Page images
PDF
EPUB

firmly and entirely persuaded of the truth of his own visions, yet was not willing to speak on the subject to those who, he knew, would regard them as imaginary. Upon this occasion he assumed the appearance of perfect ease and composure, after the violent agitation he had just manifested, in a manner which showed how anxious he was to disguise his real feelings from Everard, whom he considered as unlikely to participate them.

He saluted the Colonel with profound ceremony, and talked of the fineness of the evening which had summoned him forth of the Lodge, to take a turn in the Park, and enjoy the favourable weather. He then took Everard by the arm, and walked back with him towards the Lodge, Wildrake and Tomkins following close behind and leading the horses. Everard, desirous to gain some light on these mysterious incidents, endeavoured to come on the subject more than once, by a mode of interrogation, which Harrison (for madmen are very often unwilling to enter on the subject of their mental delusion) parried with some skill, or addressed himself for aid to his steward Tomkins, who was in the habit of being voucher

for his master upon all occasions, which led to Desborough's ingenious nickname of Fibbet.

“ And wherefore had you your sword drawn, my worthy General," said Everard, “ when

you were only on an evening walk of pleasure ?" .“ Truly, excellent Colonel, these are times when men must watch with their loins girded, and their lights burning, and their weapons drawn. The day draweth nigh, believe me or not as you will, that men must watch lest they be found naked and unarmed, when the seven trumpets shall sound, Boot and saddle; and the pipes of Jezer shall strike up, Horse and away."

" True, good General; but methought I saw you making passes even now as if you were fighting,” said Everard.

“ I am of a strange fantasy, friend Everard," answered Harrison ; " and when I walk alone, and happen, as but now, to have my weapon drawn, I sometimes, for exercise sake, will practise a thrust against such a tree as that. It is a silly pride men have in the use of weapons. I have been accounted a master of fence, and have fought prizes when I was unregenerated, and

before I was called to do my part in the great work, entering as a trooper into our victorious General's first regiment of horse."

“ But methought,” said Everard, “ I heard a weapon clash with yours ?”

“ How ? a weapon clash with my sword ? How could that be, Tomkins ?”

“ Truly, sir," said Tomkins, “it must have been a bough of the tree ; they have them of all kinds here, and your honour may have pushed against one of them, which the Brazilians call iron-wood, a block of which being struck with a hammer, saith Purchas in his Pilgrimage, ringeth like an anvil."

« Truly, it may be so," said Harrison ; " for these rulers who are gone, assembled in this their abode of pleasure many strange trees and plants, though they gathered not of the fruit of that tree, which beareth twelve manner of fruits, or of those leaves which are the healing of the nations."

Everard pursued his investigation ; for he was struck with the manner in which Harrison evaded his questions, and the dexterity with which

he threw his transcendental and fanatical notions, like a sort of veil, over the darker visions excited by remorse and conscious guilt.

“ But,” said he, “ if I may trust my eyes and ears, I cannot but still think that you had a real antagonist-Nay, I am sure I saw a fellow, in a dark-coloured jerkin, retreat through the wood."

“ Did you ?" said Harrison, with a tone of surprise, while his voice faltered in spite of him, “ Who could he be ?-Tomkins, did you see the fellow Colonel Everard talks of with the napkin in his hand-the bloody napkin which he always pressed to his side ?"

This last expression, in which Harrison gave a mark different from that which Everard had assigned, but corresponding to Tomkins's original description of the supposed spectre, had more effect on Everard in confirming the steward's story, than anything he had witnessed or heard. . The voucher answered the draft upon him as promptly as usual, that he had seen such a fellow glide past them into the thicket—that he daresay he was some deer-stealer, for he had heard they were become very audacious.

“Look ye there now, Master Everard,” said Harrison, hurrying from the subject—"Is it not time now that we should lay aside our controversies, and join hand in hand to repairing the breaches of our Zion! Happy and contented were I, my excellent friend, to be a treader of mortar, or a bearer of a hod, upon this occasion, under our great leader, with whom Providence has gone forth in this great national controversy; and truly, so devoutly do I hold by our excellent and victorious General Oliver, whom Heaven long preserve that were he to command me, I should not scruple to pluck forth of his high place the man whom they call Speaker, even as I lent a poor hand to pluck down the man whom they called King.-- Wherefore, as I know your judgment holdeth with mine on this matter, let me urge unto you lovingly, that we may act as brethren, and build up the breaches, and re-establish the bulwarks of our English Zion, whereby we shall be doubtless chosen as pillars and buttresses, under our excellent Lord General, for supporting and sustaining the same, and endowed with proper revenues and incomes, both spiritual and

« PreviousContinue »