• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 Preface
 Table of Contents
 The sign of the White Hart
 Blowing bubbles
 Rebuke
 Dame Marjory's tale
 The peasants' insurrection
 The house in Bird's Alley
 Snow and fire
 A sudden change
 The prince's dress
 Off to Greenwich
 An encounter
 When the cat is away
 A daring adventure
 Led out to dance
 Thorns after roses
 Confession
 The blow falls
 Temptation
 True and tried
 A chapter soon ended
 After seven years
 Advertising
 Back Matter
 Back Cover
 Spine






Title: The blacksmith of Boniface Lane
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00083194/00001
 Material Information
Title: The blacksmith of Boniface Lane
Physical Description: 190, 2 p., 2 leaves of plates : ill ; 19 cm.
Language: English
Creator: A. L. O. E., 1821-1893
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Publisher: Thomas Nelson and Sons
Place of Publication: London ;
Edinburgh ;
New York
Publication Date: 1895
 Subjects
Subject: Youth -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Kings and rulers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Temptation -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Lollards -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Blacksmiths -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Peasantry -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Martyrs -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Courtship -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Saints -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1895   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1895
Genre: Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by A.L.O.E.
General Note: Publisher's advertisements follow text.
General Note: Added title page, engraved ; title page printed in red and black.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00083194
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002238783
notis - ALH9307
oclc - 221908433

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
    Frontispiece
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Preface
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The sign of the White Hart
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    Blowing bubbles
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    Rebuke
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
    Dame Marjory's tale
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
    The peasants' insurrection
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    The house in Bird's Alley
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
    Snow and fire
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
    A sudden change
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
    The prince's dress
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
    Off to Greenwich
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
    An encounter
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
    When the cat is away
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
    A daring adventure
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
    Led out to dance
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
    Thorns after roses
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
    Confession
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
    The blow falls
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
    Temptation
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
    True and tried
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
    A chapter soon ended
        Page 184
        Page 185
    After seven years
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
    Advertising
        Page 191
        Page 192
    Back Matter
        Page 193
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text




















































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AN ENCOUNTER.

S7A/r w'as F vwrnchjIrd jf'o, Guy DII)I', hand. "--Page 0o9.








' E BLACKSMITH,
IX or -O -
BONIB FACE LANE
by .PoL-OE-o


THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


Page 93.


T. NELSON & SONS
ZONZ.DON, DIqNBU(- & NE- ---osW.r






THE


BLACKSMITH


OF BONIFACE LANE




BY

ZI. L. @. E1.,
Author of Pictures of St. Peter in an English Home,"
"Driven into Exile," "Harold's Bride,"
War and -Peace,"
&c. &c.















THOMAS NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and rNer York

1895


















9 r e f a c e.



MY tale has a historical basis, and the fiction in it is
but as the wild-flowers and moss which may gather
at the foot of some ancient landmark. We can still
read the inscription upon it. What that inscription
is, and in what direction the finger-post points, will
be seen in the course of the story.

























@fn iN e ins~.


I. THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART,

II. BLOWING BUBBLES, ...

III. REBUKE, ... ...

IV. DAME MARJORY'S TALE, ...

V. THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION,

VI. THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY,

VII. SNOW AND FIRE, ... .

VIII. A SUDDEN CHANGE, ...

IX. THE PRINCE'S DRESS,

X. OFF TO GREENWIH, ...

XI. AN ENCOUNTER,

XII. WHEN THE CAT IS AWAY, ...

XIII. A DARING ADVENTURE,

XIV. LED OUT TO DANCE, ...

XV. THORNS AFTER ROSES,

XVI. CONFESSION, ...

XVII. THE BLOW FALLS,

XVIII. TEMPTATION, .. ...

XIX. TRUE AND TRIED, ...

XX. A CHAPTER SOON ENDED, ...

XXI. AFTER SEVEN YEARS, ...


9
... ... ... 9
... ... 19

.. ... 31

... ... 36

...... 48

.. ... ... 57

... ... 68

.. ... 79

... 88

... 96

... ... 108

... ... 114

... ... 127

136

146

153

163

172

... ... 177

.. ... 184

186











THE


BLACKSMITH OF BONIFACE

LANE.



CHAPTER I.

THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

IT is to London that the reader is introduced; but a very
different London from the vast metropolis at the end of
the nineteenth century was that which bore the name at
the beginning of the fifteenth. Instead of. the enormous
labyrinth of streets stretching in every direction as if to
absorb and swallow up everything green for miles upon
miles, London was then of moderate size; a morning ride
might take a horseman round it. What now are crowded
thoroughfares were then villages divided from each other
by field or common; the wild boar might, roam where
now the omnibus bears its passengers along roads. bor-
dered by neat rows of suburban villas. The Fleet was
then a stream where we can imagine the bulrush grow-
ing and the trout swimming. In Henry the Fourth's





Io THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

days carriages had not been invented, and the cab was
unknown. Ladies rode on pillions behind their serv-
ants, or were borne along in litters. The incessant
roll of wheels, the rumble, the racket, the flow of busy
life from west to east in the morning, with an evening
ebb back to more fashionable quarters, was then in the
undreamed-of future. There were no lines of yellow
gas-lamps at night to dispel the darkness; retainers in
gay liveries carried torches before their masters.
But London was a busy place under the first Lancas-
trian king, though utterly unlike what it is now. If
the city occupied a far-smaller space, that space was
crowded with buildings and swarming with life. London
had no theatres, but it had its mummeries and miracle
plays acted in the streets; amusements which our ances-
tors may have deemed pious, but which we should deem
profane. The narrow streets were made to appear more
narrow by the upper stories of some of the houses pro-
jecting beyond the lower, so that the residents on either
side of the way could exchange greetings with each
other from the latticed casements. There was more of
picturesqueness in ancient London than in the modern,
though certainly less of comfort. The passengers seen
in the thoroughfares were very unlike those who now
make our city resemble a swarming ant-hill. There
throng the noisy apprentices, bent on mirth and mischief.
They have tried their strength ere now against gallants
from the court, and are ready for a row. With jingling






THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.


bridle, yonder rides a fat abbot on his ambling palfrey,
scarcely noticing the bare-foot friar who tells his beads
as he walks along. Beggars with sores sit by the way-
side, praying for alms in the name of Mary; a minstrel
is gathering a crowd around him to listen to some
ballad of Robin Hood, Rhymes of Sir Tristram, or the
Romaunt of the Rose. It would be as difficult to recog-
nize the London of to-day in that of the reign of Henry
the Fourth, as to trace a resemblance between some
portly banker of Lombard Street, with bald head and
spectacles on nose, and the portrait of himself taken fifty
years before, representing the merry urchin just emerged
from pinafores and red-strapped shoes.
Turning from one of the largest thoroughfares of
London as it was under the first Lancastrian king, we
enter a narrow street called Boniface Lane. It is chiefly
inhabited by well-to-do artisans and shopkeepers. Signs
or quaint devices hung over the entrances of shops show
the crafts pursued by the citizens within. Over one,
which we- shall have frequent occasion to visit, hangs a
big painted yellow boot, in size meet for a giant, but gay
with tassels and gilding, as if meant for some fop of the
day. Under the sign, in large gold letters, appears-the
inscription: Peterkin Paton, Bootmaker to the Prince of
Wales. This shop, though it would certainly not-now
hold its own in Bond Street, is rather a favourite resort
of merry courtiers, and has been so since the days when
Richard the Second was surrounded by a gay, giddy





r2 THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

train, who fed on his bounty and deserted him in his
need. Grave history smiles to record the absurdities of
fashion in his reign. "A fine gentleman did not then
think himself well dressed unless his clothes were liter-
ally made of patchwork. One sleeve was blue, the
other green; one stocking red, the other white; a boot
on one foot, and a shoe on the other.

Long beards, thriftless,
Painted heads, witless,
Gay coats, graceless,
Maketh England thriftless."

So rang the rough rhyme of the day.*
There was still a great deal of folly and extravagance
in apparel. Peterkin Paton was said to have won pat-
ronage amongst the gay by his invention of the tasselled
and spangled boot, though some averred that his pretty
daughter, Maid Marian, had something to do with bring-
ing idle gallants to the shop, above which she resided
with her widowed aunt, Dame Marjory Strong.
SOn the opposite side of the irregularly built lane, but
lower :down, is a smithy, with the name of John Badby;
in black letters, above it. Thence from morning till
even comes the sound of the clink, clink, or the thud,
thud ; and the red glow of the furnace and the sparks
from the forge are seen, as the smith, a fine powerful
man in the prime of life, pursues his heavy labours.
Occasionally John Badby pauses, perhaps to rest his
Markham's "History of England."







THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.


sinewy arm, perhaps to glance in the direction of the lat-
ticed casement, above Paton's shop, where there is metal
more attractive for him than the iron which glows on
his anvil. The smithy is a not infrequent resort of
horseman or squire, as John Badby is an armourer as
well as a smith, and can rivet buckler or hammer basinet
for a knight as well as shoe his charger.
Almost opposite to the smithy is a tavern, very unlike
the flaring gin-palace of the nineteenth century, more
resembling the modern village inn, with Good Accom-
modation for Man and Beast on the sign which swings
over the entrance. That sign bears on either side the
device of the White Hart, the well-known cognizance of
the ill-fated Richard the Second. It formerly displayed
a gay prancing stag, with golden branching horns and
gilt hoofs; but the chalky white is now dulled and
darkened by smoke and rain, and the gilding so tarnished
as to be almost black. In the rough January wind the
sign swings and creaks with a dismal sound, as if, like a
hatchment, it were placed as a memorial of the dead
rather than as an invitation to the living.
"I marvel, Master Host, that you do not have that
wretched cracked daub repainted, and made more suit-
able to the time."
This observation was made by a man in a buff jerkin,
with a handsome hilted rapier by his side, and on his
head a .velvet cap with a long drooping black feather.
He, with a blunt, ruddy-faced yeoman, formed the only'






14 THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

customers sitting within the sanded parlour of the
tavern, to enjoy the warmth of a blazing fire, and a
dinner of savoury bacon and beans, washed down by a
cup of sack as regarded the speaker, and a tankard full
of brown ale quaffed by Bob Bolton the yeoman.
"I had thoughts of doing so, Master Guy Dunn,"
quoth the dapper little host, who in informal style had
seated himself on a bench opposite to his customers.
"Says I to my missus" the host pointed over his
shoulder with his thumb towards the kitchen from
whence the sound of angry rating told of the wrath of
mine hostess towards the maid who had let the cat get
at the whey-" says I to my missus, 'We have a new
king, so we'll have a new sign.' But ye see, Master
Guy, we two couldn't agree as to what the new device
should be. I wanted a plume of feathers, in honour of
our merry young Prince of Wales; my wife she stuck
up for a golden mitre, as the Bishop of Arundel now
rules the roast. Well, Master Guy, we were getting
warm over the matter, so says I, 'We'll refer the choice
to honest John Badby, the smith on the opposite side o'
the way.'"
The brow of Guy Dunn darkened. He was a man of
bold presence and handsome features, but when anything
displeased him a kind of lurid glare came into his eyes
which reminded beholders of that in some savage wild
beast's. Almost every sentence uttered by Dunn was
rounded by an oath far too profane to be here recorded.






THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.


He seldom removed his cap, but wore it alike in summer
and winter, in the street or by-the hearth, save when in
the presence of those who would have regarded a covered
head as a sign of disrespect. This cap was perhaps
worn to hide a blemish, for the dark hair, thick and
bushy in other places, refused to grow over an ugly scar
on the left side of Dunn's head.
"And what said the smith on this weighty matter ?"
asked Guy.
"He said that if the tavern were his he would only
have the old sign burnished up new," was the host's
reply. "Says John, Why show scorn to the gallant
White Hart because he was pulled down by the blood-
thirsty hounds ?'"
Guy Dunn started, and his dark eyes flashed with a
dangerous light as he uttered an oath deeper and more
profane than usual. "The fellow had better keep a
wiser tongue in his head," he exclaimed, "unless he
wishes to be hanged like his father."
"His father-Bill Badby-I knew him well. He
was out with Wat Tyler some twenty years gone past,"
observed Bolton, who was rather an elderly man.
"And his son with him," said Guy Dunn. "It's pity
that they did not string up the two together."
"Why so ?" asked the yeoman sharply; "the urchin
was not ten'years old. It would be hard to hang a
curly-pated child as a traitor for going with his dad to
see the fun."






16 THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

"Badby will be hanged yet," muttered Guy Dunn;
"he's a pestilent fellow-a Lollard I" *
If all such are to be hanged," observed mine host
with a chuckle, "ropes won't be had for love or money.
Nigh every third man or woman that you meet is a
Lollard; the last king, it was said, and assuredly his
queen, favoured the new opinions."
"That was in a reign that is past," said Dunn; "the
tide runs another way now. Our present king-here's
a health to him-holds by the Pope and the prelates,
and will trample heresy out of the land. You've heard
of the statute against heretics ?"
What! has that been passed ?" cried mine host.
"What does that mean ?" asked the yeoman.
"Why, it means :that there will be no more dilly-
dallying about dealing with the followers of Wicklif" (a
curse and coarse epithet followed the name); "it means
that bishops can catch-as we would catch foxes and
other vermin--all heretical preachers, schoolmasters, or
writers of pestilent books,-and force them to abjure their
vile errors."
"And if they won't do so ?" asked Bolton.
"Hand them over to the civil officers, to be burned
quick," was the savage reply.
"Has the king signed this ?" inquired the host of the
White Hart. gravely.
Signed-sealed; and he'll stick to it too," cried Dunn.
The name given to those who held opinions like those of Wicklif.
(237)






THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.


