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Jesting!' said Sir Henry, 'I was never more serious-Raving! I was never more composed.-I could never brook that falsehood should approach me - I would no more bear by my side a dishonoured daughter than a dishonoured sword; and this unhappy day hath shown that both can fail.'
Sir Henry,' said young Everard, 'load not your soul with a heavy crime, which be assured you do, in treating your daughter thus unjustly. It is long now since
denied her to me, when we were poor and you were powerful. I acquiesced in your prohibition of all suit and intercourse, God knoweth what I suffered-but I acquiesced. Neither is it to renew my suit that I now come hither, and have, I do acknowledge, sought speech of her-not for her own sake only, but for yours also. Destruction hovers over you, ready to close her pinions to stoop, and her taions to clutch-Yes, sir, look contemptuous as you will, such is the case; and it is to protect both you and her that I am here.'
• You refuse then my free gift,' said Sir Henry Lee; ' or perhaps you think it loaded with too hard conditions?'
'Shame, shame on you, Sir Henry!' said Everard, waxing warm in his turn; have your political prejudices so utterly warped every feeling of a father, that you can speak with bitter mockery and scorn of what concerns your own daughter's honour?-Hold up your head, fair Alice, and tell your father he has forgotten nature in his fantastic spirit of loyalty.Know, Sir Henry, that though I would prefer your daughter's hand to every blessing which Heaven could bestow on me, I would not accept it-my conscience would not permit me to do so when I knew it must withdraw her from her duty to you.'
Your conscience is over scrupulous, young man; carry it to some dissenting rabbi, and he who takes all that comes to net, will teach thee it is sinning against our mercies to refuse any good thing that is freely offered to us.'
When it is freely offered, and kindly offered-not when the offer is made in irony and insult. Fare thee well, Alice-if aught could make me desire to profit by thy father's wild wish to cast thee from him in a moment of unworthy suspicion, it would be that while indulging in such sentiments, Sir Henry Lee is tyranically oppressing the creature, who of all others is most dependent on his kindness—who of all others will most feel his severity-and whom, of all others, he is must bound to cherish and support.'
* Do not fear for me, Mr. Everard,' exclaimed Alice, aroused for her timidity by a dread of the consequences not unlikely to ensue, where civil war set relations, as well as fellow citizens, in opposition to each other.-Oh, begone, I conjure you begone! Nothing stands betwixt me and my father's kindness, but these unhappy family divisions—but your ill timed presence here-For heaven's sake leave us!
Soh, mistress!' answered the hot old cavalier; ' you play lady paramount already; and who but you!-you would dictate to our train, I warrant, like Goneril and Regan. But I tell thee, no man shall leave my house-and, humble as it is, this is now my house -while he has aught to say to me that is to be spo. ken, as this young man now speaks, with a bent brow and a lofty tone.
-Speak out, sir, ard say your worst! * Fear not my temper, Mrs. Alice,' said Everard, with equal firmness and placidity of manner; 'and you, Sir Henry, do not think if I speak firmly, I mean therefore to speak in anger, or officiously. You have taxed me with much, and, were I guided by the wild spirit of romantic chivalry, much which, even from so near a relative, I ought not, as being by birth, and in the world's estimation, a gentlenian, to pass over without reply. Is it your pleasure to give me patient hearing?'
. If you stand on your defence,' answered the stout old knight, ‘God forbid that you should not challenge patient hearing-ay, though your pleading were two
parts disloyalty and one blasphemy-Only, be brief this has already lasted but too long.'
