So things looked ill for the puritans in general, and Richard
Heywood had his full portion in the distribution of the evils
allotted them. Following lord Fairfax, he had shared his defeat by
the marquis of Newcastle on Atherton moor, where of his score of men
he lost five, and was, along with his mare, pretty severely wounded.
Hence it had become absolutely necessary for both of them, if they
were to render good service at any near future, that they should
have rest and tending. Towards the middle of July, therefore,
Richard, followed by Stopchase, and several others of his men who
had also been wounded and were in need of nursing, rode up to his
father's door. Lady was taken off to her own stall, and Richard was
led into the house by his father--without a word of tenderness, but
with eyes and hands that waited and tended like those of a mother.
Roger Heywood was troubled in heart at the aspect of affairs. There
was now a strong peace-party in the parliament, and to him peace and
ruin seemed the same thing. If the parliament should now listen to
overtures of accommodation, all for which he and those with whom he
chiefly sympathised had striven, was in the greatest peril, and
might be, if not irrecoverably lost, at least lost sight of, perhaps
for a century. The thing that mainly comforted him in his anxiety
was that his son had showed himself worthy, not merely in the matter
of personal courage, which he took as a thing of course in a
Heywood, but in his understanding of and spiritual relation to the
questions really at issue,--not those only which filled the mouths
of men. For the best men and the weightiest questions are never seen
in the forefront of the battle of their time, save by "larger other
eyes than ours."
But now, from his wounds, as he thought, and the depression
belonging to the haunting sense of defeat, a doubt had come to life
in Richard's mind, which, because it was born IN weakness, he very
pardonably looked upon as born OF weakness, and therefore regarded
as itself weak and cowardly, whereas his mood had been but the
condition that favoured its development. It came and came again,
maugre all his self-recrimination because of it: what was all this
fighting for? It was well indeed that nor king nor bishop should
interfere with a man's rights, either in matters of taxation or
worship, but the war could set nothing right either betwixt him and
his neighbour, or betwixt him and his God.
There was in the mind of Richard, innate, but more rapidly developed
since his breach with Dorothy, a strong tendency towards the
supernatural--I mean by the word that which neither any one of the
senses nor all of them together, can reveal. He was one of those
young men, few, yet to be found in all ages of the world's history,
who, in health and good earthly hope, and without any marked poetic
or metaphysical tendency, yet know in their nature the need of
conscious communion with the source of that nature--truly the
veriest absurdity if there be no God, but as certainly the most
absolute necessity of conscious existence if there be a first life
from whom our life is born.
'Am I not free now?' he said to himself, as he lay on his bed in his
own gable of the many-nooked house; 'Am I not free to worship God
as I please? Who will interfere with me? Who can prevent me? As to
form and ceremony, what are they, or what is the absence of them, to
the worship in which my soul seeks to go forth? What the better
shall I be when all this is over, even if the best of our party
carry the day? Will Cromwell rend for me the heavy curtain, which,
ever as I lift up my heart, seems to come rolling down between me
and him whom I call my God? If I could pass within that curtain,
what would Charles, or Laud, or Newcastle, or the mighty Cromwell
himself and all his Ironsides be to me? Am I not on the wrong road
for the high peak?'
But then he thought of others--of the oppressed and the
superstitious, of injustice done and not endured--not wrapt in the
pearly antidote of patience, but rankling in the soul; of priests
who, knowing not God, substituted ceremonies for prayer, and led the
seeking heart afar from its goal--and said that his arm could at
least fight for the truth in others, if only his heart could fight
for the truth in himself. No; he would go on as he had begun; for,
might it not be the part of him who could take the form of an angel
of light when he would deceive, to make use of inward truths, which
might well be the strength of his own soul, to withdraw him from the
duties he owed to others, and cause the heart of devotion to
paralyze the arm of battle? Besides, was he not now in a low
physical condition, and therefore the less likely to judge truly
with regard to affairs of active outer life? His business plainly
was to gain strength of body, that the fumes of weakness might no
longer cloud his brain, and that, if he had to die for the truth,
whether in others or in himself, he might die in power, like the
blast of an exploding mine, and not like the flame of an expiring
lamp. And certainly, as his body grew stronger, and the impulses to
action, so powerful in all healthy youth, returned, his doubts grew
weaker, and he became more and more satisfied that he had been in
the right path.
Lady outstripped her master in the race for health, and after a few
days had oats and barley in a profusion which, although far from
careless, might well have seemed to her unlimited. Twice every day,
sometimes oftener, Richard went to see her, and envied the rapidity
of her recovery from the weakness which scanty rations, loss of
blood, and the inflammation of her wounds had caused. Had there been
any immediate call for his services, however, that would have
brought his strength with it. Had the struggle been still going on
upon the fields of battle instead of in the houses of words, he
would have been well in half the time. But Waller and Essex were
almost without an army between them, and were at bitter strife with
each other, while the peace-party seemed likely to carry everything
before them, women themselves presenting a petition for peace, and
some of them using threats to support it.
At length, chiefly through the exertions of the presbyterian
preachers and the common council of the city of London, the
peace-party was defeated, and a vigorous levying and pressing of
troops began anew. So the hour had come for Richard to mount. His
men were all in health and spirits, and their vacancies had been
filled up. Lady was frolicsome, and Richard was perfectly well.