A. short silence followed; to burn men for their
opinions was then a thing unknown in England. The
honest yeoman pushed from him his yet unemptied
plate, rose, and walking towards the fire, gazed vacantly
into it. Bolton did not utter his thoughts aloud, but
they were something like what follows:-
Henry of Lancaster has stains-he knows best what
stains-on his soul, and he wants Rome's whitewash to
hide them. The king believes in papal absolution, and
that kind of thing, as being almost as good as the blood
of slaughtered Paynims to quiet a troublesome conscience.
It's hard for Bolingbroke to settle his affairs with
Heaven, unless he threw in the burning of a few Lollards
to be put to the credit side of his account. Maybe
Heaven reckons in a different way from the king."
So Badby the smith had better look to it," continued
Dunn, after the pause. I'll be sworn he has not been
to confession for many a year, nor has burned a farthing
rushlight in honour of any of the saints."
"John has one saint at home whom he serves
devoutly," quoth Willis the host, resuming his naturally
lively, tone. "Badby treats his crippled mother as if
she were a princess of the blood and he her squire-
in-waiting. He carries her up and down stairs every
day."
"How came Dame Alice to be crippled ?" asked the
yeoman, turning from the fire, taking again his seat at
the table, and addressing himself to finishing his plateful
(237) 2






18 THE SIGN OF THE WHITE HART.

of bacon and beans. "She was active as a squirrel
when I knew her, but that was many years ago."
"She got crippled with rheumatism from going from
house to house, and sitting up night after night in the
bitter winter," quoth Willis. "It was a twelvemonth
last Candlemas since Dame Alice was taken with rheu-
matic fever-we thought she would die-and since then
she has never once set her foot to the ground, nor been
able so much as to lift her spoon to her mouth."
"A heavy burden on John Badby," said Bolton.
"Love's labour is light," observed Willis. "Dame
Alice is so patient, so cheerful, so thankful, in spite of
her helplessness and pain, that if there wasn't a saint in
the calendar already for every day in the year, the Pope
need not look farther than her home to find one to fill
up a blank."
About whom are you gossiping ?" asked Mrs. Willis,
a red-faced woman, half a foot taller than her husband,
who came bustling in from the kitchen to get a drop of
something hot from the bar. "Who is the saint of
whom you are- talking ?"
"We were not speaking of you, my dear," replied the
merry little host, with a sly twinkle in his eye.
















CHAPTER II.


BLOWING BUBBLES.

WE will now turn towards the tenement first mentioned
in my story, the quaint gabled house over whose en-
trance, overlapped by the projecting upper story, hangs
the gaytasselled boot, the sign of the craft pursued within.
In the lower part of the building, warehouse, workroom,
and shop, sit cross-legged half-a-dozen apprentice lads,
stitching, or rather chattering away, by the dim light of
oil cressets; for the youths, even in winter, have not the
luxury of a fire. No particular description need be
given of Tom the tough, Sam the sloth, Dan the dolt,
Mat the monkey, Ben the bold, or Lubin the lubber;
the nicknames given by young Dickon, their master's
son, are sufficiently characteristic. Nor need the gossip
of the apprentices be detailed at length. There is grum-
bling at being kept at hammering of soles and stitching
of top leathers beyond working hours, merely because of
the spree of the evening before, of which Tom bears the
mark in a bound-up head, and Ben in a black eye.
They are a wild set, these apprentice boys of old London;






BLOWING BUBBLES.


not one of them knows his letters, or could count up to
a hundred. There is much talk about a bear-baiting at
which Dan and Mat had been present, and a calculation
of the chances of being allowed to go and see the
mummeries to be exhibited on the birthday of Harry,
the Prince of Wales.
"I trow when that boy comes to the throne we shall
have more fun and merry-making than even in King
Richard's time," observed Mat; "young Hal is a deal
jollier than his father. Our master Dickon will come
in for everything going. It's a grand thing to be court
jester to the heir to the throne."
"I shouldn't care to be any one's fool," quoth Sam
the sloth.
"No, you would not part with any of your folly for
love or money," cried Mat the monkey; and yet you've
no lack of it either."
"I don't see what a boy not thirteen years old wants
with a jester of his own," observed Dan in a grumbling
tone.
"He won't ask you to pay for his cap and bells," said Mat.
"Not so sure of that," muttered Dan. "Whence
comes all the money squandered at Ely House ?" *
Not from your pocket," laughed Mat. I'll be bound
there's nothing in it better than a brass farthing, and
that a crooked one too."

The palace of the Lancastrian dukes, as mentioned by Shakespeare,
after the burning of the Savoy by Wat Tyler's mob.






BLOWING BUBBLES.


Ay," said Tom the tough, the lad with the bandaged
head, "we prentices are poor enough, badly fed, and
lodged in a den only fit for rats. But when Prince Hal
comes to the throne we'll have stirring times! We'll
over the Channel, and have a set-to with the French.
I'll go to the fighting, I will! I'll throw away my
last-"
"It will be the last of you," quoth Mat, who was
ambitious to be a jester. At the stale pun the merry
apprentices burst into a general roar of laughter.
"You'll leave off hammering English soles, and take
to hammering French crowns," cried Mat. The mirth
was renewed.
"Hist !" said Sam the sloth; "I hear Dame Marjory's
step above. She may hear our laughing, and get us into
a scrape with the master."
This turned the conversation on Master Paton's elderly
sister, Dame Marjory Strong.
She's a prosy, precise, stuck-up old poplar!" cried
Mat.
A good old soul too," observed Tom the tough. "She
bound up my head yestere'en with her own hands, and
tore up a linen kerchief to stop the bleeding."
"And gave you a lecture on street-brawling, I
warrant you, to make the cut heal the faster," said
Mat. "That's a plaster the dame is always sticking
on."
She swears by Wicklif," observed Sam.






BLOWING BUBBLES.


She never swears by anything," retorted Tom.
"Why, yestere'en she rebuked Master Dickon himself
for swearing !"
"She did, did she !" exclaimed Mat. And how did
the young jester take it ?"
"With marvellous good-humour," was the reply.
"Dickon blushed up to the rim of his fool's cap, and
said, 'It's hard, aunt, to be different from all the rest
of the world; at court swearing is as common as eat-
ing.' It was an ill day when you took up with the
court folk, my boy,' said the dame. I heard no more,
for I had only gone upstairs because I'd been called-I
was not supposed to have ears."
"Unless they were asses' ears," suggested Mat.
"Was the Pink, Mistress Marian, present to hear her
brother chidden ?" asked Sam the sloth.
"Ay, and she looked vexed, as I thought. Mistress
Marian thinks a mighty deal of the court and court
folk, I take it. Besides, the Pink always would take the
part of her twin."
How like they are to each other !" cried Mat; "just
like a pair of cherries hanging from one twig."
"I s'pose Master Paton and Dame Marjory are twins
too," observed Dan the dolt; "they are wondrous like
each other."
The luckless remark brought on the stupid lad a
shower of gibes from his companions.
"Where are your eyes ? in your pocket ?" cried Ben.






BLOWING BUBBLES.


" The dame is more than half-a-dozen years older than
master."
"Where are your wits ? in your heels ?" said Mat.
"Dame Marjory is as straight and stiff as a spear, and
Master Paton has a round back; he has just escaped' a
hump."
"And the dame looks right before her-straight into
your eyes," observed Tom the tough; while master-"
Seems as if he were always peering for pins dropped
on the ground," said Mat, "and grumbling because he
can't find 'em."
The brother and sister have both high noses, and are
both given to scolding," cried Dan, making an attempt
to justify the comparison which he had drawn between
them.
"They don't even scold after the same fashion," said
Mat; "the dame sometimes snaps, but she never snarls."
"And she does not even snap unless she has some-
thing to snap at," quoth her champion, Tom the tough;
"something mean, or bad, or-"
"Hist! the master's a-coming !" cried Lubin. Con-
versation came to a sudden stop, and vigorous stitching
and hammering began.
We will now ascend the narrow oak staircase which
leads to the upper rooms of the house. The largest one,
which is called. the parlour, is strewn with rushes, the
substitute then for a carpet. A log-fire is crackling and
throwing out sparks in a very large fireplace, adorned






BLOWING BUBBLES.


with tiles on which are rude representations of Scripture
stories. There is space in the recess for a seat on either
side-a coveted place in winter, as being the warmest in
the low and draughty room. On the right-hand one,
with a bowl of soapy water on his knee and a pipe in
his hand, sits the bootmaker's only son, Dickon, court-
jester to the boy Prince of Wales.- Dickon's dress is so
odd and quaint that it requires a little description.
A very well-favoured face, with the bright bloom of
the white-heart cherry to which the youth had been
compared, is disfigured by a large clumsy cap of
gay and costly material, rising on either side so as to
represent asses' ears, with a fanciful peak between them.
This peak is adorned with a glittering bell; one hung
in front, and another behind, jingle with the wearer's
every movement. A party-coloured tunic, very quaint
in shape, with two bells suspended from each of the
long pointed sleeves, adds to the tinkle and the fanciful
appearance. This tunic is worn over a kind of short
skirt. Dickon's stockings are tight-fitting, and of
different colours; of different colours are also the shoes,
unlike each other in everything save the extravagant
length of both. The young jester, who has seen but
eighteen summers, is amusing himself by blowing
bubbles.
In the warm chimney-corner, opposite to her twin
brother, sits Marian, Paton's daughter. She is indeed
strikingly like Dickon in outward appearance. The






BLOWING BUBBLES.


height of the two is the same; the delicately formed
nose, the bright complexion, the blue eyes, are character-
istic of both, but there is more of laughing fun in
Dickon's glance than in his sister's. Marian's dress,
though in the extreme of the fashion of the time, would
excite some amusement in the present. The skirt is of
violet silk, full, flowing, and graceful, with a broad
border of fox-skin at the bottom. The strange parts
of the pretty maiden's attire are her immensely long
sleeves, ending in pouches used as pockets, and the
ridiculous head-dress which she wears. This looks like
a long slender extinguisher or steeple, rising above a
broad band, which quite conceals Marian's beautiful
hair. Fashion takes little account of the becoming.
Long wide violet ribbons stream from the extinguisher's
top, almost reaching to the maiden's girdle, on which a
serpent is figured in spangles; the girdle has been a gift
from Guy Dunn.
Almost beyond reach of the kindly warmth of the fire
sits a girl, some fifteen years old, quietly dressed in sad-
coloured taffeta, with a plain girdle of the same. Lilian
has no pretension to beauty-she has been too often re-
minded of that fact to have any doubt on the subject;
though from the girl, still growing fast, it-is difficult to
tell what the woman will be. Lilian is not related to
the bootmaker's family, where her present position is
that of general drudge. The poor girl is of gentle birth
and gentle breeding. She, the orphan of a knight, has






BLOWING BUBBLES..


been adopted in pity by Dame Marjory, who when
present lets no one scold Lilian but herself, and who
teaches her to be generally useful-a valuable lesson
meekly learned by the young maid, though sometimes
a little sharply taught by the dame. Lilian, who can
read and write like a clerk, has hopes of, at some future
time, earning her own living by-copying and illumin-
ating manuscripts. The girl is bending over the first
piece of clear parchment with which she has been in-
trusted, very carefully, with the help of ruler to keep
her letters straight, pursuing her labour of love. Lilian
is copying from an illuminated scroll belonging to Dame
Marjory, and greatly prized by her as a wedding gift
from Wicklif himself. The young maid is so absorbed
in her delightful occupation that she hardly hears a
word of the tattle going on in the room.
"You are too old to blow bubbles like a child,
Dickon," was Marian's observation.
It is what all are doing, each after his own fashion,"
replied Dickon, giving the slight jerk to his pipe which
sent a brilliant ball mounting towards the smoke-
blackened rafters. Kings and conquerors blow bubbles
with blood instead of water, and black powder for soap:
up they go "-the jester's eye followed the bubble-
" and then where is it ? not a trace of it left. The Pope
and his red-hatted cardinals blow bubbles-and big
ones; their swelling words give absolution or excom-
munication; folk stare open-mouthed to see how they







BLOWING BUBBLES.


rise; and then-an honest man touches them-and
they burst !"
"Come, come, Dickon; father says these are danger-
ous subjects," said Marian.
"And to turn to yourself, Maid Marian,.what are
you doing but blowing bubbles-bubbles of vanity,
bubbles of pleasure, amusing yourself by playing with
others' hearts I'll dip my pipe again for you." Dickon
did so, and blew out a bubble, but it disappeared before
it had risen a foot from the bowl.
"'Nothing left-but a tear !" said Dickon.
You are not much of a jester if you can say nothing
more pleasant than that !" cried Marian. "You ought
to talk nonsense, and not take to moralizing, or you had
better throw away your cap and bells."
I'll throw away my cap when you throw away your
preposterous steeple," said Dickon, giving a shake of the
head which set his little bells jingling. You only wear
it to make believe that you are taller than I, when
there's not a thread's difference between us. I've a
mind to stick a few peacock's feathers in my cap; and
then I'll look down from their eyes upon you, for I shall
have reached a still greater height of folly."
The conversation was interrupted by the entrance of
Dame Marjory Strong, not in the best of tempers.
Here's a kettle of fish !" she exclaimed: here's your
father just come home, and he tells me that he has in-
vited Guy Dunn to supper. He ought to have told me






BLOWING BUBBLES.


afore, and I'd have got a pasty or collops ready; there's
nothing but cold pork and cakes of beans and bran in
the cupboard."
Quite good enough for Guy Dunn," said Dickon.
"I don't like the fellow, nor trust him."
Nor do I," rejoined the dame; "but when a man
who is admitted at court is asked to a shoemaker's
supper, we must think of the credit of the house."
By what back-door key Dunn got entrance into Ely
House, ay, and the Tower, passes my understanding,"
said Dickon.
"Well, he comes by the front door here, and the
shop," said Marjory, "and we must prepare a good
supper for him.-Here, Lilian, go to Ford's round the
corner, and see if he has not a capon left, with parsley,
cabbage, and leeks. Maybe you'll have time to cook
them, while I keep the guest in play by talking. Paton
has never a word to say, except when rating the pren-
tice lads."
There is no need for you to talk," said saucy Marian;
"Master Guy Dunn does not come here for you."
Marjory gave her niece a sharp and scrutinizing look.
"Marian, look to it," she said sternly, "or you'll burn
your fingers with your folly. I shall talk to Guy
Dunn, and an old woman's words may do him, per-
chance, more good than the gossip which court folk ex-
change with silly girls.-How now, Lilian, why do you
tarry ? are your feet made of lead ?"






