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Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica, economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore automatico interattivo FGA Translate

  1. Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
  2. Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
  3. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
  4. Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
  5. Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
  6. Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
  7. Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
  8. Anonimo - BEOWULF
  9. Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
  10. Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
  11. Austen, Jane - EMMA
  12. Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
  13. Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
  14. Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
  15. Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
  16. Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
  17. Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
  18. Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
  19. Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
  20. Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
  21. Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
  22. Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
  23. Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
  24. Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
  25. Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
  26. Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
  27. Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
  28. Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
  29. Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
  30. Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
  31. Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
  32. Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
  33. Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
  34. Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
  35. Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
  36. Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
  37. Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
  38. Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
  39. Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
  40. Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
  41. Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
  42. Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
  43. Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  44. Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
  45. Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
  46. Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
  47. Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
  48. Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
  49. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
  50. Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
  51. Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
  52. Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
  53. Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
  54. Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
  55. Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
  56. Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
  57. Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
  58. Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
  59. Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
  60. Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
  61. Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  62. Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  63. Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY OF LIFE
  64. Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
  65. Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
  66. Collodi - PINOCCHIO
  67. Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
  68. Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  69. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
  70. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
  71. Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
  72. Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
  73. Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
  74. Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
  75. Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
  76. Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
  77. Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
  78. Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
  79. Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
  80. Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
  81. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
  82. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
  83. Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
  84. Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
  85. Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
  86. Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
  87. Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
  88. Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
  89. Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
  90. Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
  91. Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
  92. Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
  93. Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
  94. Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
  95. Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
  96. Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
  97. Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
  98. Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
  99. Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
  100. Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
  101. Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
  102. Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
  103. Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
  104. Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
  105. Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
  106. Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
  107. Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
  108. Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
  109. Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
  110. Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
  111. Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
  112. Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
  113. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
  114. Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
  115. Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
  116. Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
  117. Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
  118. Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
  119. Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
  120. Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
  121. Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
  122. Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
  123. Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  124. Esopo - FABLES
  125. Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
  126. Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
  127. France, Anatole - THAIS
  128. France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
  129. France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
  130. France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
  131. Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
  132. Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
  133. Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  134. Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
  135. Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
  136. Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
  137. Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
  138. Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
  139. Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
  140. Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
  141. Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
  142. Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
  143. Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
  144. Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
  145. Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
  146. Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
  147. Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
  148. Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
  149. Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
  150. Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
  151. Goethe - FAUST
  152. Gogol - DEAD SOULS
  153. Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
  154. Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
  155. Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
  156. Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
  157. Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
  158. Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
  159. Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
  160. Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
  161. Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
  162. Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
  163. Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
  164. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
  165. Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
  166. Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
  167. Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
  168. Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
  169. Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
  170. Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
  171. Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
  172. Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
  173. Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
  174. Homer - THE ILIAD
  175. Homer - THE ODYSSEY
  176. Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
  177. Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
  178. Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
  179. Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
  180. Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
  181. Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
  182. Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
  183. Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
  184. Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
  185. Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
  186. Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
  187. Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
  188. Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
  189. Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
  190. James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
  191. James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
  192. James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
  193. James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
  194. James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
  195. James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
  196. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
  197. Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
  198. Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
  199. Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
  200. Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
  201. Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
  202. Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
  203. Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
  204. Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
  205. Joyce, James - ULYSSES
  206. Keats, John - ENDYMION
  207. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
  208. Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
  209. King James - THE BIBLE
  210. Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
  211. Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
  212. Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
  213. Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
  214. Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
  215. Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
  216. Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
  217. Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
  218. Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
  219. Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
  220. Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
  221. Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
  222. Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
  223. Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
  224. Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
  225. Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
  226. Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
  227. Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
  228. Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
  229. Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
  230. Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
  231. Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
  232. Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
  233. Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
  234. Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
  235. Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
  236. Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
  237. London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
  238. London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
  239. London, Jack - WHITE FANG
  240. Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
  241. Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
  242. Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
  243. Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
  244. Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
  245. Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
  246. Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
  247. Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
  248. Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
  249. Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
  250. Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
  251. Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
  252. Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
  253. More, Thomas - UTOPIA
  254. Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
  255. Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
  256. Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
  257. Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
  258. Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
  259. Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
  260. Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
  261. Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
  262. Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
  263. Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
  264. Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
  265. Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
  266. Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
  267. Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
  268. Plato - THE REPUBLIC
  269. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
  270. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
  271. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
  272. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
  273. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
  274. Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
  275. Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
  276. Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
  277. Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
  278. Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
  279. Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
  280. Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
  281. Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
  282. Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
  283. Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
  284. Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
  285. Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
  286. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
  287. Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
  288. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
  289. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
  290. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
  291. Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
  292. Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
  293. Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
  294. Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
  295. Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
  296. Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
  297. Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
  298. Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
  299. Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
  300. Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
  301. Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
  302. Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
  303. Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
  304. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
  305. Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
  306. Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
  307. Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
  308. Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
  309. Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
  310. Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
  311. Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
  312. Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
  313. Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
  314. Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
  315. Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
  316. Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
  317. Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
  318. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
  319. Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
  320. Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
  321. Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
  322. Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
  323. Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
  324. Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
  325. Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
  326. Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
  327. Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
  328. Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
  329. Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
  330. Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
  331. Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
  332. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
  333. Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
  334. Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
  335. Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
  336. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
  337. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
  338. Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
  339. Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
  340. Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
  341. Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
  342. Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
  343. Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
  344. Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
  345. Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
  346. Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
  347. Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
  348. Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
  349. Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
  350. Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
  351. Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
  352. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
  353. Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
  354. Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
  355. Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
  356. Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
  357. Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
  358. Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
  359. Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
  360. Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
  361. Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
  362. Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
  363. Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
  364. Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
  365. Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
  366. Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
  367. Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
  368. Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
  369. Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
  370. Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
  371. Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
  372. Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
  373. Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
  374. Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
  375. Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
  376. Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
  377. Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
  378. Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
  379. Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
  380. White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
  381. Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
  382. Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
  383. Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
  384. Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
  385. Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
  386. Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
  387. Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
  388. Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
  389. Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
  390. Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
  391. Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
  392. Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
  393. Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
  394. Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
  395. Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
  396. Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
  397. Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
  398. Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
  399. Wordsworth, William - POEMS
  400. Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
  401. Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN

 




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Captain Marryat
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THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST

BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.

CHAPTER ONE.

The circumstances which I am about to relate to my juvenile readers took place in the year 1647. By referring to the history of England of that date they will find that King Charles the First, against whom the Commons of England had rebelled, after a civil war of nearly five years, had been defeated, and was confined as a prisoner at Hampton Court. The Cavaliers, or the party who fought for King Charles, had all been dispersed, and the Parliamentary army under the command of Cromwell were beginning to control the Commons.

It was in the month of November in this year that King Charles, accompanied by Sir John Berkely Ashburnham and Legg, made his escape from Hampton Court, and rode as fast as the horses could carry them towards that part of Hampshire which led to the New Forest. The king expected that his friends had provided a vessel in which he might escape to France; but in this he was disappointed. There was no vessel ready, and after riding for some time along the shore he resolved to go to Titchfield, a seat belonging to the Earl of Southampton. After a long consultation with those who attended him, he yielded to their advice, which was, to trust to Colonel Hammond, who was governor of the Isle of Wight for the Parliament, but who was supposed to be friendly to the king. Whatever might be the feelings of commiseration of Colonel Hammond towards a king so unfortunately situated, he was firm in his duties towards his employers, and the consequence was that King Charles found himself again a prisoner in Carisbrook Castle.

But we must now leave the king, and retrace history to the commencement of the civil war. A short distance from the town of Lymington, which is not far from Titchfield, where the king took shelter, but on the other side of the Southampton Water, and south of the New Forest, to which it adjoins, was a property called Arnwood, which belonged to a Cavalier of the name of Beverley. It was at that time a property of considerable value, being very extensive, and the park ornamented with valuable timber; for it abutted on the New Forest, and might have been supposed to have been a continuation of it. This Colonel Beverley, as we must call him, for he rose to that rank in the king's army, was a valued friend and companion of Prince Rupert's, and commanded several troops of cavalry. He was ever at his side in the brilliant charges made by this gallant prince, and at last fell in his arms at the battle of Naseby. Colonel Beverley had married into the family of the Villiers, and the issue of his marriage was two sons and two daughters; but his zeal and sense of duty had induced him, at the commencement of the war, to leave his wife and family at Arnwood, and he was fated never to meet them again. The news of his death had such an effect upon Mrs Beverley, already worn with anxiety on her husband's account, that a few months afterwards she followed him to an early tomb, leaving the four children under the charge of an elderly relative till such time as the family of the Villiers could protect them; but, as will appear by our history, this was not at that period possible. The life of a king and many other lives were in jeopardy, and the orphans remained at Arnwood, still under the care of their elderly relation, at the time that our history commences.

The New Forest, my readers are perhaps aware, was first enclosed by William the Conqueror as a royal forest for his own amusement, for in those days most crowned heads were passionately fond of the chase; and they may also recollect that his successor, William Rufus, met his death in this forest by the glancing of an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell. Since that time to the present day it has continued a royal domain. At the period of which we are writing it had an establishment of verderers and keepers, paid by the Crown, amounting to some forty or fifty men. At the commencement of the civil war they remained at their posts, but soon found, in the disorganised state of the country, that their wages were no longer to be obtained; and then, when the king had decided upon raising an army, Beverley, who held a superior office in the forest, enrolled all the young and athletic men who were employed in the forest, and marched them away with him to join the king's army. Some few remained, their age not rendering their services of value, and among them was an old and attached servant of Beverley's, a man above sixty years of age, whose name was Jacob Armitage, and who had obtained the situation through Colonel Beverley's interest. Those who remained in the forest lived in cottages many miles asunder, and indemnified themselves for the non-payment of their salaries by killing the deer for sale and for their own subsistence.

The cottage of Jacob Armitage was situated on the skirts of the New Forest, about a mile and a half from the mansion of Arnwood; and when Colonel Beverley went to join the king's troops, feeling how little security there would be for his wife and children in those troubled times, he requested the old man, by his attachment to the family, not to lose sight of Arnwood, but to call there as often as possible to see if he could be of service to Mrs Beverley. The colonel would have persuaded Jacob to have altogether taken up his residence at the mansion; but to this the old man objected. He had been all his life under the greenwood tree, and could not bear to leave the forest. He promised the colonel that he would watch over his family, and ever be at hand when required; and he kept his word. The death of Colonel Beverley was a heavy blow to the old forester, and he watched over Mrs Beverley and the orphans with the greatest solicitude; but when Mrs Beverley followed her husband to the tomb he then redoubled his attentions, and was seldom more than a few hours at a time away from the mansion. The two boys were his inseparable companions, and he instructed them, young as they were, in all the secrets of his own calling. Such was the state of affairs at the time that King Charles made his escape from Hampton Court; and I now shall resume my narrative from where it was broken off.

As soon as the escape of Charles the First was made known to Cromwell and the Parliament, troops of horse were despatched in every direction to the southward, towards which the prints of the horses' hoofs proved that he had gone. As they found that he had proceeded in the direction of the New Forest, the troops were subdivided and ordered to scour the forest, in parties of twelve to twenty, while others hastened down to Southampton, Lymington, and every other seaport or part of the coast from which the king might be likely to embark. Old Jacob had been at Arnwood on the day before, but on this day he had made up his mind to procure some venison, that he might not go there again empty-handed; for Miss Judith Villiers was very partial to venison, and was not slow to remind Jacob if the larder was for many days deficient in that meat. Jacob had gone out accordingly; he had gained his leeward position of a fine buck, and was gradually nearing him by stealth, now behind a huge oak-tree, and then crawling through the high fern, so as to get within shot unperceived, when on a sudden the animal, which had been quietly feeding, bounded away and disappeared in the thicket. At the same time Jacob perceived a small body of horse galloping through the glen in which the buck had been feeding. Jacob had never yet seen the Parliamentary troops, for they had not during the war been sent into that part of the country, but their iron skull-caps, their buff accoutrements, and dark habiliments, assured him that such these must be; so very different were they from the gaily-equipped Cavalier cavalry commanded by Prince Rupert. At the time that they advanced, Jacob had been lying down in the fern near to some low black-thorn-bushes; not wishing to be perceived by them, he drew back between the bushes, intending to remain concealed until they should gallop out of sight; for Jacob thought, "I am a king's forester, and they may consider me as an enemy; and who knows how I may be treated by them?" But Jacob was disappointed in his expectations of the troops riding past him; on the contrary, as soon as they arrived at an oak-tree within twenty yards of where he was concealed, the order was given to halt and dismount; the sabres of the horsemen clattered in their iron sheaths as the order was obeyed, and the old man expected to be immediately discovered; but one of the thorn-bushes was directly between him and the troopers, and effectually concealed him. At last Jacob ventured to raise his head and peep through the bush; and he perceived that the men were loosening the girths of their black horses, or wiping away the perspiration from their sides with handfuls of fern.

A powerfully-framed man, who appeared to command the others, was standing with his hand upon the arched neck of his steed, which appeared as fresh and vigorous as ever, although covered with foam and perspiration. "Spare not to rub down, my men," said he, "for we have tried the mettle of our horses, and have now but one half-hour's breathing-time. We must be on, for the work of the Lord must be done."

"They say that this forest is many miles in length and breadth," observed another of the men, "and we may ride many a mile to no purpose; but here is James Southwold, who once was living in it as a verderer; nay, I think that he said that he was born and bred in these woods. Was it not so, James Southwold?"

"It is even as you say," replied an active-looking young man; "I was born and bred in this forest, and my father was a verderer before me."

Jacob Armitage, who listened to the conversation, immediately recognised the young man in question. He was one of those who had joined the king's army with the other verderers and keepers. It pained him much to perceive that one who had always been considered a frank, true-hearted young man, and who left the forest to fight in defence of his king, was now turned a traitor, and had joined the ranks of the enemy; and Jacob thought how much better it had been for James Southwold if he had never quitted the New Forest, and had not been corrupted by evil company: "He was a good lad," thought Jacob, "and now he is a traitor and a hypocrite."

"If born and bred in this forest, James Southwold," said the leader of the troop, "you must fain know all its mazes and paths. Now call to mind, are there no secret hiding-places in which people may remain concealed; no thickets which may cover both man and horse? Peradventure thou mayst point out the very spot where this man Charles may be hidden."

"I do know one dell, within a mile of Arnwood," replied James Southwold, "which might cover double our troop from the eyes of the most wary."

"We will ride there, then," replied the leader. "Arnwood, sayest thou? Is not that the property of the Malignant, Cavalier Beverley, who was shot down at Naseby?"

"Even so," replied Southwold; "and many is the time--that is, in the olden time, before I was regenerated--many is the day of revelry that I have passed there; many the cup of good ale that I have quaffed."

"And thou shalt quaff it again," replied the leader. "Good ale was not intended only for Malignants, but for those who serve diligently. After we have examined the dell which thou speakest of, we will direct our horses' heads towards Arnwood."

"Who knows but what the man Charles may be concealed in the Malignant's house?" observed another.

"In the day, I should say no," replied the leader; "but in the night the Cavaliers like to have a roof over their heads; and therefore at night, and not before, will we proceed thither."

"I have searched many of their abodes," observed another; "but search is almost in vain. What with their spring panels and secret doors, their false ceilings and double walls, one may ferret for ever and find nothing."

"Yes," replied the leader, "their abodes are full of these Popish abominations; but there is one way which is sure; and if the man Charles be concealed in any house, I venture to say that I will find him. Fire and smoke will bring him forth; and to every Malignant's house within twenty miles will I apply the torch; but it must be at night, for we are not sure of his being housed during the day. James Southwold, thou knowest well the mansion of Arnwood?"

"I know well my way to all the offices below--the buttery, the cellar, and the kitchen; but I cannot say that I have ever been into the apartments of the upper house."

"That it needeth not; if thou canst direct us to the lower entrance, it will be sufficient."

"That can I, Master Ingram," replied Southwold, "and to where the best ale used to be found."

"Enough, Southwold, enough; our work must be done, and diligently. Now, my men, tighten your girths; we will just ride to the dell: if it conceals not whom we seek, it shall conceal us till night, and then the country shall be lighted up with the flames of Arnwood, while we surround the house and prevent escape. Levellers, to horse!"

The troopers sprang upon their saddles, and went off at a hard trot, Southwold leading the way. Jacob remained among the fern until they were out of sight, and then rose up. He looked for a short time in the direction in which the troopers had gone, stooped down again to take up his gun, and then said, "There's providence in this; yes, and there's providence in my not having my dog with me, for he would not have remained quiet for so long a time. Who would ever have thought that James Southwold would have turned a traitor! More than traitor, for he is now ready to bite the hand that has fed him, to burn the house that has ever welcomed him. This is a bad world, and I thank heaven that I have lived in the woods. But there is no time to lose;" and the old forester threw his gun over his shoulder and hastened away in the direction of his own cottage.

"And so the king has escaped," thought Jacob, as he went along, "and he may be in the forest! Who knows but he may be at Arnwood, for he must hardly know where to go for shelter? I must haste and see Miss Judith immediately. `Levellers, to horse!' the fellow said. What's a Leveller?" thought Jacob.

As perhaps my readers may ask the same question, they must know that a large proportion of the Parliamentary army had at this time assumed the name of Levellers, in consequence of having taken up the opinion that every man should be on an equality, and property should be equally divided. The hatred of these people to any one above them in rank or property, especially towards those of the king's party, which mostly consisted of men of rank and property, was unbounded, and they were merciless and cruel to the highest degree; throwing off much of hat fanatical bearing and language which had before distinguished the Puritans. Cromwell had great difficulty in eventually putting them down, which he did at last accomplish by hanging and slaughtering many. Of this Jacob knew nothing; all he knew was, that Arnwood was to be burnt down that night, and that it would be necessary to remove the family. As for obtaining assistance to oppose the troopers, that he knew to be impossible. As he thought of what must take place, he thanked God for having allowed him to gain the knowledge of what was to happen, and hastened on his way. He had been about eight miles from Arnwood when he had concealed himself in the fern. Jacob first went to his cottage to deposit his gun, saddled his forest pony, and set off for Arnwood. In less than two hours the old man was at the door of the mansion; it was then about three o'clock in the afternoon, and being in the month of November, there was not so much as two hours of daylight remaining. "I shall have a difficult job with the stiff old lady," thought Jacob, as he rang the bell; "I don't believe that she would rise out of her high chair for old Noll and his whole army at his back. But we shall see."

CHAPTER TWO.

Before Jacob is admitted to the presence of Miss Judith Villiers, we must give some account of the establishment at Arnwood. With the exception of one male servant, who officiated in the house and stable as his services might be required, every man of the household of Colonel Beverley had followed the fortunes of their master, and as none had returned, they, in all probability, had shared his fate. Three female servants, with the man above mentioned, composed the whole household. Indeed, there was every reason for not increasing the establishment; for the rents were either paid in part or not paid at all. It was generally supposed that the property, now that the Parliament had gained the day, would be sequestrated, although such was not yet the case; and the tenants were unwilling to pay, to those who were not authorised to receive, the rents which they might be again called upon to make good. Miss Judith Villiers, therefore, found it difficult to maintain the present household; and although she did not tell Jacob Armitage that such was the case, the fact was, that very often the venison which he brought to the mansion was all the meat that was in the larder. The three female servants held the offices of cook, attendant upon Miss Villiers, and housemaid; the children being under the care of no particular servant, and left much to themselves. There had been a chaplain in the house, but he had quitted before the death of Mrs Beverley, and the vacancy had not been filled up; indeed, it could not well be, for the one who left had not received his salary for many months, and Miss Judith Villiers, expecting every day to be summoned by her relations to bring the children and join them, sat in her high chair waiting for the arrival of this summons, which, from the distracted state of the times, had never come.

As we have before said, the orphans were four in number; the two eldest were boys, and the youngest were girls. Edward, the eldest boy, was between thirteen and fourteen years old; Humphrey, the second, was twelve; Alice, eleven; and Edith, eight. As it is the history of these young persons which we are about to narrate, we shall say little about them at present, except that for many months they had been under little or no restraint, and less attended to. Their companions were Benjamin, the man who remained in the house, and old Jacob Armitage, who passed all the time he could spare with them. Benjamin was rather weak in intellect, and was a source of amusement rather than otherwise. As for the female servants, one was wholly occupied with her attendance on Miss Judith, who was very exacting, and had a high notion of her own consequence. The other two had more than sufficient employment; as, when there is no money to pay with, everything must be done at home. That, under such circumstances, the boys became boisterous and the little girls became romps, is not to be wondered at; but their having become so was the cause of Miss Judith seldom admitting them into her room. It is true that they were sent for once a day, to ascertain if they were in the house or in existence, but soon dismissed and left to their own resources. Such was the neglect to which these young orphans were exposed. It must, however, be admitted, that this very neglect made them independent and bold, full of health from constant activity, and more fitted for the change which was so soon to take place.

"Benjamin," said Jacob, as the other came to the door, "I must speak with the old lady."

"Have you brought any venison, Jacob?" said Benjamin, grinning; "else, I reckon, you'll not be over welcome."

"No, I have not; but it is an important business, so send Agatha to her directly."

"I will; and I'll not say anything about the venison."

In a few minutes Jacob was ushered up by Agatha into Miss Judith Villiers's apartment. The old lady was about fifty years of age, very prim and starched, sitting in a high-backed chair, with her feet upon a stool, and her hands crossed before her, her black mittens reposing upon her snow-white apron.

The old forester made his obeisance.

"You have important business with us, I am told," observed Miss Judith.

"Most important, madam," replied Jacob. "In the first place, it is right that you should be informed that his Majesty King Charles has escaped from Hampton Court."

"His majesty escaped!" replied the lady.

"Yes; and is supposed to be secreted somewhere in this neighbourhood. His majesty is not in this house, madam, I presume?"

"Jacob, his majesty is not in this house; if he were, I would suffer my tongue to be torn out sooner than I would confess it, even to you."

"But I have more for your private ear, madam."

"Agatha, retire; and Agatha, be mindful that you go downstairs, and do not remain outside the door."

Agatha, with this injunction, bounced out of the room, slamming-to the door so as to make Miss Judith start from her seat.

"Ill-mannered girl!" exclaimed Miss Judith. "Now, Jacob Armitage, you may proceed."

Jacob then entered into the detail of what he had overheard that morning, when he fell in with the troopers, concluding with the information that the mansion would be burnt down that very night. He then pointed out the necessity of immediately abandoning the house, as it would be impossible to oppose the troopers.

"And where am I to go to, Jacob?" said Miss Judith calmly.

"I hardly know, madam; there is my cottage, it is but a poor place, and not fit for one like you."

"So I should presume, Jacob Armitage; neither shall I accept your offer. It would ill befit the dignity of a Villiers to be frightened out of her abode by a party of rude soldiers. Happen what will, I shall not stir from this--no, not even from this chair. Neither do I consider the danger so great as you suppose. Let Benjamin saddle, and be prepared to ride over to Lymington immediately. I will give him a letter to the magistrate there, who will send us protection."

"But, madam, the children cannot remain here. I will not leave them here. I promised the colonel--"

"Will the children be in more danger than I shall be, Jacob Armitage?" replied the old lady stiffly. "They dare not ill-treat me--they may force the buttery and drink the ale--they may make merry with that and the venison which you have brought with you, I presume; but they will hardly venture to insult a lady of the house of Villiers."

"I fear they will venture anything, madam. At all events, they will frighten the children, and for one night they will be better in my cottage."

"Well, then, be it so; take them to your cottage, and take Martha to attend upon the Miss Beverleys. Go down now, and desire Agatha to come to me, and Benjamin to saddle as fast as he can."

Jacob left the room, satisfied with the permission to remove the children. He knew that it was useless to argue with Miss Judith, who was immovable when once she had declared her intentions. He was debating in his own mind whether he should acquaint the servants with the threatened danger; but he had no occasion to do so, for Agatha had remained at the door while Jacob was communicating the intelligence, and as soon as he had arrived at that portion of it by which she learnt that the mansion was to be burnt down that night, had run off to the kitchen to communicate the intelligence to the other servants.

"I'll not stay to be burnt to death," exclaimed the cook, as Jacob came in. "Well, Mr Armitage, this is pretty news you have brought. What does my lady say?"

"She desires that Benjamin saddles immediately, to carry a letter to Lymington; and you, Agatha, are to go upstairs to her."

"But what does she mean to do? Where are we to go?" exclaimed Agatha.

"Miss Judith intends to remain where she is."

"Then she will remain alone for me," exclaimed the housemaid, who was admired by Benjamin. "It's bad enough to have little victuals and no wages; but as for being burnt to death--Benjamin, put a pillion behind your saddle, and I'll go to Lymington with you. I won't be long in getting my bundle."

Benjamin, who was in the kitchen with the maids at the time that Jacob entered, made a sign significant of consent, and went away to the stable. Agatha went up to her mistress in a state of great perturbation, and the cook also hurried away to her bedroom.

"They'll all leave her," thought Jacob; "well, my duty is plain; I'll not leave the children in the house." Jacob then went in search of them, and found them playing in the garden. He called the two boys to him, and told them to follow him. "Now, Mr Edward," said he, "you must prove yourself your father's own son. We must leave this house immediately; come up with me to your rooms, and help me to pack up yours and your sisters' clothes, for we must go to my cottage this night. There is no time to be lost."

"But why, Jacob; I must know why?"

"Because the Parliamentary troopers will burn it down this night."

"Burn it down! Why, the house is mine, is it not? Who dares to burn down this house?"

"They will dare it, and will do it."

"But we will fight them, Jacob; we can bolt and bar; I can fire a gun, and hit too, as you know; then there's Benjamin and you."

"And what can you and two men do against a troop of horse, my dear boy? If we could defend the place against them, Jacob Armitage would be the first; but it is impossible, my dear boy. Recollect your sisters. Would you have them burnt to death, or shot by these wretches? No, no, Mr Edward; you must do as I say, and lose no time. Let us pack up what will be most useful, and load White Billy with the bundles; then you must all come to the cottage with me, and we will make it out how we can."

"That will be jolly!" said Humphrey; "come, Edward."

But Edward Beverley required more persuasion to abandon the house; at last old Jacob prevailed, and the clothes were put up in bundles as fast as they could collect them.

"Your aunt said Martha was to go with your sisters, but I doubt if she will," observed Jacob, "and I think we shall have no room for her, for the cottage is small enough."

"Oh no, we don't want her," said Humphrey; "Alice always dresses Edith and herself too, ever since mamma died."

"Now we will carry down the bundles, and you make them fast on the pony while I go for your sisters."

"But where does Aunt Judith go?" inquired Edward.

"She will not leave the house, Master Edward; she intends to stay and speak to the troopers."

"And so an old woman like her remains to face the enemy, while I run away from them!" replied Edward. "I will not go."

"Well, Master Edward," replied Jacob, "you must do as you please; but it will be cruel to leave your sisters here; they and Humphrey must come with me, and I cannot manage to get them to the cottage without you go with us; it is not far, and you can return in a very short time."

To this Edward consented. The pony was soon loaded, and the little girls, who were still playing in the garden, were called in by Humphrey. They were told that they were going to pass the night in the cottage, and were delighted at the idea.

"Now, Master Edward," said Jacob, "will you take your sisters by the hand and lead them to the cottage? Here is the key of the door; Master Humphrey can lead the pony; and Master Edward," continued Jacob, taking him aside, "I'll tell you one thing which I will not mention before your brother and sisters: the troopers are all about the New Forest, for King Charles has escaped, and they are seeking for him. You must not, therefore, leave your brother and sisters till I return. Lock the cottage-door as soon as it is dark. You know where to get a light, over the cupboard; and my gun is loaded, and hangs above the mantelpiece. You must do your best, if they attempt to force an entrance; but above all, promise me not to leave them till I return. I will remain here to see what I can do with your aunt; and when I come back, we can then decide how to act."

This latter ruse of Jacob's succeeded. Edward promised that he would not leave his sisters, and it wanted but a few minutes of twilight when the little party quitted the mansion of Arnwood. As they went out of the gates, they were passed by Benjamin, who was trotting away with Martha behind him on a pillion, holding a bundle as large as herself. Not a word was exchanged, and Benjamin and Martha were soon out of sight.

"Why, where can Martha be going?" said Alice. "Will she be back when we come home to-morrow?"

Edward made no reply, but Humphrey said, "Well, she has taken plenty of clothes in that huge bundle, for one night, at least."

Jacob, as soon as he had seen the children on their way, returned to the kitchen, where he found Agatha and the cook collecting their property, evidently bent upon a hasty retreat.

"Have you seen Miss Judith, Agatha?"

"Yes; and she told me that she should remain, and that I should stand behind her chair, that she might receive the troopers with dignity; but I don't admire the plan. They might leave her alone, but I am sure that they will be rude to me."

"When did Benjamin say he would be back?"

"He don't intend coming back. He said he would not, at all events, till to-morrow morning, and then he would ride out this way, to ascertain if the report was false or true. But Martha has gone with him."

"I wish I could persuade the old lady to leave the house," said Jacob thoughtfully. "I fear they will not pay her the respect that she calculates upon. Go up, Agatha, and say I wish to speak with her."

"No, not I; I must be off, for it is dark already."

"And where are you going, then?"

"To Gossip Allwood's. It's a good mile, and I have to carry my things."

"Well, Agatha, if you'll take me up to the old lady, I'll carry your things for you."

Agatha consented, and as soon as she had taken up the lamp, for it was now quite dark, Jacob was once more introduced.

"I wish, madam," said Jacob, "you would be persuaded to leave the house for this night."

"Jacob Armitage, leave this house I will not, if it were filled with troopers; I have said so."

"But, madam--"

"No more, sir; you are too forward," replied the old lady haughtily.

"But, madam--"

"Leave my presence, Jacob Armitage, and never appear again. Quit the room, and send Agatha here."

"She has left, madam, and so has the cook, and Martha went away behind Benjamin; when I leave, you will be alone."

"They have dared to leave?"

"They dared not stay, madam."

"Leave me, Jacob Armitage, and shut the door when you go out." Jacob still hesitated. "Obey me instantly," said the old lady; and the forester, finding all remonstrance useless, went out, and obeyed her last commands by shutting the door after him.

Jacob found Agatha and the other maid in the courtyard; he took up their packages, and, as he promised, accompanied them to Gossip Allwood, who kept a small ale-house about a mile distant.

"But, mercy on us! What will become of the children?" said Agatha, as they walked along, her fears for herself having, up to this time, made her utterly forgetful of them. "Poor things! And Martha has left them."

"Yes, indeed; what will become of the dear babes?" said the cook, half-crying.

Now Jacob, knowing that the children of such a Malignant as Colonel Beverley would have sorry treatment if discovered, and knowing also that women were not always to be trusted, determined not to tell them how they were disposed of. He therefore replied:

"Who would hurt such young children as those? No, no, they are safe enough; even the troopers would protect them."

"I should hope so," replied Agatha.

"You may be sure of that; no man would hurt babies," replied Jacob. "The troopers will take them with them to Lymington, I suppose. I've no fear for them; it's the proud old lady whom they will be uncivil to."