• I will, Sir Henry,' replied the young man; yet it is hard to crowd into a few sentences, the defence of a life which, though short, has been a busy onetoo busy, your indignant gesture would assert. But I deny it; I have drawn my sword neither hastily, nor without due consideration, for a people whose rights have been trampled on, and whose consciences have been oppressed.-Frown not, sir-such is not your view of the contest, but such is mine: For my religious principles, at which you have scoffed, believe me, that though they depend not on set forms, they are no less sincere than your own, and thus far purer-excuse the word that they are unmingled with the blood-thirsty dictates of a barbarous age, which you and others have called the code of chivalrous honour. Not my own natural disposition, but the better doctrine which my creed has taught, enables me to bear your harsh revilings without answering in a similar tone of wrath and reproach. You may carry insult to extremity against me at your pleasure-not on.ac. count of our relationship alone, but because I am bound in charity to endure it. This, Sir Henry, is much from one of our house. But, with forbearance far more than this requires, I can refuse at your hands the gift, which, most of all things under Heaven, I should desire to obtain, because duty calls upon her to sustain and comfort you, and because it were sin to permit you, in your blindness, to spurn your comforter from your side.-Farewell, sir-not in anger but in pity-We may meet in a better time, when your heart and your principles shall master the unhappy prejudices by which they are now over-cloud. ed. Farewell--farewell, Alice!'
The last words were repeated twice, and in a tone of feeling and passionate grief, which differed utterly from the steady and almost severe tone in which he had addressed Sir Henry Lee. He turned and left the hut so soon as he had uttered these last words; and, as if ashamed of the tenderness which had mingled with his accents, the young commonwealth's man turned and walked sternly and resolvedly forth into the moonlight, which now was spreading its broad light and autumnal shadows over the woodland.
So soon as he was departed, Alice, who had been during the whole scene in the utmost terror that her father might have been hurried, by his natural heat of temper, from violence of language into violence of action, sunk down upon a settle twisted out of willowboughs, like most of Joceline's few movables, and endeavoured to conceal the tears which accompanied the thanks she rendered in broken accents to Heaven, that, notwithstanding the near alliance and relationship of the parties, some fatal deed had not closed an interview so perilous and so angry. Phæbe Mayflower blubbered heartily for company, though she understood but little of what had passed; just, indeed, enough to enable her afterwards to report to some half-dozen particular friends, that her old master, Sir Henry, had been perilous angry, and almost fought with young Master Everard, because he had well nigh carried away her young mistress. And what could he have done better?' said Phæbe, 'seeing the old man had nothing left either for Mrs. Alice or himself; and as for Mr. Mark Everard, and our young lady, oh, they had spoken such loving things to each other, as are not to be found in the history of Argalus and Parthenia, who, as the story-book tells, were the truest pair of lovers in all Arcadia, and Oxfordshire to boot.'
Old Goody Jellycot had popped her scarlet hood into the kitchen more than once while the scene was proceeding; but, as the worthy dame was parcel blind, and more than parcel deaf, knowledge was excluded by two principal entrances; and though she comprehended, by a sort of general instinct, that the gentlefolks were at high words yet why they chose Joc
line's hut for the scene of their dispute, was as great a mystery as the subject of the quarrel.
But what was the state of the old cavalier's mood, thus contradicted, as his most darling principles had been, by the last words of his departed nephew? The truth is, that he was less thoroughly moved than his daughter expected; and in all probability his nephew's bold defence of his religious and political opinions rather pacified than aggravated his displeasure. Although sufficiently impatient of contradiction, still evasion and subterfuge were more alien to the blunt old Rauger's nature than manly vindication and di. rect opposition; and he was wont to say, that he ever loved the buck best who stood boldest at bay. He graced his nephew's departure, however, with a quolation from Shakspeare, whom, as many others do, he was wont to quote from a sort of habit and respect to him, as a favourite of his unfortunate master, without having either much real taste for his works, or great skill in applying the passages which he retained on his memory,
• Mark,' he said, mark this, Alice--the devil can quote scripture for his purpose. Why, this young fapatic cousin of thine, with no more beard than I have seen on a clown playing Maid Marion on May-day, when the village barber had shaved him in too great a hurry, shall match any bearded Presbyterian or Independent of them all, in laying down his doctrines and his uses, and bethumping us with his texts and his homilies. I would worthy and learned Doctor Rochecliffe had been here, with his battery readymounted from the Vulgate, and the Septuagint, and what not-he would have battered the Presbyterian spirit out of him with a wanion. However, I am glad the young man is no sneaker; for, were a man of the devil's opinion in religion, and of Old Noll's in politics, he were better open on it full cry, than deceive you by hunting counter, or running a false scent. Come -wipe thine eyes-the fray is over, and not like to be stirred again soon, I trust.'