Things began to look threatening. Raglan's brooding disappointment
and apprehension was like the electric overcharge of the earth,
awaiting and drawing to it the hovering cloud: the lightning and
thunder of the war began at length to stoop upon the Yellow Tower of
Gwent. When the month of May arrived once more with its moonlight
and apple-blossoms, the cloud came with it. The doings of the earl
of Glamorgan in Ireland had probably hastened the vengeance of the
There was no longer any royal army. Most of the king's friends had
accepted the terms offered them; and only a few of his garrisons,
amongst the rest that of Raglan, held out--no longer, however, in
such trim for defence as at first. The walls, it is true, were
rather stronger than before, the quantity of provisions was large,
and the garrison was sufficient; but their horses were now
comparatively few, and, which was worse, the fodder in store was, in
prospect of a long siege, scanty. But the worst of all, indeed the
only weak and therefore miserable fact, was, that the spirit, I do
not mean the courage, of the castle was gone; its enthusiasm had
grown sere; its inhabitants no longer loved the king as they had
loved him, and even stern-faced general Duty cannot bring up his men
to a hand-to-hand conflict with the same elans as queen love.
The rumour of approaching troops kept gathering, and at every fresh
report Scudamore's eyes shone.
'Sir Rowland,' said the governor one day, 'hast not had enough of
fighting yet for all thy lame shoulder?'
''Tis but my left shoulder, my lord,' answered Scudamore.
'Thou lookest for the siege as an' it were but a tussle and over--a
flash and a roar. An' thou had to answer for the place like
'Nay, my lord, I would fain show the roundheads what an honest house
can do to hold out rogues.'
'Ay, but there's the rub!' returned lord Charles: 'will the house
hold out the rogues? Bethink thee, Rowland, there is never a spot in
it fit for defence except the keep and the kitchen.'
'We can make sallies, my lord.'
'To be driven in again by ten times our number, and kept in while
they knock our walls about our ears! However, we will hold out while
we can. Who knows what turn affairs may take?'
It was towards the end of April when the news reached Raglan that
the king, desperate at length, had made his escape from beleaguered
Oxford, and in the disguise of a serving man, betaken himself to the
headquarters of the Scots army, to find himself no king, no guest
even, but a prisoner. He sought shelter and found captivity. The
marquis dropped his chin on his chest and murmured, 'All is over.'
But the pang that shot to his heart awoke wounded loyalty: he had
been angry with his monarch, and justly, but he would fight for him
'See to the gates, Charles,' he cried, almost springing, spite of
his unwieldiness, from his chair. 'Tell Casper to keep the
powder-mill going night and day. Would to God my boy Ned were here!
His majesty hath wronged me, but throned or prisoned he is my king
still--the church must come down, Charles. The dead are for the
living, and will not cry out.' For in St. Cadocus' church lay the
tombs of his ancestors.
On deliberation it was resolved, however, that only the tower, which
commanded some portions of the castle, should fall. To Dorothy it
was like taking down the standard of the Lord. She went with some of
the ladies to look a last look at the ancient structure, and saw
mass after mass fall silent from the top to clash hideous at the
foot amidst the broken tomb-stones. It was sad enough! but the
destruction of the cottages around it, that the enemy might not have
shelter there, was sadder still. The women wept and wailed; the men
growled, and said what was Raglan to them that their houses should
be pulled from over their heads. The marquis offered compensation
and shelter. All took the money, but few accepted the shelter, for
the prospect of a siege was not attractive to any but such as were
fond of fighting, of whom some would rather attack than defend.
The next day they heard that sir Trevor Williams was at Usk with a
strong body of men. They knew colonel Birch was besieging Gutbridge
castle. Two days passed, and then colonel Kirk appeared to the
north, and approached within two miles. The ladies began to look
pale as often as they saw two persons talking together: there might
be fresh news. His father and his wife were not the only persons in
the castle who kept sighing for Glamorgan. Every soul in it felt as
if, not to say fancied that, his presence would have made it
But a strange excitement seized upon Dorothy, which arose from a
sense of trust and delegation, outwardly unauthorised. She had not
the presumption to give it form in words, even to Caspar, but she
felt as if they two were the special servants of the absent power.
Ceaselessly therefore she kept open eyes, and saw and spoke and
reminded and remedied where she could, so noiselessly, so
unobtrusively, that none were offended, and all took heed of the
things she brought before them. Indeed what she said came at length
to be listened to almost as if it had been a message from Glamorgan.
But her chief business was still the fire-engine, whose machinery
she anxiously watched--for if anything should happen to Caspar and
then to the engine, what would become of them when driven into the
Discipline, which of late had got very drowsy, was stirred up to
fresh life. Watch grew strict. The garrison was drilled more
regularly and carefully, and the guard and sentinels relieved to the
minute. The armoury was entirely overhauled, and every smith set to
work to get the poor remainder of its contents into good condition.