BLOWING BUBBLES.


The girl was putting a delicate border of red round a
capital letter; she started at the rebuke, and from the
effects of that start a drop of paint from her brush fell
on one of the words in the precious scroll.
Oh, I am so sorry; forgive me !" exclaimed the poor
girl in distress.
Dame Marjory did not-reply; she gazed almost sadly
down on the scroll. She was more free from supersti-
tion than most of her neighbours, but in the beginning
of the fifteenth century what woman or man was with-
out it ?
"A drop like blood over the word death," she mur-
mured. "'.Be thou faithful unto death'--a red death,
such as our brethren abroad are suffering now.t We
have had the Black Death in England: that was a
judgment from God; maybe the Red Death is coming
from the cruelty of man."
0 Aunt Marjory, you are always thinking of hor-
rors!" cried Marian. "Do mind something more plea-
sant now, and send off Lilian to buy the capon."
"It's a pity to send out a girl on a cold night," ob-
served Dickon, quitting his warm nook in the chimney.
" I must be off to Ely House, and I pass Ford's shop on
the way; I'll tell him to send a fat capon, cabbage, and
leeks."
In the year 1400 the Waldenses, who resided in the valley of Pragela,
were, at the instigation of some priests, suddenly attacked by a body of
troops, who plundered their houses, murdered the inhabitants, or drove them
to the Alps, where great numbers were frozen to death.-Foxe's Martyrs.







BLOWING BUBBLES.


"We'll get out some nuts and comfits," said Marjory:
"here, Lilian, take the keys." The dame fumbled in
her pouch to find them, then turned it inside out. Out
came scissors, thread, thimble, nutmeg-scraper, and a
medley of other things, but the keys were not to be
seen.
I trow Maid Marian has hidden them," said the
jester.
"I! what should I have to do with old rusty keys?"
cried the girl.
"Look in her sleeves i" exclaimed the merry lad;
and sure enough the bunch was found in one of the
pouches formed according to the extravagant fashion of
the day.
"You mischievous imp! you put them there your-
self !" said Marian.
"Good hiders are good seekers," quoth Dickon, as
laughing he turned on his heel and quitted the room.















CHAPTER III.


REBUKE.

LILIAN went off to the kitchen to fulfil the humble
duties which always devolved on her, as Marian took
care never to roughen her slender hands by hard work,
or blacken them by taking a kettle from the fire.
I wish that you would take off that trashy belt,"
said Marjory abruptly to her niece, as soon as they were
alone. "You have a very good violet one to match
your dress."
"I happen to like this best," said the spoiled girl in a
flippant manner. Marian was the idol of her father,
and in the bootmaker's establishment reigned as a little
queen. The only one who would not bend to her whims
was her resolute old aunt-a clear-sighted woman, with
shrewd common sense, and a clear view of right and
wrong. Marjory strongly disapproved of Marian's
wearing the gift of Guy Dunn, and she was wont to
express her opinions strongly.
"It is unmaidenly in a girl to take presents from a
man for whom she does not care enough to give him






REBUKE.


a heart in return," said the dame, as she took the warm
seat in the chimney-corner which had been vacated by
Dickon.
"Who told you that I did not care for Master Guy ?"
asked Marian Paton.
Guy Dunn with all his pranking is not worth the
little finger of John Badby, who has known you from
childhood, and loves you well, though he can't flatter and
befool, you with the glib tongue of a man of the court."
"John Badby is only a blacksmith," said the girl.
"And you are the daughter of a bootmaker; you are
not so mighty tall, Maid Marian, though you choose to
wear a steeple on your head, to make you look six feet
six instead of five feet five!" The dame closed her
rebuke with a little emphatic snort, the well-understood
sign of her being displeased or indignant.
"I'll never mate with a man who would come grimy
from the forge, with sleeves rolled up, showing muscles
like bell-ropes," quoth Marian.
"Then why do you not tell John so plainly, saucy
minx ? It's worse than robbery to accept true love only
to throw it away."
"John is too old for me-he's nigh thirty," said the
girl.
"A giddy wife needs a sensible husband," quoth the
dame.
"I mean to be a lady; I'll never wed one who wears
not a rapier and a hat with a feather."






REBUKE.


"Fiddle-sticks !" cried Marjory, with a snort. "A
feathered hat may cover a fool's head, and a rapier may
hang at the side of a rogue! Gold is gold, though it
be a little begrimed, and a brass nail, however brightly
burnished, is but a brass nail still. A good son makes
a good husband: look at what Badby is to his mother."
Marian knew that her aunt was right, but the girl
was in a perverse, contradictory mood, and determined
not to be guided. Marian was by no means devoid of
either heart or conscience; if she loved any one it was
the smith, with whom were linked the sweetest, holiest
remembrances of her early days. The child Marian's
spirit had been like some bright, clear little lake, that
reflects back the smile of Nature and sparkles in the
pure sunshine. But after the death of her mother, and
a too brief time spent with Dame Alice, Marian had
been under the care of a weak, indulgent father, who
had never even made an attempt to clear the lake of the
weeds of folly and vanity that grew and spread so
quickly. Marian might have been a different girl if she
had been reared by her aunt, who was quick-sighted and
shrewd; but the little maid was fourteen years old ere
Paton's widowed sister had come to share his home.
Marjory had brought with her Lilian, the orphan of a
poor knight who had spent all his substance in fitting
himself out for the wars, and, dying abroad, had left his
infant child a beggar. Marian, after having had her
own way so long, was little inclined to relish advice or
(237) 3






REBUKE.


brook control. She -was like a child who has been so
pampered with unwholesome sweets that she has lost
relish for wholesome food. No talk pleased Marian that
was not sugared with flattery. The girl feasted on
admiration, and accepted it from whatever quarter it
came. It gratified her to see the stir amongst the ap-
prentices whenever she passed through the room where
they worked. Marian put on the gracious air of a
princess, and would accept with a condescending smile
little posies of half-withered marigolds, though only to
throw them away. Dame Marjory's high indignation
had been excited by overhearing Mat singing a wretched
doggerel rhyme which he had made in honour of Maid
Marian; but the giddy girl was not ill-pleased when she
heard the refrain rising from below in merry chorus
when the elders were out of the way-

Bonny face, bonny face !
She's the Pink of Boniface Lane! "

Thus it was that the affection which the girl had felt
for John Badby in earlier and happier days had almost
died away. He could love deeply, but he could not
flatter. John had even taken the privilege of one who
had loved Marian from her childhood, to give her a
gentle rebuke for some special act of folly. This was
resented by the spoiled girl. Marian might indifferently
well bear Dame Marjory's chiding or Dickon's sarcastic
jests, but for one who sought her hand to think her






REBUKE.


short of perfection was what Marian resented as treason.
She resolved to punish Badby for his presumption, and
it would be only too easy to cause him pain; for the
deepest, most sorely aching wounds are given by the
hand that we love. Marian had no intention of setting
her suitor free, she was too selfish for that, and in spite
of her folly had a conviction hidden in some corner of
her heart that no other man on earth would make so
faithful and true a mate as the Lollard smith. But
Marian, fond of admiration and amusement, disliked the
idea of the dull, sober life which John's wife would be
likely to lead.
"I could never abide living in Bird's Lane, in a house
behind a smithy, with an old-fashioned outside stair I
could never bear seeing after the washing and mending
of grimy smocks, that a smith might look dapper and
clean, at least on Sundays. I should hate having to
wait on good Dame Alice, though I love the dear, kind
woman; but I'd sooner have Aunt Marjory's chidings than
those gentle words which make me despise myself for
being so selfish and silly. I'd rather be a galley-slave
tied to an oar than lead such a life. John must not
look to win me-till I'm forty at least, and have got a
few gray hairs and wrinkles, and learned to be sober
and sad. I'll have my fling of amusement now."
Poor Marian was blowing her bubbles, as some girls
do even in this enlightened age. She knew not how
soon her gaily tinted bubbles would break in tears.














CHAPTER IV.


DAME MARJORY'S TALE.

DAME MARJORY kept to her intention of taking the
lion's share in the conversation which should keep the
guest amused till Lilian's deft fingers should prepare
dainties to make the supper-table do credit to the house.
Paton sat very silent. His hatchet face and high nose
did certainly give him some resemblance to his sister,
but he was very unlike her in manner, bearing, character,
and way of thinking. Peterkin Paton stooped, Marjory
was erect to stiffness; he was silent by nature, his sister
conversed with ease. His view of life was like that
which a man working in a tunnel has of nature; Marjory
took such a survey as is gained from an elevation.
Marjory could read-even write; Paton, the well-to-do
citizen, was content to make his mark. Peterkin was
also a cautious man, avoiding politics and polemics,-one
who, if he was obliged to give an opinion, took care that
it should never compromise his own credit or safety;
Dame Marjory cared not if all the world knew what she
thought. She gave Dunn not a minute's opportunity
of talking nonsense to Marian, making her guest take






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


one of the seats in the chimney recess, and her brother
the opposite corner, planting her own high-backed chair
next to Dunn, so that he was kept in a kind of digni-
fied imprisonment, with the dame for a vigilant jailer.
Marjory bade Marian take to her spinning-wheel, which
the girl did with no good grace; she was a little afraid
of her aunt, and unwilling in the presence of a courtly
guest to act the part of a spoiled, disobedient child.
Dunn was little pleased at Dame Marjory's arrangement,
but he was a man of the world, and entered into con-
versation, as he had done at the White Hart, on one of
the leading topics of the day.
"Your log burns brightly and well, Master Paton:
there are some, I trow, who will find the fire a bit too
hot for comfort. You know, of course, what the Par-
liament has decreed in regard to heretics."
"I don't meddle with such matters," said Paton, and
closing his thin lips he relapsed into silence.
Our king is a pious Catholic," observed Dunn.
Paton made no remark, but Dame Marjory gave an
emphatic snort. The affections of many of his people
still clung to the hapless Richard, the son of the famous
Black Prince, and a king once deemed to be a model
of chivalrous courage as well as of personal beauty.
Marjory was one of those who more than suspected that
Bolingbroke had murdered his royal captive and cousin;
that the once gay and thoughtless young monarch had
come by foul means to his end.






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


"It is said," continued Dunn, after a pause, "that
there is already a warrant out against Sawtre, the
Lollard priest."
"Heaven forfend that they should harm the good
man !" exclaimed Marjory. The hum of Marian's wheel
suddenly ceased, and an expression of fear came into her
face.
"He'll burn !" cried Dunn, with an oath; "he's one
of the worst of the followers of that cursed old heretic
Wicklif."
"No man shall speak so of the holy Wicklif under
this roof!" exclaimed Marjory; "no, not King Henry
himself!"
Ion't you mind her, Master Dunn; old women will
have their say," observed Peterkin Paton, noticing the
fierce start of his guest at the words. "Dame Mar-
jory owed something to the Lutterworth parson, and
can't stand hearing anything said against him now he's
dead."
Owes something-owes everything !" cried the dame.
"No one knows better than you do, Peterkin, what is
our debt to Father Wicklif.-Listen to a tale of old
days, Master Dunn; I've told it often enough, I trow,
but it will be new to you. You were not born in the
year 1348; fifty-three winters have passed since then,
but it is a year that this country will never forget, and
our gray-beards talk of it yet."
Marian resumed her spinning, and her wheel went






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


faster than before; she knew her aunt's story by heart,
and it was one which she never wished to hear again.
Peterkin Paton was well pleased to have conversation
turned from the subject of burning heretics, a new thing
in England; for even Wicklif, though persecuted, had
been suffered to die in his bed.
"I was ten years old in that winter of '48," continued
Marjory; "if I live to be a hundred and ten, I will re-
member that gruesome time. We-my parents, brothers,
sister, and myself-lived merrily enough in a pleasant'
house at Monk's Corner (there's no trace of the street
now). My father had been across the Channel with
King Edward, had fought and conquered at Cregy, and
brought back not only a few scars as tokens of tri-
umph, but handfuls of French gold pieces, caskets of
jewels, chests for dainty spoils, lace-damask-I know
not what more; for there was a lot of plunder, and a
franklin's wife in those days could dress as a baron's
does now."
"Fine days !" observed Guy Dunn.
There was no blessing on it all," said Marjory. The
frippery turned the head of my poor silly sister, and the
notion- of glory turned the heads of my thoughtless
brothers. They had no fancy to .learn an honest trade
when wealth could be had by plundering poor wretches
who had earned it by the sweat of their brows. I was
pleased enough then at our spoils won by blood, but now
I see that the just God's curse was upon it. It was in







DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


'48 that the Lord sent the Black Death, that swept
through England as if the destroying Angel were riding
on the wintry wind, and mowing down men as the
reaper cuts down corn. It spared not village, it spared
not town-it is said that in London fifty thousand
corpses were laid in one field; there were not enough of
the living to bury the dead."
"I've often heard of that plague," remarked Dunn;
"were any of your family smitten ?"
"My gay, pretty sister Marian was the first victim in
our house. She had been Queen of the May in the
spring of that year, and even knights with gilt spurs
had been proud to dance a measure with her on the
green. I saw her but once after she sickened; she was
a ghastly sight. My poor mother hurried me out of the
room, and shut herself up to nurse the sick. She hoped
that the contagion would not spread; but the breath
was scarcely out of poor Marian, when first one, then
another of my bold brothers sickened and died. I did
not see them suffer-my mother would not let me come
near; even if she had not had fears for me, I, little as
I was then, could not have been spared from needful
work,. for both our servants had fled from the plague-
smitten house. Had I not been able to go hither and
thither (though I was nowhere welcomed), there would
have been no food to eat, no water to drink, no one to
do anything in the home. I had to chalk the red cross
on the outside of the door, to make the death-cart stop






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


for the bodies. I made it crookedly enough. I mind
me that my hand trembled as if with ague, for I was
only a child. I think that winter made me a woman
S before my time."
"What had become of your father ?" asked Dunn.
"If father had not been upstairs helping mother, who
would have carried out the bodies ? for we did not want
the rough cart-men to come in," replied Marjory Strong.
"It was a terrible time. I prayed to every saint that I
could think of to save us, and promised my puppet and
my little pearl brooch to St. Catherine if she would only
keep the plague from spreading in our house. I know
better now than to suppose that any saint would hear
my prayers or want my puppet, but I was then only an
ignorant child. One of my chief cares was to look after
my brother Peterkin there. He was then only four
years old, having been born long after the rest of us; so
my parents thought him a prime gift from St. Thomas
of Canterbury, on whose day he was born.-Peterkin,"
continued Dame Marjory, addressing her brother, "even
you remember the Black Death."
"I remember the whipping which you gave me,"
quoth Paton. "You had a pretty hard hand, Marjory,
even when you were but a child."
"I was forced to beat you," said Marjory; "I could
not get you to stop crying and roaring after mother, and
thumping with both hands at the closed door of the
room, which we were forbidden to enter. I thought






42 DAME MARJORY'S TALE.

that your howling would drive poor mother mad, for it
almost crazed me to hear it. Whenever mother had to
speak to me from her terrible watch in the sick-room,
she always closed with the words, 'Keep my darling
away, Madge; keep my darling away!' I had to put
outside the door the food which I brought. I hungered
for a sight of mother, but day after day I saw her not.
She was always thinking of others. But one morning
at dawn, when I brought a pitcher of water, the door
slowly unclosed, and I caught a glimpse of the dear pale
face, for mother had -opened it herself. She was per-
fectly calm, terribly calm, but the first glance told me
that the plague was upon her !
"'Father's gone! the good Lord have mercy on his
soul,' she faintly said. 'I'm smitten; only you and the
darling are left. Don't tarry here, my child; take the
babe (she always thought Peterkin but a babe), and fly
with him to your aunt at Chelsea. Don't stop here-
you cannot save me; I am going after those I have
lost.'"
There was a pause of silence; the spinning-wheel's
whir was not heard, and Dunn listened with some
degree of interest for the end of the story. With a
sigh Dame Marjory then went on.
"It was the first time, I ween, that I had ever dis-
obeyed my mother; but I could not leave her to die
alone, and I'm glad that I stayed, little as I could do.
After a few minutes I do not think that my mother






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


knew me; she had even forgotten my father's death, and
spoke as if he were still beside her But there was one
thing which she could not forget, for she was a mother:
she passed away. with the words on her lips, 'Save
my darling oh, save the babe!' Then, when nothing
more could be done for the dead, I roused myself to care
for the living; my mother's charge was upon me. There
was poor Peterkin again drumming on the outside of the
door, which I had happily had the wit to close behind
me, and crying as if he would choke. To save him was
mother's dying charge; but for that I believe that I
should have lain down and died by her side. I came
out of the room, seized the boy by the wrist, and dragged
him downstairs. He was hungry; there was nothing to
give him but a morsel of stale oaten cake, for I could not
have got milk from any one for love or money, even had
I had a single groat left, but I had spent the last copper.
As I went out of the house I saw the death-cart turning
the corner of the street; that quickened my steps, for I
could not stop to look on what the men must do. I had
just one wish left-to get the child to Chelsea. I went
in what I thought the right direction, but my head was
all in a whirl; for the life of me I could not remember
the turnings. Very few folk were in the streets, and
those that I met were afraid of me, afraid of everything,
as if the Black Death were at their heels. No one
would tell me the way. Twice I tried to carry my
brother, so as to get on faster, but I had to put him






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


down; my strength was almost worn out. At last I
came to a dead stop, for I could not go one step further.
I fell over a heap of bricks, and there I lay, I supposed
to die, yet with a kind of determination not to die till
my duty was done. I mind me that I thought, 'I have
prayed to the saints, nigh a dozen of 'em, and none of
them help me a bit; maybe when there are so many
sick and wretched folk in London, all praying at the
same moment, though there be hundreds of saints, they
can't attend to everybody at once, they can't be in every
place. I'd better ask the good God to help me, for He
is everywhere, and is great enough and high enough to
see and hear all that is going on down here.' So I
prayed to God as well as a poor child could do who was
just desperate with her woe; and," Marjory naively added,
" I have never since asked a boon of any one of the saints,
and never will, for they can just do nothing at all."
"The monks at their shrines would not approve of
that doctrine," observed Dunn with a grin; "they get
fat on the prayers and merits of saints."
"And so do jugglers on the folly of those who believe
on their tricks," was Dame Marjory's caustic remark.
Whereupon the brother, the cautious Peterkin, said:
"Finish your story, Marjory, or it won't be done before
supper comes in." Marjory thereupon took up the
thread of her tale.
"I don't know how long I'd been praying, when I
was startled by hearing a voice above me, 'My poor






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


child, what dost thou here ?' I almost thought that
God must have sent an angel. I raised my eyes; there
was a young priest looking down on me with a kind,
pitying face-an angel in the form of a man. I mind
me that I roused myself to say,' Oh sir! father, mother,
and all save Peterkin here, are dead of the plague, and
I want to get him away to my aunt at Chelsea.' "
"You did not count yourself as one of the living,"
observed Guy Dunn with a grin.
"I could not bother about myself," cried Dame Mar-
jory, snorting impatiently at the interruption. "I had
enough to do to think of the boy," and she resumed her
narration.
"'Chelsea is a far way off,' said the priest, 'and my
mother's house is at hand. She is there to take care of
you till I can find out your aunt.'
"'But, sir, I may have the plague upon me; would
she take a stranger in?' said I. I mind me it was
hard work to get those few words out.
"The reply was softly spoken, but I heard it, though
strange noises were clanging in my ears, and I was
almost losing my senses. 'I was a stranger, and ye
took Me in,' said the priest, but not as if speaking to
me. I mind me of nothing after that but that I felt
myself lifted up gently in strong arms and carried some-
where; and I felt safe, for he who cared for me would
look after Peterkin too. My work was over I could do
no more, only lie still."






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


"You were a brave little wench to have done so
much," cried Dunn, with extorted admiration. I hope,"
he added with an oath, "that such horrible times will
never come again !"
"It's like they may, for there are sins enow to bring
down God's plagues upon us-specially the sin of swear-
ing," was Dame Marjory's fearless rebuke.
Guy Dunn looked more surprised at it than pleased,
and both Marian and her father said to themselves,
" Why does Lilian take such an age in getting the supper
ready ?"
"And now I'll tell you, Master Dunn, who it was that
received two poor orphans, and hunted Chelsea to find
out their aunt, but in vain; for she had fled away from
fear of the plague. I will tell you who was as a father
to the fatherless," pursued Marjory, raising her voice as
she went on: "it was he whom you dared just now to
call 'a cursed heretic;' it was that blessed saint now in
heaven-John Wicklif himself !"
Well, he did you a good turn," muttered Dunn; but
he might be a heretic for all that. Go on with your
story, old dame; if your aunt had run away, what be-
came of you and your brother ?"
"Master Wicklif, after long search, hunted up, a
cousin of my father, but that was not till the plague
had well-nigh died out. This man, who was a shoe-
maker, adopted Peterkin, and brought him up to his
business, but would not be hampered with a girl, espe-






DAME MARJORY'S TALE.


cially one who was sickly, for it was many months
before I got over the effects of that horrible time. So I
remained with the good kind parson and his mother;
indeed, I stayed till I was grown up, and never left
them till I married. Everything that I knew I learned
under their roof. I learned to cook and clean, to wash
and to mend. I was even taught to read and write in
our own honest mother-tongue, for I knew not a word
of the mincing French which at one time was all the
fashion. And I was taught better things besides. I
learned to confess my sins to God, and not to a priest;
I learned to 'flout the wallet of pardons hot from
Rome;' I learned that God gave His sheep to be pas-
tured, not to be shaven and shorn;' and that Piers
Plowman did well to denounce fat abbots, hunting
bishops, and-"
"Here comes supper at last!" exclaimed Marian,
starting up from her wheel.
* A satirical poet of those times. (See Green's ",History of the English
People.")














CHAPTER V.


THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION.

LILIAN, with face flushed by her late employment,
brought in the smoking savoury supper, assisted by
Ben, who was sometimes allowed to help on such
occasions, glad to get some of the scraps left as his
reward. First came the capon, intended specially for
Paton and his guest; cold pork and a pile of coarse
cakes were meant for the rest of the party. The
table was soon spread, and all sat down except Ben
and Lilian: the former had to fill the drinking-horns
with ale or water; the latter retired for a time to take
off her apron and wash her hands previous to herself
partaking of the meal which she had prepared. The
short grace had scarcely been pronounced (but for his
sister's presence Paton would have omitted it alto-
gether), when a footstep was heard on the creaking
wooden stair. Well did Maid Marian know that step;
when she had been a child how often she had run to
meet her "big brother," as she then had called John,
with noisy pleasure, expecting a ribbon or a comfit.







THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION


In early maidenhood Marian had called John brother
no more; another and softer word was in her thoughts
though not on her lips. Badby had been in all the
girl's day-dreams, and John being rather a prosaic name,
Marian had given him the more fanciful one of St.
George; for though he had never killed a dragon, she,
in her fond pride, believed him capable of the feat.
But Marian was now drifting away from her first
love, as a vessel with its cable cut drifts almost in-
sensibly with the tide. John Badby might be-was
a brave man, but even a foolish girl's fancies could
not make him a hero of romance. To call him St.
George would be too absurd. Marian, intoxicated by
flattery, had made up her mind to regard a smith as
below the regard of "the Pink of Boniface Lane," and
was now persuading herself that Badby, by daring to
intrude his advice, had given her cause of offence.
The smith entered the room dressed simply in gray
home-spun cloth, on which not a stain nor a speck told
of work at the forge. John was a fine tall artisan,
with the native dignity of one who never feared to
look any man in the face, for he had incurred no
debt, and bore a character unstained.
"John is as goodly a man as ever trod on shoe-
leather," was Dame Marjory's 'stent comment on his
appearance;" how Marian can ever compare with him
that low-browed, evil-eyed Dunn, I wot not, save that
idle butterflies are ever attracted by glitter and sparks."
(237) 4






50 THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION.


Badby came in bearing on his broad shoulder a
specimen of his artistic skill in his craft. Marian had
complained in his presence of the fuel lying here and
there in unsightly heaps of sticks. These were too
near to the fire, she had said, to be perfectly secure from
sparks from the half-dried log which would sometimes
crackle, sputter, and cast forth like fireworks an angry
shower of sparks. Marian's lightest wish was a law to
one who tenderly, although not blindly, loved her.
Badby had bent his mind to contrive a light iron
frame-work to hold the wood, and many an hour after
his day's work was done had the tired artisan given
to make his fire-fence a graceful ornament, fitted to
adorn a lady's bower rather than a bootmaker's
dwelling.
The smith was surprised to find the Patons about to
commence supper, as he had calculated on the meal
being ended, as it usually was, at that hour; he was
also annoyed at seeing Dunn seated by Marian's side.
However, the unexpected visitor was not taken aback.
He told simply why he had come, and setting down his
gift on the rush-strewn floor, asked Dame Marjory
whether it would be useful. Badby addressed the aunt,
but his eyes sought the niece for whose sake he had
wrought at this labour of love. Marian, in a wilful,
teasing mood, looked down at the plate before her; she
gave scarcely a glance to the gift; she did not even
notice the M so skilfully wrought into the pattern







THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION


which John had devised. Dame Marjory praised and
accepted the graceful present; then, with her wonted
hospitality, pressed the friend of the family to sit down
and share their supper.
Badby had already taken his homely meal, but he
would not decline the invitation, nor miss such an
opportunity of being close to Marian Paton. On the
bench on which she sat with Dunn on her right side
there was ample space on the left, so Badby went to
occupy the vacant seat.
This is not for you; it is Lilian's place," said Marian
sharply: "go over there, where there's plenty of room
by my father."
John's sunburnt face flushed slightly, but he said not
a word; he went to the opposite side of the table, and
seated himself between the two elders. The smith was
of too manly a spirit to betray the deep mortification
which he felt at Marian's open slight. Badby caught
sight of Dunn's insulting grin, but the smith did not
choose to take notice of it.
Dame Marjory skilfully carved the capon, taking
care that John should have his fair share of the dainty
dish; but he scarcely touched the food. There was
little conversation at first, for the dame had had her
say, and, John excepted, all the party were hungry.
Lilian quietly stole into the room and took the vacant
seat by Marian. No one but Badby noticed the shy,
pale girl; but he greeted her kindly, rising when she






52 THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION

came in, and thanking her for some little warm wrap
which she had made for his suffering mother. Lilian's
attempt to give pleasure should not, like his own, have
been made in vain.
Dunn having finished his portion of the capon, made
a vigorous onslaught on the pork, meditating, as he ate,
how he might best annoy the smith, whom he affected
to despise, but whom he regarded with dislike not un-
mixed with fear. Presently Guy addressed John across
the narrow table.
"Squire of the hammer, is it true that your father,
some twenty years agone, was out with the mad priest
Ball and the rebel Wat Tyler ?"
John gave a monosyllable of assent. Dame Mar-
jory, who had no mind to have a quarrel at her table,
with her usual tactics dashed herself into the conver-
sation.
"Yes, Master Dunn, our friend Badby was then little
enough to be perched on his father's shoulder, and so
had a good view of all that passed as it impressed the
memory of a child who knew nothing about poll-tax
or Statute of Labourers, but who could describe well
enough what passed just before his eyes.-John, eat
your supper, it is getting cold; I will tell your story.-
There were thousands and thousands of peasants and
artisans, like a swarm of buzzing, angry bees, assembled
at Smithfield,* and Tyler himself at their head, when
See account in Green's "History of the English People."







THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION.


the young King Richard, mounted on horseback, with
London's Mayor at his side, came suddenly upon them.
I wot 'twas a sight to have feared many older than the
gallant boy, when he saw scythes and poles, hammers
and knives, raised up and brandished on high, and heard
the roar of the multitude like that of waves dashing
up on the Dover beach on a stormy day. But the son
of the bold Black Prince carried himself as his father,
at little more than his age, had done at Cregy.
Richard's proud charger, arching his neck and paw-
ing the ground, seemed to know that he carried a
Plantagenet, and that the King of England. John
could never tell exactly what caused the scuffle which
followed, for he was not close to the spot, but he
heard the loud, fierce cries around him. 'Wat's down !
our captain is slain! Kill, kill, kill!' and there was
a forward rush-the rush of thousands eager for
slaughter, mad for revenge !"
Though the tale was by no means a new one, it was
never tedious on the lips of Marjory, who herself vividly
realized the whole scene.
"Then Richard Plantagenet shook his rein and urged
his steed-not to flight; oh no! He rode forward
with his plumed cap in his right hand, and the breeze
blowing back his light curly hair. He did not flee
from danger; he met it as became one of his race.
The king rode up so close to the place where our
friend here was perched on his father's shoulder, that






54 THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION.

John could hear his clear young voice as well as he
now does mine. 'They have slain our captain! kill,
kill!' yelled the furious mob. 'What need ye, my
masters ?' cried the royal boy; and even the fiercest
stopped to listen as he went on. 'I am your captain
and your king; follow me!' Then caps by the
hundred-the thousand-were flung into the air, and
'Bless him, bless our king!' was shouted from hoarse
throats that but two minutes before were yelling for
blood."
We've heard all this fifty times before!" cried
Dunn, with undisguised impatience. The sun rose
fair, but all its brightness faded with the morning."
"Ay," observed Peterkin Paton, "no one knew then
all the folly, the extravagance, which was to blacken
the day."
"It is not for us to judge our king," said Dame
Marjory severely. "If he grew giddy, poor youth,
looking down from his height, who can say, 'In his
place my head would not have been turned'? There
was no more loyal subject to King Richard than your-
self, Peterkin, when you gave his name to your first-
born son, and tapped a cask of brown ale, that any
who chose to come here might drink to his health.
It pities me to remember the change when I last saw
the poor king, drooping and broken-hearted, riding a
wretched jade, and brought into London like a captive
in the old Roman days, made to grace a conqueror's






THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION


triumph, and then die, with no one to say, 'God bless
him.' *
"He brought it on himself," muttered Guy, his dark
face growing livid as he uttered the words. That face
was not shaded as usual by his feather, for courtesy
had compelled Dunn to doff his cap at supper-time, and
the unsightly scar on his head was no longer hidden
from view.
"When did you last see King Richard ?" asked
Marian of Guy. The girl was weary of sitting silent,
and desired a share in the conversation. Marian wished,
however, that she had not asked the question, Dunn
looked so startled and annoyed: he only replied by
grinding his teeth. As Marian had evidently begun
conversation on a wrong tack, she tried another which
she thought would be certain to gratify her admirer,
and probably give him an opportunity of recounting
some exploit of his own.
"Where gat you your token of prowess,'Master Guy

I cannot forbear quoting the touching description given by Shake-
speare-
"No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home:
But dust was thrown upon his sacred head;
Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,-
His face still combating with tears and smiles,
The badges of his grief and patience,-
That had not God, for some strong purpose, steeled
The hearts of men,they must perforce have melted,
And barbarism itself have pitied him.
But Heaven hath a hand in these events."
History has drawn a veil of mystery over the death of the dethroned
monarch. I have taken my view of Richard's fate from the drama of
Shakespeare.






56 THE PEASANTS' INSURRECTION.

Dunn ?" asked the maiden, glancing up at his scar;
"scarce as far back as the French wars. Was that
blow given by Irish kerne, or one of the wild Welsh-
men who follow Glendower? Or maybe a marauding
Scot put his sign-manual upon you. I warrant me
your good steel paid the blow back with interest."
Even though the remark was playfully made, and by
a fair young maiden, it called up no smile on the com-
pressed lips of the stern man-at-arms, rather the wolf-
like gleam in his eyes that has been mentioned before.
Dunn pushed back his plate, emptied his horn of ale at
a draught, and rose from his seat.
"I forgot-I've an appointment with my Lord of
Northumberland," he said in a strangely altered tone;
"he will take it ill if I overpass the time fixed. Good-
night, Maid Marian; good-night, all." As Dunn glanced
round the table he met the stern, questioning eyes of
the smith, which seemed to be reading him through and
through. Dunn would not quit the room without
sending a parting shot at his rival, a shot which went
deep as well as direct. "Look to yourself, Lollard!
a- warrant is out against William Sawtre, the heretic
priest."















CHAPTER VI.


THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.

WE will now enter another and humbler dwelling, just
behind and connected with the smithy which stands in
Boniface Lane. This is the small house which has
belonged to the Badby family for several generations,
descending from father to son in a long unbroken line.
The tenement was at first very small, merely consisting
of two rooms, afterwards thrown into one. The smithy
was a comparatively modern addition, made by John's
father, who also, on his marriage with Alice, the
daughter of a well-to-do farmer, had built an upper
story to the tiny house in Bird's Alley. The skill of
the architect had not sufficed to manage an indoor
staircase to connect the old part of the dwelling with
the two rooms added above, so a wooden stair was
placed on the outside, somewhat resembling a broad
commodious ladder. There were three entrances to the
little house-one through the smithy in Boniface Lane,
which, as the reader knows, was almost opposite to the
White Hart; a second through a low-browed, rather






58 THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.

worm-eaten door, which opened into Bird's Alley, and
gave- admittance into the parlour behind the smithy;
and the third, the outer staircase which led to the rooms
on the upper story, used as sleeping apartments. The
house is an old-fashioned one, even in the days of
Henry the Fourth. It is very dear to its mistress,
who has not slept away from it one night either dur-
ing her happy wedded life or the widowhood which
had followed about twenty years before our story
opens.
The staircase in Bird's Alley being on the outside,
and visible from the White Hart, Willis and his wife
can see John Badby carrying his mother down to the
parlour every morning, and every evening carrying her
back to her upper room. So regularly is this done that
the merry little host of the tavern avers that the smith
is as good as a sun-dial, as one can always calculate on
his keeping correct time. It is a great enjoyment to
Dame Alice to pass most of the day in the parlour,
whence through the doorway connecting it with the
smithy she can watch her son at the forge. The sight
of the strong man wielding his hammer warms the
mother's heart, as the kindly heat of the smithy warms
her poor afflicted frame. It amuses the invalid also to
see and hear all that goes on, when folk passing along
Boniface Lane turn into the smithy either for business
or to have a gossip with the smith. Narrow Bird's
Alley has scarcely ever a passenger, save when Dame






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


Marjory, Marian, or Lilian go along it to visit the widow,
without passing through the smithy.
A very rare visitor is Dame Willis of the White
Hart; and when she comes she invariably makes her
entrance through the smithy, declaring that Bird's Alley
is too narrow and confined for one of her portly dimen-
sions. Dame Marjory's visits are more frequent, and
she takes many a little dainty with her for the helpless
cripple-fruit, vegetables, or a confection of her own
making. Marian Paton in former times had turned
down little Bird's Alley well-nigh every day in the
week, partly to see Dame Alice, but more to have a
glance from the parlour at John at his forge, and to
give him the smile which cheered him on at his work.
But of late the maiden's visits have been few and far
between; for which her conscience pricks her a little.
Lilian, whose affectionate heart clings to her suffering
friend, gives to Dame Alice all the time that she can
possibly spare from labour at home. And even the
bells on Dickon's fool's cap are occasionally heard in
narrow Bird's Alley, as he goes in merrily to make the
invalid laugh with his jokes, coming back from her
room perhaps a graver and wiser man.
The most welcome visitor of all in Bird's Alley has
been the poor devout parson, William Sawtre, and joy-
fully has his gentle tap at the low-browed door been
heard by the widow, and her face has brightened as,
stooping his form, he has entered the parlour. William






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


Sawtre, a man of fiery zeal when denouncing the errors
of Rome, has been gentle as a shepherd tending a sick
lamb, when ministering to the afflicted members of his
flock. Sawtre might have been described in the words
of his contemporary Chaucer,-

Christ's love, and His apostles twelve, he taught,
And first he followed it himself."

To most people Dame Alice's fate appears a very
hard one, its only change being from lesser to greater
torture, from nights disturbed by pain to nights with
no sleep at all. Willis's wife declares that death would
have been a deal better than such a life; she herself
could never endure to be such a burden to herself and
to others. But worldly outsiders see the trial without
its rich consolations. Dame Alice, on her bed of pain,
unable even to turn without assistance, is far less to be
pitied than King Henry upon his throne. The Grauth
(the religious book of the Sikhs) has a curious proverb,
"The world has the buttermilk, the saints the butter;"
and the quaint saying conveys a beautiful truth. What
is sweetest, richest, and highest is the portion of the
soul which finds its rest in God. Those who look at
the sugar-cane growing behold its hard, tasteless, flinty
rind; the store of sweetness is within, and a crushing,
grinding process but draws that sweetness forth. Alice,
during long, waking hours, draws more honey from a
single text of the Bible, meditated on in the darkness,







THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


than votaries of pleasure can from the sumptuous ban-
quet. She feasts on thinking over scenes recorded in
Scripture, until such vivid realization of them follows
that her little room no longer seems dark; she is stand-
ing by Gennesareth or Jordan, and all sense of loneliness
is gone. Especially Alice likes to think of herself as
the woman bound down by infirmity, who could in no
wise lift herself up, yet she managed to creep to the
synagogue, perhaps because she knew that the Master
was there.
"That poor woman could hear His voice," thinks the
sufferer, "and so can I-in my heart. In sooth, she
could only behold His blessed feet-no more can I; but
the time was coming to her, and so it is to me, when
the blessed Lord would bid her arise and stand erect;
and I too shall rise up and look on His face, and shine
in the light of His smile for ever and ever."
Let us enter the parlour in which Dame Alice spends
the greater part of her day, and look at her humble
surroundings, for her little treasures are around her.
Opposite to her, on the wall, are memorials of child-
hood's days-the sampler with the Lord's Prayer in
scarlet letters, laboriously worked, holding a central
place. To Alice in her meditative moods that sampler
is an emblem of life.
"How that sampler seemed as if it would never be
finished says Alice to herself; "how much trouble
my little fingers had in forming the more difficult







THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


letters! how often I had to unpick, and my foolish
tears fall on the canvas But the work was completed
at last, and with all its faults my father praised it; and
he said, 'Well done, my little child!' and put into my
hand a silver groat, the first money which I ever pos-
sessed. I shall never forget my delight at the prize,
and still more at the praise! Ah yes! that sampler
minds me of life: its tasks often seem weary, but the
end comes at last; and then, even to God's poor, silly
little ones, come the praise and the prize!"
Above the sampler is fastened up the bow which
John's father had often drawn, and three arrows in a
metal quiver deftly fashioned by Badby the smith. The
feathers are hidden by the quiver, the sharp heads are
pointing upwards. These also give frequent food for
thought. The memorials of one dearly loved are fondly
prized by the widow.
"That bow is at rest," muses Alice; "I shall never
again hear the twang of the string, nor see those arrows
whiz through the air But my Will aimed right at the
mark, and the good words which he spake to me and
his little son were as pointed shafts which never missed
their aim. Master Sawtre wrote a little verse about
it,-
'When shall instruction's feathered dart
Most surely reach the hearer's heart?
When love's still tightening cord supplies
The impetus with which it flies.
Pointed by truth and winged by prayer,
It finds the heart, and fixes there.'"