The conversation here ended, and in due time they arrived at the inn. Jacob had just put the bundles down on the table when the clattering of horses' hoofs was heard. Shortly afterwards the troopers pulled their horses up at the door, and dismounted. Jacob recognised the party he had met in the forest, and among them Southwold. The troopers called for ale, and remained some time in the house, talking and laughing with the women, especially Agatha, who was a very good-looking girl. Jacob would have retreated quietly, but he found a sentinel posted at the door to prevent the egress of any person. He reseated himself, and while he was listening to the conversation of the troopers, he was recognised by Southwold, who accosted him. Jacob did not pretend not to know him, as it would have been useless; and Southwold put many questions to him as to who were resident at Arnwood. Jacob replied that the children were there, and a few servants, and he was about to mention Miss Judith Villiers, when a thought struck him,--he might save the old lady.

"You are going to Arnwood, I know," said Jacob, "and I have heard who you are in search of. Well, Southwold, I'll give you a hint. I may be wrong; but if you should fall in with an old lady, or something like one, when you go to Arnwood, mount her on your crupper, and away with her to Lymington as fast as you can ride. You understand me." Southwold nodded significantly, and squeezed Jacob's hand.

"One word, Jacob Armitage; if I succeed in the capture by your means, it is but fair that you should have something for your hint. Where can I find you the day after to-morrow?"

"I am leaving the country this night, and go I must. I am in trouble, that's the fact; when all is blown over, I will find you out. Don't speak to me any more just now." Southwold again squeezed Jacob's hand, and left him. Shortly afterwards the order was given to mount, and the troopers set off.

Armitage followed slowly and unobserved. They arrived at the mansion and surrounded it. Shortly afterwards he perceived the glare of torches, and in a quarter of an hour more thick smoke rose up in the dark but clear sky; at last the flames burst forth from the lower windows of the mansion, and soon afterwards they lighted up the country round to some distance.

"It is done," thought Jacob, and he turned to bend his hasty steps towards his own cottage, when he heard the galloping of a horse and violent screams; a minute afterwards James Southwold passed him with the old lady tied behind him, kicking and struggling as hard as she could. Jacob smiled, as he thought that he had by his little stratagem saved the old woman's life, for that Southwold imagined that she was King Charles dressed up as an old woman was evident; and he then returned as fast as he could to the cottage.

In half an hour Jacob had passed through the thick woods which were between the mansion and his own cottage, occasionally looking back, as the flames of the mansion rose higher and higher, throwing their light far and wide. He knocked at the cottage-door; Smoker, a large dog, cross-bred between the fox and bloodhound, growled till Jacob spoke to him, and then Edward opened the door.

"My sisters are in bed and fast asleep, Jacob," said Edward, "and Humphrey has been nodding this half-hour; had he not better go to bed before we go back?"

"Come out, Master Edward,"--replied Jacob, "and look." Edward beheld the flames and fierce light between the trees, and was silent.

"I told you that it would be so, and you would all have been burnt in your beds, for they did not enter the house to see who was in it, but fired it as soon as they had surrounded it."

"And my aunt!" exclaimed Edward, clasping his hands.

"Is safe, Master Edward, and by this time at Lymington."

"We will go to her to-morrow."

"I fear not; you must not risk so much, Master Edward. These Levellers spare nobody, and you had better let it be supposed that you are all burnt in the house."

"But my aunt knows the contrary, Jacob."

"Very true; I quite forgot that." And so Jacob had. He expected that the old woman would have been burnt, and then nobody would have known of the existence of the children; he forgot when he planned to save her, that she knew where the children were.

"Well, Master Edward, I will go to Lymington to-morrow and see the old lady; but you must remain here, and take charge of your sisters till I come back, and then we will consider what is to be done. The flames are not so bright as they were."

"No. It is my house that these Roundheads have burned down," said Edward, shaking his fist.

"It was your house, Master Edward, and it was your property; but how long it will be so remains to be seen. I fear it will be forfeited."

"Woe to the people who dare take possession of it," cried Edward; "I shall, if I live, be a man one of these days."

"Yes, Master Edward, and then you will reflect more than you do now, and not be rash. Let us go into the cottage, for it's no use remaining out in the cold; the frost is sharp to-night."

Edward slowly followed Jacob into the cottage. His little heart was full. He was a proud boy and a good boy, but the destruction of the mansion had raised up evil thoughts in his heart--hatred to the Covenanters, who had killed his father and now burnt the property-- revenge upon them (how, he knew not); but his hand was ready to strike, young as he was. He lay down on the bed, but he could not sleep. He turned and turned again, and his brain was teeming with thoughts and plans of vengeance. Had he said his prayers that night, he would have been obliged to repeat, "Forgive us, as we forgive them who trespass against us." At last he fell fast asleep, but his dreams were wild, and he often called out during the night, and woke his brother and sisters.

CHAPTER THREE.

The next morning, as soon as Jacob had given the children their breakfast, he set off towards Arnwood. He knew that Benjamin had stated his intention to return with the horse and see what had taken place, and he knew him well enough to feel sure that he would do so. He thought it better to see him, if possible, and ascertain the fate of Miss Judith. Jacob arrived at the still smoking ruins of the mansion, and found several people there, mostly residents within a few miles, some attracted by curiosity, others busy in collecting the heavy masses of lead which had been melted from the roof, and appropriating them to their own benefit; but much of it was still too hot to be touched, and they were throwing snow on it to cool it, for it had snowed during the night. At last Jacob perceived Benjamin on horseback riding leisurely towards him, and immediately went up to him.

"Well, Benjamin, this is a woeful sight. What is the news from Lymington?"

"Lymington is full of troopers, and they are not over civil," replied Benjamin.

"And the old lady--where is she?"

"Ah, that's a sad business," replied Benjamin, "and the poor children, too. Poor Master Edward! He would have made a brave gentleman."

"But the old lady is safe," rejoined Jacob. "Did you see her?"

"Yes, I saw her; they thought she "was" King Charles--poor old soul."

"But they have found out their mistake by this time?"

"Yes, and James Southwold has found it out too," replied Benjamin; "to think of the old lady breaking his neck!"

"Breaking his neck? You don't say so! How was it?"

"Why, it seems that Southwold thought that she was King Charles dressed up as an old woman, so he seized her and strapped her fast behind him, and galloped away with her to Lymington; but she struggled and kicked so manfully, that he could not hold on, and off they went together, and he broke his neck."

"Indeed!--a judgment--a judgment upon a traitor," said Jacob.

"They were picked up, strapped together as they were, by the other troopers, and carried to Lymington."

"Well, and where is the old lady, then? Did you see and speak to her?"

"I saw her, Jacob, but I did not speak to her. I forgot to say, that when she broke Southwold's neck, she broke her own too."

"Then the old lady is dead?"

"Yes, that she is," replied Benjamin; "but who cares about her? It's the poor children that I pity. Martha has been crying ever since."

"I don't wonder."

"I was at the `Cavalier,' and the troopers were there, and they were boasting of what they had done, and called it a righteous work. I could not stand that, and I asked one of them if it were a righteous work to burn poor children in their beds? So he turned round, and struck his sword upon the floor, and asked me whether I was one of them--`Who are you then?' and I--all my courage went away, and I answered, I was a poor rat-catcher. `A rat-catcher, are you? Well then, Mr Rat-catcher, when you are killing rats, if you find a nest of young ones, don't you kill them too? Or do you leave them to grow, and become mischievous, eh?'--`I kill the young ones, of course,' replied I. `Well, so do we Malignants whenever we find them.' I didn't say a word more, so I went out of the house as fast as I could."

"Have you heard anything about the king?" inquired Jacob.

"No, nothing; but the troopers are all out again, and, I hear, are gone to the forest."

"Well, Benjamin, good-bye; I shall be off from this part of the country--it's no use my staying here. Where's Agatha and cook?"

"They came to Lymington early this morning."

"Wish them good-bye for me, Benjamin."

"Where are you going then?"

"I can't exactly say, but I think London way. I only stayed here to watch over the children; and now that they are gone, I shall leave Arnwood for ever."

Jacob, who was anxious, on account of the intelligence he had received of the troopers being in the forest, to return to the cottage, shook hands with Benjamin, and hastened away. "Well," thought Jacob, as he wended his way, "I'm sorry for the poor old lady; but still, perhaps, it's all for the best. Who knows what they might do with these children?--Destroy the nest as well as the rats, indeed:--they must find the nest first." And the old forester continued his journey in deep thought.

We may here observe that, bloodthirsty as many of the Levellers were, we do not think that Jacob Armitage had grounds for the fears which he expressed and felt that is to say, we believe that he might have made known the existence of the children to the Villiers family, and that they would never have been harmed by anybody. That by the burning of the mansion they might have perished in the flames, had they been in bed, as they would have been at that hour, had he not obtained intelligence of what was about to be done, is true; but that there was any danger to them on account of their father having been such a staunch supporter of the king's cause, is very unlikely, and not borne out by the history of the times; but the old forester thought otherwise; he had a hatred of the Puritans, and their deeds had been so exaggerated by rumour that he fully believed that the lives of the children were not safe. Under this conviction, and feeling himself bound by his promise to Colonel Beverley to protect them, Jacob resolved that they should live with him in the forest, and be brought up as his own grandchildren. He knew that there could be no better place for concealment; for, except the keepers, few people knew where his cottage was; and it was so out of the usual paths, and so embosomed in lofty trees, that there was little chance of its being seen, or being known to exist. He resolved, therefore, that they should remain with him till better times; and then he would make known their existence to the other branches of the family, but not before. "I can hunt for them, and provide for them," thought he, "and I have a little money, when it is required; and I will teach them to be useful; they must learn to provide for themselves. There's the garden, and the patch of land: in two or three years the boys will be able to do something. I can't teach them much; but I can teach them to fear God. We must get on how we can, and put our trust in Him who is a Father to the fatherless."

With such thoughts running in his head, Jacob arrived at the cottage, and found the children outside the door, watching for him. They all hastened to him, and the dog rushed before them, to welcome his master. "Down, Smoker, good dog. Well, Mr Edward, I have been as quick as I can. How have Mr Humphrey and your sisters behaved? But we must not remain outside to-day, for the troopers are scouring the forest, and may see you. Let us come in directly; for it would not do that they should come here."

"Will they burn the cottage down?" inquired Alice, as she took Jacob's hand.

"Yes, my dear, I think they would, if they found that you and your brothers were in it: but we must not let them see you."

They all entered the cottage, which consisted of one large room in front, and two back rooms for bedrooms. There was also a third bedroom, which was behind the other two, but which had not any furniture in it.

"Now let's see what we can have for dinner--there's venison left, I know," said Jacob: "come, we must all be useful. Who will be cook?"

"I will be cook," said Alice, "if you will show me how."

"So you shall, my dear," said Jacob, "and I will show you how. There's some potatoes in the basket in the corner--and some onions hanging on the string--we must have some water--who will fetch it?"

"I will," said Edward; who took up a pail and went out to the spring.

The potatoes were peeled and washed by the children--Jacob and Edward cut the venison into pieces--the iron pot was cleaned--and then the meat and potatoes put with water into the pot, and placed on the fire.

"Now I'll cut, up the onions, for they will make your eyes water."

"I don't care," said Humphrey; "I'll cut and cry at the same time."

And Humphrey took up a knife, and cut away most manfully, although he was obliged to wipe his eyes with his sleeve very often.

"You are a fine fellow, Humphrey," said Jacob. "Now we'll put the onions in, and let it all boil up together. Now, you see you have cooked your own dinner; ain't that pleasant?"

"Yes," cried they all; "and we will eat our own dinners as soon as it is ready."

"Then, Humphrey, you must get some of the platters down which are on the dresser; and Alice, you will find some knives in the drawer. And let me see, what can little Edith do? Oh, she can go to the cupboard and find the salt-cellar. Edward, just look-out, and if you see anybody coming or passing, let me know. We must put you on guard till the troopers leave the forest."

The children set about their tasks, and Humphrey cried out, as he very often did, "Now, this is jolly!"

While the dinner was cooking Jacob amused the children by showing them how to put things in order; the floor was swept, the hearth was made tidy. He showed Alice how to wash out a cloth, and Humphrey how to dust the chairs. They all worked merrily, while little Edith stood and clapped her hands.

But just before dinner was ready Edward came in and said, "Here are troopers galloping in the forest!" Jacob went out, and observed that they were coming in a direction that would lead near to the cottage.

He walked in, and after a moment's thought, he said, "My dear children, those men may come and search the cottage; you must do as I tell you, and mind that you are very quiet. Humphrey, you and your sisters must go to bed, and pretend to be very ill. Edward, take off your coat and put on this old hunting-frock of mine. You must be in the bedroom attending your sick brother and sisters. Come, Edith dear, you must play at going to bed, and have your dinner afterwards."

Jacob took the children into the bedroom, and removing the upper dress, which would have betrayed that they were not the children of poor people, put them in bed, and covered them up to the chins with the clothes Edward had put on the old hunting-shirt, which came below his knees, and stood with a mug of water in his hand by the bedside of the two girls. Jacob went to the outer room, to remove the platters laid out for dinner; and he had hardly done so, when he heard the noise of the troopers, and soon afterwards a knock at the cottage-door.

"Come in," said Jacob.

"Who are you, my friend?" said the leader of the troop, entering the door.

"A poor forester, sir," replied Jacob, "under great trouble."

"What trouble, my man?"

"I have the children all in bed with the smallpox."

"Nevertheless, we must search your cottage."

"You are welcome," replied Jacob; "only don't frighten the children if you can help it."

The man, who was now joined by others, commenced his search. Jacob opened all the doors of the rooms, and they passed through. Little Edith shrieked when she saw them; but Edward patted her, and told her not to be frightened. The troopers, however, took no notice of the children; they searched thoroughly, and then came back to the front room.

"It's no use remaining here," said one of the troopers. "Shall we be off? I'm tired and hungry with the ride."

"So am I; and there's something that smells well," said another. "What's this, my good man," continued he, taking off the lid of the pot.

"My dinner for a week," replied Jacob. "I have no one to cook for me now, and can't light a fire every day."

"Well, you appear to live well, if you have such a mess as that every day in the week. I should like to try a spoonful or two."

"And welcome, sir," replied Jacob; "I will cook some more for myself."

The troopers took him at his word; they sat down to the table, and very soon the whole contents of the kettle had disappeared. Having satisfied themselves, they got up, told him that his rations were so good that they hoped to call again; and, laughing heartily, they mounted their horses, and rode away.

"Well," said Jacob, "they are very welcome to the dinner; I little thought to get off so cheap." As soon as they were out of sight Jacob called to Edward and the children to get up again, which they soon did. Alice put on Edith's frock, Humphrey put on his jacket, and Edward pulled off the hunting-shirt.

"They're gone now," said Jacob, coming in from the door.

"And our dinners are gone," said Humphrey, looking at the empty pot and dirty platters.

"Yes; but we can cook another: and that will be more play, you know," said Jacob. "Edward, go for the water; Humphrey, cut the onions; Alice, wash the potatoes; and Edith, help everybody, while I cut up some more meat."

"I hope it will be as good," observed Humphrey; "that other did smell so nice!"

"Quite as good, if not better; for we shall improve by practice, and we shall have a better appetite to eat it with," said Jacob.

"Nasty men eat our dinner," said Edith. "Shan't have any more. Eat this ourselves."

And so they did as soon as it was cooked; but they were very hungry before they sat down.

"This is jolly!" said Humphrey, with his mouth full.

"Yes, Master Humphrey. I doubt if King Charles gets so good a dinner this day. Mr Edward, you are very grave and silent."

"Yes, I am, Jacob. Have I not cause? Oh! If I could but have mauled those troopers!"

"But you could not; so you must make the best of it. They say that every dog has his day, and who knows but King Charles may be on the throne again!"

There were no more visits to the cottage that day, and they all went to bed and slept soundly.

The next morning Jacob, who was most anxious to learn the news, saddled the pony, having first given his injunctions to Edward how to behave in case any troopers should come to the cottage. He told him to pretend that the children were in bed with the smallpox, as they had done the day before. Jacob then travelled to Gossip Allwood's, and he there learnt that King Charles had been taken prisoner, and was at the Isle of Wight, and that the troopers were all going back to London as fast as they came. Feeling that there was now no more danger to be apprehended from them, Jacob set off as fast as he could for Lymington. He went to one shop and purchased two peasant dresses which he thought would fit the two boys, and at another he bought similar apparel for the two girls. Then with several other ready-made articles, and some other things which were required for the household, he made a large package, which he put upon the pony, and taking the bridle, set off home, and arrived in time to superintend the cooking of the dinner, which was this day venison-steaks fried in a pan, and boiled potatoes.

When dinner was over he opened his bundle, and told the little ones that now they were to live in a cottage they ought to wear cottage clothes, and that he had brought them some to put on, which they might rove about the woods in, and not mind tearing them. Alice and Edith went into the bedroom, and Alice dressed Edith and herself, and came out quite pleased with their change of dress. Humphrey and Edward put theirs on in the sitting-room, and they all fitted pretty well, and certainly were very becoming to the children.

"Now, recollect, you are all my grandchildren," said Jacob; "for I shall no longer call you Miss and Master--that we never do in a cottage. You understand me, Edward, of course?" added Jacob.

Edward nodded his head, and Jacob telling the children that they might now go out of the cottage and play, they all set off quite delighted with clothes which procured them their liberty.

We must now describe the cottage of Jacob Armitage, in which the children have in future to dwell. As we said before, it contained a large sitting-room, or kitchen, in which were a spacious hearth and chimney, table, stools, cupboards, and dressers; the two bedrooms which adjoined it were now appropriated, one for Jacob and the other for the two boys; the third, or inner bedroom, was arranged for the two girls, as being more retired and secure. But there were outhouses belonging to it: a stall, in which White Billy, the pony, lived during the winter; a shed and pigsty rudely constructed, with an enclosed yard attached to them; and it had, moreover, a piece of ground of more than an acre, well fenced in to keep out the deer and game, the largest portion of which was cultivated as a garden and potato-ground, and the other, which remained in grass, contained some fine old apple and pear trees. Such was the domicile; the pony, a few fowls, a sow and two young pigs, and the dog Smoker, were the animals on the establishment. Here Jacob Armitage had been born--for the cottage had been built by his grandfather--but he had not always remained at the cottage. When young, he felt an inclination to see more of the world, and had for several years served in the army. His father and brother had lived in the establishment at Arnwood, and he was constantly there as a boy. The chaplain of Arnwood had taken a fancy to him, and taught him to read-- writing he had not acquired. As soon as he grew up he served, as we have said, in the troop commanded by Colonel Beverley's father; and after his death, Colonel Beverley had procured him the situation of forest ranger, which had been held by his father, who was then alive, but too aged to do the duty. Jacob Armitage married a good and devout young woman, with whom he lived several years, when she died, without bringing him any family; after which, his father being also dead, Jacob Armitage had lived alone until the period at which we have commenced this history.

CHAPTER FOUR.

The old forester lay awake the whole of this night, reflecting how he should act relative to the children; he felt the great responsibility that he had incurred, and was alarmed when he considered what might be the consequences if his days were shortened. What would become of them--living in so sequestered a spot that few knew even of its existence--totally shut out from the world, and left to their own resources? He had no fear, if his life was spared, that they would do well; but if he should be called away before they had grown up and were able to help themselves, they might perish. Edward was not fourteen years old; it was true that he was an active, brave boy, and thoughtful for his years; but he had not yet strength or skill sufficient for what would be required. Humphrey, the second, also promised well; but still they were all children. "I must bring them up to be useful--to depend upon themselves; there is not a moment to be lost, and not a moment shall be lost; I will do my best, and trust to God; I ask but two or three years, and by that time I trust that they will be able to do without me. They must commence to-morrow the life of foresters' children."

Acting upon this resolution, Jacob, as soon as the children were dressed and in the sitting-room, opened his Bible, which he had put on the table, and said:

"My dear children, you know that you must remain in this cottage, that the wicked troopers may not find you out; they killed your father, and if I had not taken you away, they would have burnt you in your beds. You must therefore live here as my children, and you must call yourselves by the name of Armitage, and not that of Beverley; and you must dress like children of the forest, as you do now, and you must do as children of the forest do; that is, you must do everything for yourselves, for you can have no servants to wait upon you. We must all work; but you will like to work if you all work together, for then the work will be nothing but play. Now, Edward is the oldest, and he must go out with me in the forest, and I must teach him to kill deer and other game for our support; and when he knows how, then Humphrey shall come out and learn how to shoot."

"Yes," said Humphrey, "I'll soon learn."

"But not yet, Humphrey, for you must do some work in the meantime; you must look after the pony and the pigs, and you must learn to dig in the garden with Edward and me when we do not go out to hunt; and sometimes I shall go by myself, and leave Edward to work with you when there is work to be done. Alice, dear, you must, with Humphrey, light the fire and clean the house in the morning. Humphrey will go to the spring for water, and do all the hard work; and you must learn to wash, my dear Alice--I will show you how; and you must learn to get dinner ready with Humphrey, who will assist you; and to make the beds. And little Edith shall take care of the fowls, and feed them every morning, and look for the eggs--will you, Edith?"

"Yes," replied Edith, "and feed all the little chickens when they are hatched, as I did at Arnwood."

"Yes, dear, and you'll be very useful. Now you know that you cannot do all this at once. You will have to try and try again; but very soon you will, and then it will be all play. I must teach you all, and every day you will do it better, till you want no teaching at all. And now, my dear children, as there is no chaplain here, we must read the Bible every morning. Edward can read, I know; can you, Humphrey?"

"Yes, all except the big words."

"Well, you will learn them by and by. And Edward and I will teach Alice and Edith to read in the evenings, when we have nothing to do. It will be an amusement. Now tell me, do you all like what I have told you?"

"Yes," they all replied; and then Jacob Armitage read a chapter in the Bible, after which they all knelt down and said the Lord's Prayer. As this was done every morning and every evening, I need not repeat it again. Jacob then showed them again how to clean the house, and Humphrey and Alice soon finished their work under his directions; and then they all sat down to breakfast, which was a very plain one, being generally cold meat, and cakes baked on the embers, at which Alice was soon very expert; and little Edith was very useful in watching them for her, while she busied herself about her other work. But the venison was nearly all gone; and after breakfast Jacob and Edward, with the dog Smoker, went out into the woods. Edward had no gun, as he only went out to be taught how to approach the game, which required great caution; indeed Jacob had no second gun to give him, if he had wished so to do.

"Now, Edward, we are going after a fine stag, if we can find him--which I doubt not--but the difficulty is to get within shot of him. Recollect that you must always be hid, for his sight is very quick; never be heard, for his ear is sharp; and never come down to him with the wind, for his scent is very fine. Then you must hunt according to the hour of the day. At this time he is feeding; two hours hence he will be lying down in the high fern. The dog is of no use unless the stag is badly wounded, when the dog will take him. Smoker knows his duty well, and will hide himself as close as we do. We are now going into the thick wood ahead of us, as there are many little spots of cleared ground in it where we may find the deer; but we must keep more to the left, for the wind is to the eastward, and we must walk up against it. And now that we are coming into the wood, recollect, not a word must be said, and you must walk as quietly as possible, keeping behind me. Smoker, to heel!" They proceeded through the wood for more than a mile, when Jacob made a sign to Edward, and dropped down into the fern, crawling along to an open spot, where, at some distance, were a stag and three deer grazing. The deer grazed quietly, but the stag was ever and anon raising up his head and snuffing the air as he looked round, evidently acting as a sentinel for the females.

The stag was perhaps a long quarter of a mile from where they had crouched down in the fern. Jacob remained immovable till the animal began to feed again, and then he advanced crawling through the fern, followed by Edward and the dog, who dragged himself on his stomach after Edward. This tedious approach was continued for some time, and they had neared the stag to within half the original distance, when the animal again lifted up his head and appeared uneasy. Jacob stopped and remained without motion. After a time the stag walked away, followed by the does, to the opposite side of the clear spot on which they had been feeding, and, to Edward's annoyance, the animal was now half a mile from them. Jacob turned round and crawled into the wood, and when he knew that they were concealed he rose on his feet and said:

"You see, Edward, that it requires patience to stalk a deer. What a princely fellow! But he has probably been alarmed this morning, and is very uneasy. Now we must go through the woods till we come to the lee of him on the other side of the dell. You see he has led the does close to the thicket, and we shall have a better chance when we get there, if we are only quiet and cautious."

"What startled him, do you think?" said Edward.

"I think, when you were crawling through the fern after me, you broke a piece of rotten stick that was under you, did you not?"

"Yes, but that made but little noise."

"Quite enough to startle a red deer, Edward, as you will find out before you have been long a forester. These checks will happen, and have happened to me a hundred times, and then all the work is to be done over again. Now then to make the circuit--we had better not say a word. If we get safe now to the other side we are sure of him."

They proceeded at a quick walk through the forest, and in half an hour had gained the side where the deer were feeding. When about three hundred yards from the game, Jacob again sank down on his hands and knees, crawling from bush to bush, stopping whenever the stag raised his head, and advancing again when it resumed feeding; at last they came to the fern at the side of the wood, and crawled through it as before, but still more cautiously as they approached the stag. In this manner they arrived at last to within eighty yards of the animal, and then Jacob advanced his gun ready to put it to his shoulder, and as he cocked the lock, raised himself to fire. The click occasioned by the cocking of the lock roused up the stag instantly, and he turned his head in the direction from whence the noise proceeded; as he did so Jacob fired, aiming behind the animal's shoulder: the stag made a bound, came down again, dropped on his knees, attempted to run, and fell dead, while the does fled away with the rapidity of the wind.

Edward started up on his legs with a shout of exultation. Jacob commenced reloading his gun, and stopped Edward as he was about to run up to where the animal lay.

"Edward, you must learn your craft," said Jacob; "never do that again; never shout in that way--on the contrary, you should have remained still in the fern."

"Why so? The stag is dead."

"Yes, my dear boy, that stag is dead; but how do you know but what there may be another lying down in the fern close to us, or at some distance from us, which you have alarmed by your shout? Suppose that we both had had guns, and that the report of mine had started another stag lying in the fern within shot, you would have been able to shoot it; or if a stag was lying at a distance, the report of the gun might have startled him so as to induce him to move his head without rising. I should have seen his antlers move and have marked his lair, and we should then have gone after him and stalked him too."

"I see," replied Edward, "I was wrong; but I shall know better another time."

"That's why I tell you, my boy," replied Jacob; "now let us go to our quarry. Ay, Edward, this is a noble beast. I thought that he was a hart royal, and so he is."

"What is a hart royal, Jacob?"

"Why, a stag is called a brocket until he is three years old; at four years he is a staggart; at five years a warrantable stag; and after five years he becomes a hart royal."

"And how do you know his age?"

"By his antlers: you see that this stag has nine antlers; now, a brocket has but two antlers, a staggart three, and a warrantable stag but four; at six years old, the antlers increase in number until they sometimes have twenty or thirty. This is a fine beast, and the venison is now getting very good. Now you must see me do the work of my craft."

Jacob then cut the throat of the animal, and afterwards cut off its head, and took out its bowels.

"Are you tired, Edward?" said Jacob, as he wiped his hunting-knife on the coat of the stag.

"No, not the least."

"Well, then, we are now, I should think, about four or five miles from the cottage. Could you find your way home? But that is of no consequence, Smoker will lead you home by the shortest path. I will stay here, and you can saddle White Billy and come back with him, for he must carry the venison back. It's more than we can manage--indeed, as much as we can manage with White Billy to help us. There's more than twenty stone of venison lying there, I can tell you."

Edward immediately assented, and Jacob desiring Smoker to go home, set about flaying and cutting up the animal for its more convenient transportation. In an hour and a half Edward, attended by Smoker, returned with the pony, on whose back the chief portion of the venison was packed. Jacob took a large piece on his own shoulders, and Edward carried another, and Smoker, after regaling himself with a portion of the inside of the animal, came after them. During the walk home Jacob initiated Edward into the terms of venery and many other points connected with deer-stalking, with which we shall not trouble our readers. As soon as they arrived at the cottage the venison was hung up, the pony put in the stable, and then they sat down to dinner with an excellent appetite after their long morning's walk. Alice and Humphrey had cooked the dinner themselves, and it was in the pot, smoking hot, when they returned; and Jacob declared he never ate a better mess in his life. Alice was not a little proud of this, and of the praises she received from Edward and the old forester. The next day Jacob stated his intention of going to Lymington to dispose of a large portion of the venison, and bring back a sack of oatmeal for their cakes. Edward asked to accompany him, but Jacob replied:

"Edward, you must not think of showing yourself at Lymington, or anywhere else, for a long while, until you are grown out of memory. It would be folly, and you would risk your sisters' and brother's lives, perhaps, as well as your own. Never mention it again: the time will come when it will be necessary, perhaps; if so, it cannot be helped. At present you would be known immediately. No, Edward, I tell you what I do mean to do: I have a little money left, and I intend to buy you a gun, that you may learn to stalk deer yourself without me: for recollect, if any accident should happen to me, who is there but you to provide for your brother and sisters? At Lymington I am known to many; but out of all who know me, there is not one who knows where my cottage is; they know that I live in the New Forest, and that I supply them venison, and purchase other articles in return. That is all that they know; and I may therefore go without fear. I shall sell the venison to-morrow, and bring you back a good gun; and Humphrey shall have the carpenters' tools which he wishes for--for I think, by what he does with his knife, that he has a turn that way, and it may be useful. I must also get some other tools for Humphrey and you, as we shall then be able to work all together; and some threads and needles for Alice, for she can sew a little, and practice will make her more perfect."

Jacob went off to Lymington as he had proposed, and returned late at night with White Billy well loaded; he had a sack of oatmeal, some spades and hoes, a saw and chisels, and other tools; two scythes and two three-pronged forks; and when Edward came to meet him he put into his hand a gun with a very long barrel.

"I believe, Edward, that you will find that a good one, for I know where it came from. It belonged to one of the rangers, who was reckoned the best shot in the forest. I know the gun, for I have seen it on his arm, and have taken it in my hand to examine it more than once. He was killed at Naseby, with your father, poor fellow! And his widow sold the gun to meet her wants."

"Well!" replied Edward, "I thank you much, Jacob, and I will try if I cannot kill as much venison as will pay back the purchase-money--I will, I assure you."

