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Hildebrand; or, the days.., p.1
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       Hildebrand; or, The Days of Queen Elizabeth, An Historic Romance, Vol. 1 of 3, p.1

         Part # of Hildebrand; or, The Days of Queen Elizabeth, An Historic Romance series by Anonymous
 
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Hildebrand; or, The Days of Queen Elizabeth, An Historic Romance, Vol. 1 of 3


  Produced by David Edwards and the Online DistributedProofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net (This file wasproduced from images generously made available by TheInternet Archive)

  HILDEBRAND.

  NEW WORK, BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

  _Preparing for Publication, in 3 vols. 8vo._,

  THE OLD TEMPLE: AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.

  BY THE AUTHOR OF “HILDEBRAND,” _&c. &c._

  “Within the Temple hall we were too loud, The garden here is more convenient.” SHAKSPEARE.

  LONDON: JOHN MORTIMER, ADELAIDE STREET, TRAFALGAR SQUARE.

  HILDEBRAND: OR, THE DAYS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.

  AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.

  BY THE AUTHOR OF “THE KING’S SON.”

  Frugal and wise, a Walsingham is thine; A Drake, who made thee mistress of the sea, And bore thy name in thunder round the world. Then flamed thy spirit high; but who can speak The numerous worthies of the maiden reign? In Raleigh mark their every glory mix’d; Raleigh, the scourge of Spain! THOMSON.

  IN THREE VOLUMES.

  VOL. I.

  LONDON: JOHN MORTIMER, ADELAIDE STREET, TRAFALGAR SQUARE. MDCCCXLIV.

  LONDON: PRINTED BY HENRY RICHARDS, BRYDGES-STREET, COVENT-GARDEN.

  HILDEBRAND;

  _&c. &c._

  CHAPTER I.

  The last rays of a July sun were extending themselves over thewestern sky, and that sweetest period of a summer’s day--the coolevening--had just opened, when a horseman made his appearance onthe high-road between Exeter and London, in the midland sectionof Devonshire. He looked a young man; and his years were not somany even, as one would, at first sight, have inferred from hislooks. Care and travel, and probably privation, had given a stampof experience to his features, and an air of reflection to hisface, that savoured more of a man of thirty, than one of fouror five and twenty years, which was more likely his age. Yet, tojudge from his appearance, he was not one of those who would letthe cares of life press upon him heavily, or of a constitutionthat, from any imperfectness or defect, would suffer greatlyunder the infliction of privation or hardship. His countenancewas almost an oval, and sorted well with his light-brown beardand moustache, which, though they were no way scanty, he worethin and pointed. His complexion was of that red and white which,in men, is so peculiarly English, and would have been fair toeffeminacy, only that it bore evidence of having been exposed,no very long time previous, to a more glowing sun than that ofEngland, which had given it a more manly tone, and rendered itsbeauty more lively and animated. His blue eyes were not large,but they were finely coloured and penetrating, and harmonizedwell with his fair forehead, which, though not lofty, wasunruffled and expansive. His other features were turned withaccuracy, and the tone of each was such as, in most instances,marks a sanguine temperament and a generous disposition.Nevertheless, the _ensemble_ of his face was not without a touchof melancholy, though it was probably more the indication andeffect of a pensive turn of mind, nursed by vicissitude, or keptin constant exercise by his daily avocations, than the vestigeof any past sorrow or present care. Indeed, in the life andanimation of every feature, this small trace of gloom beneaththe eyes, though it was ever present, was almost lost; and therewas no point in his face but manifested, in a greater or a lessdegree, the spirit of frankness, buoyancy, and good-nature.

  The horseman was of a tall person, which was the more in hisfavour as, from early exercise, the muscles of his fine broadchest were fully developed, and all his well-turned limbsdenoted unity and power. He was attired in grave habits, cutin the fashion of the age, which was that of Elizabeth; yethis erect and soldier-like bearing, more conspicuous fromhis being mounted, betokened that he had not always worn thegarments of peace, but had at some time followed the nobleprofession of arms. A long basket-hilted sword, of the kindcalled cut-and-thrust, hung at his left side; and a small valise(seemingly made to hold a change of raiment, and probably theappurtenances of his toilet), which was fastened to the back ofhis saddle, completed his equipment.

  He sat his horse with much grace, and with that union of ease anddignity, joined to flexity of limb, which denoted no less theperfect horseman, than the true and polished gentleman.