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


On a little table close to Dame Alice are other things
telling of thoughtful kindness: a plate of cates, made
by Dame Marjory after a recipe learned at the house of
Wicklif; a glass brought by Lilian containing water
and a little piece of carrot, a thing in itself not lovely,-
and yet from that carrot, on that cold wintry day, is
springing an elegant plant of the most delicate green.
To Alice it is beautiful as a rose, for it tells of hopes
springing up afresh in life's winter even from what
seems common and only fit to be thrown away. There
is also a precious manuscript on that table containing
the fourteenth chapter of St. John. The invalid cannot,
indeed, lift it up to read it; but that matters little, as
she knows it by heart. The soft cushion behind Alice,
on which the sufferer rests her weary head, was deftly
worked by Marian some two years ago, with a pattern
of lilies and pinks. The lilies are a little soiled by the
smoke, the pinks somewhat faded by the sun. That
cushion often reminds the widow to pray for Paton's
poor silly child. God grant that our sweet Marian
may not be stuffing her own pillow with thorns! May
the Lord give her wisdom and make her His own by
whatever means He sees best !"
There are many other little family treasures about
the parlour which give it an aspect of comfort. Dame
Alice knows that on the wall behind her is a picture
given her by Dickon some years ago, and bought with
his pocket-money as a birthday present for the widow in






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.


return for many an act of kindness. The picture is a
coarse chalk drawing, in bad perspective, representing
King Richard the Second on horseback, and his good
queen Anne beside him, mounted on the side-saddle,
which the Bohemian princess is said to have introduced
into England. The boy Dickon never forgot that he
had been named after the king, and a loyal little fellow
had he been. Though the drawing is rude it has been
executed with spirit, and the likeness of Richard on his
prancing steed gives no false idea of the manly beauty
of the unfortunate monarch. Dame Alice can only see
this picture when she is carried out of the room in the
evening, for it is behind the place where she sits in her
easy-chair, but she likes to know that it is on the
wall.
"Yes, I like to think that our king and queen are
now both of them in a high place, though I cannot see
them. Queen Anne was a saint of God, and had she
lived mayhap her husband might have been reigning
still, instead of lying in the cold grave. I cannot pray
for his soul, for that would be superstition; but he is
in God's hands, and they are more merciful than man's.
King Richard never persecuted God's people; he never
cringed to the Pope. In our king's time that statute
was passed* which hindered, as far as might be, the
The famed Statute of Prceamunire was passed in the reign of Richard. It
enacted that whosoever should procure from Rome or elsewhere excom-
munications, bulls, or other things against the king and his realm, should
be put out of the king's protection, and all his goods and lands be forfeited.






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY


Bishop of Rome from meddling with English affairs.
If our poor king, like Manasseh in old times, committed
follies and sins, God gave him time, in his miserable
prison, to repent, to weep, and to pray. I hope-from
my soul I hope-that King Richard's soul is with God!
I dare not wish him back ; though had he been on the
throne that cruel statute against heretics would never,
I trow, have been thought of."
Such are Dame Alice's frequent musings, which have
brought peace and rest to her gentle spirit.
Her love for her son is also a source of intense
pleasure to the afflicted woman. How good had God
been to give her such a treasure in John! It is not
only his filial affection in which she rejoices, nor even
his high moral character, on which no one could fix
a stain. It seems as natural to Badby to scorn deceit
and lies- as it is for the eagle to soar above the fens
and sloughs of earth. Folk said that John could no
more tell a falsehood than he could play a juggler's
tricks with those strong muscular hands which wielded
the hammer so well. Badby is emphatically a man
and an Englishman; but he is something more, or his
mother's heart would not rest on him with such
thankful delight. John from his early days has re-
ceived gospel truth with the simplicity of a child.
There is nothing between him and the Saviour of
whom hd had heard when yet sitting on the knee
of his mother. The artisan's mind is troubled by no
(237) 5







66 THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY.

doubts; and as for the superstitions prevailing around
him, they are as cobwebs to be brushed away when
revealed by the clear daylight. The smith's faith is
of that kind which a well-known preacher* has de-
scribed in a few vigorous words: "We want workshop
faith as well as prayer-meeting faith. We need faith
as to the common things of life and the trying things
of death. We could do with less paint if we had more
power; we need less varnish and more verity-a
sound commonplace faith which will be found wearable
and washable and workable through life." Such is the
faith of John Badby.
Yet the strong man has his weakness, the brave man
his secret fears. His mother knows well the cause of
his trouble, and keenly sympathizes with him, though
too delicate-minded to touch the wound, as good Dame
Marjory, had she been in the place of Alice, would often
have done. To the mother's heart Marian's unkindness
to John is not a source of unmixed regret. Dame Alice
has never felt sure that the girl is really a Christian,
and if Marian does not value her John, she is surely
unworthy of him. "It is better that his heart should
be gradually weaned from a thoughtless flirt. The
Lord has something better in store for the best of sons.
John will have a sweeter, wiser, holier bride." So
reflects Dame Alice.
Only once has the widow even alluded to John's
Mr. Spurgeon.






THE HOUSE IN BIRD'S ALLEY. 67

trouble; it was by repeating to him a significant jest
uttered by Dickon.
"My dad has been new painting and gilding his big
boot, and it can be seen all along the lane. But the
poorest beggar would not care to have it for daily
wear; were it garnished with all my bells, 'tis but a
painted bit of wood after all."
John made no observation in reply; he understood
the jester's meaning but too well. But the smith's love
is, like his own nature, too firm and strong to be lightly
turned from its object.
"If Marian has left off caring for me," he silently
thinks, "I will go down to my grave unwed; I will
never woo maiden again."















CHAPTER VII.


SNOW AND FIRE.

ON Dame Alice's life of pain, patience, and peace, as
described in the last chapter, the news of William
Sawtre's arrest burst like a fearful explosion. Her
own personal sufferings were forgotten in the distress
which she felt for her pastor and friend. Alice prayed
for his deliverance with a fervour which it seemed must
draw down an answer from heaven. Alice thought and
spoke of the pleading church of early Christians, whose
prayers brought an angel to deliver Peter from prison,
till she felt sure, quite sure, in her hopeful heart that
the Lord would save His servant as He did the brave
three from the fiery furnace.
Ah, how little can even the wisest and best under-
stand the mysterious dispensations of God! His way
is in the sea, His path in the deep waters. If prayers
and tears could have availed to defeat the plan of divine
wisdom, would not the pleading and weeping of Mary
and the apostles have averted Christ's death on the
cross, and so have stopped the offering up of the one






SNOW AND FIRE.


great sacrifice for the sins of the world ? It is only in
another state of being that we shall fully understand
why God permits for awhile the wicked to oppress the
just. It is not here that our feeble intellects can grasp
the truth that all things, even the most painful and
terrible, work good, by God's wisdom, to them that
love Him.
Good when He gives, supremely good,
Nor less when He denies,
E'en trials from his sovereign hand
Are blessings in disguise."

John did his utmost to keep evil news from disturb-
ing the mind of his mother. He offended Dame Willis
by shutting the door between the smithy and parlour;
he stopped Marjory from calling to give an account of
the trial, at which she had managed to be present.
John bribed a crier shouting, "Sawtre's sentence!" not
to come down Boniface Lane; but he shrank from him-
self breaking the news of what that sentence had been.
"Mother will know only too soon," thought the smith;
"and while there is life there is hope. We are not in
Spain or in Rome."
On one snowy morning the meek patience and endur-
ance of Dame Alice were heavily tried. The weather
had increased her pain to anguish; she had not slept
the whole night, and wearied and longed for the
morning. A char-woman called Betsy had been hired
by the smith to attend regularly to his mother's com-
forts; but on that morning Betsy, from some unknown






70 SNOW AND FIRE.

cause, had never appeared. The sun rose, but brought
little light into the narrow alley. Alice had lain all
night on her left side, and now no one came even
to give her the slight relief of being turned round on
her bed. Even John had not brought, as he usually
did, a warm bowl of porridge for his mother, or given a
word of kindly cheer. There was no sound below of
any one lighting the fire in the smithy, nor even the
usual noises which were wont to rise from Boniface
Lane. Not the shout of a boy, or a street vender's
cry, nor voices from the White Hart, broke the weird,
unnatural stillness. In cold, hunger, and pain the
weary woman kept watch hour after hour. Alice could
see nothing outside the house, on account of her pros-
trate condition, except the big falling flakes of snow;
for the window of the room commanded not even a
view of chimneys, unless to one going up close to the
dim leaden-framed panes. The widow lay still, praying
for deliverance for William Sawtre, and the grace of
patience for herself. Occasionally she called out for
Betsy, but no reply came. Never since her illness
began had Dame Alice been so sorely tempted to give
way to misery and gloomy forebodings.
Gloomy forebodings indeed, for in Sawtre's peril,
which so troubled her soul, Alice saw the shadow of
what might to her bring more terrible anguish still.
The wolf of persecution once let loose, who could tell
who might be its next victim? There was another






SNOW AND FIRE.


follower of Wicklif, brave and true as Sawtre himself;
and that man was her son-her joy, her stay, her sole
earthly delight, in a world in which Alice had found
much to suffer and little indeed to enjoy. The idea of
any danger threatening John sent a chill through the
widow's frame far more painful than any caused by out-
ward cold. Alice reproached herself for her fears, but
they clung to her still. The widow asked her own heart,
"Is it want of faith that makes me thus tremble?" But
even her sensitive conscience did not convict her of this.
Our Lord, our blessed Master Himself, was sorrow-
ful even unto death from the thought of a terrible trial
before Him. Christ did not murmur nor resist God's
will, but His soul was bowed down within Him. But
then Christ knew to a certainty what He must suffer.
His people may be saved from what they most dread.
When the Saviour said, IMy hour is not yet come, He
knew that it would assuredly come at last; He had not
the hope of escape that we have. What a constant
trial that knowledge of the future, that certainty of
coming anguish, must have been I have often thought,"
thus mused the lonely invalid, that perhaps when the
Lord was a youth, when His hour was yet many years
distant, and He thought on saving a world by His
death, there was more of joy than of fear in the
prospect. The winning of His great aim, the finish-
ing of His grand work, would look to Christ as one of
the calm stars which shine but do not twinkle look to






SNOW AND FIRE.


us at night. But when the Lord began His ministry,
and met bitter opposition and scorn and shame, then
His coming trials would be rather like a very black
object in the sky, swelling and widening every day as
the awful hour drew near and nearer. Christ would
know it to be the weight of God's anger for a whole
world's guilt, coming gradually, hour by hour, closer
and closer, larger and larger, till, at Gethsemane, it
covered the whole sky above Him as with a horrible
pall. It was coming-a weight beyond that of a
thousand rocks-ten thousand mountains; a weight
that, falling on Him, would crush out bloody sweat,
yea, life itself, from his mortal body; a weight which,
falling on a world, would have hurled it down to the
nethermost hell Oh, what love-what love to endure
all this, and for us! We can never have to bear for
the Saviour one-tenth part of what the Saviour suffered
for us!"
Then Alice turned her weary eyes towards the
window; she sought to draw a lesson of comfort from
the falling snow. What ermine could form a fairer
mantle than that with which the Great Father was
covering the dark-stained earth! Again and again the
sufferer repeated and took to herself the sublime prayer
of King David: "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than
snow." Alice saw by faith the spotless robes worn by
the blest above, and by prayer and holy musings was
strengthened to suffer and be still.






SNOW AND FIRE.


Welcome, most welcome, at last was the sound of
John's step on the outer stair, though Alice could not
turn to see him enter, for the door was to her right.
The widow heard that door unclose, not quietly, as
might have been expected, and John came up to his
mother's bed, silent, and with a slow, heavy tread. He
bent over his parent, kissed her brow, and gently moved
her round. Badby was annoyed at Betsy's evident
neglect; for his mother, in that cheerless, fireless room,
without food or help, had, he saw, been left to loneliness
and pain. But at that moment the sniith had no voice
for words either of anger or greeting. Alice was
alarmed at John's deadly paleness and the deep gloom
on his face. A foreboding fear seized her; she
dreaded to ask the question which was trembling on
her tongue. John sat down; his head drooped lower
and lower, till his broad brow was hidden on his crossed
arms. Not a word had been spoken either by mother
or son. Some emotion too strong for words was agi-
tating the strong man's frame; he was struggling to
command that emotion, so as to speak in a calm voice;
but it was in strangely altered tones that Badby said at
last, as he raised his bowed head, "All is over he suffers
no more."
The words were scarcely needed; John's appearance
and manner had told the worst. Tears gushed from the
eyes of Alice as in a choking voice she sobbed forth:
"The prophet went up to heaven in a chariot of fire 1"






SNOW AND FIRE.


then she added more calmly, "and returned to earth to
appear with the Lord in glory; and so will he!"
John made no reply, he could not; but he dried his
mother's eyes and her tear-stained face, and kissed her
again and again. The smith had resolved that on this
dark day he would light no furnace, strike no anvil;
chill silence and solitude should be his tribute of respect
to the martyr whose form he had seen consumed at the
stake. But the sight of Dame Alice's pitiable state
changed the intention of her son: he must exert himself
for her, he must live for her; much work was on his
hands, and work must be done, or she would suffer.
Mastering his reluctance to turn to any common em-
ployment, John went to the head of the open staircase,
after shutting the door behind him, and shouted to his
apprentice-boy, who was gossiping with some one at the
point where the alley joined Boniface Lane, to light the
furnace at once. John then went himself to get things
ready, and met the char-woman Betsy, who had deserted
her post, and who was coming in an excited manner up
the alley. John knew that Betsy, like himself, had just
come from the fearful scene at Smithfield.
"Not a word to my mother of what you have seen,"
he said sternly, "or you never cross her threshold
again."
Not long afterwards Badby reascended the stair with
a bowl of something warm for his mother. He himself
had been unable to touch any food. John fed the






SNOW AND FIRE.


