
Canon Perry:-
"A letter given by Eadmer reached him [Anselm]
from England, which described, in terms sufficient, one
would suppose, to move the firmness of the primate, the
miserable state of things in the English Church. The
writer declares that the point in dispute appeared to
every sane man in England to be nothing at all, but
rather a contrivance of the devil to vex the English
Church. Meantime the possessions of the Church were
being plundered, and the service of God neglected. The
clergy were given over to all iniquity......Things were
worse than could be shown by writing. Men openly
said that this was all the archbishop's fault, inasmuch
as he who could have done most to abate these evils
kept away for a mere nothing. The writer solemnly
appeals to the archbishop whether such proceedings
were justifiable."






94 A PATRIOT'S APPEAL.

This was a bold, a very bold letter, especially as
penned by a poor Saxon clerk, and sent to a primate of
a lordly race, a man already almost canonized as a saint.
But Alphege regarded the work as one given to him by
God, and come what might, he could never regret having
penned that patriotic appeal.
"God could make an ass's jawbone an effective
weapon," thought Alphege, as he rose from his knees
after finishing his letter. "If the Lord speed my,
arrow, it matters little what becomes of the hand that
drew the string !"
















CHAPTER XI.


THE LOST ONE FOUND.

" SWEET HEART, you will spoil your eyes," said Alphege
one evening, when he found his wife singing Winnie to
sleep, whilst herself bending over some piece of work
which required so much light that she had to sit very
close to the window to catch the last red gleam still
lingering in the sky where the sun had set. "I always
find you stitching away at the self-same strip of fine
linen, not wide enough to make a little coif for Winnie.
I marvel that you find time for such vain labour, with
the cooking, the mending, the garden, the chickens, all
the sick of the parish on your hands, Winnie to cherish,
and a troublesome husband's every possible want to
supply, down to darning his old torn alb."
"I intend to leave off darning old albs, and to have
new ones instead," replied Frediswed gaily.
"You will hardly make an alb or anything else out
of that finger's breadth of linen on which you have
been engaged these two years at least," observed
Alphege.






THE LOST ONE FOUND.


Is it not beautiful ?" asked Frediswed, holding up
her work with a little pride, though there was hardly
enough light left for her husband to examine its
elaborate pattern.
"Beautiful, no doubt, but not very useful, I fear,"
was the Saxon's reply.
Then Frediswed's innocent little secret came out.
She had learned from Dame Elise to make the exquisite
point-lace which was worn by grand ladies at festivals
and tournaments, and by bishops on days dedicated to
special saints. Frediswed was building grand hopes on
the difficult and laborious art which she had, with much
patience, acquired.
Stitch by stitch the work grows," said Frediswed;
"see what a length I have finished !" and she opened the
roll of lace, which she had kept carefully covered up
from the dust. "Would it not be funny if I should
manage to pull another brindled cow out of this tiny
roll ?"
Alphege smiled at what he thought the vain hopes
of his spouse; he did not wish to damp them. The
lace-making, though exceedingly tedious, had given
Frediswed pleasant occupation, and had often saved her
from fostering gloomy forebodings in regard to the
future, and from fretting over the hardships of the
present.
On the following morning Frediswed, with her child in
her arms, came to Edgar, who was weeding the garden.






THE LOST ONE FOUND.


Will you come with me, Edgar," she said, to help
to carry my Winnie ? Her little feet will not bear her
as far as Castle Warrenne, and I must go there to-day
to take my completed work to my good fairy-friend
Dame Elise. Oh, how often my eyes have ached over
it; methought the task would never be done !"
Edgar readily consented. He was a bright, kindly
lad, with a warm and grateful heart. It was a pleasure
to him to do anything for her whom he now always
called his mother.
The visit was accomplished. Dame Elise examined
the lace with her sharp, critical eyes, then with her
peculiar smile gave the verdict-" It will do." Fredis-
wed returned towards home in high spirits, singing and
laughing to her child, and chatting gaily with Edgar.
The party had nearly reached the parsonage, when
Frediswed was startled by seeing something lying in a
ditch by the wayside which she at first took to be a
corpse, so ghastly it looked.
0 Edgar, some one has been murdered!" she ex-
claimed.
"The poor fellow is not dead-see, he moves !" ex-
claimed Edgar, putting down Winnie, and going up to
the spot.
An almost skeleton hand was feebly raised, and a
hollow voice came from under the reeds and rushes
which grew in the ditch. "Have mercy on me-for
the love of Heaven!"
(317) 7






THE LOST ONE FOUND.


