"Good lack," said she, "I know not what labours to set you to; for you must surely 강남오피 not go outside the house lest you should be noted."

"But I thought no one ever came here save the crows and the gulls," he answered.

"Human folk come not often, indeed; but of them one were too many. Also, latterly, there have been more strangers on the road, tramping from Lynn—pedlars, and fiddlers, and such like—and small pity have they on our hen-roosts. And if any such wandered hither and saw you, they might tattle."

"You are right," he answered gravely, "I will put you to no needless risks, yet somewhat I must do to keep——" He broke off suddenly. "Your pistols are in sorry case, Mistress Perrient," he went on in a gayer tone. "I pray you let me clean them."

"'Tis five long years since they were touched," she answered; "not since the day of the blue-coated serving-men you saw come riding out of a ballad. Take them, sir, the pretty toys may serve to while away a dull day."

The laughter faded from Harrison's face as he sat in his chamber oiling the pistols. The smooth touch of the trigger under his finger, and the click of the lock, brought back the memory of many a past fight when hope was high and blood was warm. "Truly we fought our best," he murmured, "and no man counted the cost or grudged his blood to the cause. Was it indeed in vain? What does this people care for liberty, when they are even now holding festival over the forging of their new chains!"

He was roused from his brooding by steps under the window. From the shelter of the curtain Harrison saw a swaggering figure in tawdry finery lurch into the yard where Audrey was scouring her milk-cans by the pump. It was a figure he remembered only too well. What cursed chance had brought that knave Astbury begging at Inglethorpe? And was it chance? The rascal might have dogged him. Richard pressed close to the window and listened.

"Good mistress," began the whining voice, "here is a poor soldier, come home after his blessed majesty, and hath ne'er a groat to carry him up to London to seek the king's grace."

Audrey's first words in answer were inaudible; but then her voice rose higher.

"I tell you I have nought here for you. Go down to the cottage yonder, and perchance the good wife may find you some broken meat."

The fellow persisted in his demands. His actual words were inaudible to the listener behind the curtain, but there was no mistaking the canting professional tone, the whine which presently grew to a bullying roar, when the ruffian found that no one else appeared about the place or came to support the girl. The sound of that threatening voice was too much for Harrison's prudence. Still holding the empty pistol in his hand, he darted downstairs and reached the door just in time to see the ruffian dash forward to seize the terrified girl, as he roared with coarse jocularity—

"As ye'll give me no meat, I'll e'en take the sweet."

Audrey sprang back with a shriek, but with one bound Harrison was out of the door and beside her, and his strong hand sent the ruffian staggering against the wall.

For a moment the bully stopped, uncertain whether to fight or fly, but then, discovering who his assailant was, he shouted—

"You cowardly Roundhead, you played me a scurvy trick t'other day, now I'll be even with you," and pulling out a long sailor's knife, he rushed on Dick; but as he raised his arm, Dick's hand went up too, and Astbury found himself looking into the black muzzle of a great horse pistol.

"Back, cur!" roared Dick, "or I'll shoot you like a dog."

Astbury staggered back, stared a moment, and then with an actual howl of dismay the bold buccaneer turned and fled. He did not fly so fast, however, as to escape a kick from Harrison's boot that sent him blundering half across the yard.

"Be off, rascal," he shouted, "you are not worth powder and shot, but an' you stop before you have put ten miles between yourself and this door, the constable's whip and your back shall be the better acquainted."

The last words seemed to revive such vivid recollections in the pirate's mind, that he picked himself up and vanished down the lane at his best speed, without waiting for further parley, while Harrison lowered his empty pistol and turned to the girl.
Harrison took Audrey's hand and led her back into the kitchen. For a minute he held her hand, and a curious memory came to him of how he had once picked up a little bird that had fallen from its nest, and how softly the little live thing had nestled in his palm. Then he spoke gently—

"Mistress Audrey, you must not stay here longer alone."

"No," she gasped. "No, I will go speedily. But no one was ever uncivil to me before in all my life. All the folk about here reverence our very name. I will keep down at the cottage with old Molly till I am ready to depart."

"May I ask you what delays your journey, madam?" he asked.

"Faith!" she answered, smiling through some tears, "because I liked my own company too little to travel forth with no better. I have delayed that perhaps I might hear of honest folk, travelling at least so far as Rotterdam, who would bear me company. But I may not tarry much longer or all my money will be spent, so indeed I will now be gone with all speed."

Harrison looked at her. Could any man, with a spark of chivalry in his breast, endure to think of this bright young creature going forth alone, to cross half the world, as ignorant of the perils that might surround her as though she were still the child he had pulled out of the lily pond? Could he forsake his little playfellow?

Richard was not in the habit of hesitating. "Mistress Audrey," he said eagerly, "why cannot you take your journey on Thursday when I do, and let me be as your brother to guard you? God do so to me, and more also, if I bring you not safe to your father's hands. Will you not take me for your brother, Audrey? For the sake of old times, and the memory of those we both did love and reverence, you will trust me?"

"In truth," she answered, "I knew not how sore I needed a brother till this very day."

She looked out of the door across the empty landscape, brown woods and russet fields; nowhere, save in the little white cottage below the copse, was there a friend for her in all the country. Who would burden themselves with a penniless girl? And if her kinsfolk were too careless or too proud to own her, she on the other hand, had been too closely kept in her own circle of well-born neighbours to have any acquaintances among the Nonconformists who were now flying from England. Her gay courage had always made her strive to ignore the difficulties that lay before her; but she knew only too well how difficult, nay almost impossible for a lonely girl, was the journey that lay before her; for those were days when a woman needed a strong arm and a ready blade to protect her among strangers. She had still kept putting off her inevitable journey, telling herself that companions might yet be found to share the perils of a voyage half across the world. But in the bottom of her heart she knew that she might linger in Inglethorpe Hall till she was grey-headed before the desired protector appeared. Now, by a sort of miracle, came a friend of old times, pat to the minute! Would it not be childish, nay wrong, to hesitate? Harrison's kind hand still held hers, his eyes were bent on her face in anxious waiting for her decision. She turned towards him, and he caught her meaning.

"Then shall it be so?" he cried gaily. "And you will be my little sister? I will indeed do all I may to make the rough ways smooth for you, and you will pardon your brother's lack of courtly fashions?"

"I knew not I was so very great a coward," she murmured, brushing away a tear that had stolen down her cheek; "but I am not of a fearful nature, and I will not be burdensome to you on the journey—good brother," she added softly.

"Then, now," he cried cheerfully, "we have no time to lose; we must dispose all for our flitting. What do you propose for our order of march? You are the lady commander."

"Oh, that will give no one a headache to plan. I am but roosting in the corner of this old house by the charity of Sir Frank Cremer, to whom it passed back when my aunt died; so I have but to lock the door, and give the key to old John, and have done with my housekeeping. John hath long desired to spend his savings on buying my cows, so they do not stand in the way of my journey; and what goods I desire to carry over seas can travel to Lynn by to-morrow's carrier, and he will see them aboard your ship. But"—she interrupted herself—"I do not think you should be seen in those clothes."

"Why?" he laughed rather ruefully, as he looked down at his tarnished lace. "I know my suit is too travel-worn for the champion of so dainty a lady; but methinks there is no sign of a Puritan about it to put me in danger. My uncle had no love for a godliness that depended on a plain band or a dingy cloak."

"Nay, 'tis too gay you are," she answered; "so fine a gentleman cannot pass unnoticed. Let me see"—she paused and considered—"I have it! The cowman John goes to-day on my errands to Castle Rising, and I will bid him buy me divers things that my father will need, so no one will wonder if he gets also a suit of country clothes, such as our yeomen wear. Then the ship-men may take you for one of the wool-merchants who are always passing to and fro to Holland, and no questions will be asked."

"Methinks, fair sister," he cried in admiration, "you were born a plotter! I have money enow, but may I trust old John's discretion to buy me fitting raiment?"

"Oh, you seem much of a height with my father," she said, eyeing him critically, "though you are broader in the shoulders. The suit shall fit you as well as fit the times. But I believe in your heart you are loth to change from a fine gentleman to the likeness of a country clown," she added mischievously: then, breaking into a laugh, "I know not what you will think of my father when we get to land! I misdoubt me sorely we shall find him clad like John the Baptist on the tapestries, for what clothes he hath not given away will be falling off him in rags!"

"Is it not strange that Sir Gyles' son should favour him so little?"

"Ah, but he is like my grandfather in that he is wise; only he is wise like a philosopher, and looks at the matters of this world as if he were sitting away high up with Greeks, and Romans, and saints, in the clouds. Grandad used to say father cared more for the laws of Plato's Republic than he did for English Acts of Parliament, and that some day he would be asking if Queen Bess sat still on the throne! While my grandfather was wise for everything, for the constables, and the soldiers, and the poor folks, and the Parliament; so when he died it was as though the sky had fallen, and no one knew which way to turn."

But there was little time to spare, even for such a chatterbox as Audrey to discourse in. She was soon flying round the house, searching and planning, emptying cupboards, and tying up bundles, and Richard found work enough to drive away all thoughts, save how best to defend bedding from salt water, and whether it were possible to carry the great brass warming-pan over seas. Not till evening drew on and the chests and bundles were piled ready in the entry, did the thoughts that had laid in ambush all day spring out and possess him again. The pleasant occupation, the novelty of the girl's bright society and ready sympathy, had charmed them to sleep for a while, but the sickness that lay at his heart was part of himself; it was only the more real that he could turn from it for a while, and come back and find it unchanged.

"Prithee, good brother," cried Audrey, crossing to the chimney corner, where he sat in sudden gloom, "why so sad? Are you already repenting of having chosen a hard task-mistress as a travelling companion?"

He started from his study. "No, truly," he answered; "'tis the pleasantest day I have spent since the troubles came upon us. I reckon I have laughed more this day than I have for a twelve-month past. But, sweet sister, is there not enough to make a man sad nowadays?"

"Yes," she answered gently; "but you must not grieve overmuch for General Harrison. Surely, though the way thereto was hard, now he hath attained to rest from his labours."

"Ay," answered Richard, bitterly, rising and pacing up and down the kitchen, "but do his works follow him? Indeed I grieve no longer for him of whom this land is not worthy. How may I dare to grieve, having witnessed his triumph over a death of agony? But what of the liberties of England for which he gave his life? If our cause had been of God would it not have gone forward? But He hath not owned us, and our labour was spent in vain."

"No, no," she cried eagerly; "not all in vain! I am but a foolish girl, and should not speak of such high matters; but I mind my father often hath said that a great deed hath an immortality in itself and cannot die, even if for a time it seem to perish. He did not justify the death of the king, but doth bewail it yearly as the day comes round, in fasting and humiliation. He held that the cause of Liberty must triumph in the end by men's eyes being instructed to desire her for her beauty, for that she needs not the service of bloody hands. He is of so meek a spirit, he would rather endure to the uttermost than take the sword. Yet have I often heard him say that he did account all that the army had done for the liberty of England was so great, that the names of those who fought in it would, by-and-by, be numbered among the heroes of history."

"You are a kind comforter, my gentle sister, and I trust your prophecies may prove true. Yet, as a man may not read his own epitaph, 'tis but a lesson of patience to say that by-and-by matters may mend, while now they go from bad to worse."