"I shall be glad if you do, Edward; not because I want the money back, but because then I shall be more easy in my mind about you all, if anything happens to me. As soon as you are perfect in your woodcraft, I shall take Humphrey in hand, for there is nothing like having two strings to your bow. To-morrow we will not go out: we have meat enough for three weeks or more; and now the frost has set in, it will keep well. You shall practise at a mark with your gun, that you may be accustomed to it: for all guns, even the best, require a little humouring."

Edward, who had often fired a gun before, proved the next morning that he had a very good eye; and after two or three hours' practice, hit the mark at a hundred yards almost every time.

"I wish you would let me go out by myself," said Edward, overjoyed at his success.

"You would bring home nothing, boy," replied Jacob. "No, no, you have a great deal to learn yet; but I tell you what you shall do: any time that we are not in great want of venison, you shall have the first fire."

"Well, that will do," replied Edward.

The winter now set in with great severity, and they remained almost altogether within doors. Jacob and the boys went out to get firewood, and dragged it home through the snow.

"I wish, Jacob," said Humphrey, "that I was able to build a cart, for it would be very useful, and White Bill would then have something to do; but I can't make the wheels, and there is no harness."

"That's not a bad idea of yours, Humphrey," replied Jacob; "we will think about it. If you can't build a cart, perhaps I can buy one. It would be useful if it were only to take the dung out of the yard on the potato-ground; for I have hitherto carried it out in baskets, and it's hard work."

"Yes, and we might saw the wood into billets, and carry it home in the cart instead of dragging it this way: my shoulder is quite sore with the rope, it cuts me so."

"Well, when the weather breaks up, I will see what I can do, Humphrey; but just now the roads are so blocked up, that I do not think we could get a cart from Lymington to the cottage, although we can a horse, perhaps."

But if they remained indoors during the inclement weather, they were not idle. Jacob took this opportunity to instruct the children in everything. Alice learnt how to wash and how to cook. It is true that sometimes she scalded herself a little, sometimes burnt her fingers; and other accidents did occur, from the articles employed being too heavy for them to lift by themselves; but practice and dexterity compensated for want of strength, and fewer accidents happened every day. Humphrey had his carpenters' tools; and although at first he had many failures, and wasted nails and wood, by degrees he learnt to use his tools with more dexterity, and made several little useful articles. Little Edith could now do something, for she made and baked all the oatmeal cakes, which saved Alice a good deal of time and trouble in watching them. It was astonishing how much the children could do, now that there was no one to do it for them; and they had daily instruction from Jacob. In the evening Alice sat down with her needle and thread to mend the clothes; at first they were not very well done; but she improved every day. Edith and Humphrey learnt to read while Alice worked, and then Alice learnt; and thus passed the winter away so rapidly, that although they had been five months at the cottage, it did not appear as if they had been there as many weeks. All were happy and contented, with the exception, perhaps, of Edward, who had fits of gloominess, and occasionally showed signs of impatience as to what was passing in the world, of which he remained in ignorance.

That Edward Beverley had fits of gloominess and impatience is not surprising. Edward had been brought up as the heir of Arnwood; and a boy at a very early age imbibes notions of his position, if it promises to be a high one. He was not two miles from that property which by right was his own. His own mansion had been reduced to ashes--he himself was hidden in the forest, and he could not but feel his position. He sighed for the time when the king's cause should be again triumphant, and his arrival at that age when he could in person support and uphold the cause. He longed to be in command as his father had been--to lead his men on to victory--to recover his property, and to revenge himself on those who had acted so cruelly towards him. This was human nature; and much as Jacob Armitage would expostulate with him, and try to divert his feelings into other channels; long as he would preach to him about forgiveness of injuries, and patience until better times should come, Edward could not help brooding over these thoughts, and if ever there was a breast animated with intense hatred against the Puritans it was that of Edward Beverley. Although this was to be lamented, it could not create surprise or wonder in the old forester. All he could do was, as much as possible to reason with him, to soothe his irritated feelings, and by constant employment try to make him forget for a time the feelings of ill-will which he had conceived.

One thing was, however, sufficiently plain to Edward, which was, that whatever might be his wrongs, he had not the power at present to redress them; and this feeling, perhaps, more than any other, held him in some sort of check; and as the time when he might have an opportunity appeared far distant, even to his own sanguine imagination, so by degrees did he contrive to dismiss from his thoughts what it was no use to think about at present.

CHAPTER FIVE.

As we have before said, time passed rapidly; with the exception of one or two excursions after venison, they remained in the cottage, and Jacob never went to Lymington. The frost had broken up, the snow had long disappeared, and the trees began to bud. The sun became powerful, and in the month of May the forest began again to look green.

"And now, Edward," said Jacob Armitage, one day at breakfast, "we will try for venison again to sell at Lymington, for I must purchase Humphrey's cart and harness; so let us get our guns, and go out this fine morning. The stags are mostly by themselves at this season, for the does are with their young calves. We must find the slot of a deer, and track him to his lair, and you shall have the first shot if you like; but that, however, depends more upon the deer than upon me."

They had walked four or five miles when they came upon the slot or track of a deer, but Jacob's practised eye pointed out to Edward that it was the slot of a young one, and not worth following. He explained to Edward the difference in the hoof-marks and other signs by which this knowledge was gained, and they proceeded onwards until they found another slot, which Jacob declared to be that of a warrantable stag-- that is, one old enough to kill and to be good venison.

"We must now track him to his lair, Edward."

This took them about a mile farther, when they arrived at a small thicket of thorns about an acre in extent.

"Here he is, you see, Edward; let me now see if he is harboured."

They walked round the thicket, and could not find any slot or track by which the stag had left the covert, and Jacob pronounced that the animal must be hid in it.

"Now, Edward, do you stay here while I go back to the lee side of the covert: I will enter it with Smoker, and the stag will, in all probability, when he is roused, come out to breast the wind. You will then have a good shot at him; recollect to fire so as to hit him behind the shoulder: if he is moving quick, fire a little before the shoulders; if slow, take aim accurately; but recollect, if I come upon him in the covert, I shall kill him if I can, for we want the venison, and then we will go after another to give you a chance."

Jacob then left Edward, and went down to the lee side of the covert, where he entered it with Smoker. Edward was stationed behind a thorn-bush, which grew a few yards clear of the covert, and he soon heard the creaking of the branches.

A short time elapsed, and a fine stag came out at a trot; he turned his head, and was just bounding away, when Edward fired, and the animal fell. Remembering the advice of Jacob, Edward remained where he was, in silence reloading his piece, and was soon afterwards joined by Jacob and the dog.

"Well done, Edward!" said the forester in a low voice, and covering his forehead to keep off the glare of the sun, he looked earnestly at a high brake between some thorn-trees, about half a mile to windward. "I think I see something there--look, Edward, your eyes are younger than mine. Is that the branch of a tree in the fern, or is it not?"

"I see what you mean," replied Edward. "It is not, it moves."

"I thought so, but my eyes are not so good as they once were. It's another stag, depend upon it; but how to get near him? We never can get across this patch of clear grass without being seen."

"No, we cannot get at him from this spot," replied Edward; "but if we were to fall back to leeward, and gain the forest again, I think that there are thorns sufficient from the forest to where he lies, to creep from behind one to the other, so as to get a shot at him; don't you?"

"It will require care and patience to manage that; but I think it might be done. I will try; it is my turn now, you know. You had better stay here with the dog, for only one can hide from thorn to thorn."

Jacob, ordering Smoker to remain, then set off. He had to make a circuit of three miles to get to the spot where the thorns extended from the forest, and Edward saw no more of him, although he strained his eyes, until the stag sprung out, and the gun was discharged. Edward perceived that the stag was not killed, but severely wounded, running towards the covert near which he was hid. "Down, Smoker," said he, as he cocked his gun. The stag came within shot, and was coming nearer when, seeing Edward, it turned. Edward fired, and then cheered on the dog, who sprang after the wounded animal, giving tongue, as he followed him. Edward, perceiving Jacob hastening towards him, waited for him.

"He's hard hit, Edward," cried Jacob, "and Smoker will have him; but we must follow as fast as we can."

They both caught up their guns and ran as fast as they could, when, as they entered the wood, they heard the dog at bay.

"We shan't have far to go, Edward; the animal is done up, Smoker has him at bay."

They hastened on another quarter of a mile, when they found that the stag had fallen on his knees, and had been seized by the throat by Smoker.

"Mind, Edward, now, how I go up to him, for the wound from the horn of the deer is very dangerous."

Jacob advanced from behind the stag, and cut his throat with his hunting-knife. "He is a fine beast, and we have done well to-day; but we shall have two journeys to make to get all this venison home. I could not get a fair shot at him--and see, I have hit him here in the flank."

"And here is my ball in his throat," said Edward.

"So it is. Then it was a good shot that you made, and you are master of the hunt this day, Edward. Now, I'll remain, and you go home for White Billy; Humphrey is right about the cart. If we had one, we could have carried all home at once; but I must go now and cut the throat of the other stag which you killed so cleverly. You will be a good hunter one of these days, Edward. A little more knowledge, and a little more practice, and I will leave it all to you, and hang my gun up over the chimney."

It was late in the evening before they had made their two trips and taken all the venison home, and very tired were they before it was all safely housed. Edward was delighted with his success, but not more so than was old Jacob. The next morning Jacob set off for Lymington, with the pony loaded with venison, which he sold, as well as two more loads which he promised to bring the next day, and the day after. He then looked out for a cart, and was fortunate in finding a small one just fitted to the size of the pony, who was not tall, but very strong, as all New Forest ponies are. He also procured harness, and then put Billy in the cart to draw him home; but Billy did not admire being put in a cart, and for some time was very restive, and backed and reared, and went every way but the right; but by dint of coaxing and leading, he at last submitted, and went straight on: but then the noise of the cart behind him frightened him, and he ran away. At last, having tired himself out, he thought that he might as well go quietly in harness, as he could not get out of it; and he did so, and arrived safe at the cottage. Humphrey was delighted at the sight of the cart, and said that now they should get on well. The next day Jacob contrived to put all the remainder of the venison in the cart, and White Billy made no more difficulty; he dragged it all to Lymington, and returned with the cart as quietly and cleverly as if he had been in harness all his life.

"Well, Edward, the venison paid for the cart, at all events," said Jacob, "and now, I will tell you all the news I collected while I was at Lymington. Captain Burly, who attempted to incite the people to rescue the king, has been hung, drawn, and quartered, as a traitor."

"They are traitors who condemned him," replied Edward in wrath.

"Yes, so they are; but there is better news, which is, that the Duke of York has escaped to Holland."

"Yes, that is good news; and the king?"

"He is still a prisoner in Carisbrook Castle. There are many rumours and talks, but no one knows what is true and what is false; but depend upon it, this cannot last long, and the king will have his rights yet."

Edward remained very grave for some time.

"I trust in heaven we all shall have our rights yet, Jacob," said he at last. "I wish I was a man!"

Here the conversation ended, and they went to bed.

This was now a busy time at the cottage. The manure had to be got out of the stable and pigsties, and carried out to the potato-ground and garden; the crops had to be put in; and the cart was now found valuable. After the manure had been carried out and spread, Edward and Humphrey helped Jacob to dig the ground, and then to put in the seed. The cabbage-plants of last year were then put out, and the turnips and carrots sown. Before the month was over the garden and potato-field were cropped, and Humphrey took upon himself to weed and keep it clean. Little Edith had also employment now; for the hens began to lay eggs, and as soon as she heard them cackling, she ran for the eggs and brought them in; and before the month was over Jacob had set four hens upon eggs. Billy, the pony, was now turned out to graze in the forest; he came home every night of his own accord.

"I'll tell you what we want," said Humphrey, who took the command altogether over the farm; "we want a cow."

"Oh yes, a cow," cried Alice; "I have plenty of time to milk her."

"Whose cows are those which I see in the forest sometimes?" said Humphrey to Jacob.

"If they belong to anybody, they belong to the king," replied Jacob; "but they are cattle which have strayed and found their way to the forest, and have remained here ever since. They are rather wild and savage, and you must be careful how you go too near them, as the bulls will run at you. They increase very fast: there were but six a few years ago, and now there are at least fifty in the herd."

"Well, I'll try and get one, if I can," said Humphrey.

"You will be puzzled to do that, boy," replied Jacob, "and as I said before, beware of the bulls."

"I don't want a bull," replied Humphrey; "but a cow would give us milk, and then we should have more manure for the garden. My garden will then grow more potatoes."

"Well, Humphrey, if you can catch a cow, no one will interfere; but I think you will not find it very easy, and you may find it very dangerous."

"I'll look-out for one," replied Humphrey, "anyhow. Alice, if we only had a cow, wouldn't that be jolly?"

The crops were now all up, and as the days began to be long, the work became comparatively light and easy. Humphrey was busy making a little wheelbarrow for Edith, that she might barrow away the weeds as he hoed them up; and at last this great performance was completed, much to the admiration of all, and much to his own satisfaction. Indeed, when it is recollected that Humphrey had only the hand-saw and axe, and that he had to cut down the tree, and then to saw it into plank, it must be acknowledged that it required great patience and perseverance even to make a wheelbarrow; but Humphrey was not only persevering, but was full of invention. He had built up a hen-house with fir poles, and made the nests for the hens to lay and hatch in, and they now had between forty and fifty chickens running about. He had also divided the pigsty, so that the sow might be kept apart from the other pigs; and they expected very soon to have a litter of young pigs. He had transplanted the wild strawberries from the forest, and had by manure made them large and good; and he had also a fine crop of onions in the garden, from seed which Jacob had bought at Lymington; now Humphrey was very busy cutting down some poles in the forest to make a cow-house, for he declared that he would have a cow somehow or another. June arrived, and it was time to mow down grass to make into hay for the winter, and Jacob had two scythes. He showed the boys how to use them, and they soon became expert; and as there was plenty of long grass at this time of the year, and they could mow when they pleased, they soon had White Billy in full employment carrying the hay home. The little girls helped to make it, for Humphrey had made them two rakes. Jacob thought that there was hay enough made, but Humphrey said that there was enough for the pony, but not enough for the cow.

"But where is the cow to come from, Humphrey?"

"Where the venison comes from," replied he,--"out of the forest."

So Humphrey continued to mow and make hay, while Edward and Jacob went out for venison. After all the hay was made and stacked, Humphrey found out a method of thatching with fern, which Jacob had never thought of; and when that was done, they commenced cutting down fern for fodder. Here again Humphrey would have twice as much as Jacob had ever cut before, because he wanted litter for the cow. At last it became quite a joke between him and Edward, who, when he brought home more venison than would keep in the hot weather, told Humphrey that the remainder was for the cow. Still Humphrey would not give up the point, and every morning and evening he would be certain to be absent an hour or two, and it was found out he was watching the herd of wild cattle who were feeding: sometimes they were very near, at others a long way off. He used to get up into the trees, and examine them as they passed under him, without perceiving him. One night Humphrey returned very late, and the next morning he was off before daylight. Breakfast was over, and Humphrey did not make his appearance, and they could not tell what was the matter. Jacob felt uneasy, but Edward laughed, and said:

"Oh, depend upon it, he'll come back and bring the cow with him."

Hardly had Edward said these words when in came Humphrey red with perspiration.

"Now then, Jacob and Edward, come with me; we must put Billy in the cart, and take Smoker and a rope with us. Take your guns too, for fear of accident."

"Why, what's the matter?"

"I'll tell you as we go along, but I must put Billy in the cart, for there is no time to be lost."

Humphrey disappeared, and Jacob said to Edward, "What can it be?"

"It can be nothing but the cow he is so mad about," replied Edward. "However, when he comes with the pony, we shall know; let us take our guns and the dog Smoker as he wishes."

Humphrey now drove up the pony and cart, and they set off.

"Well, I suppose you'll tell us now what we are going for?" said Edward.

"Yes, I will. You know I've been watching the cattle for a long while, because I wanted a cow. I have been in a tree when they have passed under me several times, and I observed that one or two of the heifers were very near calving. Yesterday evening I thought one could not help calving very soon indeed, and as I was watching I saw that she was uneasy, and that she at last left the herd and went into a little copse of wood. I remained three hours to see if she came out again, and she did not. It was dark when I came home, as you know. This morning I went before daylight and found the herd. She is very remarkable, being black and white spotted; and, after close examination, I found that she was not with the herd, so I am sure that she went into the copse to calve, and that she has calved before this."

"Well, that may be," replied Jacob; "but now I do not understand what we are to do."

"Nor I," replied Edward.

"Well then, I'll tell you what I hope to do. I have got the pony and cart to take the calf home with us, if we can get it--which I think we can. I have got Smoker to worry the heifer and keep her employed while we put the calf in the cart; a rope that we may tie the cow, if we can; and you with your guns must keep off the herd, if they come to her assistance. Now do you understand my plan?"

"Yes, and I think it very likely to succeed, Humphrey," replied Jacob, "and I give you credit for the scheme. We will help you all we can. Where is the copse?"

"Not half a mile farther," replied Humphrey. "We shall soon be there."

On their arrival they found that the herd were feeding at a considerable distance from the copse, which was perhaps as well.

"Now," said Jacob, "I and Edward will enter into the copse with Smoker, and you follow us, Humphrey. I will make Smoker seize the heifer if necessary; at all events, he will keep her at bay--that is, if she is here. First let us walk round the copse and find her "slot" as we call the track of a deer. See, here is her footing. Now let us go in."

They advanced cautiously into the thicket, following the track of the heifer, and at last came upon her. Apparently she had not calved more than an hour, and was licking the calf which was not yet on its legs. As soon as the animal perceived Jacob and Edward, she shook her head, and was about to run at them; but Jacob told Smoker to seize her, and the dog flew at her immediately. The attack of the dog drove back the heifer quite into the thicket, and as the dog bounded round her, springing this way and that way to escape her horns, the heifer was soon separated from the calf.

"Now then, Edward and Humphrey," said Jacob, advancing between the heifer and the calf, "lift up the calf between you and put it in the cart. Leave Smoker and me to manage the mother."

The boys put their arms under the stomach of the calf, and carried it away. The heifer was at first too busy defending herself against the dog to perceive that the calf was gone; when she did Jacob called Smoker to him, so as to bring him between the heifer and where the boys were going out of the thicket. At last the heifer gave a loud bellow, and rushed out of the thicket in pursuit of her calf checked by Smoker, who held on to her ear, and sometimes stopped her from advancing.

"Hold her, Smoker," said Jacob, who now went back to help the boys. "Hold her, boy. Is the calf in the cart?"

"Yes, and tied fast," replied Edward, "and we are in the cart too."

"That's right," replied Jacob. "Now I'll get in too, and let us drive off. She'll follow us, depend upon it. Here, Smoker! Smoker! Let her alone."

Smoker, at this command, came bounding out of the copse, followed by the heifer, lowing most anxiously. Her lowing was responded to by the calf in the cart, and she ran wildly up to it.

"Drive off, Humphrey," said Jacob; "I think I heard the lowing of the heifer answered by some of the herd, and the sooner we are off the better."

Humphrey, who had the reins, drove off; the heifer followed, at one time running at the dog, at another putting her head almost into the hind part of the cart; but the lowing of the heifer was now answered by deeper tones, and Jacob said:

"Edward, get your gun ready, for I think the herd is following. Do not fire, however, till I tell you. We must be governed by circumstances. It won't do to lose the pony, or to run any serious risk, for the sake of the heifer and calf. Drive fast, Humphrey."

A few minutes afterwards they perceived at about a quarter of a mile behind them, not the whole herd, but a single bull, who was coming up at a fast trot, with his tail in the air, and tossing his head, lowing deeply in answer to the heifer.

"There's only one, after all," said Jacob; "I suppose the heifer is his favourite. Well, we can manage him. Smoker, come in. Come in, sir, directly," cried Jacob, perceiving that the dog was about to attack the bull.

Smoker obeyed, and the bull advanced till he was within a hundred yards.

"Now, Edward, do you fire first--aim for his shoulder. Humphrey, pull up."

Humphrey stopped the pony, and the bull continued to advance, but seemed puzzled who to attack, unless it was the dog. As soon as the bull was within sixty yards, Edward fired, and the animal fell down on its knees, tearing the ground with its horns.

"That will do," said Jacob; "drive on again, Humphrey; we will have a look at that fellow by and by. At present we had better get home, as others may come. He's up again, but he is at a standstill. I have an idea that he is hit hard."

The cart drove on, followed by the heifer; but no more of the wild herd made their appearance, and they very soon gained the cottage.

"Now, then, what shall we do?" said Jacob. "Come, Humphrey, you have had all the ordering of this, and have done it well."

"Well, Jacob, we must now drive the cart into the yard, and shut the gate upon the cow, till I am ready."

"That's easy done, by setting Smoker at her," replied Jacob; "but, mercy on us, there's Alice and Edith running out!--the heifer may kill them. Go back, Alice, run quite into the cottage, and shut the door till we come."

Alice and Edith hearing this, and Edward also crying out to them, made a hasty retreat to the cottage. Humphrey then backed the cart against the paling of the yard, so as to enable Edward to get on the other side of it, ready to open the gate. Smoker was set at the heifer, and, as before, soon engaged her attention; so that the gate was opened and the cart drove in, and the gate closed again, before the heifer could follow.

"Well, Humphrey, what next?"

"Why, now lift the calf out and put it into the cow-house. I will go into the cow-house with a rope and a slip-knot at the end of it, get upon the beam above, and drop it over her horns as she's busy with the calf, which she will be as soon as you let her in. I shall pass the end of the rope outside, for you to haul up when I am ready, and then we shall have her fast, till we can secure her properly. When I call out `ready,' do you open the gate and let her in. You can do that and jump into the cart afterwards, for fear she may run at you; but I don't think that she will, for it's the calf she wants, and not either of you."

As soon as Humphrey was ready with the rope he gave the word, and the gate was opened; the cow ran in immediately, and hearing her calf bleat, went into the cow-house, the door of which was shut upon her. A minute afterwards Humphrey cried out to them to haul upon the rope, which they did.

"That will do," said Humphrey from the inside; "now make the rope fast, and then you may come in."

They went in, and found the heifer drawn close to the side of the cow-house by the rope which was round her horns, and unable to move her head.

"Well, Humphrey, that's very clever; but now what's to be done?"

"First I'll saw off the tips of her horns, and then if she does run at us, she won't hurt us much. Wait till I go for the saw."

As soon as the ends of her horns were sawed off, Humphrey took another piece of rope, which he fastened securely round her horns, and then made the other end fast to the side of the building, so that the animal could move about a little and eat out of the crib.

"There," said Humphrey, "now time and patience must do the rest. We must coax her and handle her, and we soon shall tame her. At present let us leave her with the calf. She has a yard of rope, and that is enough for her to lick her calf, which is all that she requires at present. To-morrow we will cut some grass for her."

They then went out, shutting the cow-house door.

"Well, Humphrey, you've beat us after all, and have the laugh on your side now," said Jacob. "`Where there's a will, there's a way,' that's certain; and I assure you, that when you were making so much hay, and gathering so much litter, and building a cow-house, I had no more idea that we should have a cow than that we should have an elephant; and I will say that you deserve great credit for your way of obtaining it."

"That he certainly does," replied Edward. "You have more genius than I have, brother. But dinner must be ready, if Alice has done her duty. What think you, Jacob, shall we after dinner go and look after that bull?"

"Yes, by all means. He will not be had eating, and I can sell all I can carry in the cart at Lymington. Besides, the skin is worth money."

CHAPTER SIX.

Alice and Edith were very anxious to see the cow, and especially to see the calf; but Humphrey told them that they must not go near till he went with them, and then they should see it. After dinner was over, Jacob and Edward took their guns, and Humphrey put Billy in the cart, and followed them. They found the bull where they left him, standing quite still; he tossed his head when they approached him, which they did carefully, but he did not attempt to run at them.

"It's my idea that he has nearly bled to death," said Jacob; "but there's nothing like making sure. Edward, put a bullet just three inches behind his shoulder, and that will make all safe."

Edward did so, and the animal fell dead. They went up to the carcass, which they estimated to weigh at least fifty stone.

"It is a noble beast," said Edward; "I wonder we never thought of killing one before."

"They ain't game, Edward," replied Jacob.

"No, they are not now, Jacob," said Humphrey; "as you and Edward claim all the game, I shall claim the cattle as my portion of the forest. Recollect, there are more, and I mean to have more of them yet."

"Well, Humphrey, I give you up all my rights, if I have any."

"And I all mine," added Edward.

"Be it so. Some day you'll see what I shall do," replied Humphrey. "Recollect, I am to sell the cattle for my own self-advantage until I buy a gun, and one or two things which I want."

"I agree to that too, Humphrey," replied Jacob; "and now to skin the beast."

The skinning and quartering took up the whole afternoon, and Billy was heavily laden when he drew his cart home. The next day Jacob went to Lymington to sell the bull and the skin, and returned home well satisfied with the profit he had made. He had procured, as Humphrey requested, some milk-pans, a small churn, and milk-pail, out of the proceeds, and had still money left. Humphrey told them that he had not been to see the heifer yet, as he thought it better not.

"She will be tame to-morrow morning, depend upon it," said he.

"But if you give her nothing to eat, will not the calf die?"

"Oh no, I should think not. I shall not starve her, but I will make her thankful for her food before she gets it. I shall cut her some grass to-morrow morning."

We may as well here say that the next morning Humphrey went in to the heifer. At first she tossed about and was very unruly. He gave her some grass, and patted her and coaxed her for a long while, till at last she allowed him to touch her gently. Every day for a fortnight he brought her her food, and she became quieter every day, till at last, if he went up to her, she never pushed with her horns. The calf became quite tame, and as the heifer perceived that the calf was quiet, she became more quiet herself. After the fortnight, Humphrey would not allow the heifer to receive anything except from the hand of Alice, that the animal might know her well; and when the calf was a month old, Humphrey made the first attempt to milk her. This was resisted at first by kicking, but in the course of ten days she gave down her milk. Humphrey then let her loose for a few days to run about the yard, still keeping the calf in the cow-house, and putting the heifer in to her at night, milking her before the calf was allowed to suck. After this, he adventured upon the last experiment, which was to turn her out of the yard to graze into the forest. She went away to some distance, and he was fearful that she would join the herd, but in the evening she came back again to her calf. After this he was satisfied, and turned her out every day, and they had no further trouble with her. He would not, however, wean the calf till the winter time, when she was shut up in the yard and fed on hay. He then weaned the calf, which was a cow-calf, and they had no more trouble with the mother. Alice soon learnt to milk her, and she became very tractable and good-tempered. Such was the commencement of the dairy at the cottage.

"Jacob," said Humphrey, "when do you go to Lymington again?"

"Why, I do not know. The end of August, as it is now, and the month of September, is not good for venison; and, therefore, I do not see what I shall have to go for."

"Well, I wish, when you do go, you would get something for Alice and something for me."

"And what is it that Alice wants?"

"She wants a kitten."

"Well, I think I may find that. And what do you want, Humphrey?"

"I want a dog. Smoker is yours altogether; I want a dog for myself, to bring up after my own fashion."

"Well, I ought to look-out for another dog: although Smoker is not old, yet one ought to have two dogs to one's gun, in case of accident."

"I think so too," replied Edward; "see if you can get two puppies, one for Humphrey, and one for myself."

"Well, I must not go to Lymington for them. I must cross the forest, to see some friends of mine whom I have not seen for a long while, and I may get some of the right sort of puppies there, just like Smoker. I'll do that at once, as I may have to wait for them, even if I do have the promise."

"May I go with you, Jacob?" said Edward.

"Why, I would rather not; they may ask questions."

"And so would I rather he would not, for he will shirk his work here."

"Why, what is there to do, Humphrey?"

"Plenty to do, and hard work, Edward; the acorns are fit for beating down, and we want a great many bushels for the pigs. We have to fatten three, and to feed the rest during the winter. I cannot get on well with only Alice and Edith; so if you are not very lazy, you will stay with us and help us."

"Humphrey, you think of nothing but your pigs and farm-yard."

"And you are too great a hunter to think of anything but a stag; but a bird in the hand's worth two in the bush, in my opinion; and I'll make more by my farm-yard than you ever will by the forest."

"Humphrey has nothing to do with the poultry and eggs, has he, Edward? They belong to Edith and me and Jacob shall take them to Lymington and sell them for us, and get us some new clothes for Sunday, for these begin to look rather worn--and no wonder."

"No, dearest, the poultry are yours, and I will sell them for you as soon as you please, and buy what you wish with the money," replied Jacob. "Let Humphrey make all the money he can with his pigs."

"Yes; and the butter belongs to me, if I make it," said Alice.

"No, no," replied Humphrey, "that's not fair; I find cows, and get nothing for them. We must go halves, Alice."

"Well, I have no objection to that," said Alice, "because you find the cows and feed them. I made a pound of butter yesterday, just to try what I could do; but it's not firm, Jacob. How is that?"

"I have seen the women make butter, and know how, Alice; so next time I will be with you. I suppose you did not wash your butter-milk well out, nor put any salt in it?"

"I did not put any salt in it."

"But you must, or the butter will not keep."

It was arranged that Edward should stay at home to assist in collecting the acorns for the pigs, and that Jacob should cross the forest alone to see after the puppies; and he set off the next morning. He was away two days, and then returned; said that he had a promise of two puppies, and that he had chosen them; they were of the same breed as Smoker, but they were only a fortnight old, and could not be taken from the mother yet awhile, so that he had arranged to call again when they were three or four months old, and able to follow him across the forest. Jacob also said that he was very near being hurt by a stag that had made at him-- for at that season of the year the stags were very dangerous and fierce--but that he had fired, and struck off one of the animal's horns, which made it turn.

"You must be careful, Edward, how you go about the forest now."

"I have no wish to go," replied Edward; "as we cannot hunt, it is no use; but in November we shall begin again."

"Yes," replied Jacob, "that will be soon enough. To-morrow I will help you with the acorns, and the day afterwards, if I am spared, I will take Alice's poultry to Lymington for her."

"Yes, and when you come back you will help me to churn, for then I shall have a good deal of cream."

"And don't forget to buy the kitten, Jacob," said Edith.

"What's the good of a kitten?" said Humphrey, who was very busy making a bird-cage for Edith, having just finished one for Alice; "she will only steal your cream and eat up your birds."

"No, she won't; for we'll shut the door fast where the milk and cream is, and we'll hang the cages so high that Miss Puss won't be able to get at them."

"Well, then, a kitten will be useful," said Edward, "for she will teach you to be careful."

"My coat is a little the worse for wear, and so is yours, Edward. We must try if we cannot, like Alice, find means to pay for another."