shivering, starving invalid slowly, as he might have fed
a helpless babe.' More than once the smith paused to
wipe away the tears which coursed down the meek pale
face.
"Mother, Betsy must light a fire here; or would it
please you better to go down to the parlour ?" he said.
"I fear me that you could not bear the movement
to-day."
To Dame Alice anything was better than to be longer
apart from her son; so wrapping her up in a scarlet
blanket, John bore her gently down into the room into
which the furnace fire in the smithy had already brought
genial warmth.
"Bless my soul! how heartless some folk are!" cried
mine hostess in the tavern. She had just come from
Smithfield herself, and had cheered herself after its
horrors by a double potation of ale. "Those Badbys
seemed to tender the heretic parson as dearly as if he'd
been one of their kin, but they take his burning mighty
easy! There's John carrying down his mother to her
snug parlour, just as if nothing had happened; there's
the fire going, and the bellows blowing. Dear heart!
how it minds one of the roaring faggots! No doubt it's
right that heretics should burn; but I can't forget that
sight so easily-not I !"
As Dame Alice sat in her parlour, she could hardly
think of anything but the martyrdom of her pastor;
yet she tried hard to keep her mind from dwelling on






SNOW AND FIRE.


his terrible pain and the cruelty of his foes. The
widow exerted her remarkable faculty of memory to
recall portions of his sermons heard when she could yet
attend his preachings, and words of counsel and comfort
afterwards spoken by her sick-bed, when he knew that
the sufferer could never again kneel in the house of
prayer. Alice gathered up, as it were, what she could
of the gold-dust from the sand of the past. Words long
forgotten now came back to her mind; Lilian would
write them out from her dictation; they would be
precious memorials of the departed, and through them
William Sawtre, though dead, would speak to his people
still. Wonderful comfort came to Dame Alice from this
thought.
"The monks show bits of bone and fragments of
rags, and call them relics of saints," said the widow to
herself. "I trow that the best relics of saints are their
holy words, that, like themselves, will never wholly die.'
But if such soothing consolation came to Dame Alice's
spirit, it did not so come to John's. He worked indeed
with might and main, and an energy which was almost
fierce, but he thought little but on one subject, and that
one of keen pain. A good many people came to the
smithy that day, some for business, more for gossip; for
it was widely known that John was a Lollard, and that
he had witnessed Sawtre's death. But Badby resolutely
closed his lips, and not one word on the subject could
any one draw from the smith. His soul was boiling






SNO W AND FIRE.


over with such fierce wrath that John could not trust
himself to speak. His only answer to unwelcome ques-
tions were fiercer blows on the iron that glowed red on
the anvil before him.
"I say-how John Badby swings about that ham-
mer !" was the observation of mine host of the White
Hart to his portly spouse. "He deals mighty lusty
blows, as if a foe's head were on the anvil, and he would
smash his skull like a nut!"
When evening came, Badby, as usual, after wrapping
up his mother carefully, carried her up the wooden stair,
slippery as it was with snow. As usual, he laid her
gently on her bed, to await the coming of Betsy. Not
a word had been spoken between mother and son, for
the effort and the pain caused by being moved, however
gently, had tried the sufferer so much that for some
minutes Alice would not utter a sound, lest that sound
should be a groan. John Badby then said, Good-night,
mother," and turned to depart.
"What, my son! without our reading; without one
prayer !" exclaimed Dame Alice.
Then the fire which had been smouldering all day in
the smith's heart burst out into fierce flame.
"I cannot pray-it would be a mockery; I cannot
ask God to forgive me, for I can never forgive! I hate
my enemy-I hate Guy Dunn! I should like to strike
him dead!"
Alice uttered an inarticulate exclamation of distress;






SNOW AND FIRE.


she had never seen such fierceness of passion in her son
since the day. when, as a mere boy, he had heard of the
execution of his father.
"How can I but hate him ?" pursued John, clenching
his strong muscular fist. "He has robbed me of my
earthly happiness, he has insulted me to my face, and-
and he was present to-day-present at that atrocious
murder on which the sun would not look ; He looked
-he could smile-it maddened me! Had I been
nearer to him, Guy Dunn should never have smiled
again!"
"Oh, my boy!" began Dame Alice in a pleading
tone; but John was in no mood to listen.
There is no use in speaking to me, mother. There.
is something within me hotter than a furnace. I feel
as if I were possessed by a devil."
"But there is One who can cast out devils, One who
has cast them out !" exclaimed Alice. Christ saw one
of His redeemed even in the poor demoniac who came
running and fell at His feet, but had no power to pray
for mercy. O John, John, down on your knees! you
shall kneel and I shall pray-pray that God, with whom
all things are possible, may give us grace even to for-
give. This is the dark hour of temptation, this is the
wrestling with the power of evil of which our dear
martyr so often spoke; down on your knees. Oh, my
son, you will be given the victory yet!"















CHAPTER VIII.


A SUDDEN CHANGE.

THE winter of that year had been bitter; but the spring-
time came early, and before February was quite over
Nature wakened to joy. The peasants who came with
butter and green cheese from Kent brought also bunches
of violets and primroses culled from the lanes, and Dame
Marjory bought a huge basketful of fragrant cowslips
to make into wine. The larch "hung her tassels forth,"
and birds feeling the breath of the sweet south wind
burst into early song. The sun smiled even on smoky
London, and its citizens talked of sports, jousts, and
merry-makings, as if no terrible crime had been so
lately on that snowy, wintry day. Specially were the
revels and mummeries which were to celebrate the
birthday of young Prince Harry the theme of almost
universal gossip. Little did the Badbys care to hear of
what was almost an all-absorbing topic, their memories
of the past were too vivid and sad. Dame Alice now
saw Lilian daily; the girl came early and stayed late,
and her presence was a solace to the widow. Lilian






A SUDDEN CHANGE.


felt as little weary of writing down the martyred Saw-
tre's words as Alice did of dictating them to her
companion. The girl wondered at her afflicted friend's
remarkably retentive memory, and accepted with lowly
joy the holy task of gathering what the widow called
"gold-dust" from the ashes of the sainted dead.
"I can't grudge Lilian to Dame Alice in her trouble,"
observed Marjory to her nephew Dickon, who had come,
as he not unfrequently did, to pay a visit to his home.
"I wot that Lilian's is a blessed task; but her absence
throws almost all the work of the house upon me-the
dusting, the cooking, the mending, the marketing. Lilian
is a good, useful girl, and will grow up in time to be a
capital housekeeper; but Marian, with the follies and
fripperies, will never so much as wipe out a dish !" As
Marjory spoke, she lifted up a caldron of something
very savoury from the fire; for she and Dickon were in
the kitchen, which was not on the ground floor, but
directly behind the parlour.
"Why don't you make Marian work ?" asked the
jester.
Work !" repeated Dame Marjory with her indignant
snort; "why, she'd have to tuck up her enormously
long sleeves, and put off her ridiculous fool's cap, as I
call it, though it has ribbons instead of bells. Her
father spoils the girl; the fine folk talk nonsense to her.
Marian will never work; she thinks all are born to work
for her."






A SUDDEN CHANGE.


"I'll make Marian work," quoth the young jester,
merrily shaking his jingling bells. "Promise me six of
the dainty little pork-pies which I see that you are
going to make, and I'll set my twin to good steady work
ere the day is an hour older."
"You may get her to sew some fine kirtle for herself
if you give her grand silk and fanciful trimming," quoth
the dame, as she stirred vigorously with a wooden spoon
the savoury brown mess which she had poured into a
large bowl. "I would give you a dozen pies instead of
six if you would make Marian turn her hand to any-
thing that would either bring money or save it."
"A bargain!" cried Dickon eagerly. "I'll get Marian
to work like a tailor, and earn money, yes, as much in
one day as our six prentices together could get in a year
if they cobbled from morning till night."
"This is one of your jests, silly boy!" said Marjory.
"You will never get Marian to prick one of her dainty
fingers with a needle."
"She shall use up needles, scores and scores o' them,"
cried Dickon, laughing. "I've got a parcel of work for
her here, and I'll see that she does it, and does it well.
I'll be as sharp after the Pink as if she were a starveling
prentice. If I don't make my word good, I'll fling cap
and bells into that kitchen fire, and never crack another
joke nor eat another pie in my life."
Dame Marjory was little given to laughing, especially
after all that had happened, but she could' not resist
(2s7) 6






A SUDDEN CHANGE.


giving a chuckle. "Then there's some chance of your
feather-brain getting some wisdom at last," quoth she.
But there are conditions to my bargain," said Dickon,
as he cleared with his finger what was left of the
tempting concoction in Marjory's wooden spoon. The
jester was rewarded for this by a sharp rap over his
knuckles inflicted by his aunt.
"But there are conditions to my promise," repeated
Prince Harry's jester. You must let me manage Marian
entirely in my own way. You must let her sit behind
the old tapestry screen in the parlour, and never peep to
see how she gets on with her work, nor ask a single
question about what she is making. If you break my
conditions, I'll just throw up the whole affair: I can get
pies enough and to spare at the palace."
"I accept the conditions," said the dame; "I'm too
busy to go peeping behind screens. But will you
warrant me that the work is honest work ?"
"Of course it is," was the jester's reply. Dickon
looked a little hurt at the question being asked, but in
a moment the shadow of displeasure passed away from
his comely young face. "I hear Maid Marian trilling
,her Robin Hood lay in the parlour; I'll go and stop her
song, and set her lazy fingers to work !" After turn-
ing heels over head as a graceful way of quitting the
kitchen, the light-heeled and light-hearted youth opened
the door between it and the parlour, and in another
minute was seated beside his twin sister. Dame Mar-






A SUDDEN CHANGE.


jory heard nothing of the conversation which passed
between them, as Dickon took care to close the door
behind him. Before relating that conversation, I will
make a little digression in order to inform the reader
how Dickon came to hold his strange position of jester
to the prince.
About two months before this story commences, at
nearly the close of the preceding year, Peterkin Paton,
his family, and his six apprentices, had been put into a
state of excited expectation by a tall fellow in gorgeous
royal livery approaching the sign of the tasselled boot.
Such an apparition had never before been seen in Boni-
face Lane, and mine host of the White Hart and his
buxom dame watched with curious eyes to see whether
the royal serving-man would stop at Paton's door. The
messenger entered the shop, and pompously, as if he
carried the dignity of an ambassador from royalty on
his gilded jerkin, gave command that an assortment of
boots, suited to the size of the foot of the heir to the
throne, should be taken to Ely House. This was the
mansion of the Lancastrian dukes, in which John of
Gaunt had lived and died after his palace of the Savoy
had been burned by Wat Tyler's mob. Ely House, as a
more cheerful residence than the Tower of London, was
at this time used as a royal palace.
Great was the exultation of Paton on finding that the
fame of his tasselled boots had reached royalty itself,
and great also was his perplexity in obeying the order.







A SUDDEN CHANGE.


It was doubtful whether his store contained a single pair
small enough to fit the young prince's foot; but, of
course, one could be made to order. But who was to
go to Ely House to take the measure ? There was
much discussion in the parlour upstairs, much conjec-
ture in the workshop below, as to who should be
the privileged individual who should carry the boots to
the palace and try them on the young prince. Paton
himself never stooped his back or bent his knee to a
customer; but then he never before had had one who
was royal.
Send Dickon with the boots," cried Marian. I only
wish that I could go myself. Dickon will make his
way with the prince, and tell us all about the court
when he comes back."
Accordingly Dickon, the blue-eyed, beautiful youth,
set forth in high glee for Ely House, one of the appren-
tices following him as far as the palace to carry the bag
of boots. Dickon went gaily enough, but returned with
a curious expression on his face, partly pleasure, partly
pride, partly perplexity also.
Of course the youth was eagerly questioned, especially
by Marian: What said the prince ? how did he look ?
was he gracious and condescending ?"
"So gracious," returned Dickon, smiling and blushing,
"that in return for my putting tasselled boots on his
feet, the prince wants to adorn my head with-a pair of
asses' ears I"






A SUDDEN CHANGE.


"Talk sense, if you can," said Dame Marjory. The
words sound sharp, but they were spoken with a
grim smile. The good dame was rather fond of her
nephew.
"Tell us all that passed," cried Paton from his warm
seat in the chimney-corner. He had just cast a thick log
on the fire, and now leaned back to listen.
"I need not describe trying on of boots-we all know
something about that," said Dickon; "and there's no
mighty difference between a prince's foot and another's.
But as I knelt before the king's son, and looked up in
his face to see if he liked the fit, Prince Hal smilingly
said, 'Methinks you were hardly made for the cobbling
craft. Do you like your occupation, fair lad ?' 'If I
don't, what boots it ?' quoth I."
0 Dickon did you dare to jest before the prince ?"
cried Marian.
Why not ? he's a boy, and likes fun. Prince Hal
smiled, and that made me go on, for I was in a right
merry mood. Says I, 'I look on a boot, your grace, as
an honourable emblem of kingly power.'"
"Well, if you are not the most brazen-faced urchin !"
began Dame Marjory; but Marian, in a fever of curi-
osity, cried out, "Go on! go on!"
"'How make you out that?' asked Prince Hal.
'May it please your grace, the boot is the sole ruler,
and tramples down everything in its way. Moreover, it
keeps the toes, big and little, in order; it protects them'







86 A SUDDEN CHANGE.

(' Not bad,' muttered the prince; but I could not help
adding), 'and sometimes squeezes them too.'"
"0 Dickon!" exclaimed all present, in varied tones
of surprise, reproof, and amusement. Marian added,
"How did the prince take that ?"
"He threw himself back on his velvet chair and
laughed, and all the courtiers laughed too, for they follow
the prince's lead. I warrant me if he sneezed there
would be sneezing all round the room. When Prince
Hal had had his laugh, he said, 'Do the squeezed toes
ever take to rebelling against the royal boot?'
"'There's a break-out every now and then,' said I,
for I thought of Wat Tyler's rebellion, 'specially if
there's any corn in the question.' That made the prince
and courtiers laugh again, they seem to be so easily
tickled. 'And what comes of such outbreaks ?' asked
the prince. 'Matters are usually patched up,' replied I;
'otherwise government would be bootless.'"
"And what came of all your pert folly ?" asked
Dame Marjory, more amused than angry.
"The upshot of it all was that the prince declared
that I was born to be a jester, and his jester I should
be, if it cost him twenty marks, i' the twelvemonth.
He wanted to order a suit of motley at once; but I felt
so dazed and bewildered at the thought of being turned
from a bootmaker into a fool, that I begged for a day
to think over the matter, and so I came here."
There were very various opinions in Boniface Lane






A SUDDEN CHANGE. 87

regarding the advisability of accepting the prince's offer.
Marjory, no friend to the Lancastrian line, strongly
objected to Dickon's taking service under the grandson
of John of Gaunt; Dame Alice feared that the boy's
principles would be corrupted and his character degraded
by such a way of earning his living. Lilian did not
presume to advise, but she was greatly distressed.
Paton's desire for court patronage for himself and his
son, Marian's eagerness for any kind of connection be-
tween Boniface Lane and the palace, and Dickon's own
fancy for the fun and amusement which would fall to a
jester's lot, before very long turned the scale. It was
thus that the bootmaker's son became jester to Harry
the prince.















