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2019 год

G. A. Henty
A Jacobite Exile / Being the Adventures of a Young Englishman in the Service of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden


My Dear Lads,

Had I attempted to write you an account of the whole of the adventurous career of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden, it would, in itself, have filled a bulky volume, to the exclusion of all other matter; and a youth, who fought at Narva, would have been a middle-aged man at the death of that warlike monarch, before the walls of Frederickshall. I have, therefore, been obliged to confine myself to the first three years of his reign, in which he crushed the army of Russia at Narva, and laid the then powerful republic of Poland prostrate at his feet. In this way, only, could I obtain space for the private adventures and doings of Charlie Carstairs, the hero of the story. The details of the wars of Charles the Twelfth were taken from the military history, written at his command by his chamberlain, Adlerfeld; from a similar narrative by a Scotch gentleman in his service; and from Voltaire's history. The latter is responsible for the statement that the trade of Poland was almost entirely in the hands of Scotch, French, and Jewish merchants, the Poles themselves being sharply divided into the two categories of nobles and peasants.

Yours sincerely,
G. A. Henty.

Chapter 1: A Spy in the Household

On the borders of Lancashire and Westmoreland, two centuries since, stood Lynnwood, a picturesque mansion, still retaining something of the character of a fortified house. It was ever a matter of regret to its owner, Sir Marmaduke Carstairs, that his grandfather had so modified its construction, by levelling one side of the quadrangle, and inserting large mullion windows in that portion inhabited by the family, that it was in no condition to stand a siege, in the time of the Civil War.

Sir Marmaduke was, at that time, only a child, but he still remembered how the Roundhead soldiers had lorded it there, when his father was away fighting with the army of the king; how they had seated themselves at the board, and had ordered his mother about as if she had been a scullion, jeering her with cruel words as to what would have been the fate of her husband, if they had caught him there, until, though but eight years old, he had smitten one of the troopers, as he sat, with all his force. What had happened after that, he did not recollect, for it was not until a week after the Roundheads had ridden away that he found himself in his bed, with his mother sitting beside him, and his head bandaged with cloths dipped in water. He always maintained that, had the house been fortified, it could have held out until help arrived, although, in later years, his father assured him that it was well it was not in a position to offer a defence.

"We were away down south, Marmaduke, and the Roundheads were masters of this district, at the time. They would have battered the place around your mother's ears, and, likely as not, have burnt it to the ground. As it was, I came back here to find it whole and safe, except that the crop-eared scoundrels had, from pure wantonness, destroyed the pictures and hacked most of the furniture to pieces. I took no part in the later risings, seeing that they were hopeless, and therefore preserved my property, when many others were ruined.

"No, Marmaduke, it is just as well that the house was not fortified. I believe in fighting, when there is some chance, even a slight one, of success, but I regard it as an act of folly, to throw away a life when no good can come of it."

Still, Sir Marmaduke never ceased to regret that Lynnwood was not one of the houses that had been defended, to the last, against the enemies of the king. At the Restoration he went, for the first time in his life, to London, to pay his respects to Charles the Second. He was well received, and although he tired, in a very short time, of the gaieties of the court, he returned to Lynnwood with his feelings of loyalty to the Stuarts as strong as ever. He rejoiced heartily when the news came of the defeat of Monmouth at Sedgemoor, and was filled with rage and indignation when James weakly fled, and left his throne to be occupied by Dutch William.

From that time, he became a strong Jacobite, and emptied his glass nightly "to the king over the water." In the north the Jacobites were numerous, and at their gatherings treason was freely talked, while arms were prepared, and hidden away for the time when the lawful king should return to claim his own. Sir Marmaduke was deeply concerned in the plot of 1696, when preparations had been made for a great Jacobite rising throughout the country. Nothing came of it, for the Duke of Berwick, who was to have led it, failed in getting the two parties who were concerned to come to an agreement. The Jacobites were ready to rise, directly a French army landed. The French king, on the other hand, would not send an army until the Jacobites had risen, and the matter therefore fell through, to Sir Marmaduke's indignation and grief. But he had no words strong enough to express his anger and disgust when he found that, side by side with the general scheme for a rising, a plot had been formed by Sir George Barclay, a Scottish refugee, to assassinate the king, on his return from hunting in Richmond Forest.

"It is enough to drive one to become a Whig," he exclaimed. "I am ready to fight Dutch William, for he occupies the place of my rightful sovereign, but I have no private feud with him, and, if I had, I would run any man through who ventured to propose to me a plot to assassinate him. Such scoundrels as Barclay would bring disgrace on the best cause in the world. Had I heard as much as a whisper of it, I would have buckled on my sword, and ridden to London to warn the Dutchman of his danger. However, as it seems that Barclay had but some forty men with him, most of them foreign desperadoes, the Dutchman must see that English gentlemen, however ready to fight against him fairly, would have no hand in so dastardly a plot as this.

"Look you, Charlie, keep always in mind that you bear the name of our martyred king, and be ready ever to draw your sword in the cause of the Stuarts, whether it be ten years hence, or forty, that their banner is hoisted again; but keep yourself free from all plots, except those that deal with fair and open warfare. Have no faith whatever in politicians, who are ever ready to use the country gentry as an instrument for gaining their own ends. Deal with your neighbours, but mistrust strangers, from whomsoever they may say they come."

Which advice Charlie, at that time thirteen years old, gravely promised to follow. He had naturally inherited his father's sentiments, and believed the Jacobite cause to be a sacred one. He had fought and vanquished Alured Dormay, his second cousin, and two years his senior, for speaking of King James' son as the Pretender, and was ready, at any time, to do battle with any boy of his own age, in the same cause. Alured's father, John Dormay, had ridden over to Lynnwood, to complain of the violence of which his son had been the victim, but he obtained no redress from Sir Marmaduke.

"The boy is a chip of the old block, cousin, and he did right. I myself struck a blow at the king's enemies, when I was but eight years old, and got my skull well-nigh cracked for my pains. It is well that the lads were not four years older, for then, instead of taking to fisticuffs, their swords would have been out, and as my boy has, for the last four years, been exercised daily in the use of his weapon, it might happen that, instead of Alured coming home with a black eye, and, as you say, a missing tooth, he might have been carried home with a sword thrust through his body.

"It was, to my mind, entirely the fault of your son. I should have blamed Charlie, had he called the king at Westminster Dutch William, for, although each man has a right to his own opinions, he has no right to offend those of others–besides, at present it is as well to keep a quiet tongue as to a matter that words cannot set right. In the same way, your son had no right to offend others by calling James Stuart the Pretender.

"Certainly, of the twelve boys who go over to learn what the Rector of Apsley can teach them, more than half are sons of gentlemen whose opinions are similar to my own.

"It would be much better, John Dormay, if, instead of complaining of my boy, you were to look somewhat to your own. I marked, the last time he came over here, that he was growing loutish in his manners, and that he bore himself with less respect to his elders than is seemly in a lad of that age. He needs curbing, and would carry himself all the better if, like Charlie, he had an hour a day at sword exercise. I speak for the boy's good. It is true that you yourself, being a bitter Whig, mix but little with your neighbours, who are for the most part the other way of thinking; but this may not go on for ever, and you would, I suppose, like Alured, when he grows up, to mix with others of his rank in the county; and it would be well, therefore, that he should have the accomplishments and manners of young men of his own age."

John Dormay did not reply hastily–it was his policy to keep on good terms with his wife's cousin, for the knight was a man of far higher consideration, in the county, than himself. His smile, however, was not a pleasant one, as he rose and said:

"My mission has hardly terminated as I expected, Sir Marmaduke. I came to complain, and I go away advised somewhat sharply."

"Tut, tut, man!" the knight said. "I speak only for the lad's good, and I am sure that you cannot but feel the truth of what I have said. What does Alured want to make enemies for? It may be that it was only my son who openly resented his ill-timed remarks, but you may be sure that others were equally displeased, and maybe their resentment will last much longer than that which was quenched in a fair stand-up fight. Certainly, there need be no malice between the boys. Alured's defeat may even do him good, for he cannot but feel that it is somewhat disgraceful to be beaten by one nearly a head shorter than he."

"There is, no doubt, something in what you say, Sir Marmaduke," John Dormay said blandly, "and I will make it my business that, should the boys meet again as antagonists, Alured shall be able to give a better account of himself."

"He is a disagreeable fellow," Sir Marmaduke said to himself, as he watched John Dormay ride slowly away through the park, "and, if it were not that he is husband to my cousin Celia, I would have nought to do with him. She is my only kinswoman, and, were aught to happen to Charlie, that lout, her son, would be the heir of Lynnwood. I should never rest quiet in my grave, were a Whig master here.

"I would much rather that he had spoken wrathfully, when I straightly gave him my opinion of the boy, who is growing up an ill-conditioned cub. It would have been more honest. I hate to see a man smile, when I know that he would fain swear. I like my cousin Celia, and I like her little daughter Ciceley, who takes after her, and not after John Dormay; but I would that the fellow lived on the other side of England. He is out of his place here, and, though men do not speak against him in my presence, knowing that he is a sort of kinsman, I have never heard one say a good word for him.