"Humphrey," said Jacob, "I'll buy all you want, and trust to you for paying me again as soon as you can."

"That's just what I want," replied Humphrey. "Then you must buy me a gun and a new suit of clothes first; when I've paid for them I shall want some more tools, and some nails and screws, and two or three other things; but I will say nothing about them just now. Get me my gun, and I'll try what the forest will do for me--especially after I have my dog."

"Well, we shall see; perhaps you'll like to come out with me sometimes and learn woodcraft, for Edward knows as much as I do now, and can go out by himself."

"Of course I will, Jacob; I want to learn everything."

"Well, there's a little money left in the bag yet, and I will go to Lymington to-morrow. Now I think it is time that we went to bed; and if you are all as tired as I am, you will sleep soundly."

Jacob put into the cart the next day about forty of the chickens which Alice had reared; the others were kept to increase the number in the poultry-yard. They had cost little or nothing bringing up; for when quite young they only had a little oatmeal cake, and afterwards, with the potatoes which were left, they found themselves, as fowls can always do when they have a great range of ground to go over.

Jacob came back at sunset, with all the articles. He brought a new suit for Alice and Edith, with some needles and thread and worsted, and gave her some money which was left from the sale of the chickens, after he had made the purchases. He also bought a new suit for Edward and Humphrey, and a gun, which was much approved of by Humphrey, as it had a larger bore and carried a heavier bullet than either Jacob's or Edward's and there was a white kitten for Alice and Edith. There was no news, only that the Levellers had opposed Cromwell, and he had put them down with the other troops, and Jacob said that it appeared that they were all squabbling and fighting with each other.

Time passed; the month of November came on without anything to disturb the daily employments of the family in the forest: when one evening Jacob, who had returned from hunting with Edward (the first time they had been out since the season commenced), told Alice that she must do all she could to give them a good dinner the next day, as it was to be a feast.

"Why so, Jacob?"

"If you cannot guess, I won't tell you till the time comes," replied Jacob.

"Well then, Humphrey must help us," replied Alice, "and we will do what we can. I will try, now that we have some meat, to make a grand dinner."

Alice made all the preparations, and had for dinner the next day a piece of baked venison, a venison stew, a pair of roast chickens, and an apple-pie--which, for them, was a very grand dinner indeed. And it was very well-dressed; for Jacob had taught her to cook, and by degrees she improved upon Jacob's instruction. Humphrey was quite as clever at it as she was; and little Edith was very useful, as she plucked the fowls, and watched the things while they were cooking.

"And now I'll tell you," said Jacob, after saying grace, "why I asked you for a feast this day. It is because exactly on this day twelvemonth I brought you all to the cottage. Now you know."

"I did not know it certainly, but I daresay you are right," replied Edward.

"And now, children, tell me," said Jacob, "has not this year passed very quickly and very happily--quite as quickly and quite as happily as if you had been staying at Arnwood?"

"Yes, more so," replied Humphrey; "for then very often I did not know what to do to amuse myself, and since I have been here the days have always been too short."

"I agree with Humphrey," said Edward.

"And I am sure I do," replied Alice; "I'm always busy, and always happy, and I'm never scolded about dirtying my clothes or tearing them, as I used to be."

"And what does little Edith say?"

"I like to help Alice, and I like to play with the kitten," replied Edith.

"Well, my children," said Jacob, "depend upon it, you are most happy when your days pass quickest, and that is only the case when you have plenty to do. Here you are in peace and safety; and may it please God that you may continue so! We want very few things in this world--that is, we really want very few things, although we wish and sigh for many. You have health and spirits, which are the greatest blessings in life. Who would believe, to look at you all, that you were the same children that I brought away from Arnwood? You were then very different from what you are now. You are strong and healthy, rosy and brown, instead of being fair and delicate. Look at your sisters, Edward, do you think that any of your former friends--do you think that Martha, who had the care of them, would know them?"

Edward smiled and said, "Certainly not; especially in their present dresses."

"Nor would, I think, Humphrey be known again. You, Edward, were always a stout boy; and, except that you have grown very much, and are more brown, there is no great difference. You would be known again, even in your present forester's dress; but what I say is, that we ought to be thankful to the Almighty that you, instead of being burnt in your beds, have found health and happiness and security in a forester's hut; and I ought to be, and am, most thankful to heaven that it has pleased it to spare my life, and enable me to teach you all to the present how to gain your own livelihoods after I am called away. I have been able so far to fulfil my promise to your noble father; and you know not what a heavy load on my mind is every day lessened, as I see each day that you are more and more able to provide for yourselves. God bless you, dear children, and may you live to see many returns, and happy returns, of the day;" and Jacob was so much moved as he said this, that a tear was seen rolling down his furrowed cheek.

The second winter now came on. Jacob and Edward went out hunting usually about twice a week; for the old forester complained of stiffness and rheumatism, and not feeling so active as he used to be. Humphrey now accompanied Edward perhaps one day in the week, but not more, and they seldom returned without having procured venison, for Edward knew his business well, and no longer needed the advice of Jacob. As the winter advanced Jacob gave up going out altogether. He went to Lymington to sell the venison and procure what was necessary for the household; such as oatmeal and flour, which were the principal wants; but even these journeys fatigued him, and it was evident that the old man's constitution was breaking fast. Humphrey was always busy. One evening he was making something which puzzled them all. They asked him what it was for, but he would not tell them.

"It's an experiment that I am trying," said he, as he was bending a hazel stick. "If it answers, you shall know: if it does not, I've only had a little trouble for nothing. Jacob, I hope you will not forget the salt to-morrow when you go to Lymington, for my pigs are ready for killing, and we must salt the greatest part of the pork. After the legs and shoulders have lain long enough in salt, I mean to try if I cannot smoke them, and if I do, I'll then smoke some bacon. Won't that be jolly, Alice? Won't you like to have a great piece of bacon hanging up there, and only to have to get on a stool to cut off what you want, when Edward and I come home hungry and you've nothing to give us to eat?"

"I shall be very glad to have it, and I think so will you too, by the way you talk."

"I shall, I assure you. Jacob, didn't you say the ash-sticks were the best to smoke bacon with?"

"Yes, boy: when you are ready, I'll tell you how to manage. My poor mother used to smoke very well up this very chimney."

"I think that will do," said Humphrey, letting his hazel stick spring up, after he had bent it down, "but to-morrow I shall find out."

"But what is it for, Humphrey?" said Edith.

"Go away, puss, and play with your kitten," replied Humphrey, putting away his tools and his materials in a corner; "I've a great deal on my hands now, but I must kill my pigs before I think of anything else."

The next day Jacob took the venison into Lymington, and brought back the salt and other articles required. The pigs were then killed, and salted down under Jacob's directions; his rheumatism did not allow him to assist, but Humphrey and Edward rubbed in the salt, and Alice took the pieces of pork away to the tub when they were finished. Humphrey had been out the day before with the unknown article he had been so long about. The next morning he went out early before breakfast, and when he returned he brought a hare in his hand, which he laid on the table.

"There," said he, "my springe has answered, and this is the fruits of it. Now I'll make some more, and we will have something by way of a change for dinner."

They were very much pleased with Humphrey's success, and he was not a little proud of it.

"How did you find out how to make it?"

"Why, I read in the old book of travels which Jacob brought home with him last summer, of people catching rabbits and hares in some way like this; I could not make it out exactly, but it gave me the idea."

We ought to have told the reader that Jacob had more than once brought home an old book or two which he had picked up, or had given him, and that these had been occasionally looked into by Humphrey and Edward, but only now and then, as they had too much to do to find much time for reading, although sometimes in the evening they did take them up. When it is considered how young they were, and what a practical and busy life they led, this cannot be surprising.

CHAPTER SEVEN.

Humphrey was now after something else. He had made several traps, and brought in rabbits and hares almost every day. He had also made some bird traps, and had caught two gold-finches for Alice and Edith, which they put in the cages he had made for them. But, as we said, Humphrey was about something else; he was out early in the morning, and in the evening, when the moon was up, he came home late, long after they had all gone to bed; but they never knew why, nor would he tell them. A heavy fall of snow took place, and Humphrey was more out than ever. At last, about a week after the snow had lain on the ground, one morning he came in with a hare and rabbit in his hand, and said:

"Edward, I have caught something larger than a hare or a rabbit, and you must come and help me, and we must take our guns. Jacob, I suppose your rheumatism is too bad to let you come too?"

"No; I think I can manage. It's the damp that hurts me so much. This frosty air will do me good, perhaps. I have been much better since the snow fell. Now, then, let us see what you have caught."

"You will have to walk two miles," said Humphrey, as they went out.

"I can manage it, Humphrey; so lead the way."

Humphrey went on till they came close to a clump of large trees, and then brought them to a pit-fall which he had dug, about six feet wide and eight feet long, and nine feet deep.

"There's my large trap," said Humphrey, "and see what I have caught in it."

They looked down into the pit and perceived a young bull in it. Smoker, who was with them, began to bark furiously at it.

"Now, what are we to do? I don't think it is hurt. Can we get it out?" said Humphrey.

"No, not very well. If it was a calf we might; but it is too heavy; and if we were to get it out alive, we must kill it afterwards, so we had better shoot it at once."

"So I think," replied Humphrey.

"But how did you catch him?" said Edward.

"I read of it in the same book I did about the traps for hares," replied Humphrey. "I dug out the pit and covered it with brambles, and then put snow at the top. This is the thicket that the herd comes to chiefly in winter time; it is large and dry, and the large trees shelter it; so that is why I chose this spot. I took a large bundle of hay, put some on the snow about the pit, and then strewed some more about in small handfuls, so that the cattle must find it and pick it up, which I knew they would be glad to do, now that the snow is on the ground. And now, you see, I have succeeded."

"Well, Humphrey, you beat us, I will say," said Edward. "Shall I shoot him?"

"Yes, now that he is looking up."

Edward shot his ball through the forehead of the animal, which fell dead; but they were then obliged to go home for the pony and cart, and ropes to get the animal out of the pit, and a hard job they had of it too; but the pony helped them, and they did get it out at last.

"I will do it easier next time," said Humphrey. "I will make a windlass as soon as I can, and we will soon hoist out another, like they turn a bucket of water up from a well."

"It's nice young meat," said Jacob, who was skinning the bull, "not above eighteen months old, I should think. Had it been a full-grown one, like that we shot, it must have remained where it was, for we never could have got it out."

"Yes, Jacob, we should; for I should have gone down and cut it up in the pit, so that we would have handed it out by bits, if we could not have managed him whole."

They loaded the cart with the skin and quarters of the animal, and then drove home.

"This will go far to pay for the gun, Humphrey," said Jacob, "if it don't pay for more."

"I'm glad of it," said Humphrey; "but I hope it will not be the last which I take."

"That reminds me, Humphrey, of one thing; I think you must come back with the cart and carry away all the entrails of the beast, and remove all the blood which is on the snow, for I've observed that cattle are very scared with the smell and sight of blood. I found that out by once or twice seeing them come to where I have cut the throat of a stag, and as soon as they have put their noses down to where the blood was on the ground they have put their tails up and galloped away, bellowing at a terrible rate. Indeed I've heard say that if a murder has been committed in a wood, and you want to find the body, that a herd of cattle drove into it will serve you better than even a bloodhound."

"Thank you for telling me that, Jacob, for I should never have supposed it; and I'll tell you what I'll also do. I'll load the cart with fern litter, and put it at the bottom of the pit; so that if I could get a heifer or calf worth taking, it may not be hurt by the fall."

"It must have taken you a long while to dig that pit, Humphrey."

"Yes, it did, and as I got deeper the work was harder, and then I had to carry away all the earth and scatter it about. I was more than a month about it from the time that I began till it was finished, and I had a ladder to go up and down by at last, and carried the baskets of earth up, for it was too deep to throw it out."

"Nothing like patience and perseverance, Humphrey. You've more than I have."

"I'm sure he has more than I have, or shall ever have, I'm afraid," replied Edward.

During this winter, which passed rapidly away, very few circumstances of any consequence occurred. Old Jacob was more or less confined to the cottage by the rheumatism, and Edward hunted either by himself or occasionally with Humphrey. Humphrey was fortunate enough to take a bull and cow-calf in his pit-fall, both of them about a year or fifteen months old, and by a rude invention of his, by way of windlass, contrived, with the assistance of Edward, to hoist them uninjured out of the pit. They were put into the yard, and after having been starved till they were tamed, they followed the example of the heifer and calf, and became quite tame. These were an important addition to their stock, as may well be imagined. The only mishap under which they laboured was, old Jacob's confinement to the cottage, which, as the winter advanced, prevented him from going to Lymington; they could not therefore sell any venison, and Humphrey, by way of experiment, smoked some venison hams, which he hung up with the others. There was another point on which they felt anxiety, which was, that Jacob could not cross the forest to get the puppies which had been promised them, and the time was past, for it was now January, when he was to have called for them. Edward and Humphrey pressed the old man very hard to let one of them go; but the only answer they could obtain was, "that he'd be better soon." At last, finding that he got worse instead of better, he consented that Edward should go. He gave directions how to proceed, the way he was to take, and a description of the keeper's lodge; cautioned him to call himself by the name of Armitage, and describe himself as his grandson. Edward promised to obey Jacob's directions, and the next morning he set off, mounted upon White Billy, with a little money in his pocket, in case he should want it.

"I wish I was going with you," said Humphrey, as he walked by the side of the pony.

"I wish you were, Humphrey: for my part, I feel as if I were a slave set at liberty. I do justice to old Jacob's kindness and good-will, and acknowledge how much we are indebted to him; but still, to be housed up here in the forest, never seeing or speaking to any one, shut out from the world, does not suit Edward Beverley. Our father was a soldier, and a right good one; and if I were old enough I think even now I should escape and join the royal party, broken as it may be, and by all accounts is, at this moment. Deer-stalking is all very well, but I fly at higher game."

"I feel the same as you do," replied Humphrey; "but recollect, Edward, that the old man's very infirm, and what would become of our sisters if we were to leave them?"

"I know that well, Humphrey; I have no idea of leaving them, you may be sure; but I wish they were with our relations in safety, and then we should be free to act."

"Yes, we should, Edward; but recollect that we are not yet men, and boys of fifteen and thirteen cannot do much, although they may wish to do much."

"It's true that I am only fifteen," replied Edward, "but I am strong enough, and so are you. I think if I had a fair cut at a man's head, I would make him stagger under it, were he as big as a buffalo. As young as I have been to the wars, that I know well; and I recollect my father promising me that I should go with him as soon as I was fifteen."

"What puzzles me," replied Humphrey, "is the fear that old Jacob has of our being seen at Lymington."

"Why, what fear is there?"

"I cannot tell more than you; in my opinion, the rear is only in his own imagination. They surely would not hurt us (if we walked about without arms like other people), because our father had fought for the king? That they have beheaded some people is true; but then they were plotting in the king's favour, or in other ways opposed to Parliament. This I have gathered from Jacob: but I cannot see what we have to fear, if we remain quiet. But now comes the question, Edward; for Jacob has, I believe, said more to me on this one subject than he has to you. Suppose you were to leave the forest, what would be the first step which you would take?"

"I should of course state who I was, and take possession of my father's property at Arnwood, which is mine by descent."

"Exactly; so Jacob thinks, and he says that would be your ruin, for the property is sequestered, as they call it, or forfeited to the Parliament, in consequence of your father having fought against it on the king's side. It no longer belongs to you, and you would not be allowed to take it: on the contrary, you would in all probability be imprisoned, and who knows what might then take place? You see there is danger?"

"Did Jacob say this to you?"

"Yes, he did: he told me he dare not speak to you on the subject, you were so fiery; and if you heard that the property was confiscated you would certainly do some rash act, and that anything of the kind would be a pretence for laying hold of you; and then he said that he did not think that he would live long, for he was weaker every day; and that he only hoped his life would be spared another year or two, that he might keep you quiet till better times came. He said that if they supposed that we were all burnt in the house when it was fired, it would give them a fair opportunity of calling you an impostor, and treating you accordingly; and that there were so many anxious to have a gift of the property that you would have thousands of people compassing your death. He said that your making known yourself and claiming your property would be the very conduct that your enemies would wish you to follow, and would be attended with most fatal consequences; for he said, to prove that you were Edward Beverley, you must declare that I and your sisters were in the forest with him, and this disclosure would put the whole family in the power of their bitterest enemies; and what would become of your sisters, it would be impossible to say; but most likely they would be put under the charge of some Puritan family, who would have a pleasure in ill-treating and humiliating the daughters of such a man as Colonel Beverley."

"And why did he not tell me all this?"

"He was afraid to say anything to you; he thought that you would be so mad at the idea of this injustice that you would do something rash: and he said, `I pray every night that my otherwise useless life may be spared; for, were I to die, I know that Edward would quit the forest.'"

"Never, while my sisters are under my protection," replied Edward; "were they safe, I would be out of it to-morrow."

"I think, Edward, that there is great truth in what Jacob says; you could do no good (for they would not restore your property), by making your seclusion known at present, and you might do a great deal of harm--`bide your time'--is good advice in such troubled times. I therefore think that I should be very wary if I were you; but I still think that there is no fear of either you or I going out of the forest in our present dresses and under the name of Armitage. No one would recognise us; you are grown tall, and so am I, and we are so tanned and sunburnt with air and exercise that we do look more like children of the forest than the sons of Colonel Beverley."

"Humphrey, you speak very sensibly, and I agree with you. I am not quite so fiery as the old man thinks; and if my bosom burns with indignation, at all events I have sufficient power to conceal my feelings when it is necessary. I can oppose art to art, if it becomes requisite, and which, from what you have said, I believe now is really so. One thing is certain, that while King Charles is a prisoner, as he now is, and his party dispersed or gone abroad, I can do nothing, and to make myself known would only be to injure myself and all of us. Keep quiet, therefore, I certainly shall, and also remain as I am now under a false name; but still I must and will mix up with other people, and know what is going on. I am willing to live in this forest and protect my sisters as long as it is necessary so to do; but although I will reside here, I will not be confined to the forest altogether."

"That's exactly what I think too, Edward, what I wish myself: but let us not be too hasty even in this. And now, I will wish you a pleasant ride; and, Edward, if you can, procure of the keepers some small shot for me; I much wish to have some."

"I will not forget; good-bye, brother."

Humphrey returned home to attend his farm-yard, while Edward continued his journey through the forest. Some estimate of the character of the two boys may be formed from the above conversation. Edward was courageous and impetuous--hasty in his resolves, but still open to conviction. Brought up as the heir to the property, he felt, more than Humphrey could be expected to do, the mortification of being left a pauper, after such high prospects in his early days: his vindictive feelings against the opposite party were therefore more keen, and his spirit mounted more under the conviction which he laboured. His disposition was naturally warlike, and this disposition had been fostered by his father when he was a child--still a kinder heart or a more generous lad never existed.

Humphrey was of a much more subdued and philosophical temperament, not perhaps so well calculated to lead as to advise; there was great prudence in him united with courage; but his was a passive courage rather than an active one--a courage which if assailed would defend itself valiantly, but would be wary and reflective before it would attack. Humphrey had not that spirit of chivalry possessed by Edward. He was a younger son, and had to earn, in a way, his own fortune, and he felt that his inclinations were more for peace than strife. Moreover, Humphrey had talents which Edward had not--a natural talent for mechanics, and an inquisitive research into science, as far as his limited education would permit him. He was more fitted for an engineer or an agriculturist than for a soldier, although there is no doubt that he would have made a very brave soldier, if such was to have become his avocation.

For kindness and generosity of nature he was equal to his brother, and this was the reason why an angry word never passed between them; for the question between them was, not which should have his way, but which should give up most to the wishes of the other. We hardly need say, that there never were two brothers who were more attached, and who so mutually respected each other.

CHAPTER EIGHT.

Edward put the pony to a trot, and in two hours was on the other side of the New Forest. The directions given to him by Jacob were not forgotten, and before it was noon he found himself at the gate of the keeper's house. Dismounting, and hanging the bridle of the pony over the rail he walked through a small garden, neatly kept but, so early in the year, not over gay, except that the crocus and snow drops were peeping. He rapped at the door with his knuckles, and a girl of about fourteen, very neatly dressed, answered the summons.

"Is Oswald Partridge at home, maiden?" said Edward.

"No, young man, he is not. He is in the forest."

"When will he return?"

"Towards the evening is his time, unless he is more than usually successful."

"I have come some distance to find him," replied Edward; "and it would vex me to return without seeing him. Has he a wife, or any one that I could speak to?"

"He has no wife; but I am willing to deliver a message."

"I am come about some dogs which he promised to Jacob Armitage, my relation; but the old man is too unwell, and has been for some time, to come himself for them, and he has sent me."

"There are dogs, young and old, large and small, in the kennels; so far do I know, and no more."

"I fear then I must wait till his return," replied Edward.

"I will speak to my father," replied the young girl, "if you will wait one moment."

In a minute or two the girl returned, saying that her father begged that he would walk in, and he would speak with him. Edward bowed, and followed the young girl, who led the way to a room, in which was seated a man dressed after the fashion of the Roundheads of the day. His steeple-crowned hat lay on the chair, with his sword beneath it. He was sitting at a table covered with papers.

"Here is the youth, father," said the girl; and having said this, she crossed the room and took a seat by the side of the fire. The man, or we should rather say gentleman--for he had the appearance of one, notwithstanding the sombre and peculiar dress he wore, continued to read a letter which he had just opened; and Edward, who feared himself the prisoner of a Roundhead when he only expected to meet a keeper, was further irritated by the neglect shown towards him by the party. Forgetting that he was, by his own assertion, not Edward Beverley, but the relative of one Jacob Armitage, he coloured up with anger as he stood at the door. Fortunately the time that it took the other party to read through the letter gave Edward also time for recollecting the disguise under which he appeared; the colour subsided from his cheeks, and he remained in silence, occasionally meeting the look of the little girl, who, when their eyes met, immediately withdrew her glance.

"What is your business, young man?" at last said the gentleman at the table.

"I came, sir, on private business with the keeper, Oswald Partridge, to obtain two young hounds, which he promised to my grandfather, Jacob Armitage."

"Armitage!" said the other party, referring to a list on the table; "Armitage--Jacob--yes--I see he is one of the verderers. Why has he not been here to call upon me?"

"For what reason should he call upon you, sir?" replied Edward.

"Simply, young man, because the New Forest is, by the Parliament, committed to my charge. Notice has been given for all those who were employed to come here, that they might be permitted to remain, or he discharged, as I may deem most advisable."

"Jacob Armitage has heard nothing of this, sir," replied Edward. "He was a keeper, appointed under the king; for two or three years his allowances have never been paid, and he has lived in his own cottage, which was left to him by his father, being his own property."

"And pray, may I ask, young man, do you live with Jacob Armitage?"

"I have done so for more than a year."

"And as your relation has received no pay and allowances, as you state, pray, by what means has he maintained himself?"

"How have the other keepers maintained themselves?" replied Edward.

"Do not put questions to me, sir," replied the gentleman; "but be pleased to reply to mine. What has been the means of subsistence of Jacob Armitage?"

"If you think he has no means of subsistence, sir, you are mistaken," replied Edward. "We have land of our own, which we cultivate; we have our pony and our cart; we have our pigs and our cows."

"And they have been sufficient?"

"Had the patriarchs more?" replied Edward.

"You are pithy at reply, young man; but I know something of Jacob Armitage, and we know," continued he, putting his finger close to some writing opposite the name on the list, "with whom he has been associated, and with whom he has served. Now allow me to put one question. You have come, you say, for two young hounds. Are their services required for your pigs and cows, and to what use are they to be put?"

"We have as good a dog as there is in the forest," replied Edward, "but we wish to have others, in case we should lose him."

"As good a dog as in the forest--good for what?"

"For hunting."

"Then you acknowledge that you do hunt?"

"I acknowledge nothing for Jacob Armitage, he may answer for himself," replied Edward; "but allow me to assure you that if he has killed venison no one can blame him."

"Perhaps you will explain why?"

"Nothing is more easy. Jacob Armitage served King Charles, who employed him as a verderer in the forest, and paid him his wages. Those who should not have done so rebelled against the king, took his authority from him, and the means of paying those he employed. They were still servants of the king, for they were not dismissed; and, having no other means of support, they considered that their good master would be but too happy that they should support themselves by killing, for their subsistence, that venison which they could no longer preserve for him without eating some themselves."

"Then you admit that Jacob Armitage has killed the deer in the forest?"

"I admit nothing for Jacob Armitage."

"You admit that you have killed it yourself."

"I shall not answer that question, sir; in the first place, I am not here to criminate myself; and, in the next, I must know by what authority you have the right to inquire."

"Young man," replied the other in a severe tone, "if you wish to know my authority, malapert as you are (at this remark Edward started, yet, recollecting himself he compressed his lips and stood still), this is my commission, appointing me the agent of Parliament to take charge and superintend the New Forest, with power to appoint and dismiss those whom I please. I presume you must take my word for it, as you cannot read and write."

Edward stepped up to the table, and very quietly took up the paper and read it. "You have stated what is correct, sir," said he, laying it down; "and the date of it is, I perceive, on the 20th of the last month of December. It is, therefore, but eighteen days old."

"And what inference would you draw from that, young man?" replied the gentleman, looking up to him with some astonishment.

"Simply this, sir--that Jacob Armitage has been laid up with the rheumatism for three months, during which time he certainly has not killed any venison. Now, sir, until the Parliament took the forest into their hands, it undoubtedly belonged to his majesty, if it does not now; therefore Jacob Armitage, for whatever slaughter he may have committed, is, up to the present, only answerable to his sovereign, King Charles."

"It is easy to perceive the school in which you have been brought up, young man, even if there was not evidence on this paper that your forefather served under the Cavalier Colonel Beverley, and has brought you up to his way of thinking."

"Sir, it is a base dog that bites the hand that feeds him," replied Edward with warmth. "Jacob Armitage, and his father before him, were retainers in the family of Colonel Beverley; they were indebted to him for the situation they now hold in the forest; indebted to him for everything; they revere his name, they uphold the cause for which he fell, as I "do"."

"Young man, if you do not speak advisedly, at all events you speak gratefully; neither have I a word of disrespect to offer to the memory of Colonel Beverley, who was a gallant man, and true to the cause which he espoused, although it was not a holy one; but in my position, I cannot, in justice to those whom I serve, give places and emolument to those who have been, and still are, as I may judge by your expressions, adverse to the present government."

"Sir," replied Edward, "your language, with respect to Colonel Beverley, has made me feel respect for you, which I confess I did not at first; what you say is very just; not that I think you harm Jacob Armitage; as, in the first place, I know that he would not serve under you; and, in the next, that he is too old and infirm to hold the situation; neither has he occasion for it, as his cottage and land are his own, and you cannot remove him."

"He has the title, I presume?" replied the gentleman.

"He has the title given to his grandfather, long before King Charles was born, and I presume the Parliament do not intend to invalidate the acts of former kings."

"May I inquire what relation you are to Jacob Armitage?"

"I believe, I have before said, his grandson."

"You live with him?"

"I do."

"And if the old man dies, will inherit his property?" Edward smiled, and looking at the young girl, said, "Now, I ask you, maiden, if your father does not presume upon his office?"

The young girl laughed, and said, "He is in authority."

"Not over me, certainly, and not over my grandfather, for he has dismissed him."

"Were you brought up at the cottage, young man?"

"No, sir, I was brought up at Arnwood. I was a playmate of the children of Colonel Beverley."

"Educated with them?"

"Yes, for, as far as my wilfulness would permit, the chaplain was always ready to give me instruction."

"Where were you when Arnwood was burnt down?"

"I was at the cottage at that time," replied Edward, grinding his teeth and looking wildly.

"Nay, nay, I can forgive any expression of feeling on your part, my young man, when that dreadful and disgraceful deed is brought to your memory. It was a stain that can never be effaced--a deed most diabolical, and what we thought would call down the vengeance of heaven. If prayers could avert, or did avert it, they were not wanting on our side."

Edward remained silent: this admission on the part of the Roundhead prevented an explosion on his part. He felt that all were not so bad as he had imagined. After a long pause, he said, "When I came here, sir, it was to seek Oswald Partridge, and obtain the hounds which he had promised us; but I presume that my journey is now useless."

"Why so?"

"Because you have the control of the forest, and will not permit dogs for the chase to be given away to those who are not employed by the powers that now govern."

"You have judged correctly, in so far that my duty is to prevent it; but as the promise was made previous to the date of my commission, I presume," said he, smiling, "you think I have no right to interfere, as it will be an "ex post facto" case, if I do: I shall not therefore interfere, only I must point out to you that the laws are still the same relative to those who take the deer in the forest by stealth--you understand me?"

"Yes, sir, I do; and if you will not be offended, I will give you a candid reply."

"Speak then."

"I consider that the deer in this forest belong to King Charles, who is my lawful sovereign, and I own no authority but from him. I hold myself answerable to him alone for any deer I may kill, and I feel sure of his permission and full forgiveness for what I may do."

"That may be your opinion, my good sir, but it will not be the opinion of the ruling powers; but if caught, you will be punished, and that by me, in pursuance of the authority vested in me."

"Well, sir; if so, so be it. You have dismissed the Armitages on account of their upholding the king, and you cannot, therefore, be surprised that they uphold him more than ever. Nor can you be surprised if a dismissed verderer becomes a poacher."

"Nor can you be surprised if a poacher is caught, that he incurs the penalty," replied the Roundhead. "So now there's an end of our argument. If you go into the kitchen, you will find wherewithal to refresh the outward man, and if you wish to remain till Oswald Partridge comes home, you are welcome."

Edward, who felt indignant at being dismissed to the kitchen, nodded his head and smiled upon the little girl, and left the room. "Well," thought he, as he went along the passage, "I came here for two puppies, and I have found a Roundhead. I don't know how it is, but I am not so angry with him as I thought I should be. That little girl had a nice smile--she was quite handsome when she smiled. Oh, this is the kitchen, to which," thought he, "the Lord of Arnwood is dismissed by a Covenanter and Roundhead, probably a tradesman or outlaw, who has served the cause. Well, be it so; as Humphrey says, `I'll bide my time.' But there is no one here, so I'll try if there is a stable for White Billy, who is tired, I presume, of being at the gate."