One evening lord Charles came to his father with the news that some
score of fresh horses had arrived.
'Have they brought provender with them, my lord?' asked the marquis.
'Alas, no, my lord, only teeth,' answered the governor.
'How stands the hay?'
'At low ebb, my lord. There is plenty of oats, however.'
'We hear to-day nothing of the round-heads: what say you to turning
them out and letting them have a last bellyful of sweet grass under
'I say 'tis so good a plan, my lord, that I think we had better
extend it, and let a few of the rest have a parting nibble.'
The marquis approved.
There was a postern in the outermost wall of the castle on the
western side, seldom used, commanded by the guns of the tower, and
opening upon a large field of grass, with nothing between but a
ditch. It was just wide enough to let one horse through at a time,
and by this the governor resolved to turn them out, and as soon as
it was nearly dark, ordered a few thick oak planks to be laid across
the ditch, one above another, for a bridge. The field was
sufficiently fenced to keep them from straying, and with the first
signs of dawn they would take them in again.
Dorothy, leaving the tower for the night, had reached the archway,
when to her surprise she saw the figure of a huge horse move across
the mouth of it, followed by another and another. Except Richard's
mare on that eventful night she had never seen horse-kind there
before. One after another, till she had counted some
five-and-twenty, she saw pass, then heard them cross the fountain
court with heavy foot upon the tiles. At length, dark as it was, she
recognised her own little Dick moving athwart the opening. She
sprang forward, seized him by the halter, and drew him in beside
her. On and on they came, till she had counted eighty, and then the
Presently she heard the voice of lord Charles, as he crossed the
hall and came out into the court, saying,
'How many didst thou count, Shafto?'
'Seventy-nine, my lord,' answered the groom, coming from the
direction of the gate.
'I counted eighty at the hall-door as they went in.'
'I am certain no more than seventy-nine went through the gate, my
'What can have become of the eightieth? He must have gone into the
chapel, or up the archway, or he may be still in the hall. Art sure
he is not grazing on the turf?'
'Certain sure, my lord,' answered Shafto.
'I am the thief, my lord,' said Dorothy, coming from the archway
behind him, leading her little horse. '--Good, my lord, let me keep
Dick. He is as useful as another--more useful than some.'
'How, cousin!' cried lord Charles, 'didst imagine I was sending off
thy genet to save the hay? No, no! An' thou hadst looked well at the
other horses, thou wouldst have seen they are such as we want for
work--such as may indeed save the hay, but after another fashion. I
but mean to do thy Dick a kindness, and give him a bite of grass
with the rest.'
'Then you are turning them out into the fields, my lord?'
'Yes--at the little postern.'
'Is it safe, my lord, with the enemy so near?'
'It is my father's idea. I do not think there is any danger. There
will be no moon to-night.'
'May not the scouts ride the closer for that,' my lord?'
'Yes, but they will not see the better.'
'I hope, my lord, you will not think me presumptuous, but--please
let me keep my Dick inside the walls.'
'Do what thou wilt with thine own, cousin. I think thou art
over-fearful; but do as thou wilt, I say.'
Dorothy led Dick back to his stable, a little distressed that lord
Charles seemed to dislike her caution.
But she had a strong feeling of the risk of the thing, and after she
went to bed was so haunted by it that she could not sleep. After a
while, however, her thoughts took another direction:--Might not
Richard come to the siege? What if they should meet?--That his party
had triumphed, no whit altered the rights of the matter, and she was
sure it had not altered her feelings; yet her feelings were altered:
she was no longer so fiercely indignant against the puritans as
heretofore! Was she turning traitor? or losing the government of
herself? or was the right triumphing in her against her will? Was it
St. Michael for the truth conquering St. George for the old way of
England? Had the king been a tyrant indeed? and had the powers of
heaven declared against him, and were they now putting on their
instruments to cut down the harvest of wrong? Had not Richard been
very sure of being in the right? But what was that shaking--not of
the walls, but the foundations? What was that noise as of distant
thunder? She sprang from her bed, caught up her night-light, for now
she never slept in the dark as heretofore, and hurried to the
watch-tower. From its top she saw, by the faint light of the stars,
vague forms careering over the fields. There was no cry except an
occasional neigh, and the thunder was from the feet of many horses
on the turf. The enemy was lifting the castle horses!
She flew to the chamber beneath, where, since the earl's departure,
in the stead of the cross-bow, a small minion gun had been placed by
lord Charles, with its muzzle in the round where the lines of the
loop-hole crossed. A piece of match lay beside it. She caught it up,
lighted it at her candle, and fired the gun. The tower shook with
its roar and recoil. She had fired the first gun of the siege: might
it be a good omen!
In an instant the castle was alive. Warders came running from the
western gate. Dorothy had gone, and they could not tell who had
fired the gun, but there were no occasion to ask why it had been
fired--for where were the horses? They could hear, but no longer see
them. There was mounting in hot haste, and a hurried sally. Lord
Charles flung himself on little Dick's bare back, and flew to
reconnoitre. Fifty of the garrison were ready armed and mounted by
the time he came back, having discovered the route they were taking,
and off they went at full speed in pursuit. But, encumbered as they
were at first with the driven horses, the twenty men who had carried
them off had such a start of their pursuers that they reached the
high road where they could not stray, and drove them right before
them to sir Trevor Williams at Usk.
'The fodder will last the longer,' said the marquis, with a sigh
sent after his eighty horses.
'Mistress Dorothy,' said lord Charles the next day, 'methinks thou
art as Cassandra in Troy. I shall tremble after this to do aught
against thy judgment.'
'My lord,' returned Dorothy, 'I have to ask your pardon for my
presumption, but it was borne in upon me, as Tom Fool says, that
there was danger in the thing. It was scarcely judgment on my
part--rather a womanish dread.'
'Go thou on to speak thy mind like Cassandra, cousin Dorothy, and
let us men despise it at our peril. I am humbled before thee,' said
lord Charles, with the generosity of his family.
'Truly, child,' said lady Glamorgan, 'the mantle of my husband hath
fallen upon thee!'
The next day sir Trevor Williams and his men sat down before the
castle with a small battery, and the siege was fairly begun.
Dorothy, on the top of the keep, watching them, but not
understanding what they were about in particulars, heard the sudden
bellow of one of their cannon. Two of the battlements beside her
flew into one, and the stones of the parapet between them stormed
into the cistern. Had her presence been the attraction to that
thunderbolt? Often after this, while she watched the engine below in
the workshop, she would hear the dull thud of an iron ball against
the body of the tower; but although it knocked the parapet into
showers of stones, their artillery could not make the slightest
impression upon that.
The same night a sally was prepared. Rowland ran to lord Charles,
begging leave to go. But his lordship would not hear of it, telling
him to get well, and he should have enough of sallying before the
siege was over. The enemy were surprised, and lost a few men, but
soon recovered themselves and drove the royalists home, following
them to the very gates, whence the guns of the castle sent them back
in their turn.
Many such sallies and skirmishes followed. Once and again there was
but time for the guard to open the gate, admit their own, and close
it, ere the enemy came thundering up--to be received with a volley
and gallop off. At first there was great excitement within the walls
when a party was out. Eager and anxious eyes followed them from
every point of vision. But at length they got used to it, as to all
the ordinary occurrences of siege.
By and by colonel Morgan appeared with additional forces, and made
his head-quarters to the south, at Llandenny. In two days more the
castle was surrounded, and they began to erect a larger battery on
the east of it, also to dig trenches and prepare for mining. The
chief point of attack was that side of the stone court which lay
between the towers of the kitchen and the library. Here then came
the hottest of the siege, and very soon that range of building gave
show of affording an easy passage by the time the outer works should
After the first ball, whose execution Dorothy had witnessed, there
came no more for some time. Sir Trevor waited until the second
battery should be begun and captain Hooper arrive, who was to be at
the head of the mining operations. Hence most of the inmates of the
castle began to imagine that a siege was not such an unpleasant
thing after all. They lacked nothing; the apple trees bloomed; the
moon shone; the white horse fed the fountain; the pigeons flew about
the courts, and the peacock strutted on the grass. But when they
began digging their approaches and mounting their guns on the east
side, sir Trevor opened his battery on the west, and the guns of the
tower replied. The guns also from the kitchen tower, and another
between it and the library tower, played upon the trenches, and the
noise was tremendous. At first the inhabitants were nearly deafened,
and frequently failed to hear what was said; but at length they grew
hardened--so much so that they were often unaware of the firing
altogether, and began again to think a siege no great matter. But
when the guns of the eastern battery opened fire, and at the first
discharge a round shot, bringing with it a barrowful of stones, came
down the kitchen chimney, knocking the lid through the bottom of the
cook's stewpan, and scattering all the fire about the place; when
the roof of one of the turrets went clashing over the stones of the
paved court; when a spent shot struck the bars of the Great Mogul's
cage, and sent him furious, making them think what might happen, and
wishing they were sure of the politics of the wild beasts; when the
stones and slates flew about like sudden showers of hail; when every
now and then a great rumble told of a falling wall, and that side of
the court was rapidly turning to a heap of ruins; then were cries
and screams, many more however of terror than of injury, to be heard
in the castle, and they began to understand that it was not
starvation, but something more peremptory still, to which they were
doomed to succumb. At times there would fall a lull, perhaps for a
few hours, perhaps but for a few moments, to end in a sudden fury of
firing on both sides, mingled with shouts, the rattling of bullets,
and the falling of stones, when the women would rush to and fro
screaming, and all would imagine the storm was in the breach.