Edgar sprang down into the almost dry ditch and
raised the sufferer's head. The man was evidently in
almost a dying state.
I will go and call peasants to carry the poor fellow,"
said Frediswed, "and bring him some water. When
he revives a little, the sick man must be taken to the
monastery; the monks are bound by their vows to tend
the sick, and Brother Innocent, as I have heard, is a
skilful leech."
"Not to the monastery-no!" exclaimed the man
with more energy than could have been expected from
his emaciated frame. I have been there, and they have
turned me out, because I did not kiss the crucifix or
pray to the Madonna. The monks said that a cursed
heretic should not abide under their holy roof."
"I should not like a heretic to bide under mine,"
thought the clerk's wife; "and yet we cannot leave
this poor creature to die in a ditch. He will hardly
live till the morning. Christ wills that we care for the
poor."
A peasant chancing to come that way, Frediswed
enlisted him to assist Edgar to support the sufferer's
wasted form, she herself lending her aid, whilst Winnie
trotted beside her. The man was carried to the par-
sonage, and laid on the only bed which it now con-
tained. Edgar slept on straw, and on straw that night
the family would have to sleep. The Saxon wife was
following the example of the good Samaritan, for the






THE LOST ONE FOUND.


poor waif was not only a stranger, and possibly a here-
tic, but of a different race from her own. The man's
complexion was darker than that of either Norman or
Saxon, more like that of an inhabitant of Italy or the
south of France. His clothes, now ragged and soiled,
had evidently been made after a different fashion than
that which prevailed in England in the time of
Henry the First.
Frediswed did what she could for the stranger, chafed
his cold feet, and gave him almost all the scanty supply
of milk in the house. The poor exhausted creature had
fallen asleep before Alphege came in from his village
round at sunset.
God has sent to us a strange gift," said Frediswed
to her husband, whom she met in the garden.
Whatever God sends is welcome," was the reply of
the clerk.
Frediswed explained in few words why she had
taken the stranger in. Did I do right ?" she asked
when her brief account was ended.
"Right, quite right," replied Alphege, and entering
the house he went up to the bed on which the sufferer
lay.
"He will hardly survive the night," observed the
clerk after feeling the faint, fluttering pulse, and laying
his hand on the sick man's brow, already damp with
the sweat of death.
I hope that he- will live long enough to repent and






THE LOST ONE FOUND.


be shriven," said gentle Frediswed. "It were pity in-
deed if his soul were lost."
Frediswed, no soul is lost that trusts in the Lord
Jesus, and no soul is saved by any rite that a priest can
perform," said Alphege.
This was not the first time that the Saxon had
uttered words that surprised and somewhat shocked
his wife. Frediswed felt that some change was going
on in her husband's views which she did not perfectly
understand. Alphege must be right-he was always so
in her eyes; but Frediswed had a vague sense of un-
easiness in regard to some of his views. Though him-
self an ordained priest, Alphege did not seem to think
much of the rites and ceremonies of Holy Church; he
even forgot to cross himself when passing a crucifix or
a saint's image by the wayside.
Alphege watched by the sufferer till he awoke. The
stranger stared wildly around at first, then seemed
gradually to recover his senses. The first intelligible
words were, Oh, that I could but see my father before
I die!"
"Where is your father ? Shall I send for him ?"
said the clerk.
"Beyond reach-beyond sea-far, far away at Tou-
louse!" gasped the sick man. "He cannot come-he
would be too late; but, after I am-dead, a letter might
reach him-to tell him that-that his prodigal died
repentant-though he could not"-for some minutes


100




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs