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Royalty Restored or London under Charles II
Chapter II
by Molloy, J. Fitzgerald

The story of the king's escape.--He accepts the Covenant and lands in Scotland.--Crowned at Scone.--Proclaimed king at Carlisle.--The battle of Worcester.--Bravery of Charles.-- Disloyalty of the Scottish cavalry.--The Royalists defeated. --The King's flight.--Seeks refuge in Boscobel Wood.--The faithful Pendrells.--Striving to cross the Severn.--Hiding in an oak tree.--Sheltered by Master Lane.--Sets out with Mistress Lane.--Perilous escapes.--On the road.--The king is recognised. --Strange adventures.--His last night in England.

That King Charles had been miraculously preserved, as my Lord Manchester set forth, there can be no doubt. His courageous efforts to regain the Crown at the battle of Worcester and his subsequent escapes from the vigilant pursuits of the Cromwellian soldiers, would, if set down in justice and with detail, present a story more entertaining than any romance ever written. Here they must of necessity be mentioned with brevity.

In the year 1645, Charles I., having suffered the loss of many great battles, became fearful of the danger which threatened his family and himself. He therefore ordered his son Charles, who had already retired into the west, to seek refuge in the Scilly Isles. The prince complied with his desires, and went from thence to Paris, where his mother, Henrietta Maria, had already taken shelter, and, after a short stay with her, travelled to the Hague. Soon after the king was beheaded, the Scots, who regarded that foul act with great abhorrence, invited Charles to come into their kingdom, provided he accepted certain hard conditions, which left the government of all civil business in the hands of Parliament, and the regulation of all religious matters in charge of the Presbyterians. No other prospect of regaining his rights, and of enabling him to fight for his throne presenting itself, he accepted what was known as the Covenant, and landed in Scotland in 1650. He was received with the respect due to a monarch, but placed under the surveillance forced on a prisoner. The fanatical Presbyterians, jealous of that potent influence which his blithe ways exercised over all with whom he associated, neither permitted him to attend the council nor command the army; they, however, preached to him incessantly, admonished him of his sins and those of his parents, guarded him as a captive, and treated him as a puppet. Meanwhile Cromwell, being made aware of his presence in the kingdom, advanced at the head of a powerful body into Scotland, fought and won the battle of Dunbar, stormed and captured Leith, and took his triumphal way towards Edinburgh town. Charles was at this time in Perth, and being impatient at his enforced inaction whilst battles were fought in his name, and lives lost in his cause, made his escape from the Covenanters, with the determination of arousing the Royalists who lay in the north. But the Scots soon overtook and recaptured him. However, this decisive action awoke them to a better understanding of the deference due to his position, and therefore they crowned him at Scone on the first day of the year 1651, with much solemnity, and subsequently made him commander of the army.

After spending some months in reorganizing the troops, he boldly declared his intention of marching into England, and fighting the rebel force. Accordingly, on the 31st of July, 1651, he set out from Sterling with an army of between eleven and twelve thousand men. At Carlisle he was proclaimed king, and a declaration was published in his name, granting free grace and pardon to all his subjects in England, of whatever nature or cause their offences, saving Cromwell, Bradshaw and Cooke. He then marched to Lancashire, and on the 23rd of August unfurled the Royal standard at Worcester, amidst the enthusiastic acclamations of his troops and the loyal demonstrations of the citizens. Weary of civil strife, depressed with fear of Cromwell's severities, and distrustful of the Presbyterians, who chiefly composed the young king's army, the Royalists had not gathered to his standard in such numbers as he had anticipated. His troops, since leaving Scotland, had been reinforced merely by two thousand men; but Charles had hopes that fresh recruits would join him when news of the rising got noised abroad.

The Republicans were filled with dismay at the king's determined action, but were prompt to make a counter-move, Accordingly, additional troops were levied, London was left to be defended by volunteers, and Cromwell, heading an army of thirty-four thousand men, marched against the Royalists. On the 28th of August, they drew near Worcester, and on the 3rd of September the battle was fought which will remain for ever famous in the annals of civil war. On the morning of that day, the king, ascending the cathedral tower, saw the enemy's forces advancing towards Worcester: before reaching the city, it was necessary they should cross the Severn, and, in order to prevent this if possible, Charles hurried down and directed that some of his troops, under the command of Montgomery, should defend Powick Bridge; whilst he stationed others under Colonel Pitscottie lower down, at a point of the river towards which the Republicans were marching with pontoons, by means of which they intended to cross. The young king, hopeful of victory and full of enthusiasm, rode speedily out at the head of his troops and placed them at their various stations. Scarcely had he done so, when he became aware that the main body of the enemy had opened an artillery fire on Fort Royal, which guarded the city on the south-east side. He therefore galloped back in hot haste to headquarters, and reconnoitred the advanced posts eastward of the city, in full front of the enemy's fire. Meanwhile Montgomery, having exhausted his ammunition, was obliged to retreat in disorder from Powick Bridge, followed by the Cromwellians. The king now courageously resolved to attack the enemy's camp at Perry Wood, which lay south-east of Worcester. Accordingly he marched out with the flower of his Highland infantry and the English cavaliers, led by the Dukes of Hamilton and Buckingham. Cromwell, seeing this, hastened to intercept the king's march, whereon a fierce battle was bravely fought on either side. Nothing could be more valiant than the conduct of the young king, who showed himself wholly regardless of his life in the fierce struggle for his rights. Twice was his horse shot under him; but increasing danger seemed but to animate him to greater daring. So bravely did his army fight likewise, that the Republicans at first gave way before them. For upwards of four hours the engagement raged with great fierceness. Cromwell subsequently declared it was "as stiff a contest as he had ever seen," and his experience was great. Success seemed now to crown the Royalists, anon to favour the Roundheads. The great crisis of the day at length arrived: the Cromwellians began to waver and give way just as the Royalist cavalry had expended their ammunition; the king had still three thousand Scotch cavalry in the rear under the command of Leslie, who had not yet been called into action. He therefore ordered them to advance; but, to his horror, not one of these men, who had looked on as passive spectators, made a movement. In this hour, when victory or defeat hung upon a thread the Scots ignominiously failed their king. Charles instantly saw he was undone. The English cavalry continued to fight bravely, in their desperation using the butt ends of their muskets; but they were gradually compelled to give way before the enemy, who, seeing their condition, had renewed the attack. The Royalists therefore fell back into the city. When the king re-entered Worcester he saw before him a scene of the most disastrous confusion. Royalists and Republicans encountered and fought each other in every thoroughfare; the air was filled with the report of muskets, the imprecations of soldiers, the groans of wounded men, and the shrieks of women. The streets ran red with blood. At such a sight his heart sank within him, but, manning himself for fresh efforts, he called his troops together and sought to incite them with courage to make a final charge. "I would rather," he cried out, "you would shoot me than keep me alive to see the sad consequences of this fatal day." Those who heard him were disheartened: it was too late to retrieve their heavy losses: most of them refused to heed him; many sought safety in flight. Then the young king's friends, gathering round, besought him to make good his escape; and accordingly, with a sad heart, he rode out of St. Martin's Gate humbled and defeated. In order to cover his retreat from the enemy now advancing, my Lord Cleveland, Sir James Hamilton, Colonel Careless, and some other worthy gentlemen defended Sudbury Gate, towards which the main body of the Republicans approached. They held this position a sufficient time to gain the end for which it was undertaken. But at length the Republicans, forcing open the gate, marched upon the fort, defended by fifteen hundred soldiers under Colonel Drummond. This loyal man refusing to surrender, the fort was speedily stormed; and he and those of his men who survived the attack were mercilessly put to the sword.

Dr. George Bate gives a quaint and striking picture of what followed. "Deplorable and sad was the countenance of the town after that," writes he; "the victorious soldiers on the one hand killing, breaking into houses, plundering, sacking, roaring, and threatening; on the other hand, the subdued flying, turning their backs to be cut and slashed, and with outstretched hands begging quarter; some, in vain resisting, sold their lives as dear as they could, whilst the citizens to no purpose prayed, lamented, and bewailed. All the streets are strewed with dead and mangled bodies. Here were to be seen some that begged relief, and then again others weltering in their own gore, who desired that at once an end might be put to their lives and miseries. The dead bodies lay unburied for the space of three days or more, which was a loathsome spectacle that increased the horror of the action."

Concerning his subsequent dangers and narrow escapes, the king, in his days of peace and prosperity, was wont to discourse at length, for they had left impressions on his mind which lasted through life. Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon, his Lord High Chancellor, Dr. George Bate, his learned physician, and Samuel Pepys, Esquire, sometime Surveyor-General to the Victualling Office, have preserved the records of that time of peril, as told by his majesty. True, their various stories differ in minor details, but they agree in principal facts. The king had not ridden many miles from Worcester when he found himself surrounded by about four thousand of his army, including the Scots under the command of Leslie. Though they would not fight for him, they were ready enough to fly with him. At first he thought of betaking himself to Scotland; but having had sad proof of the untrustworthy character of those with whom he travelled, he feared they would further betray him if pursued by the enemy. He therefore resolved to reach London before the news of his defeat arrived thither, and make his escape from thence; but this scheme presented many difficulties. Amongst the persons of quality who accompanied him were my Lord Duke of Buckingham, the Earls of Derby and Lauderdale, and the Lords Wilmot and Talbot. During their journey it fell from my Lord Derby's lips, that when he had been defeated at Wigan, one Pendrell, an honest labourer and a Papist, had sheltered him in Boscobel House, not far distant from where they then rode. Hearing this, the king resolved to trust this same faithful fellow, and for the present seek such refuge as Pendrell could afford. It was not easy, however, for his majesty to escape the Scots; but when night came, he and his gentlemen slipped away from the high road, which the others continued to pursue, and made for Boscobel Wood, led by Charles Giffard, a loyal gentleman and true. The house they sought was situated between Tong Castle and Brewood, in a woody place most fitting for retreat; it was, moreover, six and twenty miles from Worcester, and stood in Shropshire, on the borders of Staffordshire.

In order to gain this haven of rest, it was necessary for them to pass through Stourbridge, where a troop of the Republican army lay quartered. Midnight had fallen ere they reached the town, which was now wrapt in darkness, and was, moreover, perfectly still. The king and his friends, dismounting, led their horses through the echoing streets as softly as possible, being filled the while with dire apprehensions. Safely leaving it, they rode into the wood until they came to the old convent of Whiteladies, once the home of Cistercian nuns, who had long since been driven from their peaceful retreat. The house was now the habitation of the Giffard family, with whom George Pendrell lived as servant. On being aroused, he came forth with a lantern, and admitted them, when Charles Giffard made known to him in whose presence he stood, and acquainted him with their situation. Thereupon the honest fellow promised to serve the king faithfully, and sent immediately for his brothers four: William, who took charge of Boscobel House, not far removed; Humphrey, who was miller at Whiteladies; Richard, who lived at Hobbal Grange; and John, who was a woodman, and dwelt hard by. When they had all arrived, Lord Derby showed them the king's majesty, and besought them for God's sake, for their loyalty's sake, and as they valued all that was high and sacred, to keep him safe, and forthwith seek some place of decent shelter where he might securely lurk. This they readily swore to compass, though they risked their lives in the attempt.

It being considered that greater safety lay in the king being unattended, his loyal friends departed from him with many prayers and hopes for a joyful reunion: all of them save my Lords Wilmot and Buckingham set out to join Leslie's company, that they might proceed together towards Scotland; but they had not marched six miles in company with the Scots when these three thousand men and more were overtaken and were routed by a single troop of the enemy's horse, and my Lord Derby, being taken, was condemned and executed. Lords Wilmot and Buckingham set out for London, to which place it was agreed the king should follow them.

When his majesty's friends had departed, the Pendrells undertook to disguise him; towards which end one of them cut the long locks reaching his shoulders, another rubbed his hands and face with dust, and a third brought him a suit of clothes. "The habit of the king," says Pepys, "was a very greasy old grey steeple- crowned hat, with the brims turned up, without lining or hatband, the sweat appearing two inches deep through it round the band place; a green cloth jump-coat, threadbare, even to the threads being worn white, and breeches of the same, with long knees down to the garter; with an old sweaty leathern doublet, a pair of white flannel stockings next to his legs, and upon them a pair of old green yarn stockings, all worn and darned at the knees, with their feet cut off: his shoes were old, all slashed for the ease of his feet, with little rolls of paper between his toes to keep them from galling; and an old coarse shirt, patched both at the neck and hands, of that very coarse sort which go by the name of nogging shirts."

When Charles was attired in this fashion, Richard Pendrell opened a back door and led him out into the wood; not a moment too soon, for within half an hour Colonel Ashenhurst, with a company of Cromwell's soldiers, rode up to Whiteladies, rushed into the house, searched every chamber and secret place, pulled down the wainscoting, and otherwise devastated the mansion in the search for the king. A damp cold September morning now lengthened to a day of gloom and depression. Rain fell in heavy torrents, dripped from the leafless branches of trees, and saturated the thick undergrowth and shrubs where his majesty lay hidden. Owing to the condition of the weather, the soldiers neglected to search Boscobel Wood; and, after uttering many threats and imprecations, withdrew from Whiteladies. When he considered himself quite alone, Richard Pendrell ventured forth, taking with him a billhook, that if observed he might seem engaged in trimming hedges; and drawing near the spot where his majesty lay, assured him of his safety. Later on he besought an old woman, his neighbour, to take victuals into the wood to a labourer she would find there. Without hesitation the good woman carried some eggs, bread, butter, and milk towards the spot indicated to her. On seeing her the king was much alarmed fearing recognition and dreading her garrulity; wherefore he said to her: "Can you be true to anyone who hath served the king?" Upon which she readily made answer: "Yes, sir; I'd die sooner than betray you." Being reassured at this, he ate heartily.

When night fell, Richard brought him into the house again, and the king, now abandoning his intention of proceeding to London, expressed his anxiety to reach Wales where he had many friends, and which afforded him ready opportunities of escaping from the kingdom. Pendrell expressed himself willing to conduct him thither. Accordingly, about nine of the clock, they set out with the determination of crossing the Severn, intending to pass over a ferry between Bridgenorth and Shrewsbury. When they had walked some hours they drew near a water-mill. "We could see the miller," said the king in relating the story, "as I believe, sitting at the mill-door, he being in white clothes, it being a very dark night. He called out sturdily, 'Who goes there?' Upon which Richard Pendrell answered, 'Neighbours going home,' or suchlike words. Whereupon the miller cried out: 'If you be neighbours, stand, or I will knock you down.' Upon which, we believing there was company in the house, Richard bade me follow him close, and he ran to a gate that went up a dirty lane up a hill. The miller cried out: 'Rogues--rogues!' And thereupon some men came out of the mill after us, which I believe were soldiers; so we fell a-running, both of us up the lane as long as we could run, it being very deep and very dirty, till at last I bade him leap over a hedge, and lie still to hear if anybody followed us--which we did, and continued lying down upon the ground about half an hour, when, hearing nobody come, we continued our way."

This led to the house of an honest gentleman named Woolfe, living at Madeley, who was a Catholic, and loyal to his king, and as such was known to the Pendrells. When they drew near to his house, Richard, leaving his majesty in a field, went forward and asked this worthy man if he would shelter one who had taken part in the battle of Worcester; whereon he made answer he would not venture his neck for any man unless it were the king himself, upon which Pendrell made known to him it was his majesty who sought refuge from him. Mr. Woolfe came out immediately and carried the king by a back way into a barn, where he hid him for the day, it being considered unsafe for him to stay a longer period there, as two companies of militia were at that time stationed in the town, and were very likely to search the house at any minute. Moreover he advised his majesty by no means to adventure crossing the Severn, as the strictest guard was then kept at the ferries to prevent any Royalist fugitives from escaping into Wales. The king was therefore obliged to retrace his steps, and now sought Boscobel House, not far distant from his first resting-place of Whiteladies. Arriving there, he remained secreted in the wood, whilst Richard went to see if soldiers were in occupation of the dwelling. There was no one there, however, but Colonel Careless, the same good man and true who had helped to keep Sudbury Gate whilst Charles made his escape.

The Colonel had been hiding in the forest, and, being sore pressed by hunger, had come to beg a little bread. Being informed where the king was, he came forth with great joy, and, the house not being considered a safe refuge, they both climbed into the branches of a leafy oak, situated in an open part of the wood, from whence they could see all round them. They carried with them some bread and cheese and small beer, and stayed there that day. "While we were in the tree," says the king, "we saw soldiers going up and down in the thicket of the wood, searching for persons escaped, we seeing them now and then peeping out of the wood." When this danger had passed away, the king, worn out by his sore fatigues, laid his head on his friend's breast and slept in his arms. At night they descended, and going to Boscobel House, were shown a secret hiding-place, such as were then to be found in the mansions of all Catholic families, called the priests' hole a little confined closet built between two walls, in the principal stack of chimneys, and having a couple of exits for the better escape of those compelled to seek its shelter. Here the king rested in peace for a day and a night.

Meanwhile Humphrey Pendrell went into Shifnal to pay his taxes; and it being known he had come from Whiteladies, he was questioned closely as to whether he knew aught of Charles Stuart. On stoutly denying all knowledge of him, he was told that any man who discovered him would gain a thousand pounds, but he that sheltered him would suffer death without mercy; these being the terms of a proclamation just issued. This the honest miller on his return narrated to the king, swearing roundly he would run all risks for his sake. It chanced at this time one of the Pendrells heard that my Lord Wilmot who had not been able to make his way to London, was hiding in a very secure place, at the house of a gentleman named Whitegrave, above seven miles distant. This coming to the king's knowledge, he became anxious to see his faithful friend and hold communication with him. Accordingly one of the Pendrells was despatched to request Lord Wilmot to meet his majesty that night, in a field close by Mr. Whitegrave's house. And the time of night being come, the king was impatient of delay; but his feet were sore from the rough shoes he had worn on his journey, so that he was scarce able to walk; therefore he was mounted on Humphrey's mill-horse, and, the four loyal brothers forming a guard, they directed their way towards Moseley. The king's eagerness to see Wilmot being great, he complained of the horse's slow pace. "Can you blame him, my liege," said Humphrey, who loved a jest, "that he goes heavily, having the weight of three kingdoms on his back?"

When they had travelled with him a great part of the journey it was thought safer three of them should withdraw themselves. They therefore turned away; but scarcely had they gone when the king, who, being lost in thought, had remained unconscious of their departure, suddenly stopped, and caused John, who remained, to speedily summon them back. When they returned he gave them his hand to kiss, and, with that charm of manner which never failed in winning friends, said to them sadly, "My sorrows make me forget myself. I earnestly thank you all."

They kissed his hand heartily, and prayed God to save him. In the days of his prosperity he remembered their kindness and rewarded their loyalty.

Arriving at the trysting place the king found Mr. Whitegrave, a Benedictine monk named Father Huddlestone, Sir John Preston, and his brother awaiting him. It may be mentioned here this monk was destined, many years later, to play an important part in the closing scene of his majesty's life. Mr. Whitegrave conducted Charles with great show of respect to his house, where the king spoke with my Lord Wilmot, feasted well, and rested safe that night. Next morning the worthy host had private notice given that a company of soldiers were on their way to arrest him as one who had served in the king's army. He, being innocent of this charge, did not avoid them, but received them boldly at his door, spoke confidently in his own defence, and referred them to the testimony of his neighbours, whereon they departed quietly.

It was feared, however, the house was no longer safe, and that another refuge had best be sought for his majesty. Therefore, Father Huddlestone informed the king of an honest gentleman, the owner of a fair estate some six miles removed, who was generous and exceedingly beloved, and the eldest justice of peace in the county of Stafford. This gentleman was named Lane, "a very zealous Protestant, yet he lived with so much civility and candour towards the Catholics, that they would all trust him as much as they would any of their own profession." The king, however, not being willing to surprise this worthy man, immediately despatched the Benedictine to make certain of his welcome; receiving due assurances of which he and Lord Willmot set out by night for Master Lane's mansion, where they were heartily received, and where Charles rested some days in blessed security. Knowing, however, in what risk he placed those who sheltered him, and how vigilant the pursuit after him, he became most anxious for his safe delivery out of the kingdom. To this end it was desirable he should draw near the west coast, and await an opportunity of sailing from thence for France.

The members of Master Lane's family then living with him consisted of a son and a daughter: the former a man of fearless courage and integrity, the latter a gentlewoman of good wit and discretion, as will be seen hereafter. Consulting, amongst themselves as to the best means of compassing the king's escape, it was resolved Mistress Lane should visit a kinswoman of hers with whom she had been bred, that had married one Norton, and was now residing within five miles of Bristol. It was likewise decided she should ride on her journey thence behind the king, he being habited in her father's livery, and acting as her servant; and for greater safety her sister and her sister's husband were to accompany them on the road. Mistress Jane Lane then procured from a colonel of the rebel army a passport for herself and her servant, her sister and her brother-in-law, to travel without molestation to her cousin Mistress Norton, who was ready to lie in. With this security Jane set out, her brother bearing them company part of the way, with a hawk upon his fist and two or three spaniels at his heels, which warranted him keeping the king and his friends in sight without seeming to be of their company.

The first day's journey was not accomplished without an exciting incident. The horse ridden by Mistress Lane and the king--now bearing the name of William Jackson--lost a shoe; and being come to Bromsgrove, he must dismount and lead the animal to the village blacksmith.

"As I was holding my horse's foot," said his majesty, when narrating the story to Mr. Pepys, "I asked the smith what news. He told me that there was no news that he knew of, since the good news of the beating the rogues of the Scots. I asked him whether there was none of the English taken that joined with the Scots, He answered he did not hear if that rogue, Charles Stuart, were taken; but some of the others, he said, were taken. I told him that if that rogue were taken, he deserved to be hanged more than all the rest, for bringing in the Scots. Upon which he said I spoke like an honest man; and so we parted."

At the end of the first day's journey they were met by Lord Wilmot at the inn; and he continued to join them wherever they rested at night, without appearing to travel with them by day. Mistress Lane took all possible care to guard the king against recognition, stating at every house of accommodation where they tarried he was "a neighbour's son whom her father had lent her to ride before her in hope that he would the sooner recover from a quartan ague with which he had been miserably afflicted, and was not yet free. "Which story served as sufficient excuse for his going to bed betimes, and so avoiding the company of servants. At the end of three days they arrived at their destination. Jane Lane was warmly received by her cousin, and the whole party made heartily welcome. Jane, however, did not entrust her secret to Mistress Norton's keeping, but repeated her tale of the good youth being newly recovered from ague, and desired a chamber might be provided for him, and a good fire made that he might retire early to bed. Her desires being obeyed, the king withdrew, and was served with an excellent good supper by the butler, a worthy fellow named Pope, who had been a trooper in the army of Charles I., of blessed memory.

"The next morning" said the king continuing his strange story, "I arose pretty early, having a very good stomach, and went to the buttery-hatch to get my breakfast, where I found Pope and two or three other men in the room, and we all fell to eating bread and butter, to which he gave us very good ale and sack. And as I was sitting there, there was one that looked like a country fellow sat just by me, who, talking, gave so particular an account of the battle of Worcester to the rest of the company that I concluded he must be one of Cromwell's soldiers. But I, asking how he came to give so good an account of that battle, he told me he was in the King's regiment, by which I thought he meant one Colonel King's regiment. But questioning him further, I perceived he had been in my regiment of Guards, in Major Broughton's company--that was my Major in the battle. I asked him what kind of man I was; to which he answered by describing exactly both my clothes and my horse, and then, looking upon me, he told me that the king was at least three fingers taller than I. Upon which I made what haste I could out of the buttery, for fear he should indeed know me, as being more afraid when I knew he was one of our own soldiers than when I took him for one of the enemy's. So Pope and I went into the hall, and just as we came into it Mistress Norton was coming by through it; upon which I, plucking off my hat and standing with it in my hand as she passed by, Pope looked very earnestly in my face. But I took no notice of it, but put on my hat again and went away, walking out of the house into the field."

When he returned, however, the butler followed him into a private room, and going down on his stiff knees, said, with tears in his old eyes, he was rejoiced to see his majesty in safety. The king affected to laugh at him, and asked him what he meant; but Pope told him he knew him well, for before he was a trooper in his father's service he had been falconer to Sir Thomas Jermyn, groom of the bedchamber to the king when he was a boy. Charles saw it was useless longer to deny himself, and therefore said he believed him to be a very honest man, and besought he would not reveal what he knew to anyone. This the old man readily promised, and faithfully kept his word. Having spent a couple of days at Norton's, the king, by advice of Lord Wilmot, went to the house of a true friend and loyal man, one Colonel Windham, who lived at Trent. This town was notable as a very hotbed of republicanism; a proof of which was afforded his majesty on the very day of his entrance. As he rode into the principal street, still disguised as a waiting man to Mistress Lane, he heard a great ringing of bells, and the tumult of many voices, and saw a vast concourse of people gathered in the churchyard close by. On asking the cause he was informed one of Cromwell's troopers was telling the people he had killed Charles Stuart, whose buff coat he then wore; whereon the rebels rang the church bells, and were about to make a great bonfire for joy.

Having brought him to Trent, Mistress Lane returned home, carrying with her the king's friendship and gratitude, of which he gave her ample proof when he came unto the throne. Charles stayed at Colonel Windham's over a week, whilst that gallant man was secretly striving to hire a ship for his majesty's safe transportation into France. Presently succeeding in this object, the king, yet wearing his livery, and now riding before Mistress Judith Coningsby, cousin of Colonel Windham, started with high hopes for Lyme; but at the last moment the captain of the vessel failed him, and he was again left in a state of painful uncertainty and danger. Lord Wilmot was sent to ascertain the cause of this disappointment, and for greater safety the king rode on to Burport with his friends. Being come to the outskirts of the town, they were alarmed at finding the streets in a state of confusion, and full of Cromwell's soldiers, fifteen hundred of whom were about to embark for Jersey. His majesty's coolness and presence of mind did not fail him; he resolved to ride boldly into the town, and hire a chamber at the best inn. The yard of the hostelry was likewise crowded with troopers; but this did not dismay his majesty.