  A slight breeze had risen with the evening, and as he hadprobably ridden some distance, and the day had been warm, thehorseman rode along at a gentle pace, in order that he mightenjoy more fully, and with greater ease, the fresh free air thatplayed around him. As he passed along, his eye glanced wistfullyover the country on either side, seeming to take in, every nowand then, some well-known and agreeable object, that calleda brighter lustre to his eye, and often a smile to his lip.Occasionally the notes of a blackbird, or some other featheredsongster, would draw his attention to the bush that bordered theroad, and which was now adorned with many a wreath of the wilddog-rose, and the varied greens of the hawthorn and blackberry.Then his feelings, responding to the cheering melody, wouldmanifest a new and more sensible buoyancy, and spread over hismanly face a glow of earnest pleasure.

  Thus he rode leisurely along, when, as he approached asecluded-looking by-road, his ear was saluted by the reportof a pistol, followed by a shrill scream; and this incidentinduced him to bring his horse to a stand. But after a moment’shesitation he pushed forward again, and, clapping spurs to hishorse, passed at a smart pace down the contiguous by-road, whencethe sounds that had alarmed him seemed to have emanated.

  The road was, like all the cross-roads of the period, narrow andrugged, and in many parts overgrown with grass, or traversed bydeep ruts, that rendered any kind of progress a matter of labourand difficulty. It was bounded on either side by the fence ofthe neighbouring fields--the common quickset, or field-hedge,which now had attained its full growth, and displayed all theluxuriance of maturity. Behind the hedge ran a row of elms, inirregular rank, and at no certain or fixed intervals, the boughsof which overhung the road, and frequently met about its centre.Indeed, the road was not unlike the avenue to a gentleman’shouse, only that its extreme ruggedness, joined to the fenceof quickset aforementioned, and its occasional patches ofvegetation, somewhat impaired the similarity, and were featuresthat such a locality could not be expected to exhibit.

  At length our horseman came to an angle in the road, about aquarter of a mile from the highway, which, turning sharplyround, opened to view a scene that inspired him with the deepestinterest.

  A few yards in his front stood one of the heavy carriages ofthe period, with its broad side-doors forced open, and its fourhorses brought to an abrupt halt. On the ground, at the side ofthe road, bleeding profusely from a cut on the forehead, lay agroaning postilion, who appeared to be on the eve of a longerjourney than he had probably looked for. The corpse of anotherman-servant was stretched on the opposite side of the road,and his unsheathed rapier showed that, like the postilion, hehad fallen unresisting. Startling as these particulars were,they hardly obtained from our horseman, after he had quiteturned the angle, the ordinary notice of a glance.
A group offive persons on the left of the arrested carriage immediatelyengaged his whole attention. Two of these were, to judge fromtheir appearance, cavaliers of the road, or, in other words,highwaymen, and had probably just dismounted from two stoutsteeds hard by, which were quietly cropping the grass, orwaste land, at the side of the road. A third was an elderlypersonage--perhaps (for his appearance bespoke him a man of rank)the proprietor of the adjacent carriage--who was combating thetaller of these ruffians with his rapier. In this contest he wasassisted by another person, apparently one of his domestics;but they were but indifferent swordsmen, and were hardly ableto defend themselves, much less act offensively, against theexperienced arm of the robber. This seemed to be clear to theaccomplice of the latter; for, instead of affording him anysuccour, he was entirely engaged with the fifth, and, in the eyesof our horseman, most interesting person of the party--a youngand beautiful female. His superior strength had already renderedher almost powerless, when he thrust his hand under the collar ofher bodice, in search of some trinket, or, perhaps--for it wasout of sight--some more precious valuable, which was suspendedby a chain of gold from her neck. This outrage, exceeding anythat she had hitherto sustained, drew from the unhappy ladya cry of utter terror, and nerved her for one last effort tobreak from his hold. She was still struggling, when the soundof a horse’s feet broke on her ear, and, casting a despairingglance around, her eye fell on our young horseman, who, havingturned the angle, had just come fully into view. Her strengthwas by this time exhausted: she saw that deliverance, which hadappeared hopeless, was close at hand; and she sank senseless inher assailant’s arms.

  The ruffian had not a moment to lose; for the horseman, heperceived at a glance, was no ordinary wayfarer, and he wasapproaching at a full gallop. Throwing down the insensible formof the lady, he seemed to deliberate, under the first effects ofthe surprise, how he should meet him. His hesitation, however,was but momentary; for, as the horseman drew nearer, he snatcheda pistol from his girdle, and discharged it at his breast. Butthe ball struck the horseman in the fleshy part of his left arm,and did not, according to his expectations, bring him to a halt.Seeing him still advance, the robber sought to meet his assaultwith his raised rapier; but whether it was that he had expectedit would be less vigorous, and so was unprepared, or that hewas an inexpert swordsman, his precaution was of no avail. Thehorseman beat down his guard directly; and with a terrificlounge, for which his long cut-and-thrust sword was excellentlyadapted, ran him through the body, pinning him to the pannel ofthe carriage at his back.