Edward returned by the way he came, went out of the front door, and through the garden to where the pony was made fast, and led him away in search of a stable. He found one behind the house, and filling the rack with hay, returned to the house, and seated himself at a porch which was at the door which led to the back premises, for the keeper's house was large and commodious. Edward was in deep thought, when he was roused by the little girl, the daughter of the newly-appointed Intendant of the forest, who said:

"I am afraid, young sir, you have had but sorry welcome in the kitchen, as there was no one to receive you. I was not aware that Phoebe had gone out. If you will come with me, I may, perhaps, find you refreshment."

"Thanks, maiden, you are kind and considerate to an avowed poacher," replied Edward.

"Oh, but you will not poach, I'm sure; and if you do, I'll beg you off if I can," replied the girl, laughing.

Edward followed her into the kitchen, and she soon produced a cold fowl and a venison pasty, which she placed on the table; she then went out and returned with a jug of ale.

"There," said she, putting it on the table, "that is all that I can find."

"Your father's name is Heatherstone, I believe. It was so on the warrant."

"Yes, it is."

"And yours?"

"The same as my father's, I should presume."

"Yes, but your baptismal name?"

"You ask strange questions, young sir; but still I will answer you that: my baptismal name is Patience."

"I thank you for your condescension," replied Edward. "You live here?"

"For the present, good sir; and now I leave you."

"That's a nice little girl," thought Edward, "although she is the daughter of a Roundhead; and she calls me `sir.' I cannot, therefore, look like Jacob's grandson, and must be careful." Edward then set to with a good appetite at the viands which had been placed before him, and had just finished a hearty meal when Patience Heatherstone again came in and said:

"Oswald Partridge is now coming home."

"I thank you, maiden," replied Edward. "May I ask a question of you? Where is the king now?"

"I have heard that he resides at Hurst Castle," replied the girl; "but," added she in a low tone, "all attempts to see him would be useless, and only hurt him and those who made the attempt." Having said this she left the room.

CHAPTER NINE.

Edward, having finished his meal, and had a good pull at the jug of ale, which was a liquor he had not tasted for a long while, rose from the table and went out of the back door and found there Oswald Partridge. He accosted him, stating the reason for his coming over to him. "I did not know that Jacob had a grandson; indeed, I never knew that he had a son. Have you been living with him long?"

"More than a year," replied Edward; "before that I was in the household at Arnwood."

"Then you are of the king's side, I presume?" replied Oswald.

"To death," replied Edward, "when the time comes."

"And I am also; that you may suppose, for never would I give a hound to any one that was not. But we had better go to the kennels; dogs may hear, but they can't repeat."

"I little thought to have met any one but you here when I came," said Edward; "and I will now tell you all that passed between me and the new Intendant." Edward then related the conversation.

"You have been bold," said Oswald--"but perhaps it is all the better--I am to retain my situation, and so are two others: but there are many new hands coming in as rangers. I know nothing of them but that they are little fitted for their places; and rail against the king all day long, which I suppose is their chief merit in the eyes of those who appoint them. However, one thing is certain, that if those fellows cannot stalk a deer themselves, they will do all they can to prevent others; so you must be on the alert, for the punishment is severe."

"I fear them not; the only difficulty is, that we shall not be able to find a sale for the venison now," replied Edward.

"Oh, never fear that; I will give you the names of those who will take all your venison off your hands without any risk on your part, except in the killing of it. They will meet you in the park, lay down ready money, and take it away. I don't know, but I have an idea that this new Intendant, or what you may call him, is not so severe as he pretends to be. Indeed, his permitting you to say what he did, and his own words relative to the colonel, convince me that I am right in the opinion that I formed."

"Do you know who he is?"

"Not much about him, but he is a great friend of General Cromwell's, and they say has done good service to the Parliamentary cause; but we shall meet again, for the forest is free, at all events."

"If you come here," continued Oswald, "do not carry your gun, and see that you are not watched home. There are the dogs for your grandfather. Why, how old must you be, for Jacob is not more than sixty, or thereabout?"

"I am fifteen past, nevertheless."

"I should have put you down for eighteen or nineteen at least. You are well grown indeed for that age. Well, nothing like a forest life to turn a boy into a man! Can you stalk a deer?"

"I seldom go out without bringing one down."

"Indeed! That Jacob is a master of his craft is certain. But you are young to have learnt it so soon. Can you tell the slot of a brocket from a stag?"

"Yes, and the slot of a brocket from a doe."

"Better still. We must go out together; and besides, I must know where the old man's cottage is (for I do not exactly); in the first place, because I may want to come to you, and in the next, that I may put others on a false scent.--Do you know the clump of large oaks, which they call the Clump Royal?"

"Yes, I do."

"Will you meet me there the day after to-morrow, at early dawn?"

"If I live and do well."

"That's enough. Take the dogs in the leashes, and go away now."

"Many thanks; but I must not leave the pony; he is in the stable."

The keeper nodded adieu to Edward, who left him to go to the stable for the pony. Edward saddled White Billy, and rode away across the forest with the dogs trotting at the pony's heels.

Edward had much to reflect upon as he rode back to the cottage. He felt that his position was one of more difficulty than before. That old Jacob Armitage would not last much longer he was convinced; even now the poor old man was shrunk away to a skeleton with pain and disease. That the livelihood to be procured from the forest would be attended with peril, now that order had been restored and the forest was no longer neglected, was certain; and he rejoiced that Humphrey had, by his assiduity and intelligence, made the farm so profitable as it promised to be. Indeed he felt that, if necessary, they could live upon the proceeds of the farm, and not run the risk of imprisonment by stalking the deer. But he had told the intendant that he considered the game as the king's property, and he was resolved that he would at all events run the risk, although he would no longer permit Humphrey so to do. "If anything happens to me," thought Edward, "Humphrey will still be at the cottage to take care of my sisters; and if I am obliged to fly the country, it will suit well my feelings, as I can then offer my services to those who still support the king." With these thoughts, and many others, he amused himself until, late in the evening, he arrived at the cottage. He found all in bed except Humphrey, who had waited for him, and to whom he narrated all that had passed. Humphrey said little in reply; he wished to think it over before he gave any opinion. He told Edward that Jacob had been very ill the whole of the day, and had requested Alice to read the Bible to him during the evening.

The next morning Edward went to Jacob, who for the last ten days had altogether kept his bed, and gave him the detail of what had happened at the keeper's lodge.

"You have been more bold than prudent, Edward," replied Jacob; "but I could not expect you to have spoken otherwise. You are too proud and too manly to tell a lie, and I am glad that it is so. As for your upholding the king, although he is now a prisoner in their hands, they cannot blame you or punish you for that, as long as you have not weapons in your hands; but now that they have taken the forest under their jurisdiction, you must be careful, for they are the ruling powers at present, and must be obeyed, or the forfeit must be paid. Still I do not ask you to promise me this or that; I only point out to you that your sisters will suffer by any imprudence on your part; and for their sakes be careful. I say this, Edward, because I feel that my days are numbered, and that in a short time I shall be called away. You will then have all the load on your shoulders which has been latterly on mine. I have no fear for the result, if you are prudent; these few months past, during which I have only been a burden to you, have proved that you and Humphrey can find a living here for yourselves and your sisters; and it is fortunate, now that the forest laws are about to be put in force, that you have made the farm so profitable. If I might advise, let your hunting in the forest be confined to the wild cattle; they are not game, and the forest laws do not extend to them, and the meat is as valuable as venison; that is to say, it does not sell so dear, but there is more of it; but stick to the farm as much as you can; for you see, Edward, you do not look like a low-born forester, nor ought you to do so; and the more quiet you keep, the better. As for Oswald Partridge, you may trust him; I know him well, and he will prove your friend for my sake, as soon as he hears that I am dead. Leave me now, I will talk to you again in the evening. Send Alice to me, my dear boy."

Edward was much distressed to perceive the change which had taken place in old Jacob. He was evidently much worse; but Edward had no idea how much worse he was. Edward assisted Humphrey in the farm, and in the evening again went to Jacob, and then told him of the arrangement he had made to meet Oswald Partridge on the following morning.

"Go, my boy," said Jacob; "be as intimate with him as you can, and make a friend of him--nay, if it should be necessary, you may tell him who you are; I did think of telling him myself, as it might be important to you one day as evidence. I think you had better bring him here to-morrow night, Edward; tell him I am dying, and wish to speak to him before I go. Alice will read the Bible to me now, and I will talk with you another time."

Early the next morning Edward set off to the appointed rendezvous with Oswald Partridge. The Clump Royal, as it was called, from the peculiar size and beauty of the oaks, was about seven miles from the cottage; and at the hour and time indicated Edward, with his gun in his hand, and Smoker lying beside him, was leaning against one of those monarchs of the forest. He did not wait long. Oswald Partridge, similarly provided, made his appearance, and Edward advanced to meet him.

"Welcome, Oswald," said Edward.

"And welcome to you also, my fine lad," replied Oswald. "I have been hard questioned about you since we parted--first, by the Roundhead Heatherstone, who plied me in all manner of ways to find out whether you are what you assert, the grandson of Jacob,--or some other person. I really believe that he fancies you are the Duke of York--but he could not get any more from me than what I knew. I told him that your grandfather's cottage was his own property, and a grant to his forefathers: that you were brought up at Arnwood, and had joined your grandfather after the death of the colonel, and the murderous burning of the house and all within it by his party. But the pretty little daughter was more curious still. She cross-questioned me in every way when her father was not present, and at last begged me as a favour to tell you not to take the deer, as her father was very strict in his duty, and, if caught, you would be imprisoned."

"Many thanks to her for her caution, but I hope to take one to-day, nevertheless," replied Edward; "a hart royal is not meat for Roundheads, although the king's servants may feast on them."

"That's truly said. Well, now I must see your woodcraft. You shall be the leader of the chase."

"Think you we can harbour a stag about here?"

"Yes, in this month, no doubt."

"Let us walk on," said Edward. "The wind is fresh from the eastern quarter: we will face it, if you please--or rather, keep it blowing on our right cheek for the present."

"'Tis well," replied Oswald; and they walked for about half an hour.

"This is the slot of a doe," said Edward, in a low voice, pointing to the marks; "yonder thicket is a likely harbour for the stag." They proceeded, and Edward pointed out to Oswald the slot of the stag into the thicket. They then walked round, and found no marks of the animal having left his lair.

"He is here," whispered Edward; and Oswald made a sign for Edward to enter the thicket, while he walked to the other side. Edward entered the thicket cautiously. In the centre he perceived, through the trees, a small cleared spot, covered with high fern, and felt certain that the stag was lying there. He forced his way on his knees till he had a better view of the place, and then cocked his gun. The noise induced the stag to move his antlers, and discover his lair. Edward could just perceive the eye of the animal through the heath; he waited till the beast settled again, took steady aim, and fired. At the report of the gun another stag sprung up and burst away. Oswald fired and wounded it, but the animal made off, followed by the dogs. Edward, who hardly knew whether he had missed or not, but felt almost certain that he had not, hastened out of the thicket to join in the chase; and, as he passed through the fern patch, perceived that his quarry lay dead. He then followed the chase, and, being very fleet of foot, soon came up with Oswald, and passed him without speaking. The stag made for a swampy ground, and finally took to the water beyond it, and stood at bay. Edward then waited for Oswald, who came up with him.

"He has soiled," said Edward, "and now you may go in and kill him."

Oswald, eager in the chase, hastened up to where the dogs and stag were in the water, and put a bullet through the animal's head.

Edward went to him, assisted him to drag the stag out of the water, and then Oswald cut its throat, and proceeded to perform the usual offices.

"How did you happen to miss him?" said Oswald, "for these are my shots?"

"Because I never fired at him," said Edward; "my quarry lies dead in the fern--and a fine fellow he is."

"This is a warrantable stag," said Oswald.

"Yes, but mine is a hart royal, as you will see when we go back."

As soon as Oswald had done his work, he hung the quarters of the animal on an oak-tree, and went back with Edward.

"Where did you hit him, Edward?" said Oswald, as they walked along.

"I could only see his eye through the fern, and I must have hit him thereabouts."

On their arrival at the spot Oswald found that Edward had put the ball right into the eye of the stag.

"Well," said he, "you made me suppose that you knew something of our craft, but I did not believe that you were so apt as you thought yourself to be. I now confess that you are a master, as far as I can see, in all branches of the craft. This is, indeed, a hart royal. Twenty-five antlers, as I live! Come, out with your knife, and let us finish; for if we are to go to the cottage we have no time to lose. It will be dark in half an hour." They hung all the quarters of the stag as before, and then set off for Jacob's cottage; Edward proposing that Oswald should take the cart and pony to carry the meat home the next morning, and that he would accompany him to bring it back.

"That will do capitally," said Oswald; "and here we are, if I recollect right, and I hope there is something to eat."

"No fear of that--Alice will be prepared for us," replied Edward.

Their dinner was ready for them; and Oswald praised the cooking. He was much surprised to find that Jacob had four grandchildren. After dinner he went into Jacob's room, and remained with him more than an hour. During this conference Jacob confided to Oswald that the four children were the sons and daughters of Colonel Beverley, supposed to have been burnt in the firing of Arnwood. Oswald came out, much surprised as well as pleased with the information, and with the confidence reposed in him. He saluted Edward and Humphrey respectfully, and said, "I was not aware with whom I was in company, sir, as you may well imagine; but the knowledge of it has made my heart glad."

"Nay, Oswald," replied Edward, "remember that I am still Edward Armitage, and that we are the grandchildren of old Jacob."

"Certainly, sir, I will, for your own sake, not forget that such is to be supposed to be the case. I assure you I think it very fortunate that Jacob has confided the secret to me, as it may be in my power to be useful. I little thought that I should ever have had my dinner cooked by a daughter of Colonel Beverley."

They then entered into a long conversation, during which Oswald expressed his opinion that the old man was sinking fast, and would not last more than three or four days. Oswald had a bed made up for him on the floor of the room where Edward and Humphrey slept, and the next morning they set off, at an early hour, with the pony and cart, loaded it with the venison, and took it across the forest to the keeper's lodge. It was so late when they arrived that Edward consented to pass the night there, and return home on the following morning. Oswald went into the sitting-room to speak with the Intendant of the forest, leaving Edward in the kitchen with Phoebe, the maidservant. He told the Intendant that he had brought home some fine venison, and wished his orders about it. He also stated that he had been assisted by Edward Armitage, who had brought the venison home for him in his cart, and who was now in the kitchen, as he would be obliged to pass the night there; and, on being questioned, he was lavish in his praises of Edward's skill and knowledge of woodcraft, which he declared to be superior to his own.

"It proves that the young man has had much practice, at all events," replied Mr Heatherstone, smiling. "He has been living at the king's expense, but he must not follow it up at the cost of the Parliament. It would be well to take this young man as a ranger if we could; for although he is opposed to us, yet, if he once took our service, he would be faithful, I am sure. You can propose it to him, Oswald. The haunches of that hart royal must be sent up to General Cromwell to-morrow: the remainder we will give directions for as soon as I have made up my mind how to dispose of it."

Oswald left the room, and came back to Edward. "General Cromwell is to have the haunches of your stag," said he to Edward, smiling; "and the Intendant proposes that you should take service as one of the rangers."

"I thank you," replied Edward, "but I've no fancy to find venison for General Cromwell and his Roundheads; and so you may tell the Intendant, with many thanks for his good-will towards me, nevertheless."

"I thought as much; but the man meant kindly, that I really think. Now, Phoebe, what can you give us to eat, for we are hungry?"

"You shall be served directly," replied Phoebe. "I have some steaks on the fire."

"And you must find a bed for my young friend here."

"I have none in the house, but there is plenty of good straw over the stables."

"That will do," replied Edward; "I'm not particular."

"I suppose not. Why should you be?" replied Phoebe, who was rather old and rather cross. "If you mount the ladder that you will see against the wall, you will find a good bed when you are at the top of it."

Oswald was about to remonstrate, but Edward held up his finger, and no more was said.

As soon as they had finished their supper Phoebe proposed that they should go to bed. It was late, and she would sit up no longer. Edward rose and went out, followed by Oswald, who had given up the keeper's house to the intendant and his daughter, and slept in the cottage of one of the rangers, about a quarter of a mile off. After some conversation they shook hands and parted, as Edward intended returning very early the next morning, being anxious about old Jacob.

Edward went up the ladder into the loft. There was no door to shut out the wind, which blew piercingly cold, and after a time he found himself so chilled that he could not sleep. He rose to see if he could not find some protection from the wind by getting more into a corner; for although Phoebe had told him that there was plenty of straw, it proved that there was very little indeed in the loft, barely enough to lie down upon. Edward, after a time, descended the ladder to walk in the yard, that by exercise he might recover the use of his limbs. At last, turning to and fro, he cast his eyes up to the window of the bedroom above the kitchen, where he perceived a light was still burning. He thought it was Phoebe, the maid, going to bed; and with no very gracious feelings towards her for having deprived him of his own night's rest, he was wishing that she might have the toothache or something else to keep her awake, when suddenly through the white window curtain he perceived a broad light in the room--it increased every moment--and he saw the figure of a female rush past it, and attempt to open the window--the drawing of the curtains showed him that the room was on fire. A moment's thought, and he ran for the ladder by which he had ascended to the loft, and placed it against the window. The flames were less bright, and he could not see the female who had been at the window when he went for the ladder. He ascended quickly, and burst open the casement--the smoke poured out in such volumes that it nearly suffocated him, but he went in; and as soon as he was inside, he stumbled against the body of the person who had attempted to open the window, but who had fallen down senseless. As he raised the body, the fire, which had been smothered from want of air when all the windows and doors were closed, now burst out, and he was scorched before he could get on the ladder again, with the body in his arms; but he succeeded in getting it down safe. Perceiving that the clothes were on fire, he held them till they were extinguished, and then, for the first time, discovered that he had brought down the daughter of the intendant of the forest. There was no time to be lost, so Edward carried her into the stable and left her there, still insensible, upon the straw, in a spare stall; while he hastened to alarm the house. The watering-butt for the horses was outside the stable; Edward caught up the pail, filled it, and hastening up the ladder, threw it into the room, and then descended for more.

By this time Edward's continual calls of "Fire! Fire!" had aroused the people of the house, and also of the cottages adjacent. Mr Heatherstone came out half dressed, and with horror on his countenance. Phoebe followed screaming, and the other people now hastened from the cottages.

"Save her! My daughter is in the room!" exclaimed Mr Heatherstone. "Oh, save her, or let me do so!" cried the poor man in agony; but the fire burst out of the window in such force, that any attempt would have been in vain.

"Oswald," cried Edward to him, "let the people pass the water up to me as fast as possible. They can do no good by looking on."

Oswald set the men to the work, and Edward was now supplied with water so fast that the fire began to diminish. The window was now approachable, and a few more buckets enabled him to put one foot into the room, and then every moment the flames and smoke decreased.

Meanwhile it would be impossible to describe the agony of the intendant, who would have rushed up the ladder into the flames had he not been held by some of the men. "My daughter! My child!--burnt--burnt to death!" exclaimed he, clasping his hands.

At that moment a voice in the crowd called out, "There were four burnt at Arnwood!"

"God of heaven!" exclaimed Mr Heatherstone, falling down into a swoon, in which state he was carried to a neighbouring cottage.

Meanwhile the supply of water enabled Edward to put out the fire altogether; the furniture of the room was burnt, but the fire had extended no farther; and when Edward was satisfied that there was no more danger, he descended the ladder, and left it to others to see that all was safe. He then called Oswald to him, and desired that he would accompany him to the stable.

"Oh sir," replied Oswald, "this is dreadful! And such a sweet young lady too."

"She is safe and well," replied Edward; "I think so, at least. I brought her down the ladder and put her in the stable before I attempted to put out the fire. See, there she is; she has not recovered yet from her swoon. Bring some water. She breathes! Thank God! There, that will do, Oswald, she is recovering. Now let us cover her up in your cloak, and carry her to your cottage. We will recover her there."

Oswald folded up the still unconscious girl in his cloak, and carried her away in his arms, followed by Edward.

As soon as they arrived at the cottage, the inmates of which were all busy at the keeper's lodge, they put her on a bed, and very soon restored her to consciousness.

"Where is my father?" cried Patience, as soon as she was sufficiently recovered.

"He is safe and well, miss," replied Oswald.

"Is the house burnt down?"

"No. The fire is all out again."

"Who saved me? Tell me."

"Young Armitage, miss."

"Who is he? Oh, I recollect now; but I must go to my father. Where is he?"

"In the other cottage, miss."

Patience attempted to stand, but found that she was too much exhausted, and she fell back again on the bed. "I can't stand," said she. "Bring my father to me."

"I will, miss," replied Oswald.

"Will you stay here, Edward?"

"Yes," replied Edward. He went out of the cottage-door, and remained there while Oswald went to Mr Heatherstone.

Oswald found him sensible, but in deep distress, as may be imagined. "The fire is all out, sir," said Oswald.

"I care not for that. My poor, poor child!"

"Your child is safe, sir," replied Oswald.

"Safe, did you say?" cried Mr Heatherstone, starting up. "Safe; where?"

"In my cottage. She has sent me for you."

Mr Heatherstone rushed out, passed by Edward, who was standing at the door of the other cottage, and was in his daughter's arms. Oswald came out to Edward, who then detailed to him the way in which he had saved the girl.

"Had it not been for the ill-nature of that girl Phoebe, in sending me to sleep where there was no straw, they would all have been burnt," observed Edward.

"She gave you an opportunity of rewarding good for evil," observed Oswald.

"Yes, but I am burnt very much in my arm," said Edward. "Have you anything that will be good for it?"

"Yes, I think I have: wait a moment."

Oswald went into the cottage and returned with some salve, with which he dressed Edward's arm, which proved to be very severely burnt.

"How grateful the Intendant ought to be--and will be, I have no doubt!" observed Oswald.

"And for that very reason I shall saddle my pony and ride home as fast as I can; and, do you hear, Oswald, do not show him where I live."

"I hardly know how I can refuse him, if he requires it."

"But you must not. He will be offering me a situation in the forest, by way of showing his gratitude; and I will accept of none. I have no objection to save his daughter, as I would save the daughter of my worst enemy, or my worst enemy himself, from such a dreadful death; but I do not want their thanks or offers of service. I will accept nothing from a Roundhead; and as for the venison in the forest, it belongs to the king, and I shall help myself whenever I think proper. Good-bye, Oswald, you will call and see us when you have time?"

"I will be with you before the week is out, depend upon it," replied Oswald.

Edward then asked Oswald to saddle his pony for him, as his arm prevented him from doing it himself, and as soon as it was done he rode away for the cottage.

Edward rode fast, for he was anxious to get home and ascertain the state of poor old Jacob; and, moreover, his burnt arm was very painful. He was met by Humphrey about a mile from the cottage, who told him that he did not think that the old man could last many hours, and that he was very anxious to see him. As the pony was quite tired with the fast pace that Edward had ridden, Edward pulled up to a walk, and as they went along acquainted Humphrey with what had passed.

"Is your arm very painful?"

"Yes, it is indeed," replied Edward; "but it can't be helped."

"No, of course not, but it may be made more easy. I know what will do it some good; for I recollect when Benjamin burnt his hand at Arnwood, what they applied to it, and it gave him great relief."

"Yes, very likely; but I am not aware that we have any drugs or medicine in the cottage. But here we are: will you take Billy to the stable, while I go on to old Jacob?"

"Thank God that you are come, Edward," said the old forester, "for I was anxious to see you before I die; and something tells me that I have but a short time to remain here."

"Why should you say so!--do you feel very ill?"

"No, not ill; but I feel that I am sinking fast. Recollect that I am an old man, Edward."

"Not so very old, Jacob; Oswald said that you were not more than sixty years old."

"Oswald knows nothing about it. I am past seventy six, Edward; and you know, Edward, the Bible says that the days of men are threescore years and ten; so that I am beyond the mark. And now, Edward, I have but few words to say. Be careful--if not for your own sake, at least for your little sisters'. You are young, but you are strong and powerful above your years, and can better protect them than I could. I see darker days yet coming--but it is His will, and who shall doubt that that is right? I pray you not to make your birth and lineage known as yet--it can do no good, and it may do harm--and if you can be persuaded to live in the cottage, and to live on the farm, which will now support you all, it will be better. Do not get into trouble about the venison, which they now claim as their own. You will find some money in the bag in my chest, sufficient to buy all you want for a long while--but take care of it; for there is no saying but you may require it. And now, Edward, call your brother and sisters to me, that I may bid them farewell. I am, as we all are, sinful, but I trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Edward, I have done my duty towards you, as well as I have been able; but promise me one thing--that you will read the Bible and prayers every morning and evening, as I have always done, after I am gone; promise me that, Edward."

"I promise you that it shall be done, Jacob," replied Edward, "and I will not forget your other advice."

"God bless you, Edward. Now call the children."

Edward summoned his sisters and Humphrey.

"Humphrey, my good boy," said Jacob, "recollect that in the midst of life we are in death; and that there is no security for young or old. You or your brother may be cut off in your youth; one may be taken, and the other left. Recollect, your sisters depend upon you, and do not therefore be rash: I fear that you will run too much risk after the wild cattle, for you are always scheming after taking them. Be careful, Humphrey, for you can ill be spared. Hold to the farm as it now is; it will support you all. My dear Alice and Edith, I am dying; very soon I shall be laid by your brothers in my grave. Be good children, and look up to your brothers for everything. And now, kiss me, Alice: you have been a great comfort to me, for you have read the Bible to me when I could no longer read myself. May your deathbed be as well attended as mine has been, and may you live happily, and die the death of a Christian! Good-bye, and may God bless you. Bless you, Edith; may you grow up as good and as innocent as you are now. Farewell, Humphrey-- farewell, Edward--my eyes are dim--pray for me, children. O God of mercy--pardon my many sins, and receive my soul, through Jesus Christ. Amen, amen."

These were the last words spoken by the old forester. The children, who were kneeling by the side of the bed, praying as he had requested, when they rose up, found that he was dead. They all wept bitterly, for they dearly loved the good old man. Alice remained sobbing in Edward's arms, and Edith in Humphrey's, and it was long before the brothers could console them. Humphrey at last said to Alice, "You hurt poor Edward's arm--you don't know how painful it is! Come, dears, let us go into the other room, and get something to take the pain away."

These requests diverted the attention at the same time that it roused fresh sympathy in the little girls--they all went into the sitting-room. Humphrey gave his sisters some potatoes to scrape upon a piece of linen, while he took off Edward's coat, and turned up his shirt sleeves. The scraped potatoes were then laid on the burn, and Edward said they gave him great relief. Some more were then scraped by the little girls, who could not, however, repress their occasional sobs. Humphrey then told them that Edward had had nothing to eat, and that they must get him some supper. This again occupied them for some time; and when the supper was ready, they all sat down to it. They went to bed early, but not before Edward had read a chapter out of the Bible, and the prayers, as old Jacob had always done; and this again caused their tears to flow afresh.

"Come, Alice dear, you and Edith must go to bed," said Humphrey.

The little girls threw themselves into their brothers' arms; and having wept for some time, Alice raised herself, and taking Edith by the hand, led her away to the bedroom.

CHAPTER TEN.

"Humphrey," said Edward, "the sooner all this is over the better. As long as poor Jacob's body remains in the cottage there will be nothing but distress with the poor girls."

"I agree with you," replied Humphrey; "where shall we bury him?"

"Under the great oak-tree, at the back of the cottage," replied Edward. "One day the old man said to me that he should like to be buried under one of the oaks of the forest."

"Well then, I will go and dig his grave to-night," replied Humphrey; "the moon is bright, and I shall have it finished before morning."

"I am sorry that I cannot help you, Humphrey."

"I am sorry that you are hurt; but I want no help, Edward. If you will lie down a little, perhaps you will be able to sleep. Let us change the potato poultice before you go on."

Humphrey put the fresh dressing on Edward's arm; and Edward, who was very much exhausted, lay down in his clothes on the bed. Humphrey went out, and having found his tools, set to his task; he worked hard, and before morning had finished. He then went in, and took his place on the bed by the side of Edward, who was in a sound sleep. At daylight Humphrey rose, and waked Edward. "All is ready, Edward; but I fear you must help me to put poor Jacob in the cart; do you think you can?"

"Oh yes; my arm is much easier, and I feel very different from what I did last night. If you will go and get the cart I will see what I can do in the meantime."

When Humphrey returned he found Edward had selected a sheet to wind the body in, but could not do more till Humphrey came to help him. They then wrapped it round the body, and carried it out of the cottage, and put it into the cart.

"Now, Edward, shall we call our sisters?"

"No, not yet; let us have the body laid in the grave first, and then we will call them."

They dragged the body on the cart to the grave, and laid it in it, and then returned back and put the pony in the stable again.

"Are there not prayers proper for reading over the dead?" said Humphrey.

"I believe that there are, but they are not in the Bible; so we must read some portion of the Bible," said Edward.

"Yes, I think there is one of the Psalms which it would be right to read, Edward," said Humphrey, turning over the leaves; "here it is, the ninetieth, in which you recollect it says `that the days of man are threescore years and ten.'"

"Yes," replied Edward, "and we will read this one also,--the 146th."

"Are our sisters risen, do you think?"

"I am sure that they are," replied Humphrey, "and I will go to them."

Humphrey went to the door, and said, "Alice--Alice and Edith--come out immediately." They were both ready dressed.

Edward took the Bible under his arm, and Alice by the hand. Humphrey led Edith until they arrived at the grave, when the two little girls saw the covered body of Jacob lying in it.

"Kneel down," said Edward, opening the Bible. And they all knelt down by the grave. Edward read the two Psalms, and then closed the book. The little girls took one last look at the body, and then turned away weeping to the cottage. Edward and Humphrey filled up the grave, and then followed their sisters home.

"I'm glad it's over," said Humphrey, wiping his eyes. "Poor old Jacob! I'll put a paling round his grave."

"Come in, Humphrey," said Edward.

Edward sat down upon old Jacob's chair, and took Alice and Edith to him. Putting his arm round each, he said:

"Alice and Edith, my dear little sisters, we have lost a good friend, and one to whose memory we cannot be too grateful. He saved us from perishing in the flames which burnt down our father's house, and has protected us here ever since. He is gone; for it has pleased God to summon him to Him, and we must bow to the will of Heaven; and here we are, brothers and sisters, orphans, and with no one to look to for protection but Heaven. Here we are, away from the rest of the world, living for one another. What then must we do? We must love one another dearly, and help one another. I will do my part, if my life is spared, and so will Humphrey, and so will you, my dear sisters. I can answer for all. Now it is no use to lament--we must all work, and work cheerfully; and we will pray every morning and every night that God will bless our endeavours, and enable us to provide for ourselves, and live here in peace and safety. Kiss me, dear Alice and Edith, and kiss Humphrey, and kiss one another. Let these kisses be the seals to our bond; and let us put our trust in Him who only is a father to the widow and the orphan. And now let us pray."