Audrey could not, in the bottom of her heart, grieve as deeply as did the young soldier for the downfall of the Republican cause, but even in that lonely Hall she heard enough of public matters to understand that the new King Charles was not renewing the golden Elizabethan age she had been brought up to revere, and, moreover, she was a born hero-worshipper, and treasured the stories of Blake's victories, and of Cromwell's defence of the Waldenses all the more dearly now that the bones of those great Englishmen were torn from their graves and flung into a shameful pit under the gallows. She could give a good deal of sympathy, and still more of pity to the lost cause, but could she give consolation? She had seen her grandfather preserve his hope of the ultimate triumph of sober liberty through all the storms and tumult of the Civil wars; she knew how old men could sorrow and could endure. But this stranger's mind was still a sealed book to her. How did the young sorrow? What was the comfort that would appeal to him? How could she whisper hope to the man who sat with his head dropped in his hands, as if he feared to let any one see the burning tears of shame that were gathering in his eyes?

"If indeed the Lord spake to the Jews," Harrison went on, "did He not speak to us? Or was that also but a vain imagination, and did men fable when they wrote of the wonders done for the Jews, as they fabled concerning the Greeks and Romans?"

"I have heard my father and other clergymen of our English Church say they feared that some good men were apt to lean too much on the history of the Jews, as though we in England were their doubles, and bound by the same ordinances. He said he feared such reasonings, when they proved hollow, would make men run the other way and fall into unbelief. For he held that God hath His fashions of working, which differ for every nation, as one star differs from another in glory, and that He speaketh not to us in England by open signs, but for the most part, through our reason and our consciences."

Harrison rose with a groan and strode restlessly across the room.

"Ay," he answered, "your father is a wise man. But did not our reason and our consciences approve of that great work? Why then is it cast down and brought to nought, as though it were all folly and wickedness?"

She rose, and laid her hand on his arm; her eyes, too, were full of tears.

"Good brother, may it not be as in the days of the martyrs Mr. Fox tells of? I mind me of the words of Bishop Latimer concerning the flames that consumed him lighting a candle that should never be put out in England. Perhaps in this war you have set going a word of liberty that none may put to silence. Methinks, since the days of old Rome, there can have been no such talk of the government of the people by the people, as we have heard in these days, and as my father says, he beholds in very deed in New England. Mayhap, liberty is but departed across seas to renew her strength, and will come again to gather, not England only, but all the nations, under her wings."

Harrison turned and caught her hand. "In truth I were worse than a Jew did I not believe so fair a prophetess," he cried. "Yet——" he paused, and looked at her curiously, and a sudden impulse came on him to speak out all that was in his heart. "You seem very sure of it all?" he said.

Audrey blushed scarlet. She had grown up among people who were less outspoken on religious matters than the Puritans, and the young girl's feelings were locked in her own little holy of holies; but she was no coward.

"I doubt not I am often too sure of matters," she said. "My father was wont to say I had too much impatience to be a true philosopher; but on this I cannot but be sure."

All shyness was gone. She fixed her large eyes on him with the directness of a child.

"But," he said, leaning forward, "Mr. Rogers and my uncle were very sure, yet hath their Fifth Monarchy not appeared, nor have any miracles answered their faith."

"You will think me very bold," she answered, "but may not men be great saints and yet mistaken in the opinions which they hold within the bounds of our common faith? It seems scarce fitting for me to carp at the beliefs of General Harrison, yet you yourself did say he seemed to you well-nigh crazed concerning the Fifth Monarchy?"

Richard nodded assent.

"Then sure, if his prayers were not according to reason, 'twould be mercy that denied them? But indeed, as touching prayers, I have heard my father say we must be on our guard lest we pray like the heathen, holding our words as a charm that must needs bring an answer according to our desires, for that the prayers of a Christian do consist rather in carrying his matters into the presence of the great God, and leaving them there, for Him to deal with as He lists."

Harrison made no answer, and there was silence a long time; only the fire flickered, and the wind sighed softly without. Then Audrey rose up and wished the young man good night; but as he took her hand, there were tears in his eyes.