"It is not only because he is a Whig. There are other Whig gentry in the neighbourhood, against whom I bear no ill will, and can meet at a social board in friendship. It would be hard if politics were to stand between neighbours. It is Dormay's manner that is against him. If he were anyone but Celia's husband, I would say that he is a smooth-faced knave, though I altogether lack proof of my words, beyond that he has added half a dozen farms to his estate, and, in each case, there were complaints that, although there was nothing contrary to the law, it was by sharp practice that he obtained possession, lending money freely in order to build houses and fences and drains, and then, directly a pinch came, demanding the return of his advance.

"Such ways may pass in a London usurer, but they don't do for us country folk; and each farm that he has taken has closed the doors of a dozen good houses to John Dormay. I fear that Celia has a bad time with him, though she is not one to complain. I let Charlie go over to Rockley, much oftener than I otherwise should do, for her sake and Ciceley's, though I would rather, a hundred times, that they should come here. Not that the visits are pleasant, when they do come, for I can see that Celia is always in fear, lest I should ask her questions about her life at home; which is the last thing that I should think of doing, for no good ever comes of interference between man and wife, and, whatever I learned, I could not quarrel with John Dormay without being altogether separated from Celia and the girl.

"I am heartily glad that Charlie has given Alured a sound thrashing. The boy is too modest. He only said a few words, last evening, about the affair, and I thought that only a blow or two had been exchanged. It was as much as I could do, not to rub my hands and chuckle, when his father told me all about it. However, I must speak gravely to Charlie. If he takes it up, every time a Whig speaks scornfully of the king, he will be always in hot water, and, were he a few years older, would become a marked man. We have got to bide our time, and, except among friends, it is best to keep a quiet tongue until that time comes."

To Sir Marmaduke's disappointment, three more years went on without the position changing in any way. Messengers went and came between France and the English Jacobites, but no movement was made. The failure of the assassination plot had strengthened William's hold on the country, for Englishmen love fair play and hate assassination, so that many who had, hitherto, been opponents of William of Orange, now ranged themselves on his side, declaring they could no longer support a cause that used assassination as one of its weapons. More zealous Jacobites, although they regretted the assassination plot, and were as vehement of their denunciations of its authors as were the Whigs, remained staunch in their fidelity to "the king over the water," maintaining stoutly that his majesty knew nothing whatever of this foul plot, and that his cause was in no way affected by the misconduct of a few men, who happened to be among its adherents.

At Lynnwood things went on as usual. Charlie continued his studies, in a somewhat desultory way, having but small affection for books; kept up his fencing lesson diligently and learned to dance; quarrelled occasionally with his cousin Alured, spent a good deal of his time on horseback, and rode over, not unfrequently, to Rockley, choosing, as far as possible, the days and hours when he knew that Alured and his father were likely to be away. He went over partly for his own pleasure, but more in compliance with his father's wishes.

"My cousin seldom comes over, herself," the latter said. "I know, right well, that it is from no slackness of her own, but that her husband likes not her intimacy here. It is well, then, that you should go over and see them, for it is only when you bring her that I see Ciceley. I would she were your sister, lad, for she is a bright little maid, and would make the old house lively."

Therefore, once a week or so, Charlie rode over early to Rockley, which was some five miles distant, and brought back Ciceley, cantering on her pony by his side, escorting her home again before nightfall. Ciceley's mother wondered, sometimes, that her husband, who in most matters set his will in opposition to hers, never offered any objection to the girl's visits to Lynnwood. She thought that, perhaps, he was pleased that there should be an intimacy between some member, at least, of his family, and Sir Marmaduke's. There were so few houses at which he or his were welcome, it was pleasant to him to be able to refer to the close friendship of his daughter with their cousins at Lynnwood. Beyond this, Celia, who often, as she sat alone, turned the matter over in her mind, could see no reason he could have for permitting the intimacy. That he would permit it without some reason was, as her experience had taught her, out of the question.

Ciceley never troubled her head about the matter. Her visits to Lynnwood were very pleasant to her. She was two years younger than Charlie Carstairs; and although, when he had once brought her to the house, he considered that his duties were over until the hour arrived for her return, he was sometimes ready to play with her, escort her round the garden, or climb the trees for fruit or birds' eggs for her.

Such little courtesies she never received from Alured, who was four years her senior, and who never interested himself in the slightest degree in her. He was now past eighteen, and was beginning to regard himself as a man, and had, to Ciceley's satisfaction, gone a few weeks before, to London, to stay with an uncle who had a place at court, and was said to be much in the confidence of some of the Whig lords.

Sir Marmaduke was, about this time, more convinced than ever that, ere long, the heir of the Stuarts would come over from France, with men, arms, and money, and would rally round him the Jacobites of England and Scotland. Charlie saw but little of him, for he was frequently absent, from early morning until late at night, riding to visit friends in Westmoreland and Yorkshire, sometimes being away two or three days at a time. Of an evening, there were meetings at Lynnwood, and at these strangers, who arrived after nightfall, were often present. Charlie was not admitted to any of these gatherings.

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