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cable, were so much more direct and noble than his own, as led him to question whether he had not compromised himself too rashly with Cromwell, even although the state of the country was so greatly divided and torn by faction, that the promotion of the General to the possession of the executive government seemed the only chance of escaping a renewal of the Civil War. The more exalted and purer sentiments of Alice lowered him in his own eyes; and though unshaken in his opinion, that it were better the vessel should be steered by a pilot having no good title to the office, than that she should run upon the breakers, he felt that he was not espousing the most direct, manly, and disinterested side of the question.
As he rode on, immersed in these unpleasant contemplations, and considerably lessened in his own esteem by what had happened, Wildrake, who rode by his side, and was no friend to long silence, began to enter into conversation. “I have been thinking, Mark,” said he, “ that if you and I had been called to the bar-as, by the by, has been in danger of happening to me in more
senses than one--I say, had we become barristers, I would have had the better oiled tongue of the two--the fairer art of persuasion.”
“ Perhaps so," replied Everard, “ though I never heard thee use any, save to induce an usurer to lend thee money, or a taverner to abate a reckoning.'
“ And yet this day, or rather night, I could have, as I think, made a conquest which baffled
“ Indeed ?" said the Colonel, becoming attentive.
Why, look you,” said Wildrake, “ it was a main object with you to induce Mistress Alice Lee-By Heaven, she is an exquisite creatureI approve of your taste, Mark—I say, you desired to persuade her, and the stout old Trojan her father, to consent and return to the Lodge, and live there quietly, and under connivance, like gentlefolk, instead of lodging in a hut hardly fit to harbour a Tom of Bedlam."
“ Thou art right; such, indeed, was a great part of my object in this visit," answered Everard.
of our poor
“But, perhaps, you also expected to visit there yourself, and so keep watch over pretty Mistress Leceh?"
" I never entertained so selfish a thought,” said Everard; " and if this nocturnal disturbance at the mansion were explained and ended, I would instantly take my departure.”
“ Your friend Noll would expect something more from you," said Wildrake" he would expect, in case the knight's reputation for loyalty should draw any
exiles and wanderers about the Lodge, that you should be on the watch, and ready to snap them. In a word -as far as I can understand his long-winded speeches-he would have Woodstock a trap, your uncle and his pretty daughter the bait of toasted cheese-craving your Chloe's pardon for the comparison--you the spring-fall which should bar their escape_his Lordship himself being the great grimalkin to whom they are to be given over to be devoured.”
“ Dared Cromwell mention this to thee in express terms ?” said Everard, pulling up his horse, and stopping in the midst of the road.
Nay, not in express terms, which I do not believe he ever used in his life-you might as well expect a drunken man to go straight forward; but he insinuated as much to me, and indicated that you might deserve well of him Gatzo—the damnable proposal sticks in my throat-by betraying our noble and rightful King, (here he pulled off his hat,) whom God grant in health and wealth long to reign, as the worthy clergyman says, though I fear just now his Majesty is both sick and sorry, and never a penny in his pouch to boot.”
“ This tallies with what Alice hinted," said Everard; “ but how could she know it? didst thou give her any hint of such a thing ?”
“I ?" replied the cavalier, “ I, who never saw Mistress Alice in my life till to-night, and then only for an instant-zooks, man, how is that
“ True," replied Everard, and seemed lost in thought. At length he spoke—“ I should call Cromwell to account for his bad opinion of me; for even though not seriously expressed, but, as I am convinced it was, with the sole view of pro
ving you, and perhaps myself, it was, nevertheless, a misconstruction to be resented.”
“ I'll carry a cartel for you, with all my heart and soul,” said Wildrake; “ and turn out with his godliness's second, with as good will as I ever drank a glass of sack.”
“ Pshaw,” replied Everard, “ those in his high place fight no singular combats.—But tell me, Roger Wildrake, didst thou thyself think me capable of the falsehood and treachery implied in such a message ?"
“I?"exclaimed Wildrake. _“Markham Everard, you have been my early friend, my constant benefactor. When Colchester was reduced, you saved me from the gallows, and since that thou hast twenty times saved me from starving. But, by Heaven, if I thought you capable of such villainy as your General recommended,,by yonder blue sky, and all the works of creation which it bends over, I would stab you with my own
Death,” replied Everard, “ I should indeed deserve, but not from you perhaps ;-—but fortunately, I cannot, if I would, be guilty of the