  It will readily be imagined that this new incident did nottranspire without attracting the attention of those othercharacters in the passing scene whom it so eminently affected.The report of the pistol was the first intimation they had ofthe horseman’s advent; and it was then that the senior cavalier,turning from the contest he was engaged in, perceived themelancholy situation of the young lady. This seemed to throwhim off his guard; for, regardless of his position, he brokeaway from the conflict with the robber, and sprang to thelady’s assistance. His servant was very unequal to the conflictsingle-handed; and the robber, seeing the fate of his comrade,and probably conceiving that no effort he could make would alterthe fortune of the day, availed himself of this circumstance toretreat towards his steed, keeping the servant at bay, meanwhile,though seemingly with a desire to do him no hurt.

  At last he reached his horse, and with a dexterous lounge,he knocked his rapier out of the servant’s hand, and sprangunmolested to his saddle. As he gained his seat, he clapped spursto his horse, and galloped off.

  Our young horseman was at this moment withdrawing his sword fromthe body of the fugitive’s comrade. Hearing the clatter of theretreating horse, he turned round; but though the robber had onlya slight start of him, and was no better armed than himself, heshowed no disposition to give him chase. Seemingly satisfied withhaving driven him off, he proceeded to tender his assistance, inanother character, to the still helpless lady.

  The lady was reclining in the arms of the elderly individualbefore noticed. She was, as has been remarked, still insensible;but if her position was calculated to obscure and veil overthe attributes of her mind, it was well adapted to display theexquisite graces of her person. Though she could hardly havearrived at her eighteenth summer, she had evidently attainedher full height, and was progressing towards that developmentof _contour_, or general outline, which is the most gloriousindication of female maturity. But it was more in promise--morein those shadowy lines which were yet hardly revealed, but whichwere still replete with grace and excellence--that the beauty ofher person chiefly consisted. The hundred dazzling charms thatmarked the mould and perfectness of her limbs, though distinctlyvisible, were not of that character which can be defined; andthey existed more as a whole than individually, and with aseeming hold and dependence on each other. There was, however,little of buoyancy in her most engaging countenance. Whether itwas the effect of her swoon, or of some deeper cause, rooted inthe past, her features wore a stamp of gravity beyond her years,but which might arise from a habit of reflection, as much as fromany spring of disappointment or sorrow. Her complexion was dark,yet so beautifully shaded, that it seemed to comprehend a varietyof tints, blended into one inseparable and harmonious whole; andthis gave it a force of expression, and a sweetness of tone,truly charming. Her raven-black hair, disarranged by her recentstruggle, had burst the restraints imposed upon it by her toilet,and fell loosely over her fair cheeks and neck, as if it sought,by this close and striking proximity, to be compared with thewhiteness of her heaving bosom.

  The personage who supported her was, as was heretoforeobserved, considerably her senior. He was tall in stature, and,notwithstanding a slight stoop in his shoulders--probably thebend of age--dignified in his bearing. His countenance had oncebeen handsome, and was still noble; and though there was an airof sternness, approaching to austerity, about his forehead, thegeneral expression of his features was gentle and kindly. Ashe gazed in the lady’s face, he betrayed the deepest emotion,and appeared, on a cursory glance, to have no sense of what waspassing around, but to be engrossed solely by his fears for theunconscious being whom he supported. He was yet bending over her,anxiously watching for the first return of sensibility, when thecavalier by whom they had been so effectually succoured, havingdismounted from his horse, and given it over to the care of theservant, came up with him.

  “Hath the lady sustained any hurt, Sir?” he inquired.

  At this moment the young lady, as if aroused by his voice, openedher eyes, and looked up.

  “Is it thou, father?” she said, addressing the personage whosupported her. “Thou art not hurt, then?”

  “Not in the least, my dear child,” replied her father.

  “And are we free?” said the young lady, eagerly looking round.

  “Quite, quite,” answered the old man; “and, under Heaven, we oweour deliverance to this gentleman.”

  “We owe him a great debt, then,” said the lady, raising herselfup. “I hope, Sir,” she added, speaking to the cavalier alludedto, “we may live long enough to show, by our future actions, thatwe shall ever remember it.”