Edward and the children repeated the Lord's Prayer, and then rose up. They went to their respective employments, and the labour of the day soon made them composed, although then, for many days afterwards, it was but occasionally that a smile was seen upon their lips.

Thus passed a week, by which time Edward's arm was so far well that it gave him no pain, and he was able to assist Humphrey in the work on the farm. The snow had disappeared, and the spring, although it had been checked for a time, now made rapid advances. Constant occupation and the return of fine weather both had the effect of restoring the serenity of their minds; and while Humphrey was preparing the paling to fix round the grave of old Jacob, Alice and Edith collected the wild violets which now peeped forth on sheltered spots, and planted the roots over the grave. Edward also procured all the early flowers he could collect, and assisted his sisters in their task; and thus, in planting it, and putting up the paling, the grave of the old man became their constant work-ground; and when their labour was done, they would still remain there and talk over his worth. The Sunday following the burial, the weather being fine and warm, Edward proposed that they should read the usual service, which had been selected by old Jacob, at the grave, and not in the cottage, as formerly; and this they continued afterwards to do, whenever the weather would permit; thus did old Jacob's resting-placing become their church, and overpower them with those feelings of love and devotion which give efficacy to prayer. As soon as the paling was finished Humphrey put up a board against the oak-tree, with the simple words carved on it, "Jacob Armitage."

Edward had every day expected that Oswald Partridge would have called upon him, as he had promised to do before the week was out; but Oswald had not made his appearance, much to Edward's surprise. A month passed away; Edward's arm was now quite well, and still Oswald came not. One morning Humphrey and Edward were conversing upon many points--the principal of which was upon Edward going to Lymington, for they were now in want of flour and meal--when Edward thought of what old Jacob had told him relative to the money that he would find in his chest. He went into Jacob's room and opened the chest, at the bottom of which, under the clothes, he found a leather bag, which he brought out to Humphrey; on opening it, they were much surprised to find in it more than sixty gold pieces, besides a great deal of silver coin.

"Surely this is a great sum of money," observed Humphrey. "I don't know what is the price of things but it appears to me that it ought to last us a long while."

"I think so too," replied Edward. "I wish Oswald Partridge would come, for I want to ask him many questions. I don't know the price of flour or anything else we have to purchase, nor do I know what ought to be paid for venison. I don't like to go to Lymington till I see him, for that reason. If he does not come soon I shall ride over and see what is the matter."

Edward then replaced the money in the chest, and he and Humphrey then went out to the farm-yard to go on with their work.

It was not until six weeks after the death of old Jacob that Oswald Partridge made his appearance.

"How is the old man, sir?" was his first question.

"He was buried a few days after you left," replied Edward.

"I expected as much," said the forester. "Peace be with him--he was a good man. And how is your arm?"

"Nearly well," replied Edward. "Now, sit down, Oswald, for I have a great deal to say to you; and first let me ask you what has detained you from coming here according to your promise?"

"Simply, and in few words--murder."

"Murder!" exclaimed Edward.

"Yes, deliberate murder, sir; in short, they have beheaded the king-- beheaded King Charles, our sovereign."

"Have they dared to do it?"

"They have," replied Oswald. "We know little that is going on in the forest; but when I saw you last I heard that he was then in London, and was to be tried."

"Tried!" exclaimed Edward. "How could they try a king? By the laws of our country a man must be tried by his equals; and where were his equals?"

"Majesty becomes nought, I suppose," replied Oswald; "but still it is as I say. Two days after you left the Intendant hastened up to London; and from what I have understood, he was strongly opposed to the deed, and did all he could to prevent it, but it was of no use. When he left he gave me strict injunctions not to go away from the cottage for an hour, as his daughter was left alone, and as I promised, I could not come to you; but, nevertheless, Patience received letters from him, and told me what I tell you."

"You have not dined, Oswald?" said Edward.

"No, that I have not."

"Alice, dear, get some dinner, will you? And Oswald, while you dine, excuse me if I leave you for a while. Your intelligence has so astounded me that I can listen to nothing else till I have had a little while to commune with myself and subdue my feelings."

Edward was indeed in a state of mind which required calming down. He quitted the cottage and walked out for some distance into the forest in deep thought.

"Murdered at last!" exclaimed he. "Yes, well may it be called murder, and no one to save him--not a blow struck in his defence--not an arm raised. How much gallant blood has been shed in vain! Spirit of my fathers--didst thou leave none of thy mettle and thy honour behind thee? Or has all England become craven? Well, the time will come; and if I can no longer hope to fight for my king, at all events I can fight against those who have murdered him."

Such were Edward's thoughts as he wandered through the forest, and more than an hour elapsed before his impetuous blood could return to its usual flow; at last, more calm, he returned to the cottage, and listened to the details which Oswald now gave to him of what he had heard.

When Oswald had finished, Edward asked him whether the Intendant had returned.

"Yes, or I should not have been here," replied Oswald. "He came back yesterday, looking most disconsolate and grave, and I hear that he returns to London in a few days. Indeed, he told me so himself, for I requested permission to come over to see your grandfather. He said that I might go, but must return soon, as he must go back to London. I believe, from what Miss Patience told me, and what I have seen myself, that he is sincerely amazed and vexed at what has taken place; and so indeed are many more, who, although opposed to the king's method of government, never had an idea that things should have turned out as they have done. I have a message from him to you, which is, that he begs you will come to see him, that he may thank you for the preservation of his child."

"I will take his thanks from you, Oswald: that will do as well as if he gave them me in person."

"Yes, perhaps so; but I have another message from another party, which is, the young lady herself. She desires me to tell you that she will never be happy till she has seen you, and thanked you for your courage and kindness; and that you have no right to put her under such an obligation, and not give her an opportunity of expressing what she feels. Now, Mr Edward, I am certain that she is earnest in what she says, and she made me promise that I would persuade you to come. I could not refuse her, for she is a dear little creature; as her father will go to London in a few days, you may ride over and see her without any fear of being affronted by any offers which he may make to you."

"Well," replied Edward, "I have no great objection to see her again, for she was very kind to me; and as you say that the Intendant will not be there I perhaps may come. But now I must talk to you about other matters."

Edward then put many questions to Oswald relative to the value of various articles, and to the best method of disposing of his venison.

Oswald answered all his questions, and Edward took down notes and directions on paper.

Oswald remained with them for two days, and then bade them farewell, exacting a promise from Edward that he would come to the ranger's cottage as soon as he could. "Should the Intendant come back before he is expected, I will come over and let you know; but I think, from what I heard him say, he expected to be at least a month in London."

Edward promised that Oswald should see him in less than ten days, and Oswald set out on his journey.

"Humphrey," said Edward, as soon as Oswald was gone, "I have made up my mind to go to Lymington to-morrow. We must have some flour, and many other articles, which Alice says she can no longer do without."

"Why should we not both go, Edward?" replied Humphrey.

"No, not this time," replied Edward. "I have to find out many things and many people, and I had rather go by myself; besides, I cannot allow my sisters to be left alone. I do not consider there is any danger, I admit; but something might happen to them. I should never forgive myself. Still, it is necessary that you should go to Lymington with me some time or another, that you may know where to purchase and sell, if required. What I propose is, that I will ask Oswald to come and stay here a couple of days. We will then leave him in charge of our sisters, and go to Lymington together."

"You are right, Edward; that will be the best plan."

As Humphrey made this remark, Oswald re-entered the cottage.

"I will tell you why I have returned, Mr Edward," said Oswald. "It is of no consequence whether I return now or to-morrow. It is now early, and as you intend going to Lymington, it occurred to me that I had better go with you. I can then show you all you want, which will be much better than going by yourself."

"Thank you, Oswald, I am much obliged to you," said Edward.

"Humphrey, we will get the cart out immediately, or we shall be late. Will you get it, Humphrey? For I must go for some money, and speak to Alice."

Humphrey went immediately to put the pony in the cart, when Edward said:

"Oswald, you must not call me Mr Edward, even when we are alone; if you do, you will be calling me so before other people, and, therefore, recollect in future, it must be plain Edward."

"Since you wish it, certainly," replied Oswald; "indeed it would be better; for a slip of the tongue before other people might create suspicion."

The pony and cart were soon at the door, and Edward, having received further instructions from Alice, set off for Lymington, accompanied by Oswald.

CHAPTER ELEVEN.

"Could you have found your way to Lymington?" said Oswald, as the pony trotted along.

"Yes, I think so," replied Edward; "but I must have first gone to Arnwood. Indeed, had I been alone, I should have done so; but we have made a much shorter cut."

"I did not think that you would have liked to have seen the ruins of Arnwood," replied Oswald.

"Not a day passes without my thinking of them," replied Edward. "I should like to see them. I should like to see if any one has taken possession of the property; for they say it is confiscated."

"I heard that it was to be; but not that it was yet," said Oswald: "but we shall know more when we get to Lymington. I have not seen it for more than a year. I hardly think that any one will recognise you."

"I should think not; but I care little if they do. Indeed, who is there to know me?"

"Well, my introduction of you will save some surmises, probably; and I shall not take you among those who may be inclined to ask questions. See, there is the steeple; we have not more than a quarter of an hour's drive."

As soon as they arrived at Lymington, Oswald directed the way to a small hostelrie, to which the keepers and verderers usually resorted. In fact, the landlord was the party who took all the venison off their hands, and disposed of it. They drove into the yard, and, giving the pony and cart in charge of the hostler, went into the inn, where they found the landlord, and one or two other people, who were drinking.

"Well, Master Andrew, how fare you?" said Oswald.

"Let me see," said the corpulent landlord, throwing back his head, and putting out his stomach, as he peered at Oswald; "why, Oswald Partridge, as I am a born man. Where have you been this many a day?"

"In the forest, Master Andrew, where there are no few chops and changes."

"Yes, I heard you have a sort of Parliamentary keeper, I'm told; and who is this with you?"

"The grandson of an old friend of yours, now dead, poor old Jacob Armitage."

"Jacob dead, poor fellow! As true as flint was Jacob Armitage, as I'm a born man! And so he is dead! Well, we all owe heaven a death. Foresters and landlords, as well as kings, all must die!"

"I have brought Edward Armitage over here to introduce him to you, Master Andrew. Now that the old man is dead, you must look to him for forest meat."

"Oh, well, well, it is scarce now. I have not had any for some time. Old Jacob brought me the last. You are not one of the Parliamentary foresters, then, I presume?" continued the landlord, turning to Edward.

"No," replied Edward, "I kill no venison for Roundheads."

"Right, my sapling; right and well said. The Armitages were all good men and true, and followed the fortunes of the Beverleys; but there are no Beverleys to follow now. Cut off root and branch--more's the pity. That was a sad business. But come in; we must not talk here, for walls have ears, they say, and one never knows who one dares to speak before now."

Oswald and Edward then entered with the landlord, and arrangements were made between Master Andrew and the latter for a regular supply of venison during the season at a certain price; but as it would now be dangerous to bring it into the town, it was agreed that when there was any ready, Edward should come to Lymington and give notice, and the landlord would send out people to bring it in during the night. This bargain concluded, they took a glass with the landlord, and then went into the town to make the necessary purchases. Oswald took Edward to all the shops where the articles he required were to be purchased; some they carried away with them; others, which were too heavy, they left, to be called for with the cart as they went away. Among other articles, Edward required powder and lead, and they went to a gunsmith's where it was to be procured. While making his purchases, Edward perceived a sword, which he thought he had seen before, hanging up against the wall among other weapons.

"What sword is that?" said he to the man who was measuring out the powder.

"It's not my sword, exactly," replied the man; "and yet I cannot return it to its owner or to the family. It was brought me to be cleaned by one of Colonel Beverley's people, and before it was called for the house was burnt, and every soul perished. It was one of the colonel's swords, I am sure, as there is E.B. on a silver plate engraved on it. I have a bill owing me for work done at Arnwood, and I have no chance of its being paid now; so, whether I am to sell the sword, or what to do, I hardly know."

Edward remained silent for some little while, for he could not trust himself to speak; at last he replied: "To be candid with you, I am, and all my family have been, followers of the Beverley family, and I should be sorry if the colonel's sword was to fall into any other hands. I think, therefore, if I pay the bill which is due, you may safely let me hold the sword as a security for the money, with the express understanding that if it is ever claimed by the Beverley family, I am to give it up."

"Certainly," said Oswald; "nothing can be fairer or more clearly put."

"I think so, too, young man," replied the shopkeeper. "Of course, you will leave your name and address?"

"Yes; and my friend here will vouch for its being correct," replied Edward.

The shopkeeper then produced the account, which Edward paid; and giving on the paper the name of Edward Armitage, he took possession of the sword. He then paid for the powder and lead, which Oswald took charge of, and, hardly able to conceal his joy, hastened out of the shop.

"Oswald," cried Edward, "I would not part with it for thousands of pounds. I never will part with it but with my life."

"I believe so," replied Oswald; "and I believe more, that it will never be disgraced in your hands; but do not talk so loud, for there are listeners and spies everywhere. Is there anything else that you require?"

"No, I think not; the fact is that this sword has put everything out of my head. If there was anything else I have forgotten it. Let us go back to the inn, and we will harness the pony, and call for the flour and oatmeal."

When they arrived at the inn, Oswald went out to the yard to get the cart ready, while Edward went into the landlord's room to make inquiries as to the quantity of venison he would be able to take off his hands at a time. Oswald had taken the sword from Edward, and had put it in the cart while he was fastening the harness, when a man came up to the cart, and looked earnestly at the sword. He then examined it, and said to Oswald:

"Why, that was Colonel Beverley's, my old master's, sword. I knowed it again directly. I took it to Phillips, the gunmaker, to be cleaned."

"Indeed!" replied Oswald; "I pray what may be your name?"

"Benjamin White," replied the man; "I served at Arnwood till the night it was burned down; and I have been here ever since."

"And what are you doing now?"

"I'm tapster at the `Commonwealth,' in Fish Street--not much of a place."

"Well, well, you stand by the pony, and look that nobody takes anything out of the cart, while I go in for some parcels."

"Yes, to be sure I will; but, I say, forester, how came you by that sword?"

"I will tell you when I come out again," replied Oswald.

Oswald then went in to Edward, and told him what had occurred.

"He will certainly know you, sir, and you must not come out till I can get him away," said he.

"You are right, Oswald; but before he goes, ask him what became of my aunt, and where she was buried, and also ask him where the other servants are--perhaps they are at Lymington as well as he."

"I will find it all out," replied Oswald, who then left Edward, and returned to the landlord and recommenced conversation.

Oswald, on his return, told Benjamin in what manner the sword had been procured from the shopman, by the grandson of old Armitage.

"I never knew that he had one," replied Benjamin; "nor did I know that old Jacob was dead."

"What became of all the women who were at Arnwood?" inquired Oswald.

"Why, Agatha married one of the troopers, and went away to London."

"And the others?"

"Why, cook went home to her friends, who live about ten miles from here, and I have never heard of her since."

"But there were three of them," said Oswald. "Oh yes; there was Phoebe," replied Benjamin, looking rather confused. "She married a trooper--the jilt!--and went off to London when Agatha did. If I'd have thought that she would have done so I would not have carried her away from Arnwood behind me on a pillion, as I did; she might have been burnt with the poor children, for all as I cared."

"Was not the old lady killed?"

"Yes; that is to say, she killed herself, rather than not kill Southwold."

"Where was she buried?"

"In the churchyard, at Saint Faith's, by the mayor and corporation; for there was not money enough found upon her person to pay the expenses of her burial."

"And so you are tapster at the `Commonwealth.' Is it a good inn?"

"Can't say much for it. I shan't stay longer than I can help, I can tell you."

"Well, but you must have an easy place, if you can stay away so long as you do now."

"Won't I be mobbed when I go back! But that's always the case, make haste or not, so it's all one. However, I do think I must be a-going now, so good-bye, Mr Forester; and tell Jacob Armitage's grandson that I shall be glad to see him, for old Jacob's sake; and it's hard but I'll find him something to drink when he calls."

"I will: I shall see him to-morrow," replied Oswald, getting into the cart; "so good-bye, Benjamin," much to the satisfaction of Oswald, who thought that he would never go.

They went away at a rapid pace, to make up for lost time, and soon disappeared round the corner of the street. Oswald then got out again, summoned Edward, and having called for the flour and other heavy articles, they set off on their return.

During the drive Oswald made known to Edward the information which he had gained from Benjamin, and at a late hour they arrived safely at the cottage.

They staid up but a short time, as they were tired; and Oswald had resolved upon setting off before daylight on the following morning, which he did without disturbing any one; for Humphrey was up and dressed as soon as Oswald was, and gave him something to eat as he went along. All the others remained fast asleep. Humphrey walked about a mile with Oswald, and was returning to the farm, when he thought, as he had not examined his pit-fall for many days, that he might as well look at it, before he went back. He therefore struck in the direction in which it lay, and arrived there just as the day began to dawn.

It was the end of March, and the weather was mild for the season. Humphrey arrived at the pit, and it was sufficiently light for him to perceive that the covering had been broken in, and therefore, in all probability, something must have been trapped. He sat down and waited for daylight, but at times he thought he heard a heavy breathing, and once a low groan. This made him more anxious, and he again and again peered into the pit, but could not for a long while discover anything, until at last he thought that he could make out a human figure lying at the bottom. Humphrey called out, asking if there was any one there. A groan was the reply, and now Humphrey was horrified at the idea that somebody had fallen into the pit, and had perished, or was perishing for want of succour. Recollecting that the rough ladder which he had made to take the soil up out of the pit was against an oak-tree, close at hand, he ran for it, and put it down the pit, and then cautiously descended. On his arrival at the bottom, his fears were found to be verified, for he found the body of a lad half-clothed lying there. He turned it up, as it was lying with its face to the ground, and attempted to remove it and to ascertain if there was life in it, which he was delighted to find was the case. The lad groaned several times, and opened his eyes. Humphrey was afraid that he was not strong enough to lift it on his shoulders and carry it up the ladder; but on making the attempt, he found out, from exhaustion, the poor lad was light enough for him to carry him, which he did, and safely landed him by the side of the pit.

Recollecting that the watering-place of the herd of cattle was not far off, Humphrey then hastened to it, and filled his hat half full of water. The lad, although he could not speak, drank eagerly, and in a few minutes appeared much recovered. Humphrey gave him some more, and bathed his face and temples. The sun had now risen, and it was broad daylight. The lad attempted to speak, but what he did say was in so low a tone, and evidently in a foreign language, that Humphrey could not make him out. He therefore made signs to the lad that he was going away, and would be back soon; and having, as he thought, made the lad comprehend this, Humphrey ran away to the cottage as fast as he could; and as soon as he arrived he called for Edward, who came out, and when Humphrey told him in few words what had happened, Edward went into the cottage again for some milk and some cake, while Humphrey put the pony into the cart.

In a few moments they were off again, and soon arrived at the pit-fall, where they found the lad still lying where Humphrey had left him. They soaked the cake in the milk, and, as soon as it was soft, gave him some; after a time he swallowed pretty freely, and was so much recovered as to be able to sit up. They then lifted him into the cart, and drove gently home to their cottage.

"What do you think he is, Edward?" said Humphrey.

"Some poor beggar lad, who has been crossing the forest."

"No, not exactly; he appears to me to be one of the Zingaros or gipsies, as they call them: he is very dark, and has black eyes and white teeth, just like those I saw once near Arnwood, when I was out with Jacob. Jacob said that no one knew where they came from, but that they were all over the country, and that they were great thieves, and told fortunes, and played all manner of tricks."

"Perhaps it may be so; I do not think that he can speak English."

"I am most thankful to Heaven that I chanced this morning to visit the pit-fall. Only suppose that I had found the poor boy starved and dead! I should have been very unhappy, and never should have had any pleasure in looking at the cows, as they would always have reminded me of such a melancholy accident."

"Very true, Humphrey; but you have been saved that misfortune, and ought to be grateful to Heaven that such is the case. What shall we do with him now we have him?"

"Why, if he chooses to remain with us, he will be very useful in the cow-yard," said Humphrey.

"Of course," replied Edward, laughing, "as he was taken in the pit-fall, he must go into the yard with all he others who were captured in the same way."

"Well, Edward, let us get him all right again first, and then we will see what is to be done with him; perhaps he will refuse to remain with us."

As soon as they arrived at the cottage they lifted the lad out of the cart, and carried him into Jacob's room, and laid him on the bed, for he was too weak to stand.

Alice and Edith, who were much surprised at the new visitor, and the way in which he had been caught, hastened to get some gruel ready for him. As soon as it was ready they gave it to the boy, who then fell back on the bed with exhaustion, and was soon in a sound sleep. He slept soundly all that night; and the next morning, when he awoke, he appeared much better, although very hungry. This last complaint was easy to remedy, and then the lad got up and walked into the sitting-room.

"What's your name?" said Humphrey to the lad.

"Pablo," replied the lad.

"Can you speak English?"

"Yes, little," replied he.

"How did you happen to fall into the pit?"

"Not see hole."

"Are you a gipsy?"

"Yes, Gitano--same thing."

Humphrey put a great many more questions to the lad, and elicited from him, in his imperfect English, the following particulars.

That he was in company with several others of his race, going down to the sea-coast on one of their usual migrations, and that they had pitched their tents not far from the pit-fall. That during the night he had gone out to set some snares for rabbits, and going back to the tents, it being quite dark, he had fallen into the hole. That he had remained there three days and nights, having in vain attempted to get out. His mother was with the party of gipsies to which he belonged; but he had no father. He did not know where to follow the gang, as they had not said where they were going, farther than to the sea-coast. That it was no use looking for them; and that he did not care much about leaving them, as he was very unkindly treated. In reply to the question as to whether he would like to remain with them, and work with them on the farm, he replied that he should like it very much if they would be kind to him, and not make him work too hard; that he would cook the dinner, and catch them rabbits and birds, and make a great many things.

"Will you be honest, if we keep you, and not tell lies?" said Edward.

The lad thought a little while, and then nodded his head in the affirmative.

"Well, Pablo, we will try you, and if you are a good lad, we will do all we can to make you happy," said Edward; "but if you behave ill, we shall be obliged to turn you out of doors; do you understand?"

"Be as good as I can," replied Pablo; and here the conversation ended for the present.

Pablo was a very short-built lad, of apparently fifteen or sixteen years of age, very dark in complexion, but very handsome in features, with beautiful white teeth and large dark eyes; and there was certainly something in his intelligent countenance which recommended him, independent of his claim to their kindness from his having been left thus friendless in consequence of his misadventure. Humphrey was particularly pleased with and interested about him, as the lad had so nearly lost his life through his means.

"I really think, Edward," said Humphrey, as they were standing outside of the door of the cottage, "that the lad may be very useful to us, and I sincerely hope that he may prove honest and true. We must first get him into health and spirits, and then I will see what he can do."

"The fact is, my dear Humphrey, we can do no otherwise: he is separated from his friends, and does not know where to go. It would be inhuman, as we have been the cause of his misfortune, to turn him away; but although I feel this, I do not feel much security as to his good behaviour and being very useful. I have always been told that these gipsies were vagrants, who lived by stealing all they could lay their hands upon; and, if he has been brought up in that way, I fear that he will not easily be reformed. However, we can but try, and hope for the best."

"What you say is very just, Edward; at the same time, there is an honest look about this lad, although he is a gipsy, that makes me put a sort of confidence in him. Admitting that he has been taught to do wrong, do you not think that when told the contrary he may be persuaded to do right?"

"It is not impossible, certainly," replied Edward; "but, Humphrey, be on the safe side, and do not trust him too far, until you know more of him."

"That I most certainly will not," replied Humphrey. "When do you purpose going over to the keeper's cottage, Edward?"

"In a day or two; but I am not exactly in a humour now to be very civil to the Roundheads, although the one I have promised to visit is a lady, and a very amiable, pretty little girl into the bargain."

"Why, Edward, what has made you feel more opposed to them than usual?"

"In the first place, Humphrey, the murder of the king--for it was murder, and nothing better--I cannot get that out of my head; and yesterday I obtained what I consider as almost a gift from Heaven; and if it is so, it was not given but with the intention that I should make use of it."

"And what was that, Edward?"

"Our gallant father's sword, which he drew so nobly and so well in defence of his sovereign, Humphrey, and which I trust his son may one day wield with equal distinction, and, it may be, better fortune. Come in with me, and I will show it to you."

Edward and Humphrey went into the bedroom, and Edward brought out the sword, which he had placed by his side on the bed.

"See, Humphrey, this was our father's sword; and," continued Edward, kissing the weapon, "I trust I may be permitted to draw it to revenge his death, and the death of one whose life ever should have been sacred."

"I trust that you will, my dear brother," replied Humphrey; "you will have a strong arm and a good cause. Heaven grant that both may prosper! But tell me how you came by it."

Edward then related all that had passed during his visit with Oswald to Lymington, not forgetting to tell him of Benjamin's appearance, and the arrangements he had made relative to the sale of the venison.

As soon as dinner was over, Edward and Humphrey took down their guns, having agreed that they would go and hunt the wild cattle.

"Humphrey, have you any idea where the herd of cattle are feeding at this time?"

"I know where they were feeding yesterday and the day before, and I do not think that they will have changed their ground; for the grass is yet very young, and only grown on the southern aspects. Depend upon it we shall fall in with them not four miles from where we now are, if not nearer."

"We must stalk them as we do the deer, must we not? They won't allow us to approach within shot, Humphrey, will they?" said Edward.

"We have to take our chance, Edward; they will allow us to advance within shot, but the bulls will then advance upon us, while the herd increase their distance. On the other hand, if we stalk them, we may kill one, and then the report of the gun will frighten the others away. In the first instance there is a risk; in the second there is none, but there is more fatigue and trouble. Choose as you please, I will act as you decide."

"Well, Humphrey, since you give me the choice, I think that this time I shall take the bull by the horns, as the saying is; that is, if there are any trees near us, for if the herd are in an open place I would not run such a risk; but if we can fire upon them and fall back upon a tree in case of a bull charging, I will take them openly."

"With all my heart, Edward: I think it will be very hard, if, with our two guns and Smoker to back us, we do not manage to be masters of the field. However, we must survey well before we make our approach; and if we can get within shot without alarming or irritating them, we of course will do so."

"The bulls are very savage at this spring-time," observed Edward.

"They are so at all times, as far as I can see of them," replied Humphrey; "but we are near to them now, I should think--yes, there is the herd."

"There they are, sure enough," replied Edward: "now we have not to do with deer, and need not be so very cautious; but still the animals are wary, and keep a sharp look-out. We must approach them quietly, by slipping from tree to tree. Smoker, to heel!--down--quiet, Smoker--good dog!"

Edward and Humphrey stopped to load their guns, and then approached the herd in the manner which had been proposed, and were very soon within two hundred yards of the cattle, behind a large oak, when they stopped to reconnoitre. The herd contained about seventy head of cattle, of various sizes and ages. They were feeding in all directions, scattered, as the young grass was very short; but although the herd was spread over many acres of land, Edward pointed out to Humphrey that all the full-grown large bulls were on the outside, as if ready to defend the others in case of attack.

"Humphrey," said Edward, "one thing is clear--as the herd is placed at present, we must have a bull or nothing. It is impossible to get within shot of the others without passing a bull, and depend upon it our passage will be disputed; and moreover, the herd will take to flight, and we shall get nothing at all."

"Well," replied Humphrey, "beef is beef; and, as they say, beggars must not be choosers, so let it be a bull, if it must be so."

"Let us get nearer to them, and then we will decide what we shall do. Steady, Smoker!"

They advanced gradually, hiding from tree to tree, until they were within eighty yards of one of the bulls. The animal did not perceive them, and as they were now within range, they again stepped behind the tree to consult.

"Now, Edward, I think that it would be best to separate. You can fire from where we are, and I will crawl through the fern, and get behind another tree."

"Very well, do so," replied Edward: "if you can manage, get to that tree with the low branches, and then perhaps you will be within shot of the white bull, which is coming down in this direction. Smoker, lie down! He cannot go with you, Humphrey; it will not be safe."

The distance of the tree which Humphrey ventured to get to was about one hundred and fifty yards from where Edward was standing. Humphrey crawled along for some time in the fern, but at last he came to a bare spot of about ten yards wide, which they were not aware of, and where he could not be concealed. Humphrey hesitated, and at last decided upon attempting to cross it. Edward, who was one moment watching the motions of Humphrey, and at another that of the two animals nearest to them, perceived that the white bull farthest from him, but nearest to Humphrey, threw its head in the air, pawed with his foot, and then advanced with a roar to where Humphrey was on the ground, still crawling towards the tree, having passed the open spot, and being now not many yards from the tree. Perceiving the danger that his brother was in, and that, moreover, Humphrey himself was not aware of it, he hardly knew how to act. The bull was too far from him to fire at it with any chance of success; and how to let Humphrey know that the animal had discovered him and was making towards him, without calling out, he did not know. All this was the thought of a moment, and then Edward determined to fire at the bull nearest to him, which he had promised not to do till Humphrey was also ready to fire; and after firing to call Humphrey. He, therefore, for one moment, turned away from his brother, and, taking aim at the bull, fired his gun; but probably from his nerves being a little shaken at the idea of Humphrey being in danger, the wound was not mortal, and the bull galloped back to the herd, which formed a closed phalanx about a quarter of a mile distant. Edward then turned to where his brother was, and perceived that the bull had not made off with the rest of the cattle, but was within thirty yards of Humphrey, and advancing upon him, and that Humphrey was standing up beside the tree with his gun ready to fire. Humphrey fired, and, as it appeared, he also missed his aim; the animal made at him; but Humphrey, with great quickness, dropped his gun, and, swinging by the lower boughs, was into the tree, and out of the bull's reach, in a moment. Edward smiled when he perceived that Humphrey was safe; but still he was a prisoner, for the bull went round and round the tree roaring and looking up at Humphrey. Edward thought a minute, then loaded his gun and ordered Smoker to run in to the bull. The dog, who had only been restrained by Edward's keeping him down at his feet, sprang forward to the attack. Edward had intended, by calling to the dog, to induce the bull to follow it till within gunshot; but before the bull had been attacked, Edward observed that one or two more of the bulls had left the herd, and were coming at a rapid pace towards him. Under these circumstances, Edward perceived that his only chance was to climb into a tree himself, which he did, taking good care to take his gun and ammunition with him. Having safely fixed himself in a forked bough, Edward then surveyed the position of the parties. There was Humphrey in the tree, without his gun. The bull who had pursued Humphrey was now running at Smoker, who appeared to be aware that he was to decoy the bull towards Edward, for he kept retreating towards him. In the meantime the two other bulls were quite close at hand, mingling their bellowing and roaring with the first; and one of them as near to Edward as the first bull, which was engaged with Smoker. At last one of the advancing bulls stood still, pawing the ground as if disappointed at not finding an enemy, not forty yards from where Edward was perched. Edward took good aim, and when he fired the bull fell dead. Edward was reloading his piece when he heard a howl, and looking round saw Smoker flying up in the air, having been tossed by the first bull; and at the same time he observed that Humphrey had descended from the tree, recovered his gun, and was now safe again upon the lower bough. The first bull was advancing again to attack Smoker, who appeared incapable of getting away, so much was he injured by the fall, when the other bull, who apparently must have been an old antagonist of the first, roared and attacked him; and now the two boys were up in the tree, the two bulls fighting between them, and Smoker lying on the ground, panting and exhausted. As the bulls, with locked horns, were furiously pressing each other, both guns were discharged, and both animals fell. After waiting a little while to see if they rose again, or if any more of the herd came up, Edward and Humphrey descended from the trees and heartily shook hands.