CHAPTER IX.


THE PRINCE'S DRESS.

"MAID MARIAN, I've just come from Ely House," said
Dickon gaily, but in a subdued tone, to his twin sister.
We're having rare fun in preparing for the fete that is
to take place on Madcap Harry's birthday."
Marian was fond of her twin, and Dickon had perhaps
as much influence over her as any other member of the
'family possessed. She loved his mirth and his jests,
though the latter were often cuts at herself. Marian
owned that to hear anything about the court was to her
like nuts and honey. Marian tried to draw out from
her brother everything about the princesses and princes,
what they wore and what they ate; Thomas, John,
Humphrey, and their sisters-their names were to her
familiar as household words. With such a willing
listener as Marian, Dickon's tongue rattled on merrily
enough.
We're all laying our heads together, wits and wooden
pates alike, to invent something new and curious for our
merry young prince to wear on his birthday. Says he,






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


'I'm tired of all the old fashions, and I hear that Harry
Percy will come in a rare new suit, which has just
arrived from the court of France. I must have some-
thing cunningly wrought, and perfectly different from
anything worn before. I'll give my glove full of gold
pieces to any one who will invent a quite original dress
for me to wear at the birthday banquet.'"
"And what said the courtiers ?" asked Marian, with
more than the usual curiosity which is attributed to her
sex.
One proposed this thing, another that," quoth he
with the cap shaped into asses' ears: "stuffed birds to
be worn on the head-wreaths made of feathers, or
shells-horses' tails-I wot not what else. But nothing
pleased Prince Hal; he said that nothing was new. I
let all have their say, and then I burst forth into a
poem! I can rhyme like Chaucer or Longlande, and
when I'm too old to be a fool, I mean to set up trade as
a poet. There's a kind of connection between the two
crafts."
"You giddy goose!" laughed Marian. "Let's hear
what you said to Prince Hal."
Dickon waited for a few seconds, with his finger
raised to his downy lip, in a comical attitude of reflec-
tion; for he had not yet written down his doggerel (that
task was reserved for Lilian), and to repeat it fluently
required an effort of thought. But when the jester's
lips unclosed his words came out readily enough, as he






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


himself remarked, "like mead out of an uncorked
bottle." This was the poem of Dickon:-

I promise Prince Harry a dress neat and tight,
Graceful and light, fit for a knight,
With hundreds of weapons glittering bright;
Full of holes as a beggar's rags,
Yet spruce and spry, with tassels and tags;
Full of eyes as a peacock's tail,
Glittering steel, like a warrior's mail,
Fashioned by maiden's snowy hand,-
The quaintest dress in merry England."

"0 Dickon, you promised what you could- not per-
form !" cried Marian, laughing.
"I can perform. And you shall make the surcoat,
Maid Marian; and, what is more, I have the materials
there in yon bundle. If you do my bidding, you shall
have the boy prince's gloveful of golden bits."
Marian arched her eyebrows and drew in her cherry
lips at the idea of winning such a wonderful mine of
wealth. She was very impatient indeed to see what the
bundle contained, and could scarcely wait to let Dickon
unfasten the wrappings.
"Soft and slow, Maid Marian, or you'll crumple the
dainty satin. What do you think of this ?" he asked,
holding up the material to view.
"It's a pretty bit of satin, blue as forget-me-nots or
your own merry eyes, but there's nothing very novel in
that. There is gold-coloured silk to work it with, -a
good deal more than is needed; but oh, you knight of






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


the asses' ears! what made you bring all these packets
of needles, enough to last for a lifetime ?"
"The whole point of the matter lies in these needles'
points," quoth Dickon, sinking his voice to a whisper,
and glancing suspiciously towards the closed door,
though he could hear Marjory's heavy tread in the
kitchen. "Look you, Marian, I've marked out all the
pattern myself; every dot shows the place for an eyelet
hole, to be worked with the gold-coloured silk, and from
each hole, suspended by its thread, must hang the needle
which worked it. Graceful and light." *
"You can never mean that I am to make an eye-
let-hole over every one of these dots ?" interrupted
Marian.
"Every one; not one dot to be missed. I meant to
mark out a thousand, but my patience failed me, and
the pattern comes short of that number by a hundred
or more."
"I'm sure that my patience will fail me," cried
Marian; "I should be months making so many holes."
"Only about a hundred a day: you've almost nine
days for the work, not counting the Sundays. But you
must set about it at once, and never get off your seat,
save to snatch at a meal. See, I've threaded the first
needle for you; you'll get sharp at threading by prac-
tice. Here's your little boring sharp-pointed bodkin;

For a description of this very original and fantastic dress see Mark-
ham's "History of England."






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


stick it in bravely, Maid Marian-stick it right through
the satin; deem it a spur, and off and away!"
Marian was exceedingly amused and somewhat flat-
tered by being chosen to work for the prince. But she
was alarmed at the length of the task assigned her. "I
shall get in a couple of tailors to help me," quoth she.
"Not for the world-not for the world! exclaimed
Dickon the jester; the tailors would be certain to blab,
and the whole secret would ooze out. You must work
every stitch yourself; not even Lilian must help you, or
even look at the dress. Quick don your thimble, Maid
Marian; go at the work briskly, as a knight tilts at the
ring, or no gloveful of bonnie bright pieces for you."
The bribe was large, the work attractive, and Marian
plunged with girlish eagerness into her new employment.
She stitched as if stitching for life. Marian grudged
the time for meals; hardly spoke a word at table, that
she might eat the faster; and before any one else had
finished, she rushed back to her corner behind the
screen. "Dickon has worked a miracle," said Dame
Marjory, with a grim smile: "he has set Marian to
working like mad; but this new freak will not last."
I think that my girl has gone crazed !" cried Paton;
"she has worked till her finger is rough and bleeding!"
She'll oversleep herself to-morrow; she usually does,"
quoth Marjory. "I'm up, and Lilian is up for hours,
before Marian leaves her pillow. She's a lazy lass to
want a pillow at all."







THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


But on the following day Marian was up and at her
work before even the apprentices came yawning into the
room below to begin the labours of the day. No appren-
tice worked so hard as the Pink of Boniface Lane.
When, after breakfast, Dickon dropped in to see his
sister, she greeted him with bright though aching eyes,
and held up the blue satin in girlish triumph. "I've
done ninety-nine eyelets !" she cried.
After a fashion," quoth the jester, examining the,
work with critical eyes. "You've not half worked
round these holes, Marian; and look here these stitches
are already coming out. These holes are not round, the
last three are crooked; one can't do such scamp work
for a prince. This row of eyelets must all be worked
over again!"
Oh, nonsense !" cried Marian with impatience; who
cares for a little eye being a trifle awry ?"
"If it were one of your eyes you would mind it,"
said Dickon the jester; anyways, what you do must be
neatly done. I'll keep one of the gold marks for myself
for every hole that you leave so untidy as this."
Dickon proved a pretty strict overseer, and Marian's
working skill improved by practice. Every one was
astonished at the perseverance which she showed day
after day. Visitors were not admitted to see her; even
Guy Dunn when he called was astonished to hear that
the bootmaker's daughter was too busy to let any one in.
Dame Marjory rubbed her hands in satisfaction at this.






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


"Here is a change !" she observed to Lilian. I should
have as soon expected a jackdaw to turn into a sober
domestic fowl as Marian to become a steady seamstress.
Wonder will never cease! I almost think that I can
venture on the journey which I've long been wanting to
make to Greenwich, to look after the cottages left to me
by my husband, which, I hear, are falling out of repair.
Willis of the White Hart would lend me his horse, and
-I'd ride on a pillion behind my brother-no new-fangled
side-saddles for me."
The many hours which Marian spent over her monot-
onous task were not entirely without profit as regarded
her mind. It is true that the maiden's thoughts dwelt
much on the vanities of high life, of which she so
eagerly longed to know more; but plans for spending
the money for which she was labouring so hard often
occupied her mind. Marian had selfish projects indeed,
but others that were not selfish. If Marian enjoyed the
idea of buying for herself pretty trinkets and lace, she
was also pleased at the thought of astonishing Lilian by
a gift of gold paint for illuminations-a thing which the
orphan greatly desired; and Dame Marjory should have
a new brooch, the pin of her old one having broken
away.
I'll buy an hour-glass for father," said the girl to
herself, "and a little round mirror for Dickon. I
wonder how many gold pieces would go into the glove
of a boy ? I wish that the prince's hand were larger !"


94






THE PRINCE'S DRESS.


Marian often changed her little plans, but there was one
which she never changed-it was to purchase a soft
warm hood for Dame Alice.
"It would be such a comfort to her," reflected Marian,
"and look so nice round the sweet pale face; and"-
the maiden coloured a little at the thought-" my gift
would so please poor dear John. I have treated him very
badly, and he is troubled and sad at the loss of his
friend. I know that John thinks that I flout him, and
he never comes near us now. If I give the pretty hood
to his mother, it will be an easy way of saying 'I'm
sorry,' and I am sorry just a little for being unkind. I
shall not be always so giddy and foolish. Perhaps a
day may come when I will make amends-" Marian
stopped to thread her needle; and even this trifling
action sufficed to turn her thoughts in another direction,
for the needle broke in her hand.















CHAPTER X.


OFF TO GREENWICH.

DAYS wore on, and Marian Paton was vigorously stitch-
ing still. The prince's birthday would fall on a Monday,
and the preceding Friday had come. On that day
Dickon came to Dame Marjory in her usual haunt, the
kitchen, with a rueful expression of pain on his face.
"I've a horrible toothache," said the poor lad, press-
ing his hand over his mouth. "You've skill in healing-
herbs: have you no lotion to stop this throbbing, mad-
dening pain ?"
"I'll do my best," replied his aunt. "You've caught
cold from the east wind, I take it, and must tie up your
face."
"I've asked leave to stay at home for a few days,"
said poor Dickon. "I can't keep. out of draughts or
wrap myself up at the court, and when I'm half crazy
with pain it's hard to be cracking jokes. A jester is
never supposed to have a commonplace ache like other
folk; he's bound to be always wagging his tongue what-
ever be the state of his teeth. So I'm allowed to stay






OFF TO GREENWICH.


here till Monday. At home I can overlook Marian's
work, be glum if I like, silent if I like, doff my fool's
cap and bells, and don a good flannel wrap round my
mouth to keep out the cold."
"Well, if you are going to stay here till Monday
evening, that removes all difficulty about your father
and myself making a journey to Greenwich, which I
have been so long wishing to do. I could not have left
the two girls alone; but you'll be as good a guardian
as-"
"As father and aunt put together!" cried Dickon,
making a wry face as a keen pang shot through his
fang. "I'll see that the prentices below don't go merry-
making or brawling in the lanes; if they sing any of
their saucy songs, I'll be down upon them in a twink-
ling. I'll keep the whole concern in tip-top order, and
-but oh, this horrible tooth! A grimace followed
which excited as much mirth as pity, for Dickon made
even his aches seem funny.
A journey to Greenwich in the days of Henry the
Fourth was a more serious affair than one from London
to York in our own. Dame Marjory had not revisited
for years the home in which she had spent her married
life; not indeed since she had left it after the death of
her husband. Travelling at that period was even accom-
panied by a little sense of danger to give it zest. Peter-
kin must take his quarter-staff, for footpads might be
encountered. The roads, seldom mended, were likely
(237) 7







OFF TO GREENWICH.


after winter to be in a dreadful state; but Dapple was
sure-footed and up to weight, for had he not carried the
host of the White Hart with his stout wife on a pillion
behind him ? DapplW was indeed much like a modern
cart-horse, and had often been used to bear heavy packs.
Dame Marjory felt the expedition before her to be
quite an event in her life, but had some misgivings as to
what might happen during her absence. On Saturday
morning she went into the kitchen, where Lilian was
busy in preparing the early meal which must be partaken
of by the travellers before starting on their long ride.
"Lilian, my girl, you're the only one left in the house
with a head; I'll leave my keys with you," quoth the
dame. "You must keep special watch over Marian,
and let no stranger into the house; specially keep out
that fellow Guy Dunn. I've no mind to have him come
idling about whilst I'm away. To-morrow, you know,
is Sunday; none of the idle prentice boys must enter
the shop below or the rooms above, they've their own
den to bide in. Keep them out as you would keep
rats; they've their Sundays to themselves, and may go
about and do as they list."
"Sunday is a dangerous day to the poor lads," ob-
served Lilian.
"I don't deny that," quoth Marjory : "the rogues get
into more trouble on their idle Sundays than in the six
working days put together; they ramble about, get into
taverns, and endless rows and mischief. I'm taking




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