  As she gained an erect position, she drew off her glove, andoffered the cavalier her small hand. He seized it eagerly, andwith a gentle inclination of his head, suitable to the occasion,raised it to his lips.

  “’Twere but a poor compliment, Sir,” observed the elderlycavalier, following up what had been said by his daughter, “tosay thou hast my hearty thanks. Thou hast given me more thanlife; and what is there in its gift, much less in an old man’svoice, that can balance such service as this?”

  “I’faith, fair Sir, thou ratest my help too high,” replied theperson addressed. “’Twas no more than any other honest strangerwould have lent thee.”

  “’Tis very few would risk life and limb for absolute strangers,brave Sir,” rejoined the previous speaker. “But we may be lessstrangers, if it so please thee, in time to come.”

  “If that be thy
mind, fair Sir,” said the other, “it will be aright welcome thing to me, though my stay in this land will notbe for long.”

  “Thou art not a foreigner?” said the elderly cavalier, in a toneof half inquiry, half doubt. “But I should tell thee who I am.My name is Sir Edgar de Neville; and this fair lady, to whom thouhast given more than her life, is my only child.”

  If Sir Edgar furnished this information with the view ofascertaining the name and rank of his deliverer, preparatory toentering more fully on those friendly relations which he hadjust opened, and had invited him to extend, the result must havedisappointed him; for the cavalier, whatever was his motive, didnot disclose these particulars, but rather answered him evasively.

  “Mine is a happy fortune,” he said, “that hath won two suchfriends. But this fair lady hath need of repose, Sir Edgar. Ihave some small matters to settle at the village of Lantwell; andwill be your escort, if you will give me leave, as far as yourlodge, which I can make to fall in my way.”

  “Thou knowest Neville Grange, then, Sir?” inquired Sir Edgar.

  “’Tis many years since I was in this part afore,” said thecavalier, slightly colouring; “but I once knew it right well.”

  “We will not claim thine escort only, then,” returned Sir Edgar;“but, while thine affairs hold thee at Lantwell, thy fair companyalso, an’ thou wilt give us leave.”

  As the cavalier was about to reply, he caught a glance fromthe dark eyes of Miss de Neville, seeming, by the warmth andkindliness of its expression, to second the invitation of herfather; and, repressing the answer which he had been about tomake, and which was probably of a negative character, he repliedwith a bow of acquiescence.

  Preparations were therefore made for entering once more on theirjourney. The wounded postilion, who, it was now discovered, wasbut slightly hurt, had his forehead bound up, and was then ableto mount his horse, and resume the duties of his post. The deadservant, with the corpse of the robber, was drawn to one side ofthe road, and there left till, on Sir Edgar’s arrival home, asuitable means of removing them could be procured. Sir Edgar andhis fair daughter took their places in the carriage; and theirdeliverer, and the old servant, who was entirely unhurt, mountedtheir horses, and rode slowly along on either side of thatvehicle.

  While the party thus pursued their way, each individual was toobusily occupied by his thoughts to seek to open a conversation.Indeed, the young cavalier, however his thoughts might havebeen engaged, was more seriously unfitted for the amenities ofdiscourse. In the excitement of the rescue, the pistol-wound hehad received in his arm, at his first appearance on the sceneof action, had not been heeded; but now that he had ceased tobe physically employed, and was, to a certain extent, left tohimself, its violent throbs became most painfully sensible. Thehœmorrhage appeared to be slight; for his murrey-coloured jerkin,except round the hole where the ball had entered, was hardlysoiled; yet he could feel the ball burning in the middle of hisarm. He tied his scarf tightly over it, thinking that, by itspressure on the part affected, this would mitigate the dreadfulthroes by which it was every moment convulsed. But the angrywound throbbed as before, and the blood in his arm, from hisshoulder downward, seemed to rage and boil, and, as it gurgledround the wound, to burn like liquid fire.

  In this manner he rode along for about two miles, continuallyhoping, at every successive wind in the apparently interminablelane, to come up with some farm-house, or peasant’s cottage,where he could procure a drink of water. But no prospect ofrelief presented itself, and he was about to avow his utterinability to proceed, when, looking round, he perceived that theroad was approaching a gate, with a porter’s lodge just visibleover the fence, which he recalled to mind as the entrance toNeville Grange. The carriage came to a halt the next moment; andthe mounted servant, who had been riding on the inner side ofthe carriage, nearest to the gate, spurred forward a few paces,and rang the lodge-bell. The young cavalier felt a dizziness comeover him at this juncture; and drawing his horse up, within apace or two of the carriage, he staggered in his saddle, and fellback against the carriage-door.

 
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