CHAPTER TWELVE.

"A narrow escape," said Edward, as he held his brother's hand.

"Yes, indeed we may thank Heaven for our preservation," replied Humphrey; "and poor Smoker! Let us see if he is much hurt."

"I trust not," said Edward, going up to the dog, who remained quite still on the ground, with his tongue out, and panting violently.

They examined poor Smoker all over very carefully, and found that there was no external wound; but on Edward pressing his side the animal gave a low howl.

"It is there where the horn of the bull took him," observed Humphrey.

"Yes," said Edward, pressing and feeling softly; "and he has two of his ribs broken. Humphrey, see if you can get him a little water, that will recover him more than anything else; the bull has knocked the breath out of his body. I think he will soon be well again, poor fellow."

Humphrey soon returned with some water from a neighbouring pool. He brought it in his hat and gave it to the dog, who lapped it slowly at first, but afterwards much faster, and wagging his tail.

"He will do now," said Edward; "we must give him time to recover himself. Now then, let us examine our quarry. Why, Humphrey, what a quantity of meat we have here! It will take three journeys to Lymington at least."

"Yes, and no time to lose, for the weather is getting warm already, Edward. Now what to do? Will you remain while I go home for the cart?"

"Yes, it's no use both going; I will stay here and watch poor Smoker, and take off the skins ready by the time you are back again. Leave me your knife as well as my own, for one will soon be blunt."

Humphrey gave his knife to Edward, and taking up his gun, set off for the cottage. Edward had skinned two of the bulls before Humphrey's return; and Smoker, although he evidently was in great pain, was on his legs again. As soon as they had finished and quartered the beasts, the cart was loaded, and they returned home; they had to return a second time, and both the pony and they were very tired before they sat down to supper. They found the gipsy boy very much recovered, and in good spirits. Alice said that he had been amusing Edith and her by tossing up three potatoes at a time, and playing them like balls; and that he had spun a platter upon an iron skewer and balanced it on his chin. They gave him some supper, which he ate in the chimney-corner, looking up and staring every now and then at Edith, to whom he appeared very much attached already.

"Is it good?" said Humphrey to the boy, giving him another venison-steak.

"Yes; not have so good supper in pit-hole," replied Pablo, laughing.

Early on the following morning Edward and Humphrey set off to Lymington with the cart laden with meat. Edward showed Humphrey all the shops and the streets they were in where the purchases were to be made--introduced him to the landlord of the hostelrie--and having sold their meat, they returned home. The rest of the meat was taken to Lymington and disposed of by Humphrey on the following day; and the day after that, the three skins were carried to the town and disposed of.

"We made a good day's work, Edward," said Humphrey, as he reckoned up the money they had made.

"We earned it with some risk, at all events," replied Edward; "and now, Humphrey, I think it is time that I keep my promise to Oswald, and go over to the Intendant's house and pay my visit to the young lady, as I presume she is--and certainly she has every appearance of being one. I want the visit to be over, as I want to be doing."

"How do you mean, Edward?"

"I mean that I want to go out and kill some deer; but I will not do it till after I have seen her: when my visit is over, I intend to defy the Intendant and all his verderers."

"But why should this visit prevent you going out this very day, if so inclined?"

"I don't know, but she may ask me if I have done so, and I do not want to tell her that I have; neither do I want to say that I have not if I have; and therefore I shall not commence till after I have seen her."

"When will you set off?"

"To-morrow morning; and I shall take my gun, although Oswald desired me not; but after the fight we had with the wild cattle the other day I don't think it prudent to be unarmed; indeed, I do not feel comfortable without I have my gun, at any time."

"Well, I shall have plenty to do when you are away--the potatoes must be hoed up, and I shall see what I can make of Master Pablo. He appears well enough, and he has played quite long enough; so I shall take him with me to the garden to-morrow, and set him to work. What a quantity of fruit there is a promise of in the orchard this year! And Edward, if this boy turns out of any use, and is a help to me, I think that I shall take all the orchard into garden, and then enclose another piece of ground, and see if we cannot grow some corn for ourselves. It is the greatest expense that we have at present, and I should like to take my own corn to the mill to be ground."

"But will not growing corn require plough and horses?" said Edward.

"No; we will till it by hand: two of us can dig a great deal at odd times, and we shall have a better crop with the spade than with the plough. We have now so much manure that we can afford it."

"Well, if it is to be done, it should be done at once, Humphrey, before the people from the other side of the forest come and find us out, or they will dispute our right to the enclosure."

"The forest belongs to the king, brother, and not to the Parliament: and we are the king's liegemen, and only look to him for permission," replied Humphrey; "but what you say is true, the sooner it is done the better, and I will about it at once."

"How much do you propose fencing in?"

"About two or three acres."

"But that is more than you can dig this year or the next."

"I know that; but I will manure it without digging, and the grass will grow so rich to what it will outside of the enclosure, that they will suppose it has been enclosed a long while."

"That's not a bad idea, Humphrey: but I advise you to look well after that boy, for he is of a bad race, and has not been brought up, I am afraid, with too strict notions of honesty. Be careful, and tell your sisters also to be cautious not to let him suppose that we have any money in the old chest, till we find out whether he is to be trusted or not."

"Better not let him know it under any circumstances," replied Humphrey; "he may continue honest, if not tempted by the knowledge that there is anything worth stealing."

"You are right, Humphrey; well, I will be off to-morrow morning and get this visit over. I hope to be able to get all the news from her, now that her father is away."

"I hope to get some work out of this Master Pablo," replied Humphrey; "how many things I could do if he would only work! Now, I'll tell you one thing--I will dig a saw-pit and get a saw, and then I can cut out boards, and build anything we want. The first time I go to Lymington I will buy a saw--I can afford it now; and I'll make a carpenter's bench for the first thing, and then, with some more tools, I shall get on; and then, Edward, I'll tell you what else I will do."

"Then, Humphrey," replied Edward, laughing, "you must tell me some other time, for it is now very late, and I must go to bed, as I have to rise early. I know you have so many projects in your mind that it would take half the night to listen to them."

"Well, I believe what you say is true," replied Humphrey, "and it will be better to do one thing at a time than to talk about doing a hundred; so we will, as you say, to bed."

At sunrise Edward and Humphrey were both up; Alice came out when they tapped at her door, as she would not let Edward go without his breakfast. Edith joined them, and they went to prayers. While they were so employed, Pablo came out and listened to what was said. When prayers were over, Humphrey asked Pablo if he knew what they had been doing.

"No, not much; suppose you pray sun to shine."

"No, Pablo," said Edith, "pray to God to make us good."

"You bad then?" said Pablo; "me not bad."

"Yes, Pablo, everybody very bad," said Alice; "but if we try to be good, God forgives us."

The conversation was then dropped, and as soon as Edward had had his breakfast, he kissed his sisters, bidding them and Humphrey farewell: he then threw his gun over his arm, and calling his puppy, which he had named Holdfast, set off on his journey across the forest.

Holdfast, as well as Humphrey's puppy, which had been named Watch, had grown very fine young animals. The first had been named Holdfast, because it would seize the pigs by the ears and lead them into the sty, and the other because it was so alert at the least noise: but, as Humphrey said, Watch ought to have learnt to lead the pigs, it being more in his line of business than Holdfast's, which was to be brought up for hunting in the forest, while Watch was being educated as a house and farm-yard dog.

Edward had refused to take the pony, as Humphrey required it for the farm-work, and the weather was so fine that he preferred walking; the more so, as it would enable him on his return across the forest to try for some venison, which he could not have done if he had been mounted on Billy's back. Edward walked quick, followed by his dog, which he had taught to keep to heel. He felt happy, as people do who have no cares, from the fine weather--the deep green of the verdure chequered by the flowers in bloom, and the majestic scenery which met his eye on every side. His heart was as buoyant as his steps, as he walked along, the light summer breeze fanning his face. His thoughts, however, which had been more of the chase than anything else, suddenly changed, and he became serious. For some time he had heard no political news of consequence, or what the Commons were doing with the king. This reverie naturally brought to his mind his father's death, the burning of his property, and its sequestration. His cheeks coloured with indignation, and his brow was moody. Then he built castles for the future. He imagined the king released from his prison, and leading an army against his oppressors; he fancied himself at the head of a troop of cavalry, charging the parliamentary horse. Victory was on his side. The king was again on his throne, and he was again in possession of the family estate. He was rebuilding the hall, and somehow or another it appeared to him that Patience was standing by his side, as he gave directions to the artificers--when his reverie was suddenly disturbed by Holdfast barking and springing forward in advance.

Edward, who had by this time got over more than half his journey, looked up, and perceived himself confronted by a powerful man, apparently about forty years of age, and dressed as a verderer of the forest. He thought at the time that he had seldom seen a person with a more sinister and forbidding countenance.

"How now, young fellow, what are you doing here?" said the man, walking up to him, and cocking the gun which he held in his hand as he advanced.

Edward quietly cocked his own gun, which was loaded, when he perceived that hostile preparation on the part of the other person, and then replied, "I am walking across the forest, as you may perceive."

"Yes, I perceive you are walking, and you are walking with a dog and a gun: you will now be pleased to walk with me. Deer-stealers are not any longer permitted to range this forest."

"I am no deer-stealer," replied Edward. "It will be quite sufficient to give me that title when you find me with venison in my possession; and as for going with you, that I certainly shall not. Sheer off or you may meet with harm."

"Why, you young good-for-nothing, if you have not venison, it is not from any will not to take it; you are out in pursuit of it, that is clear. Come, come, you've the wrong person to deal with: my orders are to take up all poachers, and take you I will."

"If you can," replied Edward; "but you must first prove that you are able so to do; my gun is as good and my aim is as sure as yours, whoever you may be. I tell you again, I am no poacher, nor have I come out to take the deer, but to cross over to the Intendant's cottage, whither I am now going. I tell you thus much, that you may not do anything foolish; and having said this, I advise you to think twice before you act once. Let me proceed in peace, or you may lose your place, if you do not by your own rashness lose your life."

There was something so cool and so determined in Edward's quiet manner, that the verderer hesitated. He perceived that any attempt to take Edward would be at the risk of his own life; and he knew that his orders were to apprehend all poachers, but not to shoot people. It was true that resistance with firearms would warrant his acting in self-defence; but admitting that he should succeed, which was doubtful, still Edward had not been caught in the act of killing venison, and he had no witnesses to prove what had occurred. He also knew that the Intendant had given very strict orders as to the shedding of blood, which he was most averse to under any circumstances; and there was something in Edward's appearance and manner so different from a common person, that he was puzzled. Moreover, Edward had stated that he was going to the Intendant's house. All things considered, as he found that bullying would not succeed, he thought it advisable to change his tone, and therefore said, "You tell me that you are going to the Intendant's house; you have business there, I presume? If I took you prisoner, it is there I should have conducted you; so, young man, you may now walk on before me."

"I thank you," replied Edward, "but walk on before you I will not: but if you choose to half-cock your gun again, and walk by my side, I will do the same. Those are my terms, and I will listen to no other; so be pleased to make up your mind, as I am in haste."

The verderer appeared very indignant at this reply, but after a time said, "Be it so."

Edward then uncocked his gun, with his eyes fixed upon the man, and the verderer did the same; and then they walked side by side, Edward keeping at the distance of three yards from him, in case of treachery.

After a few moments' silence, the verderer said, "You tell me you are going to the Intendant's house; he is not at home."

"But young Mistress Patience is, I presume," said Edward.

"Yes," replied the man, who, finding that Edward appeared to know so much about the Intendant's family, began to be more civil. "Yes, she is at home, for I saw her in the garden this morning."

"And Oswald, is he at home?" rejoined Edward.

"Yes, he is. You appear to know our people, young man; who may you be, if it is a fair question?"

"It would have been a fair question had you treated me fairly," replied Edward; "but as it is no concern of yours, I shall leave you to find it out."

This reply puzzled the man still more; and he now, from the tone of authority assumed by Edward, began to imagine that he had made some mistake, and that he was speaking to a superior, although clad in a forester's dress. He therefore answered humbly, observing that he had only been doing his duty.

Edward walked on without making any reply.

As they arrived within a hundred yards of the Intendant's house, Edward said:

"I have now arrived at my destination, and am going into that house, as I told you. Do you choose to enter it with me, or will you go to Oswald Partridge and tell him that you have met with Edward Armitage in me forest, and that I should be glad to see him? I believe you are under his orders, are you not?"

"Yes, I am," replied the verderer, "and as I suppose that all's right, I shall go and deliver your message."

Edward then turned away from the man, and went into the wicket-gate of the garden, and knocked at the door of the house. The door was opened by Patience Heatherstone herself, who said, "Oh, how glad I am to see you! Come in." Edward took off his hat and bowed; Patience led the way into her father's study, where Edward had been first received.

"And now," said Patience, extending her hand to Edward, "thanks, many thanks, for your preserving me from so dreadful a death. You don't know how unhappy I have been at not being able to give you my poor thanks for your courageous behaviour."

Her hand still remained in Edward's while she said this.

"You rate what I did too highly," replied Edward; "I would have done the same for any one in such distress: it was my duty as a--man," cavalier he was about to say, but he checked himself.

"Sit down," said Patience, taking a chair,--"nay, no ceremony; I cannot treat as an inferior one to whom I owe such a debt of gratitude."

Edward smiled as he took his seat.

"My father is as grateful to you as I am--I'm sure that he is; for I heard him when at prayer call down blessings on your head. What can he do for you? I begged Oswald Partridge to bring you here, that I might find out. Oh, sir, do pray let me know how we can show our gratitude by something more than words."

"You have shown it already, Mistress Patience," replied Edward; "have you not honoured a poor forester with your hand in friendship, and even admitted him to sit down before you?"

"He who has preserved my life at the risk of his own becomes to me as a brother--at least I feel as a sister towards him: a debt is still a debt, whether indebted to a king or to a--"

"Forester, Mistress Patience, that is the real word that you should not have hesitated to have used: do you imagine that I am ashamed of my calling?"

"To tell you candidly the truth, then," replied Patience, "I cannot believe that you are what you profess to be. I mean to say, that although a forester now, you were never brought up as such. My father has an opinion allied to mine."

"I thank you both for your good opinion of me, but I fear that I cannot raise myself above the condition of a forester; nay, from your father's coming down here, and the new regulations, I have every chance of sinking down to the lower grade of a deer-stealer and poacher; indeed, had it not been that I had my gun with me, I should have been seized as such this very day as I came over."

"But you were not shooting the deer, were you, sir?" inquired Patience.

"No, I was not; nor have I killed any since last I saw you."

"I am glad that I can say that to my father," replied Patience; "it will much please him. He said to me that he thought you capable of much higher employment than any that could be offered here, and only wished to know what you would accept. He has interest--great interest-- although just now at variance with the rulers of this country, on account of the--"

"Murder of the king, you would or you should have said, Mistress Patience: I have heard how much he was opposed to that foul deed, and I honour him for it."

"How kind, how truly kind you are to say so!" said Patience, the tears starting in her eyes; "what pleasure to hear my father's conduct praised by you!"

"Why, of course, Mistress Patience, all of my way of thinking must praise him. Your father is in London, I hear?"

"Yes, he is; and that reminds me that you must want some refreshment after your walk. I will call Phoebe." So saying, Patience left the room.

The fact was, Mistress Patience was reminded that she had been sitting with a young man some time, and alone with him--which was not quite proper in those times, and when Phoebe appeared with the cold viands, she retreated out of hearing, but remained in the room.

Edward partook of the meal offered him in silence, Patience occupying herself with her work, and keeping her eyes fixed on it, unless when she gave a slight glance at the table to see if anything was required. When the meal was over, Phoebe removed the tray, and then Edward rose to take his leave.

"Nay, do not go yet--I have much to say first; let me again ask you how we can serve you."

"I never can take any office under the present rulers of the nation; so that question is at rest."

"I was afraid you would answer so," replied Patience gravely: "do not think I blame you; for many are there already who would gladly retrace their steps if it were possible. They little thought, when they opposed the king, that affairs would have ended as they have done. Where do you live, sir?"

"At the opposite side of the forest, in a house belonging to me now, but which was inherited by my grandfather."

"Do you live alone--surely not?"

"No, I do not."

"Nay, you may tell me anything, for I would never repeat what might hurt you, or you might not wish to have known."

"I live with my brother and two sisters, for my grandfather is lately dead."

"Is your brother younger than you are?"

"He is."

"And your sisters, what are their ages?"

"They are younger still."

"You told my father that you lived upon your farm?"

"We do."

"Is it a large farm?"

"No; very small."

"And does that support you?"

"That and killing wild cattle has lately."

"Yes, and killing deer also until lately?"

"You have guessed right."

"You were brought up at Arnwood, you told my father; did you not?"

"Yes, I was brought up there, and remained there until the death of Colonel Beverley."

"And you were educated, were you not?"

"Yes; the chaplain taught me what little I do know."

"Then, if you were brought up in the house and educated by the chaplain, surely Colonel Beverley never intended you for a forester?"

"He did not; I was to have been a soldier as soon as I was old enough to bear arms."

"Perhaps you are distantly related to the late Colonel Beverley?"

"No; I am not "distantly" related," replied Edward, who began to feel uneasy at this close cross-examination; "but still, had Colonel Beverley been alive, and the king still required his services, I have no doubt that I should have been serving under him at this time. And now, Mistress Patience, that I have answered so many questions of yours, may I be permitted to ask a little about yourself in return? Have you any brothers?"

"None; I am an only child."

"Have you only one parent alive?"

"Only one."

"What families are you connected with?"

Patience looked up with surprise at this last question--

"My mother's name was Cooper; she was sister to Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, who is a person well-known."

"Indeed! Then you are of gentle blood?"

"I believe so," replied Patience, with surprise.

"Thank you for your condescension, Mistress Patience; and now, if you will permit me, I will take my leave."

"Before you go, let me once more thank you for saving a worthless life," said Patience: "well, you must come again when my father is here; he will be but too glad to have an opportunity of thanking one who has preserved his only child. Indeed, if you knew my father, you would feel as much regard for him as I do. He is very good, although he looks so stern and melancholy; but he has seldom smiled since my poor mother's death."

"As to your father, Mistress Patience, I will think as well as I can of one who is joined to a party which I hold in detestation: I can say no more."

"I must not say all that I know, or you would perhaps find out that he is not quite so wedded to that party as you suppose. Neither his brother-in-law nor he are great friends of Cromwell's, I can assure you; but this in confidence."

"That raises him in my estimation; but why then does he hold office?"

"He did not ask it; it was given to him, I really believe, because they wished him out of the way; and he accepted it because he was opposed to what was going on, and wished himself to be away. At least I infer so much from what I have learnt. It is not an office of power or trust which leagues him with the present Government."

"No; only one which opposes him to me and my mal-practices," replied Edward, laughing. "Well, Mistress Patience, you have shown great condescension to a poor forester, and I return you many thanks for your kindness towards me: I will now take my leave."

"And when will you come and see my father?"

"I cannot say; I fear that I shall not be able very soon to look in his injured face, and it will not be well for a poacher to come near him," replied Edward: "however, some day I may be taken and brought before you as a prisoner, you know, and then he is certain to see me."

"I will not tell you to kill deer," replied Patience; "but if you do kill them, no one shall harm you--or I know little of my power or my father's. Farewell then, sir; and once more, gratitude and thanks."

Patience held out her hand again to Edward, who this time, like a true cavalier, raised it respectfully to his lips. Patience coloured a little, but did not attempt to withdraw it, and Edward, with a low obeisance, quitted the room.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

As soon as he was out of the Intendant's house, Edward hastened to the cottage of Oswald Partridge, whom he found waiting for him; for the verderer had not failed to deliver his message.

"You have had a long talk with Mistress Patience," said Oswald, after the first greeting; "and I am glad of it, as it gives you consequence here. The Roundhead rascal whom you met was inclined to be very precise about doing his duty, and insisted that he was certain that you were on the look-out for deer; but I stopped his mouth by telling him that I often took you out with me, as you were the best shot in the whole forest, and that the Intendant knew that I did so. I think that if you were caught in the act of killing a deer you had better tell them that you killed it by my request, and I will bear you out, if they bring you to the Intendant, who will, I'm sure, thank me for saying so. You might kill all the deer in the forest after what you have done for him."

"Many thanks; but I do not think I can take advantage of your offer. Let them catch me if they can, and if they do catch me, let them take me if they can."

"I see, sir, that you will accept no favour from the Roundheads," replied Oswald; "however, as I am now head keeper, I shall take care that my men do not interfere with you, if I can help it; all I wish is to prevent any insult or indignity being offered to you: they not being aware who you are, as I am."

"Many thanks, Oswald; I must take my chance."

Edward then told Oswald of their having taken the gipsy boy in the pit, at which he appeared much amused.

"What is the name of the verderer whom I met in the forest?" inquired Edward.

"James Corbould; he was discharged from the army," replied Oswald.

"I do not like his appearance," said Edward.

"No; his face tells against him," replied Oswald; "but I know nothing of him; he has been here little more than a fortnight."

"Can you give me a corner to put my head in to-night, Oswald? For I shall not start till to-morrow morning."

"You may command all I have, sir," replied Oswald; "but I fear there is little more than a hearty welcome; I have no doubt that you could be lodged at the Intendant's house if you choose."

"No, Oswald, the young lady is alone, and I will not trust to Phoebe's accommodation again; I will stay here, if you will permit me."

"And welcome, sir: I will put your puppy in the kennel at once."

Edward remained that night at Oswald's, and at daylight he rose, and having taken a slight breakfast, throwing his gun over his shoulder, went to the kennel for Holdfast, and set off on his return home.

"That's a very nice little girl," were the words which Edward found himself constantly saying to himself as he walked along; "and she is of a grateful disposition, or she would not have behaved as she has done towards me--supposing me to be of mean birth;" and then he thought of what she had told him relative to her father, and Edward felt his animosity against a Roundhead wasting fast away. "I am not likely to see her again very soon," thought Edward, "unless, indeed, I am brought to the Intendant as a prisoner." Thus thinking upon one subject or another, Edward had gained above eight miles of his journey across the forest, when he thought that he was sufficiently far away to venture to look-out for some venison. Remembering there was a thicket not far from him, in which there was a clear pool of water, Edward thought it very likely that he might find a stag there cooling himself, for the weather was now very warm at noon-day. He therefore called Holdfast to him, and proceeded cautiously towards the thicket. As soon as he arrived at the spot, he crouched and crept silently through the underwood. At last he arrived close to the cleared spot by the pool. There was no stag there, but fast asleep upon the turf lay James Corbould, the sinister-looking verderer who had accosted him in the forest on the previous day. Holdfast was about to bark, when Edward silenced him, and then advanced to where the verderer was lying; and who having no dog with him to give notice of Edward's approach, still remained snoring with the sun shining on his face. Edward perceived that his gun was under him on the grass; he took it up, gently opened the pan and scattered the powder, and then laid it down again; for Edward said to himself, "That man has come out after me, that I am certain; and as there are no witnesses, he may be inclined to be mischievous, for a more wretched-looking person I never saw. Had he been deer-hunting, he would have brought his dog; but he is man-hunting, that is evident. Now I will leave him, and should he fall in with anything, he will not kill at first shot, that's certain; and if he follows me, I shall have the same chance of escape as anything else he may fire at." Edward then walked out of the covert, thinking that if ever there was a face which proclaimed a man to be a murderer it was that of James Corbould. As he was threading his way, he heard the howl of a dog, and on looking round, perceived that Holdfast was not with him. He turned back, and Holdfast came running to him. The fact was, that Holdfast had smelt some meat in the pocket of the verderer, and had been putting his nose in to ascertain what it was: in so doing he had wakened up Corbould, who had saluted him with a heavy blow on the head: this occasioned the puppy to give the howl, and also occasioned Corbould to seize his gun, and follow stealthily in the track of the dog, which he well knew to be the one he had seen the day before with Edward.

Edward waited for a short time, and not perceiving that Corbould made his appearance, continued on his way home, having now given up all thoughts of killing any venison. He walked fast, and was within six miles of the cottage, when he stopped to drink at a small rill of water, and then sat down to rest himself for a short time. While so doing, he fell into one of his usual reveries, and forgot how time passed away. He was, however, aroused by a low growl on the part of Holdfast, and it immediately occurred to him that Corbould must have followed him. Thinking it as well to be prepared, he quietly loaded his gun, and then rose up to reconnoitre. Holdfast sprang forward, and Edward looking in the direction, perceived Corbould partly hidden behind a tree, with his gun levelled at him. He heard the trigger pulled, and snap of the lock, but the gun did not go off; and then Corbould made his appearance, striking at Holdfast with the butt-end of his gun. Edward advanced to him and desired him to desist, or it would be the worse for him.

"Indeed, younker! It may be the worse for you," cried Corbould.

"It might have been if your gun had gone off," replied Edward.

"I did not aim at you. I aimed at the dog, and I will kill the brute, if I can."

"Not without danger to yourself; but it was not him that you aimed at-- your gun was not pointed low enough to hit the dog--it was levelled at me, you sneaking wretch; and I have only to thank my own prudence and your sleepy head for having escaped with my life. I tell you candidly that I threw the powder out of your pan while you were asleep. If I served you as you deserve, I should now put my bullet into you, but I cannot kill a man who is defenceless--and that saves your life; but set off as fast as you can away from me, for if you follow me, I will show no more forbearance. Away with you directly," continued Edward, raising his gun to his shoulder and pointing it to Corbould; "if you do not be off, I'll fire."

Corbould saw that Edward was resolute, and thought proper to comply with his request: he walked away till he considered himself out of gunshot, and then commenced a torrent of oaths and abusive language, with which we shall not offend our readers. Before he went farther, he swore that he would have Edward's life before many days had passed, and then shaking his fist he went away. Edward remained where he was standing till the man was fairly out of sight, and then proceeded on his journey. It was now about four o'clock in the afternoon, and Edward, as he walked on, said to himself, "That man must be of a very wicked disposition, for I have offended him in nothing except in not submitting to be made his prisoner; and is that an offence to take a man's life for? He is a dangerous man, and will be more dangerous after being again foiled by me as he has been to-day. I doubt if he will go home; I am almost sure that he will turn and follow me when he thinks that he can without my seeing him; and if he does, he will find out where our cottage is--and who knows what mischief he may not do, and how he may alarm my little sisters? I'll not go home till dark; and I'll now walk in another direction, that I may mislead him." Edward then walked away more to the north, and every half-hour shifted his course, so as to be walking in a very different direction from where the cottage stood. In the meantime it grew gradually dark; and as it became so, every now and then when Edward passed a large tree he turned round behind it and looked to see if Corbould was following him. At last, just as it was dark, he perceived the figure of a man at no great distance from him, who was following him, running from tree to tree, so as to make his approach. "Oh, you are there!" thought Edward, "now will I give you a nice dance, and we will see whose legs are tired soonest. Let me see, where am I?" Edward looked round, and then perceived that he was close to the clump of trees where Humphrey had made his pit-fall for the cattle, and there was a clear spot of about a quarter of a mile between it and where he now stood. Edward made up his mind, and immediately walked out to cross the clearing, calling Holdfast to heel. It was now nearly dark, for there was only the light of the stars; but still there was sufficient light to see his way. As Edward crossed the cleared spot, he once looked round and perceived that Corbould was following him, and nearer than he was before, trusting probably to the increased darkness to hide his approach. "That will do," thought Edward, "come along, my fine fellow." And Edward walked on till he came to the pit-fall; there he stopped and looked round, and soon discovered the verderer at a hundred yards' distance. Edward held his dog by the mouth, that he should not growl or bark, and then went on in a direction so as to bring the pit-fall exactly between Corbould and himself. Having done so, he proceeded at a more rapid pace; and Corbould following him, also increased his, till he arrived at the pit-fall, which he could not perceive, and fell into it headlong; and as he fell into the pit, at the same time Edward heard the discharge of his gun, the crash of the small branches laid over it, and a cry on the part of Corbould. "That will do," thought Edward, "now you may lie there as long as the gipsy did, and that will cool your courage. Humphrey's pit-fall is full of adventure. In this case it has done me a service. Now I may turn and go home as fast as I can. Come, Holdfast, old boy, we both want our suppers. I can answer for one, for I could eat the whole of that pasty which Oswald set before me this morning." Edward walked at a rapid pace, quite delighted at the issue of the adventure. As he arrived near to the cottage he found Humphrey outside, with Pablo, on the look-out for him. He soon joined them, and soon after embraced Alice and Edith, who had been anxiously waiting for his return, and who had wondered at his being out so late. "Give me my supper, my dear girls," said Edward; "and then you shall know all about it."

As soon as Edward had satisfied his craving appetite--for he had not, as my readers must recollect, eaten anything since his departure early in the morning from the house of Oswald Partridge--he entered into a narrative of the events of the day. They all listened with great interest; and when Edward had finished, Pablo, the gipsy boy, jumped up, and said:

"Now he is in the pit, to-morrow morning I take gun and shoot him."

"No, no, Pablo, you must not do that," replied Edward, laughing.

"Pablo," said little Edith, "go and sit down; you must not shoot people."

