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side she secretly kept the friendship but no sweetness; sometimes stony of the Duke of York and his attractive in hardness and coldness, sometimes son, while her step-son, with men and moved to smiles and laughter which money, devoted himself to the cause of were not always found reassuring by Lancaster. Still, owing to her clever persons in her power. Sir William, in ness and his generosity, they did not his blind confidence, knew almost nothquarrel. With Harry his father's wife, ing of the woman to whom he had though out of sympathy with him, held been ready to entrust his dear grandthe place of his mother, and though child's future. He took the Lady lord and master at Swanlea, he used Isabel on faith, as being all that his his authority so little, lived so simply, friend Marlowe's wife ought to be. and was so constantly away in attend. He had only seen her once in his life, ance on his Queen, that it seemed as and that was before her husband's if the beautiful place were Lady Mar- death, many years ago. In those days, lowe's to use as she pleased. For this indeed, Isabel Marlowe seemed to be liberality she repaid him by whispering a model of all womanly virtues, and a that his eccentricity, which was un- man would have taken his oath at any doubted, at times amounted to mad- time, that she was what she chose to ness, and so the slander, encouraged appear. by his own wild and careless ways, She read those letters again and took form in the names by which half again. She had read them, at interLondon and all the Duke of York's vals, for the last twenty-four hours, party knew him,-Mad Marlowe, the ever since they reached her from the Queen's man.
fatal field where Queen Margaret had The Lady Isabel, as they called her, been victorious and had triumphed was sitting in a small, high, beautiful cruelly over Richard of York in his room, lined with carved shelves of death. Outwardly, the traditions of the richly bound manuscripts. She sat at house of Marlowe obliged the Baroness a desk, with letters spread out before to regard the news of Wakefield as her. The winter sunlight glimmered good news; inwardly, it was an unin through tall painted windows, and welcome check to her ambitions for the burning logs on the hearth gave out herself and Richard her son. A pera pleasant smell. Two greyhounds, sonal friendship and mutual underwith silver collars, lay on velvet cush- standing with Edward Earl of March ions before the fire, and between them, was not entirely the result of that on a larger cushion, lounged my Lady's fascination which women seldom reson Richard, a young fellow of twenty, sisted, and which it had amused him with a mass of curled yellow hair and to exert on her, the mother of the a face touched up with paint. He strongest of Lancastrians. Isabel yawned often, and touched a few notes would have laughed at the notion that on his lute; now and then he lifted she could be attracted by any man to large lazy eyes and looked at his her political undoing. Convinced that mother.
the future lay with the White Rose, With her there was no idleness, no she had a perfect scorn for Henry the personal luxury. Her black velvet Sixth, and a perfect hatred for Margown fell in stately folds; her pale face, garet of Anjou. still beautiful, for she was further from Some little curiosity found its way fifty than Sir William Roden thought into the soft indifferent eyes of Richwas grave and marked by care. It was ard, who seldom tried to understand a curious face, with much brightness his mother, and was still more seldom
allowed to do so. She kept him in lazy truly good or bad? Will it not bring luxury, childish and ignorant. Feign- the war to an end and set the King ing to approve of the boy's half-con- free to reign ?! scious love and admiration for his step- “It may, Richard," said his mother. brother, she never encouraged him to "But think you what that means, seek Harry's society. When Lord Mar- the reign of a man of diseased brain, lowe was at Swanlea, some excuse was and the rule of a woman bloody, fierce, generally found to keep Dick out of his and cruel, who will treat all suspected way. Hunting and hawking and all of favoring York as she has treated the the other manly sports were frowned Duke himself and my Lord Salisbury upon; when the lad, supposed to be and many more. My head and thine, delicate and frail, escaped to join in Dick, may fall one day”-she smiled at them, less from any love of them than him, and drew a pointed finger across from the wish to gain Harry's good her throat. "I have enemies enough,opinion, it was generally at the cost of there are slanders enough abroad,his mother's displeasure. Men laughed what do you say?" at the weak, gayly-dressed fellow, and "I say, we Marlowes wear the Red called him Popinjay. Even Harry's Rose, and Harry gave me the Prince's kindliness was not always proof silver badge for my cap, Mother. I against a certain scorn for him, though care little for parties; still, why should he guessed at better qualities beneath. I lose my head for the color of a He had been ready to enter into the flower?” plan suggested by my Lady after she “You care nothing and know nothing, received Sir William Roden's first let silly Popinjay,” said Isabel. “'Tis ter, of marrying Dick to the heiress of waste of time to talk to thee"; and Ruddiford. Welcoming anything that again she bent over the papers on her might make a man of poor Dick, this desk. country girl, thrown by her old grand- A cloud of sulky anger darkened the father into his mother's arms, seemed boy's handsome face. He leaped up the very wife for him. A good Lan- from his cushion, dashed his lute on the castrian connection, too, it would serve floor so violently as to break it, and to steady my Lady on the right side, stalked across the room to her, while Harry thought, having little idea how the dogs lifted their heads, and one far his step-mother's Yorkist leanings growled low. Richard turned and carried her. That she admired and be looked at him. lieved in the Duke of York, he knew; “I will have that dog killed; he hates but so did others who yet kept a duti. me,” he said. "All the rest love me, ful loyalty to King Henry.
but that pampered beast of yours," Lord Marlowe, as we know, had "Ah, I have more than one pampered reckoned without the personality of beast in my kennels,” said Lady MarMistress Margaret Roden. But no lowe. “When they begin to kill each news of him or his mission had reached other, the chaos will be too great. Why Swanlea since he and his men rode this flame of fury, Dick? What have away up the valley northward, a few you to say to me?" days before Christmas; and it was now "Why do you treat me so, Mother? January.