"I alighted," said he, "and taking the horses, thought it the best way to go blundering in among them, and lead them through the middle of the soldiers into the stable; which I did, and they were very angry with me for my rudeness. As soon as I came into the stable I took the bridle off the horses, and called the ostler to me to help me, and to give the horses some oats. And as the hostler was helping me to feed the horses, 'Sure, sir,' says he, 'I know your face?' which was no very pleasant question to me. But I thought the best way was to ask him where he had lived, or whether he had always lived there or no. He told me that he was but newly come thither; that he was born in Exeter, and had been ostler in an inn there, hard by one Mr. Potter's, a merchant in whose house I had lain in the time of the war. So I thought it best to give the fellow no further occasion of thinking where he had seen me, for fear he should guess right at last; therefore I told him, 'Friend, certainly you have seen me then at Mr. Potter's, for I served him a good while above a year.' 'Oh,' says he, 'then I remember you a boy there;' and with that was put off from thinking any more on it, but desired that we might drink a pot of beer together, which I excused by saying that I must go wait on my master, and get his dinner ready for him; but told him that my master was going to London, and would return about three weeks hence, when he would be there, and I would not fail to drink a pot with him."

The king and his friends, having dined at the inn, got word that the master of the ship, suspecting that it was some dangerous employment he had been hired for, absolutely refused to fulfil his contract. Therefore they, being sad at heart and fearful, retraced their steps to Trent, and presently his majesty went further into Sussex, and abode with a staunch Royalist, one Colonel Gunter, who resided within four miles of Salisbury. This excellent man at last succeeded in hiring a ship to carry away the king, and so Charles made another journey to Brighthelmstone, where he met the captain of the vessel and the merchant that had hired her on behalf of Colonel Gunter, both of whom had been kept in ignorance of their future passenger's identity. Arriving at Brighthelmstone, they entered an inn and ordered supper, during which the captain more than once looked hard at the king. And the meal being ended, the captain called the merchant aside and said he was not dealt with fairly, inasmuch as he had not been told the king was the person to be conveyed from thence. The merchant, not being so wise as the master, denied such was the case; but the honest fellow told him not to be troubled. "For I think," said he, "I do God and my country good service in preserving the king: and by the grace of God I will venture my life and all for him, and set him safely on shore, if I can, in France."

Nor was this the last of his majesty's numerous risks, for being presently left alone, he stood thoughtful and somewhat melancholy by the fire, resting one hand on a chair; and the landlord, coming in and seeing him engaged in this manner, softly advanced, suddenly kissed the king's hand, and said, "God bless you, wherever you go." Charles started, and would have denied himself; but the landlord cried out, "'Fore God, your majesty may trust me; and," he added, "I have no doubt, before I die, to be a lord, and my wife a lady."

That night, the last his majesty was to spend in England for many years, he was sad and depressed. The scenes of bloodshed he had witnessed, the imminent dangers he had escaped, were vividly present to his mind. The past was fraught with horror; the future held no hope. Though a king, he was about to become an outcast from his realm. Surmising his thoughts, his companions sought to cheer him. Now the long-desired moment of escape was at hand, no one thought of repose. The little vessel in which he intended sailing lay dry upon the shore, the tide being at low water. The king and his friends, the merchant, the captain, and the landlord, sat in the well-lighted cosy parlour of the seaport inn, smoking, playing cards, telling stories and drinking good ale.

With all such diversions the hours wore heavily away. Their noisy joviality had an undercurrent of sadness; jokes failed to amuse; laughter seemed forced; words, mirthful in leaving the lips, sounded ominous on reaching the ear. At four o'clock the captain rose to survey his ship, and presently returned saying the tide had risen. Thereon the king and his friends prepared to depart. A damp, chilly November fog hung over the sea, hiding its wide expanse without deadening its monotonous moan. A procession of black figures leaving the inn sped noiselessly through darkness. Arriving at the shore, those who were not to accompany his majesty, knelt and kissed his hand. Then he, with Lord Wilmot and the captain, climbed on board the vessel and entered the cabin. The fog had turned to rain. Four hours later, the tide being favourable, the ship sailed out of port, and in due time the king was safely landed in France.


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