The day before they were to start he took the mare out for a gallop
across the fields. Never had he known her so full of life. She
rushed at hedge and ditch as if they had been squares of royalist
infantry. Her madness woke the fervour of battle in Richard's own
veins, and as they swept along together, it grew until he felt like
one of the Arabs of old, flashing to the harvest field of God, where
the corn to be reaped was the lives of infidels, and the ears to be
gleaned were the heads of the fallen. That night he scarcely slept
for eagerness to be gone.
Waking early from what little sleep he had had, he dressed and armed
himself hurriedly, and ran to the stables, where already his men
were bustling about getting their horses ready for departure.
Lady had a loose box for herself, and thither straight her master
went, wondering as he opened the door of it that he did not hear
usual morning welcome. The place was empty. He called Stopchase.
'Where is my mare?' he said. 'Surely no one has been fool enough to
take her to the water just as we are going to start.'
Stopchase stood and stared without reply, then turned and left the
stable, but came back almost immediately, looking horribly scared.
Lady was nowhere to be seen or heard. Richard rushed hither and
thither, storming. Not a man about the place could give him a word
of enlightenment. All knew she was in that box the night before;
none knew when she left it or where she was now.
He ran to his father, but all his father could see or say was no
more than was plain to every one: the mare had been carried off in
the night, and that with a skill worthy of a professional
What now was the poor fellow to do? If I were to tell the
truth--namely, that he wept--so courageous are the very cowards of
this century that they would sneer at him; but I do tell it
notwithstanding, for I have little regard to the opinion of any man
who sneers. Whatever he may or may not have been as a man, Richard
felt but half a soldier without his mare, and, his country calling
him, oppressed humanity crying aloud for his sword and arm, his men
waiting for him, and Lady gone, what was he to do?
'Never heed, Dick, my boy,' said his father.--It was the first time
since he had put on man's attire that he had called him Dick,--
'Thou shalt have my Oliver. He is a horse of good courage, as thou
knowest, and twice the weight of thy little mare.'
'Ah, father! you do not know Lady so well as I. Not Cromwell's best
horse could comfort me for her. I MUST find her. Give me leave, sir;
I must go and think. I cannot mount and ride, and leave her I know
not where. Go I will, if it be on a broomstick, but this morning I
ride not. Let the men put up their horses, Stopchase, and break
'It is a wile of the enemy,' said Stopchase. 'Truly, it were no
marvel to me were the good mare at this moment eating her oats in
the very stall where we have even but now in vain sought her. I will
go and search for her with my hands.'
'Verily,' said Mr. Heywood with a smile, 'to fear the devil is not
to run from him!--How much of her hay hath she eaten, Stopchase?'
he added, as the man returned with disconsolate look.
'About a bottle, sir,' answered Stopchase, rather indefinitely; but
the conclusion drawn was, that she had been taken very soon after
the house was quiet.
The fact was, that since the return of their soldiers, poor watch
had been kept by the people of Redware. Increase of confidence had
led to carelessness. Mr. Heywood afterwards made inquiry, and had
small reason to be satisfied with what he discovered.
'The thief must have been one who knew the place,' said Faithful.
'Why dost thou think so?' asked his master.
'How swooped he else so quietly upon the best animal, sir?' returned
'She was in the place of honour,' answered Mr. Heywood.
'Scudamore!' said Richard to himself. It might be no light--only a
flash in his brain. But that even was precious in the utter
'Sir,' he said, turning to his father, 'I would I had a plan of
'What wouldst thou an' thou hadst, my son?' asked Mr. Heywood.
'Nay, sir, that wants thinking. But I believe my poor mare is at
this moment in one of those vaults they tell us of.'
'It may be, my son. It is reported that the earl hath of late been
generous in giving of horses. Poor soldiers the king will find them
that fight for horses, or titles either. Such will never stand
before them that fight for the truth--in the love thereof! Eh,
'Truly, sir, I know not,' answered his son, disconsolately. 'I hope
I love the truth, and I think so doth Stopchase, after his kind; and
yet were we of those that fled from Atherton moor.'
'Thou didst not flee until thou couldst no more, my son. It asketh
greater courage of some men to flee when the hour of flight hath
come, for they would rather fight on to the death than allow, if but
to their own souls, that they are foiled. But a man may flee in
faith as well as fight in faith, my son, and each is good in its
season. There is a time for all things under the sun. In the end,
when the end cometh, we shall see how it hath all gone. When, then,
wilt thou ride?'
'To-morrow, an' it please you, sir. I should fight but evil with the
knowledge that I had left my best battle-friend in the hands of the
Philistines, nor sent even a cry after her.'
'What boots it, Richard? If she be within Raglan walls, they yield
her not again. Bide thy time; and when thou meetest thy foe on thy
friend's back, woe betide him!'
'Amen, sir!' said Richard. 'But with your leave I will not go
to-day. I give you my promise I will go to-morrow.'
'Be it so, then. Stopchase, let the men be ready at this hour on the
morrow. The rest of the day is their own.'
So saying, Roger Heywood turned away, in no small distress, although
he concealed it, both at the loss of the mare and his son's grief
over it. Betaking himself to his study, he plunged himself
straightway deep in the comfort of the last born and longest named
of Milton's tracts.
The moment he was gone, Richard, who had now made up his mind as to
his first procedure, sent Stopchase away, saddled Oliver, rode
slowly out of the yard, and struck across the fields. After a
half-hour's ride he stopped at a lonely cottage at the foot of a
rock on the banks of the Usk. There he dismounted, and having
fastened his horse to the little gate in front, entered a small
garden full of sweet-smelling herbs mingled with a few flowers, and
going up to the door, knocked, and then lifted the latch.