I know more than you think. I am "My Lady Mother,” said young not a child, not even a boy, remember. Richard, softly, "you pull a long face I am a man. I shall be married soon, over this Wakefield battle and the and lord of a castle." death of the Duke, but is the news "You know so much as that?" she
said thoughtfully. "Yes, 'twas a lucky his mother. This the messenger did, thought, that marriage for you. That greeting them both with profound ancient place Ruddiford, with its old bows. They saw at once that Sir Wilmaster and his traditions of Agincourt, liam had not sent an ordinary servant all that may save your head and mine, to carry his mind to Lady Marlowe, Dick, in case this battle means real but a person of confidence, a person in victory for the House of Lancaster. whose air there was even something of Queen Margaret may hear what she the gentleman; so much the more will, but I should be safe, I think, complimentary. Richard smiled and Marlowe on one side, you and your blushed in spite of himself, at this imRodens on the other. Yes,--and in the portant moment, and then tried hard other case, 'tis a strong position, worth to look dignified. Lady Marlowe, upmuch to either side; in a certain way. right in her chair, met the messenger 'tis the key to the north, though with a full, keen gaze from dark eyes neither side has armed it, for I think that were wont to see through men. the old knight must be well-nigh in his She was very pale and her lips, slightly dotage. Something might be done, and parted, showed strong white teeth. if he were out of the way_".
He would be a bold man who tried to “Are you talking of Ruddiford, my deceive such a woman. Yet now, if Lady,” Richard asked, frowning in im- ever, the Lady Isabel met her match, patient bewilderment as he stood be- and she instantly felt it. The young fore the desk over which she was bend man who entered might be a menial by ing.
position, though his plain riding-dress She started slightly, and looked up bore no sign of this, but he was with staring eyes, for he had broken beautiful and clever beyond the range in on a sudden train of thought which of ordinary men. The truth was that was carrying her far. “Go back to Sir William, more and more perplexed your dogs and your music, Dick," she by the strange turn events had taken, said. "Wait patiently. Your brother had decided at last on sending his will send a messenger to tell us how precious Antonio with the letter he had bis suit for you has sped. He has been written to tell Lady Marlowe all, and long on the road, I fancy; he should to ask, on his side, for an explanation. be here now."
So now Tony found himself on his Even as she spoke, there were sounds knees beside her Ladyship. After a outside. A servant darted into the moment's delay,-what kind of man room: "A messenger from Sir William was this ?-she gave him her white Roden."
hand to kiss. It seemed, certainly, that Lady Marlowe looked up, startled; he had been brought up as a gentlethis was not exactly what she expected, man, and, one must confess, among all but she was not ill pleased. “Send the the handsome young men who had ever man in,” she said. “So, Dick,"—when courted my Lady in her varied expethey were alone for a moment-“Ruddi- rience, he took easily the first place. ford is at your feet, it seems. Harry Nor was she by any means above mak. has done his work well.”
ing him aware of her admiration. In The boy laughed consciously, at once Dick's presence, however, there was no good-humored again. He pushed a lapse from her Ladyship's dignity. white hand through his curls, moved As the young man stood up and back towards the fire and threw him waited for her to speak, she said very self into a chair, so that the messenger, courteously, “Favor us with your coming in, should face both himself and name, Sir."
"Antonio Ferrari, your Ladyship's saw her eyes harden. "Have you any humble servant. I am Sir William letter or token from Sir William, Roden's secretary."
Master Secretary?” “An Italian-of noble birth, Sir?”
Antonio instantly produced the letter Antonio Aushed with pleasure, but he carried. “Madam, pardon me,” he answered very meekly: "No, Madam; said, “but my master desired me to but I was brought to England by speak with you before handing you Master John Roden as his page, and this letter, which is indeed the expresit has been my privilege to wait upon sion of his perplexity." Mistress Margaret."
"What then perplexes him?" said her "As her page?”
