The Pigeon Pie

Contents:
Author: Charlotte Mary Yonge

Chapter VII.

Forest Lea that night was a house of sorrow: the mother and two sons were prisoners in their separate rooms, and the anxieties for the future were dreadful. Rose longed to see and help her mother, dreading the effect of such misery, to be borne in loneliness, by the weak frame, shattered by so many previous sufferings. How was she to undergo all that might yet be in store for her—imprisonment, illtreatment, above all, the loss of her eldest son? For there was little hope for Edmund. As a friend and follower of Prince Rupert, he was a marked man; and besides, Algernon Sydney, the commander of the nearest body of forces, was known to be a good deal under the influence of the present owner of Woodley, who was likely to be glad to see the rightful heir removed from his path.

Rose perceived all this, and her heart failed her, but she had no time to pause on the thought. The children must be soothed and put to bed, and a hard matter it was to comfort poor little Lucy, perhaps the most of all to be pitied. She relieved herself by pouring out the whole confession to Rose, crying bitterly, while Eleanor hurried on distressing questions whether they would take mamma away, and what they would do to Edmund. Now it came back to Lucy, "O if I had but minded what mamma said about keeping my tongue in order; but now it is too late!"

Rose, after doing her best to comfort them, and listening as near to her mother’s door as she dared, to hear if she were weeping, went to her own room. It adjoined Walter’s, though the doors did not open into the same passage; and she shut that which closed in the long gallery, where her room and that of her sisters were, so that the Roundhead sentry might not be able to look down it.

As soon as she was in her own room, she threw herself on her knees, and prayed fervently for help and support in their dire distress. In the stillness, as she knelt, she heard an interchange of voices, which she knew must be those of her brothers in the next room. She went nearer to that side, and heard them more distinctly. She was even able to distinguish when Edmund spoke, and when Walter broke forth in impatient exclamations. A sudden thought struck her. She might be able to join in the conversation. There had once been a door between the two rooms, but it had long since been stopped up, and the recess of the doorway was occupied by a great oaken cupboard, in which were preserved all the old stores of rich farthingales of brocade, and velvet mantles, which had been heirlooms from one Dame of Mowbray to another, till poverty had caused them to be cut up and adapted into garments for the little Woodleys.

Rose looked anxiously at the carved doors of the old wardrobe. Had she the key? She felt in her pouch. Yes, she had not given it back to her mother since taking out the sheets for Mr. Enderby. She unlocked the folding doors, and, pushing aside some of the piles of old garments, saw a narrow line of light between the boards, and heard the tones almost as clearly as if she was in the same room.

Eager to tell Edmund how near she was, she stretched herself out, almost crept between the shelves, leant her head against the board on the opposite side, and was about to speak, when she found that it yielded in some degree to her touch. A gleam of hope darted across her, she drew back, fetched her light, tried with her hand, and found that the back of the cupboard was in fact a door, secured on her side by a wooden bolt, which there was no difficulty in undoing. Another push, and the door yielded below, but only so as to show that there must be another fastening above. Rose clambered up the shelves, and sought. Here it was! It was one of the secret communications that were by no means uncommon in old halls in those times of insecurity. Edmund might yet be saved! Trembling with the excess of her delight in her new-found hope, she forced out the second bolt, and pushed again. The door gave way, the light widened upon her, and she saw into the room! Edmund was lying on the bed, Walter sitting at his feet.

Both started as what had seemed to be part of the wainscoted wall opened, but Edmund prevented Walter’s exclamation by a sign to be silent, and the next moment Rose’s face was seen squeezing between the shelves.

"Edmund! Can you get through here?" she exclaimed in a low eager whisper.

Edmund was immediately by her side, kissing the flushed anxious forehead: "My gallant Rose!" he said.

"Oh, thank heaven! thank heaven! now you may be safe!" continued Rose, still in the same whisper. "I never knew this was a door till this moment. Heaven sent the discovery on purpose for your safety! Hush, Walter! Oh remember the soldier outside!" as Walter was about to break out into tumultuous tokens of gladness. "But can you get through, Edmund? Or perhaps we might move out some of the shelves."

"That is easily done," said Edmund; "but I know not. Even if I should escape, it would be only to fall into the hands of some fresh troop of enemies, and I cannot go and leave my mother to their mercy."

"You could do nothing to save her," said Rose, "and all that they may do to her would scarcely hurt her if she thought you were safe. O Edmund! think of her joy in finding you were escaped! the misery of her anxiety now!"

"Yet to leave her thus! You had not told me half the change in her! I know not how to go!" said Edmund.

"You must, you must!" said Rose and Walter, both at once. And Rose added, "Your death would kill her, I do believe!"

"Well, then; but I do not see my way even when I have squeezed between your shelves, my little sister. Every port is beset, and our hiding places here can no longer serve me."