But the gloom of the marquis seemed to have vanished with the
breaking of the storm, as the outburst of the lightning takes the
weight off head and heart that has for days been gathering. True,
when his house began to fall, he would look for a moment grave at
each successive rumble, but the next he would smile and nod his
head, as if all was just as he had expected and would have it. One
day when sir Toby Mathews and Dr. Bayly happened both to be with him
in his study, an ancient stack of chimneys tumbled with tremendous
uproar into the stone court. The two clergymen started visibly, and
then looked at each other with pallid faces. But the marquis smiled,
kept the silence for an instant, and then, in slow solemn voice,
'Scimus enim quoniam si terrestris domus nomus nostra hujus
habitationis dissolvatur, quod aedificationem ex Deo habemus, domum
non manufactam, aeternam in coelis.'
The clergymen grasped each other by the hand, then turning bowed
together to the marquis, but the conversation was not resumed.
One evening in the drawing-room, after supper, the marquis, in good
spirits, and for him in good health, was talking more merrily than
usual. Lady Glamorgan stood near him in the window. The captain of
the garrison was giving a spirited description of a sally they had
made the night before upon colonel Morgan in his quarters at
Llandenny, and sir Rowland was vowing that come of it what might,
leave or no leave, he would ride the next time, when crash went
something in the room, the marquis put his hand to his head, and the
countess fled in terror, crying, 'O Lord! O Lord!' A bullet had come
through the window, knocked a little marble pillar belonging to it
in fragments on the floor, and glancing from it, struck the marquis
on the side of the head. The countess, finding herself unhurt, ran
no farther than the door.
'I ask your pardon, my lord, for my rudeness,' she said, with
trembling voice, as she came slowly back. 'But indeed, ladies,' she
added, 'I thought the house was coming down.--You gentlemen, who
know not what fear is, I pray you to forgive me, for I was mortally
'Daughter, you had reason to run away, when your father was knocked
on the head,' said the marquis.
He put his finger on the flattened bullet where it had fallen on the
table, and turning it round and round, was silent for a moment
evidently framing aright something he wanted to say. Then with the
pretence that the bullet had been flattened upon his head,
'Gentlemen,' he remarked, 'those who had a mind to flatter me were
wont to tell me that I had a good head in my younger days, but if I
don't flatter myself, I think I have a good head-piece in my old
age, or else it would not have been musket-proof.'
But although he took the thing thus quietly and indeed merrily, it
revealed to him that their usual apartments were no longer fit for
the ladies, and he gave orders therefore that the great rooms in the
tower should be prepared for them and the children.
Dorothy's capacity for work was not easily satisfied, but now for a
time she had plenty to do. In the midst of the roar from the
batteries, and the answering roar from towers and walls, the ladies
betook themselves to their stronger quarters: a thousand necessaries
had to be carried with them, and she, as a matter of course, it
seemed, had to superintend the removal. With many hands to make
light work she soon finished, however, and the family was lodged
where no hostile shot could reach them, although the frequent fall
of portions of its battlemented summit rendered even a peep beyond
its impenetrable shell hazardous. Dorothy would lie awake at night,
where she slept in her mistress's room, and listen--now to the
baffled bullet as it fell from the scarce indented wall, now to the
roar of the artillery, sounding dull and far away through the ten-
foot thickness; and ever and again the words of the ancient psalm
would return upon her memory: 'Thou hast been a shelter for me, and
a strong tower from the enemy.'
She tended the fire-engine if possible yet more carefully than ever,
kept the cistern full, and the water lipping the edge of the moat,
but let no fountain flow except that from the mouth of the white
horse. Her great fear was lest a shot should fall into the reservoir
and injure its bottom, but its contriver had taken care that, even
without the protection of its watery armour, it should be
The marquis would not leave his own rooms and the supervision they
gave him. The domestics were mostly lodged within the kitchen tower,
which, although in full exposure to the enemy's fire, had as yet
proved able to resist it. But all between that and the library tower
was rapidly becoming a chaos of stones and timber. Lord Glamorgan's
secret chamber was shot through and through; but Caspar, as soon as
the direction and force of the battery were known, had carried off
his books and instruments.