Meantime Mr. Heywood had returned home to look after his affairs,
and brought Richard with him. In the hope that peace was come they
had laid down their commissions. Hardly had they reached Redware
when they heard the news of the active operations at Raglan, and
Richard rode off to see how things were going--not a little anxious
concerning Dorothy, and full of eagerness to protect her, but
entirely without hope of favour either at her hand or her heart. He
had no inclination to take part in the siege, and had had enough of
fighting for any satisfaction it had brought him. It might be the
right thing to do, and so far the only path towards the sunrise, but
had he ground for hope that the day of freedom had in himself
advanced beyond the dawn? His confidence in Milton and Cromwell,
with his father's, continued unshaken, but what could man do to
satisfy the hunger for freedom which grew and gnawed within him?
Neither political nor religious liberty could content him. He might
himself be a slave in a universe of freedom. Still ready, even for
the sake of mere outward freedom of action and liberty of worship,
to draw the sword, he yet had begun to think he had fought enough.
As he approached Raglan he missed something from the landscape, but
only upon reflection discovered that it was the church tower.
Entering the village, he found it all but deserted, for the
inhabitants had mostly gone, and it was too near the gates and too
much exposed to the sudden sallies of the besieged for the
occupation of the enemy. That day, however, a large reinforcement,
sent from Oxford by Fairfax to strengthen colonel Morgan, having
arrived at Llandenny, some of its officers, riding over to inspect
captain Hooper's operations, had halted at the White Horse, where
they were having a glass of ale when Richard rode up. He found them
old acquaintances, and sat down with them. Almost evening when he
arrived, it was quite dusk when they rose and called for their
They had placed a man to keep watch towards Raglan, while the rest
of their attendants, who were but few, leaving their horses in the
yard, were drinking their ale in the kitchen; but seeing no signs of
peril, and growing weary of his own position and envious of that of
his neighbours, the fellow had ventured, discipline being neither
active nor severe, to rejoin his companions.
The host, being a tenant of the marquis, had decided royalist
predilections, but whether what followed was of his contriving I
cannot tell; news reached the castle somehow that a few
parliamentary officers with their men were drinking at the White
Rowland was in the chapel, listening to the organ, having in his
illness grown fond of hearing Delaware play. The brisker the
cannonade, the blind youth always praised the louder, and had the
main stops now in full blast; but through it all, Scudamore heard
the sound of horses' feet on the stones, and running along the
minstrels' gallery and out on the top of the porch, saw over fifty
horsemen in the court, all but ready to start. He flew to his
chamber, caught up his sword and pistols, and without waiting to put
on any armour, hurried to the stables, laid hold of the first horse
he came to, which was fortunately saddled and bridled, and was in
time to follow the last man out of the court before the gate was
closed behind the issuing troop.
The parliamentary officers were just mounting, when their sentinel,
who had run again into the road to listen, for it was now too dark
to see further than a few yards, came running back with the alarm
that he heard the feet of a considerable body of horse in the
direction of the castle. Richard, whose mare stood unfastened at the
door, was on her back in a moment. Being unarmed, save a brace of
pistols in his holsters, he thought he could best serve them by
galloping to captain Hooper and bringing help, for the castle party
would doubtless outnumber them. Scarcely was he gone, however, and
half the troopers were not yet in their saddles, when the place was
surrounded by three times their number. Those who were already
mounted, escaped and rode after Heywood, a few got into a field,
where they hid themselves in the tall corn, and the rest barricaded
the inn door and manned the windows. There they held out for some
time, frequent pistol-shots being interchanged without much injury
to either side. At length, however, the marquis's men had all but
succeeded in forcing the door, when they were attacked in the rear
by Richard with some thirty horse from the trenches, and the
runaways of colonel Morgan's men, who had met them and turned with
them. A smart combat ensued, lasting half an hour, in which the
parliament men had the advantage. Those who had lost their horses
recovered them, and a royalist was taken prisoner. From him Richard
took his sword, and rode after the retreating cavaliers.
One of their number, a little in the rear, supposing Richard to be
one of themselves, allowed him to get ahead of him, and, facing
about, cut him off from his companions. It was the second time he
had headed Scudamore, and again he did not know him, this time
because it was dark. Rowland, however, recognised his voice as he
called him to surrender, and rushed fiercely at him. But scarcely
had they met, when the cavalier, whose little strength had ere this
all but given way to the unwonted fatigue, was suddenly overcome
with faintness, and dropped from his horse. Richard got down, lifted
him, laid him across Lady's shoulders, mounted, raised him into a
better position, and, leading the other horse, brought him back to
the inn. There first he discovered that he was his prisoner whom he
feared he had killed at Naseby.
When Rowland came to himself,
'Are you able to ride a few miles, Mr Scudamore?' asked Richard.
At first Rowland was too much chagrined, finding in whose power he
was, to answer.
'I am your prisoner,' he said at length. 'You are my evil genius, I
think. I have no choice. Thy star is in the ascendant, and mine has
been going down ever since first I met thee, Richard Heywood.'
Richard attempted no reply, but got Rowland's horse, and assisted
him to mount.
'I want to do you a good turn, Mr Scudamore,' he said, after they
had ridden a mile in silence.
'I look for nothing good at thy hand,' said Scudamore.
'When thou findest what it is, I trust thou wilt change thy thought
of me, Mr Scudamore.'