"Listen," said Rose, "this is what my mother and I had planned before. The old clergyman of this parish, Dr. Bathurst, lives in a little house at Bosham, with his daughter, and maintains himself by teaching the wealthier boys of the town. Now, if you could ride to him to-night, he would be most glad to serve you, both as a cavalier, and for my mother’s sake. He would find some place of concealment, and watch for the time when you may attempt to cross the Channel."

Edmund considered, and made her repeat her explanation. "Yes, that might answer," he said at length; "I take you for my general, sweet Rose. But how am I to find your good doctor?"

"I think," said Rose, after considering a little while, "that I had better go with you. I could ride behind you on your horse, if the rebels have not found him, and I know the town, and Dr. Bathurst’s lodging. I only cannot think what is to be done about Walter."

"Never mind me," said Walter, "they cannot hurt me."

"Not if you will be prudent, and not provoke them," said Edmund.

"Oh, I know!" cried Rose; "wear my gown and hood! these men have only seen us by candle-light, and will never find you out if you will only be careful."

"I wear girl’s trumpery!" exclaimed Walter, in such indignation that Edmund smiled, saying, "If Rose’s wit went with her gown, you might be glad of it."

"She is a good girl enough," said Walter, "but as to my putting on her petticoat trash, that’s all nonsense."

"Hear me this once, dear Walter," pleaded Rose. "If there is a pursuit, and they fancy you and Edmund are gone together, it will quite mislead them to hear only of a groom riding before a young lady."

"There is something in that," said Walter, "but a pretty sort of lady I shall make!"

"Then you consent? Thank you, dear Walter. Now, will you help me into your room, and I’ll put two rolls of clothes to bed, that the captain may find his prisoners fast asleep to-morrow morning."

Walter could hardly help laughing aloud with delight at the notion of the disappointment of the rebels. The next thing was to consider of Edmund’s equipment; Rose turned over her ancient hoards in vain, everything that was not too remarkable had been used for the needs of the family, and he must go in his present blood-stained buff coat, hoping to enter Bosham too early in the morning for gossips to be astir. Then she dressed Walter in her own clothes, not without his making many faces of disgust, especially when she fastened his long curled love-locks in a knot behind, tried to train little curls over the sides of his face, and drew her black silk hood forward so as to shade it. They were nearly of the same height and complexion, and Edmund pronounced that Walter made a very pretty girl, so like Rose that he should hardly have known them apart, which seemed to vex the boy more than all.

There had been a sort of merriment while this was doing, but when it was over, and the moment came when the brother and sister must set off, there was lingering, sorrow, and reluctance. Edmund felt severely the leaving his mother in the midst of peril, brought upon her for his sake, and his one brief sight of his home had made him cling the closer to it, and stirred up in double force the affections for mother, brothers, and sisters, which, though never extinct, had been comparatively dormant while he was engaged in stirring scenes abroad. Now that he had once more seen the gentle loving countenance of his mother, and felt her tender, tearful caress, known that nobleminded Rose, and had a glimpse of those pretty little sisters, there was such a yearning for them through his whole being, that it seemed to him as if he might as well die as continue to be cast up and down the world far from them.

Rose felt as if she was abandoning her mother by going from home at such a time, when perhaps she should find on her return that she had been carried away to prison. She could not bear to think of being missed on such a morning that was likely to ensue, but she well knew that the greatest good she could do would be to effect the rescue of her brother, and she could not hesitate a moment. She crowded charge after charge upon Walter, with many a message for her mother, promise to return as soon as possible, and entreaty for pardon for leaving her in such a strait; and Edmund added numerous like parting greetings, with counsel and entreaties that she would ask for Colonel Enderby’s interference, which might probably avail to save her from further imprisonment and sequestration.

"Good-bye, Walter. In three or four years, if matters are not righted before that, perhaps, if you can come to me, I may find employment for you in Prince Rupert’s fleet, or the Duke of York’s troop."

"O Edmund, thanks! that would be—"

Walter had not time to finish, for Rose kissed him, left her love and duty to her mother with him, bade him remember he was a lady, and then holding Edmund by the hand, both with their shoes off, stole softly down the stairs in the dark.

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Chicago: Charlotte Mary Yonge, "Chapter VII.," The Pigeon Pie, ed. Altemus, Henry and trans. Dakyns, H. G. (Henry Graham) in The Pigeon Pie Original Sources, accessed August 8, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTLG9CNJJ7Z77W.

MLA: Yonge, Charlotte Mary. "Chapter VII." The Pigeon Pie, edited by Altemus, Henry, and translated by Dakyns, H. G. (Henry Graham), in The Pigeon Pie, Original Sources. 8 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTLG9CNJJ7Z77W.

Harvard: Yonge, CM, 'Chapter VII.' in The Pigeon Pie, ed. and trans. . cited in , The Pigeon Pie. Original Sources, retrieved 8 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KTLG9CNJJ7Z77W.