"He shoot master then," said Pablo; "he very bad man."

"But if you shoot him, you will be a bad boy, Pablo," replied Edith, who appeared to have assumed an authority over him. Pablo did not appear to understand this, but he obeyed the order of his little mistress, and resumed his seat at the chimney-corner.

"But, Edward," said Humphrey, "what do you propose to do?"

"I hardly know; my idea was to let him remain there for a day or two, and then send to Oswald to let him know where the fellow was."

"The only objection to that is," replied Humphrey, "that you say his gun went off as he fell into the pit; it may be probable that he is wounded, and if so, he might die if he is left there."

"You are right, Humphrey, that is possible; and I would not have the life of a fellow-creature on my conscience."

"I think it would be advisable, Edward, that I should set off early to-morrow on the pony, and see Oswald, tell him all that has occurred, and show him where the pit-fall is."

"I believe that would be the best plan, Humphrey."

"Yes," said Alice, "it would be dreadful that a man should die in so wicked a state; let him be taken out, and perhaps he will repent."

"Won't God punish him, brother?" said Edith.

"Yes, my dear, sooner or later, the vengeance of Heaven overtakes the wicked. But I am very tired after so long a walk; let us go to prayers, and then to bed."

The danger that Edward had incurred that day was felt strongly by the whole party; and, with the exception of Pablo, there was earnest devotion and gratitude to Heaven when their orisons were offered up.

Humphrey was off before daybreak, and, at nine o'clock, had arrived at the cottage of Oswald, by whom he was warmly greeted before the cause of his unexpected arrival was made known. Oswald was greatly annoyed at Humphrey's narration, and appeared to be very much of the opinion of Pablo, which was, to leave the scoundrel where he was; but on the remonstrance of Humphrey, he set off, with two of the other verderers, and before nightfall Humphrey arrived at the pit-fall, where they heard Corbould groaning below.

"Who's there?" said Oswald, looking into the pit.

"It's me--it's Corbould," replied the man.

"Are you hurt?"

"Yes, badly," replied Corbould; "when I fell, my gun went off, and the ball has gone through my thigh. I have almost bled to death."

Humphrey went for the ladder, which was at hand, and, with much exertion on the part of the whole four of them, they contrived to drag out Corbould, who groaned heavily with pain. A handkerchief was tied tightly round his leg, to prevent any further bleeding, and they gave him some water, which revived him.

"Now, what's to be done?" said Oswald; "we can never get him home."

"I will tell you," said Humphrey, walking with him aside. "It will not do for any of these men to know our cottage, and we cannot take them there. Desire them to remain with the man, while you go for a cart to carry him home. We will go to the cottage, give Billy his supper, and then return with him in the cart, and bring your men something to eat. Then I will go with you, and bring the cart back again before daylight. It will be a night's walk, but it will be the safest plan."

"I think so too," replied Oswald, who desired the men to wait till his return, as he was going to borrow a cart; and then set off with Humphrey.

As soon as they arrived at the cottage, Humphrey gave the pony to Pablo to put into the stable and feed, and then communicated to Edward the state of Corbould.

"It's almost a pity that he had not killed himself out-right," observed Oswald; "it would have been justice to him for attempting your life without any cause; he is a bloodthirsty scoundrel, and I wish he was anywhere but where he is. However, the Intendant shall know of it, and I have no doubt that he will be discharged."

"Do nothing in a hurry, Oswald," replied Edward; "at present let him give his own version of the affair; for he may prove more dangerous when discharged than when under your control. Now sit down and take your supper. Billy must have an hour to get his, and therefore there is no hurry for you."

"That is your gipsy lad, Edward, is he not?" said Oswald.

"Yes."

"I like the boy's looks; but they are a queer race. You must not trust him too much," continued Oswald, in an under tone, "until you have tried him, and are satisfied of his fidelity. They are very excitable, and capable of strong attachment if well treated, that I know; for I did a gipsy a good turn once, and it proved to be the saving of my life afterwards."

"Oh, tell us how, Oswald," said Alice.

"It is too long a story now, my dear little lady," replied Oswald; "but I will another time. Whatever he may do, do not strike him; for they never forgive a blow, I am told by those who know them, and it never does them any good; as I said before, they are a queer race."

"He will not be beaten by us," replied Humphrey, "depend upon it, unless Edith slaps him; for she is the one who takes most pains with him, and I presume he would not care much about her little hand."

"No, no," replied Oswald, laughing, "Edith may do as she pleases. What does he do for you?"

"Oh, nothing as yet, for he is hardly recovered, poor fellow," replied Humphrey. "He follows Edith, and helps her to look for the eggs; and last night he set some springes after his own fashion, and certainly beat me, for he took three rabbits and a hare, while I, with all my traps, only took one rabbit."

"I think you had better leave that part of your livelihood entirely to him; he has been bred up to it, Humphrey, and it will be his amusement. You must not expect him to work very hard; they are not accustomed to it. They live a roving life, and never work if they can help it; still, if you make him fond of you, he may be very useful, for they are very clever and handy."

"I hope to make him useful," replied Humphrey, "but still I will not force him to do what he does not like. He is very fond of the pony already, and likes to take care of him."

"Bring him over to me, one of these days, so that he may know where to find me. It may prove of consequence if you have a message to send, and cannot come yourselves."

"That is very true," replied Edward; "I will not forget it. Humphrey, shall you or I go with the cart?"

"Humphrey, by all means; it will not do for them to suppose I had the cart from you, Edward; they do not know Humphrey, and he will be off again in the morning before they are up."

"Very true," replied Edward.

"And it is time for us to set off," replied Oswald. "Will Mistress Alice oblige me with something for my men to eat? For they have fasted the whole day."

"Yes," replied Alice, "I will have it ready before the pony is in the cart. Edith, dear, come with me."

Humphrey then went out to harness the pony, and when all was ready, he and Oswald set off again.

When they arrived at the pit-fall they found Corbould lying between the two other verderers, who were sitting by his side. Corbould was much recovered since his wound had been bound up, and he was raised up and put on the fodder which Humphrey had put into the cart, and they proceeded on their journey to the other side of the forest, the verderers eating what Humphrey had brought for them as they walked along. It was a tedious and painful journey for the wounded man, who shrieked out when the cart was jolted by the wheel getting into a rut or hole; but there was no help for it, and he was very much exhausted when they arrived, which was not till past midnight. Corbould was then taken to his cottage and put on the bed, and another verderer sent for a surgeon: those who had been with Oswald were glad to go to bed, for it had been a fatiguing day. Humphrey remained with Oswald for three hours, and then again returned with Billy, who, although he had crossed the forest three times in the twenty-four hours, appeared quite fresh and ready to go back again.

"I will let you know how he gets on, Humphrey, and what account he gives of his falling into the pit; but you must not expect me for a fortnight at least."

Humphrey wished Oswald good-bye; and Billy was so anxious to get back to his stable that Humphrey could not keep him at a quiet pace. "Horses, and all animals indeed, know that there is no place like home; it is a pity that men, who consider themselves much wiser, have not the same consideration," thought Humphrey as the pony trotted along. Humphrey thought a good deal about the danger that Edward had been subjected to, and said to himself, "I really think that I should be more comfortable if Edward was away. I am always in a fidget about him. I wish the new king, who is now in France, would raise an army and come over. It is better that Edward should be fighting in the field than remain here and risk being shot as a deer-stealer, or put in prison. The farm is sufficient for us all; and when I have taken in more ground it will be more than sufficient, even if I do not kill the wild cattle. I am fit for the farm, but Edward is not. He is thrown away, living in this obscurity, and he feels it. He will always be in hot water some way or another, that is certain. What a narrow escape he has had with that scoundrel, and yet how little he cares for it! He was intended for a soldier, that is evident; and if ever he is one, he will be in his element, and distinguish himself, if it pleases God to spare his life. I'll persuade him to stay at home a little while to help me to enclose the other piece of ground; and after that is done, I'll dig a saw-pit, and see if I can coax Pablo to saw with me. I must go to Lymington and buy a saw. If I once could get the trees sawed up into planks, what a quantity of things I could make, and how I could improve the place."

Thus thought Humphrey as he went along; he was all for the farm and improvements, and was always calculating when he should have another calf or a fresh litter of pigs. His first idea was, that he would make Pablo work hard; but the advice he had received from Oswald was not forgotten; and he now was thinking how he should coax Pablo into standing below in the saw-pit, which was not only hard work, but disagreeable, from the sawdust falling into the eyes. Humphrey's cogitations were interrupted by a halloo, and turning round in the direction of the voice, he perceived Edward, and turned the cart to join him.

"You're just come in time, Humphrey; I have some provision for Alice's larder. I took my gun and came out on the path which I knew you would return on, and I have killed a young buck. He is good meat, and we are scarce of provisions."

Humphrey helped Edward to put the venison in the cart, and they returned to the cottage, which was not more than three miles off. Humphrey told Edward the result of his journey, and then proposed that Edward should stop at home for a few days and help him with the new enclosure. To this Edward cheerfully consented; and as soon as they arrived at the cottage, and Humphrey had had his breakfast, they took their axes and went out to fell at a cluster of small spruce-firs about a mile off.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

"Now, Humphrey, what do you propose to do?"

"This," replied Humphrey: "I have marked out three acres or thereabouts of the land running in a straight line behind the garden. There is not a tree on it, and it is all good feeding-ground. What I intend to do is to enclose it with the spruce-fir posts and rails that we are about to cut down, and then set a hedge upon a low bank which I shall raise all round inside the rails. I know where there are thousands of seedling thorns, which I shall take up in the winter, or early in the spring, to put in, as the bank will be ready for them by that time."

"Well, that's all very good; but I fear it will be a long while before you have such a quantity of land dug up."

"Yes, of course it will; but, Edward, I have plenty of manure to spare, and I shall put it all over this land, and then it will become a rich pasture, and also an earlier pasture than what we can get from the forest, and will be very handy to turn the cows and the calves upon; or even Billy, if we want him in a hurry."

"All that is very true," replied Edward, "so that it will be useful, at all events, if you do not dig it up."

"Indeed it will," replied Humphrey; "I only wish it were six acres instead of three."

"I can't say I do," replied Edward, laughing; "you are too grand in your ideas; only think what a quantity of spruces we shall have to cut down on it, to post and rail what you just propose. Let it be three acres first, Humphrey; and when they are enclosed, you may begin to talk of three more."

"Well, perhaps you are right, Edward," said Humphrey.

"Why, here's Pablo coming after us: he's not coming to work, I presume, but to amuse himself by looking on."

"I don't think he is strong enough to do much hard work, Humphrey, although he appears very ingenious."

"No, I agree with you; and if he is to work, depend upon it it must not be by having work set out for him; he would take a disgust to it directly. I have another plan for him."

"And what is that, Humphrey?"

"I shall not set him anything to do, and shall make him believe that I do not think he is able to do anything. That will pique him, and I think by that means I shall get more work out of him than you would think, especially when, after he has done it, I express my wonder and give him praise."

"Not a bad idea, that; you will work upon his pride, which is probably stronger than his laziness."

"I do not think him lazy, but I think him unused to hard work, and, having lived a life of wandering and idleness, not very easy to be brought to constant and daily work, except by degrees, and by the means which I propose.--Here we are," continued Humphrey, throwing his axe and billhook down, and proceeding to take off his doublet: "now for an hour or two's fulfilment of the sentence of our first parents--to wit, `the sweat of the brow.'"

Edward followed Humphrey's example in taking off his doublet; they selected the long thin trees most fitted for rails, and were hard at work when Pablo came up to them. More than a dozen trees had fallen, and lay one upon the other, before they stopped a while to recover themselves a little.

"Well, Pablo," said Humphrey, wiping his forehead, "I suppose you think looking on better than cutting down trees; and so it is."

"What cut down trees for?"

"To make posts and rails to fence in more ground. I shall not leave the boughs on."

"No, cut them off by and by, and then put poles on the cart and carry them home."

Edward and Humphrey then recommenced their labour, and worked for another half-hour, when they paused to recover their wind.

"Hard work, Pablo," said Humphrey.

"Yes, very hard work; Pablo not strong enough."

"Oh no, you are not able to do anything of this kind, I know. No work this for gipsies; they take birds' nests and catch rabbits."

"Yes," replied Pablo, nodding; "and you eat them."

"So he does, Pablo," said Edward; "so you are useful in your way; for if he had nothing to eat he would not be able to work. Strong man cut down trees, weak man catch rabbits."

"Both good," said Pablo.

"Yes, but strong man like work; not strong man not like work, Pablo. So now look on again, for we must have another spell."

"Strong man cut down trees, not strong man cut off branches," said Pablo, taking up the billhook and setting to work to cut off the boughs, which he did with great dexterity and rapidity.

Edward and Humphrey exchanged glances and smiles, and then worked away in silence till it was, as they supposed, dinner-time. They were not wrong in their supposition, although they had no other clock than their appetites, which, however, tell the time pretty correctly to those who work hard. Alice had the platters on the table, and was looking out to see if they were coming.

"Why, Pablo, have you been at work?" said Edith.

"Yes, little missy--work all the morning."

"Indeed he has, and has worked very well, and been very useful," said Edward.

"It has given you an appetite for your dinner, Pablo, has it not?" said Humphrey.

"Have that without work," replied the boy.

"Pablo, you are a very good gipsy boy," said Edith, patting his head with a patronising air; "I shall let you walk out with me and carry the basket to put the eggs in when you come home in the evening."

"That is a reward," said Humphrey, laughing.

After dinner they continued their labour, and by supper-time had so many trees cut down, that they determined to carry home the next day, and lay them along, to see how many more they would want. While they put the trees in the cart and took them home, Pablo contrived to lop off the boughs and prepare the poles for them to take away. As soon as they had cut down sufficient and carted them home, they then selected shorter trees for posts; and when Pablo had cleared them of the boughs, they sawed them out the proper lengths, and then carted them home. This occupied nearly the whole week, and then they proceeded to dig holes and set the posts in. The railing was then to be nailed to the posts, and that occupied them three days more; so that it was altogether a fortnight of hard work before the three acres were enclosed.

"There," said Humphrey, "that's a good job over; many thanks, Edward, for your assistance; and thank you too, Pablo, for you really have helped us very much indeed, and are a very useful, good boy. Now for raising the bank--that I must do when I can spare time; but my garden is overrun with weeds, and I must get Edith and Alice to help me there."

"If you don't want me any longer, Humphrey," said Edward, "I think I shall go over to see Oswald, and take Pablo with me. I want to know how that fellow Corbould is, and what he says; and whether the Intendant has come back; not that I shall go near him or his good little daughter, but I think I may as well go, and it will be a good opportunity of showing Pablo the way to Oswald's cottage."

"I think so too; and when you come back, Edward, one of us must go to Lymington; for I require some tools, and Pablo is very ragged. He must have some better clothes than these old ones of ours if he is to be sent messages. Don't you think so?"

"Certainly I do."

"And I want a thousand things," said Alice.

"Indeed, mistress, won't less than a thousand content you?"

"Yes, perhaps not quite a thousand, but I really do want a great many, and I will make you a list of them. I have not pans enough for my milk; I want salt; I want tubs; but I will make out a list, and you will find it a very long one."

"Well, I hope you have something to sell to pay for them?"

"Yes; I have plenty of butter salted down."

"What have you, Edith?"

"Oh, my chickens are not large enough yet: as soon as they are, Humphrey must get me some ducks and geese, for I mean to keep some; and by and by I will have some turkeys; but not yet. I must wait till Humphrey builds me the new house for them he has promised me."

"I think you are right, Edith, about the ducks and geese; they will do well on the water behind the yard, and I will dig you out a bigger pool for them."

"Edith, my dear, your little fingers are just made to weed my onions well, and I wish you would do it to-morrow morning, if you have time."

""Yes", Humphrey, but my little fingers won't smell very nice afterwards."

"Not till you have washed them, I guess; but there is soap and water, you know."

"Yes, I know there is; but if I weed the onions I cannot help Alice to make the butter; however, if Alice can do without me I will do it."

"I want some more seeds sadly," said Humphrey, "and I must make out my list. I must go to Lymington myself this time, Edward; for you will be puzzled with all our wants."

"Not if I know exactly what you do want; but as I really do not, and probably should make mistakes, I think it will be better if you do go. But it is bedtime, and as I shall start early, good-night, sisters; I beg you will let me have something to eat before I start. I shall try for some venison, as I come back, and shall take Smoker with me: he is quite well again, and his ribs are as stout as ever."

"And, Edward," said Alice, "I wish, when you kill any venison, that you would bring home some of those parts which you usually throw away, for I assure you, now that we have three dogs, I hardly know how to find enough for them to eat."

"I'll not fail, Alice," replied Edward, "and now once more good-night."

Early the next morning Edward took his gun, and, with Pablo and Smoker, set off for Oswald's cottage.

Edward talked a great deal with Pablo relative to his former life; and, by the answers which the boy gave him, was satisfied that, notwithstanding his doubtful way of bringing up, the lad was not corrupted, but was a well-minded boy. As they walked through a grove of trees, Edward still talking, Pablo stopped and put his hand before Edward's mouth, and then stooping down, at the same time seizing Smoker by the neck, he pointed with his finger. Edward at first could see nothing, but eventually he made out the horns of an animal just rising above a hillock. It was evidently one of the wild cattle. Edward cocked his gun and advanced cautiously, while Pablo remained where he was, holding Smoker. As soon as he was near enough to hit the head of the animal, Edward levelled and fired, and Pablo let Smoker loose, who bounded forward over the hillock. They followed the dog, and found him about to seize a calf which stood by a heifer that Edward had shot. Edward called him over and went up to the animal; it was a fine young heifer, and the calf was not more than a fortnight old.

"We cannot stop now, Pablo," said Edward. "Humphrey would like to have the calf, and we must take our chance of its remaining by its mother till we come back. I think it will for a day or two, so let us push on."

No further adventure happened, and they arrived a little after noon at Oswald's cottage. He was not at home; his wife saying that she believed that he was with the Intendant, who had come back from London the day before.

"But I will put on my hood and see," said the young woman.

In a few minutes she returned with Oswald.

"I am glad that you have come, sir," said Oswald, as Edward extended his hand, "as I have just seen the Intendant, and he has been asking many questions about you. I am certain he thinks that you are not the grandson of Jacob Armitage, and that he supposes I know who you are. He asked me where your cottage was, and whether I could not take him to it, as he wished to speak to you, and said that he felt great interest about you."

"And what did you say?"

"I said that your cottage was a good day's journey from here, and I was not certain that I knew the exact way, as I had been there but seldom; but that I knew where to find it, after I saw the forests of Arnwood. I told him about Corbould and his attempt upon you, and he was very wroth. I never saw him moved before; and young Mistress Patience, she was indeed angry and perplexed, and begged her father to send the assailant away as soon as he could be moved."

"Master Heatherstone replied, `Leave it to me, my dear;' and then asked me what account Corbould gave of himself, and his falling into the pit. I told him that Corbould stated that he was following a deer, which he had severely wounded about noon-day, and having no dog with him, he could not overtake it, although he knew by its bleeding track that it could not hold out much longer. That he followed it until nightfall, and had it in view and close to him when he fell into the pit."

"Well, the story was not badly made up," said Edward, "only for a "stag" read "man"; and what did the Intendant say to that?"

"He said that he believed you, and that Corbould's story was false--as, if it had been a stag that he was following, no one would have known that he had fallen into the pit, and he would have remained there till now. I quite forgot to say, that when the Intendant said that he wished to call at your cottage, the young mistress said that she would go with him, as you had told her that you had two sisters living with you, and she wished very much to see them and make their acquaintance."

"I am afraid that we shall not be able to prevent this visit, Oswald," replied Edward. "He is in command here, and the forest is in his charge. We must see to it. I only should like, if possible, to have notice of his coming, that we may be prepared."

"You need no preparation, sir, if he should come," replied Oswald.

"Very true," said Edward; "we have nothing to conceal, and if he finds us in a pickle it is of no consequence."

"Rather the better, sir," replied Oswald. "Let your sisters be at the wash-tub, and you and your brother carting manure; he will then be more likely to have no suspicion of your being otherwise than what you assume to be."

"Have you heard any news from London, Oswald?"

"Not as yet. I was away yesterday evening, when Master Heatherstone came back, and I have not seen his man this morning. While you eat your dinner I will go into the kitchen; and if he is not there, Phoebe will be sure to tell me all that she has heard."

"Do not say that I am here, Oswald, as I do not wish to see the Intendant."

"Mum's the word, sir; but you must stay in the cottage, or others will see you, and it may come to his ears."

Oswald's wife then put before him a large pie, and some wheaten bread, with a biggin of good beer. Edward helped Pablo to a large allowance, and then filled his own platter; while thus occupied Oswald Partridge had left the cottage, as agreed.

"What do you say, Pablo? Do you think you can walk back to-night?"

"Yes. Like walking at night. My people always do; sleep in a daytime."

"Well, I think it will be better to go home: Oswald has only one bed, and I do not wish them to know that I am here; so Pablo, eat heartily, and then we shall not be so tired. I want to get home, that I may send Humphrey after the calf."

"One bed here; you stay," replied Pablo. "I go home and tell Master Humphrey."

"Do you think you would be able to find your way, Pablo?"

"Once go one way, always know same way again."

"You are a clever fellow, Pablo, and I have a mind to try you. Now drink some beer. I think, Pablo, you shall go home, and tell Humphrey that I and Smoker will be where the heifer lies dead, and have it skinned by nine o'clock to-morrow morning; so if he comes, he will find me there."

"Yes, I go now."

"No, not now, you must rest yourself a little more."

"Pablo not tired," replied the gipsy, getting up; "be back before supper. As I go along, look at calf and dead cow--see if calf stay with mother."

"Very well, then, if you wish it, you may go now," said Edward.

Pablo nodded his head, and disappeared.

A few minutes afterwards Oswald made his appearance.

"Is the boy gone?"

"Yes; he is gone back to the cottage;" and Edward then stated how he had killed the heifer, and wanted to obtain the calf.

"I've an idea that you will find that boy very useful, if he is properly managed."

"I think so too," replied Edward; "and I am glad to perceive that he is already attached to all of us. We treat him as ourselves."

"You are right; and now for the news that I have to tell you. The Duke Hamilton, the Earl of Holland, and Lord Capel have been tried, condemned, and executed."

Edward sighed. "More murder! But we must expect it from those who have murdered their king. Is that all?"

"No. King Charles the Second has been proclaimed in Scotland, and invited to come over."

"That is indeed news," replied Edward. "Where is he now?"

"At the Hague; but it was said that he was going to Paris."

"That is all that you have heard?"

"Yes; that was what was current when Master Heatherstone was in town. His man Sampson gave me the news; and he further said, `That his master's journey to London was to oppose the execution of the three lords; but it was all in vain.'"

"Well," replied Edward, after a pause, "if the king does come over, there will be some work cut out for some of us, I expect. Your news has put me in a fever," continued Edward, taking up the biggin and drinking a large draught of beer.

"I thought it would," replied Oswald; "but until the time comes, the more quiet you keep the better."

"Yes, Oswald; but I can't talk any more; I must be left alone to think. I will go to bed, as I shall be off early in the morning. Is that fellow Corbould getting well?"

"Yes, sir; he is out of bed, and walks a little with a stick; but he is still very lame, and will be for some time."

"Good-night, Oswald; if I have anything to say I will write and send the boy. I do not want to be seen here any more."

"It will be best, sir. Good-night; I will put Smoker in the kennel to the right, as he will not be friendly with the other dogs."

Edward retired to bed, but not to sleep. The Scots had proclaimed the king, and invited him over. "He will surely come," thought Edward, "and he will have an army round him as soon as he lands." Edward made up his resolution to join the army as soon as he had heard that the king had landed; and what with considering how he should be able so to do, and afterwards building castles as to what he would do, it was long before he fell asleep; and when he did, he dreamt of battles and victory--he was charging at the head of his troops--he was surrounded by the dying and the dead. He was wounded, and he was somehow or another well again, as if by magic; and then the scene was changed, and he was rescuing Patience Heatherstone from his own lawless men, and preserving the life of her father, which was about to be sacrificed; and at last he awoke, and found that the daylight peeped through the windows, and that he had slept longer than he had intended to do. He arose and dressed himself quickly, and, not waiting for breakfast, went to the kennel, released Smoker from his durance, and set off on his return.

Before nine o'clock he had arrived at the spot where the heifer lay dead. He found the calf still by its side, bleating and walking round uneasily. As he approached with the dog, it went to a farther distance, and there remained. Edward took out his knife, and commenced skinning the heifer, and then took out the inside. The animal was quite fresh and good, but not very fat, as may be supposed. While thus occupied Smoker growled and then sprang forward, bounding away in the direction of the cottage, and Edward thought Humphrey was at hand. In a few minutes the pony and cart appeared between the trees, with Humphrey and Pablo in it, and Smoker leaping up at his friend Billy.

"Good-morning, Humphrey," said Edward, "I am almost ready for you; but the question is, how are we to take the calf? It is as wild as a deer."

"It will be a puzzler, without Smoker can run it down," said Humphrey.

"I take him, with Smoker," said Pablo.

"How will you take it, Pablo?"

Pablo went to the cart and took out a long small cord which Humphrey had brought with them, and made a noose at one end; he coiled the rope in his hand, and then threw it out to its full length, by way of trial. "This way I take him, suppose I get near enough. This way take bulls in Spain: call him lasso. Now come with me." Pablo had his rope again coiled in his hand, and then went round to the other side of the calf, which still remained lowing at about 200 yards' distance.

"Now tell Smoker," cried Pablo.

Humphrey set Smoker upon the calf, which retreated from the dog, presenting his head to run at it; and Pablo kept behind the animal, while Smoker attacked it, and drove it near to him.

As soon as the calf, which was so busy with the dog that it did not perceive Pablo, came sufficiently near to him, Pablo threw his rope, and caught the loop round the animal's neck. The calf set off galloping towards Humphrey, and dragging Pablo after him, for the latter was not strong enough to hold it.

Humphrey went to his assistance, and then Edward, and the calf was thrown down by Smoker, who seized it by the neck, and it was tied and put on the cart in a few minutes.

"Well done, Pablo! You are a clever fellow," said Edward, "and this calf shall be yours."

"It is a cow-calf," said Humphrey, "which I am glad of. Pablo, you did that well, and, as Edward says, the calf belongs to you."

Pablo looked pleased, but said nothing.

The meat and hide were put into the cart with some of the offal which Alice had asked for the dogs, and they set off on their return home.

Humphrey was very anxious to go to Lymington, and was not sorry that he had some meat to take with him: he determined to get off the next morning; and Edward proposed that he should take Pablo with him, that he might know the way there in case of any emergency, for they both felt that Pablo could be trusted. Edward said he would remain at home with his sisters, and see if he could be of any use to Alice; if not, there would be work in the garden. Humphrey and Pablo went away after breakfast, with Billy, and the meat and skin of the heifer in the cart. Humphrey had also a large basket of eggs and three dozen of chickens from Alice to be disposed of, and a list as long as the tail of a kite of articles which she and Edith required; fortunately there was nothing very expensive on the list, long as it was; but women in those day's required needles, pins, buttons, tapes, thread, worsted, and a hundred other little necessaries, as they do now. As soon as they were gone Edward, who was still castle-building instead of offering his services to Alice, brought out his father's sword and commenced cleaning it. When he had polished it up to his satisfaction, he felt less inclined than ever to do anything; so after dinner he took his gun and walked out into the forest, that he might indulge in his reveries. He walked on, quite unconscious of the direction in which he was going, and more than once finding his hat knocked off his head by the branch of a tree which he had not perceived--for the best of all possible reasons, because his eyes were cast on the ground--when his ears were saluted with the neighing of a horse. He looked up and perceived that he was near to a herd of forest ponies, the first that he had seen since he had lived in the forest.

This roused him, and he looked about him. "Where can I have been wandering to?" thought Edward: "I never fell in with any of the forest ponies before; I must therefore have walked in a direction quite contrary to what I usually do. I do not know where I am; the scenery is new to me. What a fool I am. It's lucky that nobody except Humphrey digs pitfalls, or I should probably have been in one by this time; and I've brought out my gun and left the dog at home. Well, I suppose I can find my way back." Edward then surveyed the whole herd of ponies, which were at no great distance from him. There was a fine horse or two among them, which appeared to be the leaders of the herd. They allowed Edward to approach to within two hundred yards, and then, with manes and tails streaming in the air, they darted off with the rapidity of the wind.

"Now I'll puzzle Humphrey when I go back," thought Edward. "He says that Billy is getting old, and that he wishes he could get another pony. I will tell him what a plenty there are, and propose that he should invent some way of catching one. That will be a poser for him; yet I'm sure that he'll try, for he is very ingenious. And now which way am I to turn to find my way home? I think it ought to be to the north; but which is north? For there is no sun out, and now I perceive it looks very like rain. I wonder how long I have been walking! I'm sure I don't know."

Edward then hurried in a direction which he considered might lead him homeward, and walked fast; but he once more fell into his habit of castle-building, and was talking to himself: "The king proclaimed in Scotland! He will come over of course: I will join his army--and then--"

Thus he went on, again absorbed in the news which he had gained from Oswald, till on a sudden he again recollected himself, and perceived that he had lost sight of the copse of trees on a high hill, to which he had been directing his steps. Where was it? He turned round and round, and at last found out that he had been walking away from it.

"I must dream no more," thought he; "or if I do indulge in any more day-dreams, I certainly shall neither sleep nor dream to-night. It is getting dark already, and here am I lost in the forest, and all through my own foolishness. If the stars do not shine, I shall not know how to direct my steps; indeed, if they do, I don't know whether I have walked south or north, and I am in a pretty pickle;--not that I care for being out in the forest on a night like this; but my sisters and Humphrey will be alarmed at my absence. The best thing I can do, is to decide upon taking some straight line, and continue in it: I must then get out of the forest at last, even if I walk right across it. That will be better than going backwards and forwards, or round and round, as I otherwise shall do, just like a puppy running after its own tail. So now shine out, stars."

Edward waited until he could make out Charles's Wain, which he well knew, and then the Polar Star. As soon as he was certain of that, he resolved to travel by it due north, and he did so, sometimes walking fast, and at others keeping up a steady trot for half a mile without stopping. As he was proceeding on his travels, he observed, under some trees ahead of him, a spark of fire emitted; he thought it was a glow-worm at first; but it was more like the striking of a flint against steel; and a

 

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