Ladyship, as with a sharp little knife "Her page, and playfellow, till Sir she cut the cord of the letter. "Let us William took me specially into his ser- see,-but before I weary my eyes with vice."
this long epistle, explain your words, "Where, I suppose, you will remain ?" Sir. For you also seem to be perplexed,
"Surely, Madam, unless my young and ignorant of facts. My son there mistress, when she comes bither as is not Baron Marlowe, and Swanlea is Baroness Marlowe, should command no house of his, that he should bring me to follow her.”
his bride here,-except indeed by his Antonio spoke with such quiet cor- brother's hospitality.” rectness that Lady Marlowe, occupied "Madam, I very humbly crave your for the moment with himself, noticed pardon." nothing strange in his words. But Antonio's tone was almost grovelling, young Richard was in a different case. but in his heart there was triumph. The manner and the looks of Antonio So! he had read the riddle right. had quite a contrary effect on his There sat the Popinjay, cheated of his mother and on him. He disliked him bride. How would they take the news, from the first, thought him a presump- these two, who were not, he could see, tuous ape, and swore to himself that over-burdened with scruples? A mohis wife should be attended by no such ment's fear touched him. Would my playfellows. He marvelled at the gen- Lady punish the bearer of the news? tleness of his mother's manner to a Her unlikeness to Sir William's imagforeign secretary fellow of no birth,– inary portrait was somewhat alarming, who, by the way, talked egregious and for a moment he wished himself nonsense when he was not telling her safe back at Ruddiford. However, the his own unnecessary history.
thing was begun and must be gone "You lie, fellow," Dick said coolly. through with, as boldly as one might. “Have a care, Madam. This man does "I am miserable enough to have ofnot come from Sir William Roden, or fended you, I do not know how," he he would know better what he is talk- said, bowing before her. “My mission ing about.”
is not concerned with your worshipful Antonio gave him a quick glance, and son, here present, but with my Lord went a little white, but did not speak. Marlowe's suit to Mistress Margaret
"Why this discourtesy, Richard ?" Roden, and with the strange manner said Lady Marlowe.
in which his Lordship left Ruddiford "You did not hear him. He talked for the north, without even awaiting of Mistress Margaret Roden coming Sir William's answer.” here as Baroness Marlowe. What did Isabel lifted her fine brows and he mean?"
gazed at him, consideringly. Richard "Ay, what?" said she, and Antonio was beginning to stammer out some
angry exclamation, but she checked eyes with long white fingers loaded him with a wave of her hand.
with rings, watched him so that the “Young man,” she said, “I counsel young fellow, bold, cunning, but with you to pray to St. Anthony, your little experience, shivered to the marpatron, to grant me patience. With row of his bones; yet it was not quite what foolish inventions are you filling with fear, but rather with the fascinaour ears? If you truly come from tion of a bird before a snake. He had Sir William Roden to me, you must been fairly sure that in all this strange know that my Lord Marlowe visited business it would be wiser to find himRuddiford with the purpose of asking self on Lady Marlowe's side. Now he Mistress Margaret's hand for his seemed to know that this position brother, whom you see there. He bore might mean more than he had reckoned letters from me to Sir William. This on. letter is surely a reply to them, and “Mother, what shall we do?" young I make no doubt at all that Sir William Richard's voice broke in roughly. accepts my proposal, and Lord Mar- "Must I lose Ruddiford? Can I now lowe's. You are ill instructed, Master marry this woman whom Harry has Secretary, unless your ignorance be left behind ?" feigned. I cannot tell your object, but "Peace, Dick," said Lady Marlowe. I advise you to beware."
Then she looked again at Antonio. Antonio, trembling, went down on “Go, and rest,” she said. "Come back one knee. “Madam, have pity, and be to me in the evening, and you shall just,” he said, with eyes that implored. hear my will." "I can only tell you what happened; Then Richard Marlowe watched his your anger is a mystery to me. Lord mother as she read Sir William Roden's Marlowe arrived at Ruddiford on letter, smiling over it, but not pleasChristmas Eve. At once, in my hear antly. There was something in her ing and that of others, he offered him- look which kept the young man silent self,-himself, I do solemnly assure you till she had done. -in marriage to Mistress Margaret. "Yes, Dick,” she said at last. "And There was no word of marriage with they say that your brother is not mad?" this gentleman," he turned his head "Nor is he, Mother. I do not trust towards Richard, who suddenly that foreign fellow. It may be all & laughed aloud.
string of lies.” "Is she beautiful, this Mistress Mar- “But with what object? No, he has · garet of yours?” he said.
told the truth,-or part of it. I would "She is a fair young lady,” Antonio put him to the question, but the boy answered, with lowered eyes.
is too pretty,” and she laughed. "And Sir William? And my letters ?" "His face does not please me; 'tis Lady Marlowe asked, with quick black and villainous,” said Richard. fierceness.
"But, Mother, I counted on being Antonio, still kneeling, with natural Master of Ruddiford; you had promeloquence told his story. “The whole ised. Will Harry come back from the affair seemed to Sir William passing wars and marry this maiden, and take strange,” he said. "He felt that he the castle and estates for himself? could do but one thing,-lay it before And all without a word to you and your ladyship. Therefore, as no letter me?" could fully explain it, he sent me." "I suppose,” said Lady Marlowe,
His voice faltered a little. Lady Mar- "after this Wakefield battle, the Queen lowe, leaning on her desk, shading her and Harry will do as they please. But