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"'Oh, who are ye, young man?' she said.
'What country come ye frae?'
'I flew across the sea,' he said;
''Twas but this very day.'"
Five months had passed away since the midnight flight from England, when Anne Woodford was sitting on a stone bench flanked with statues in the stately gardens of the Palace of St. Germain, working away at some delicate point lace, destined to cover some of the deficiencies of her dress, for her difficulties were great, and these months had been far from happy ones.
The King was in Ireland, the Queen spent most of the time of his absence in convents, either at Poissy or Chaillot, carrying her son with her to be the darling of the nuns, who had for the most part never even seen a baby, and to whom a bright lively child of a year old was a perfect treasure of delight. Not wishing to encumber the good Sisters with more attendants than were needful, the Queen only took with her one lady governess, one nurse, and one rocker, and this last naturally was Pauline Dunord, both a Frenchwoman and a Roman Catholic.
This was in itself no loss to Anne. Her experience of the nunnery at Boulogne, where had been spent three days in expectation of the King, had not been pleasant. The nuns had shrunk from her as a heretic, and kept their novices and pensionnaires from the taint of communication with her; and all the honour she might have deserved for the Queen's escape seemed to have been forfeited by that moment of fear, which in the telling had become greatly exaggerated.
It was true that the Queen had never alluded to it; but probably through Mrs. Labadie, it had become current that Miss Woodford had been so much alarmed under the churchyard wall that her fancy had conjured up a phantom and she had given a loud scream, which but for the mercy of the Saints would have betrayed them all.
Anne was persuaded that she had done nothing worse than give an involuntary start, but it was not of the least use to say so, and she began to think that perhaps others knew better than she did. Miss Dunord, who had never been more than distantly polite to her in England, was of course more thrown with her at St. Germain, and examined her closely. Who was it? What was it? Had she seen it before? It was of no use to deny. Pauline knew she had seen something on that All Saints' Eve. Was it true that it was a lover of hers, and that she had seen him killed in a duel on her account? Who would have imagined it in cette demoiselle si sage! Would she not say who it was!
But though truth forced more than one affirmative to be pumped out of Anne, she clung to that last shred of concealment, and kept her own counsel as to the time, place, and persons of the duel, and thus she so far offended Pauline as to prevent that damsel from having any scruples in regarding her as an obnoxious and perilous rival, with a dark secret in her life. Certainly Miss Dunord did earnestly assure her that to adopt her Church, invoke the Saints, and have Masses for the dead was the only way to lay such ghosts; but Anne remained obdurate, and thus was isolated, for there were very few Protestants in the fugitive Court, and those were of too high a degree to consort with her. Perhaps that undefined doubt of her discretion was against her; perhaps too her education and knowledge of languages became less useful to the Queen when surrounded by French, for she was no longer called upon to act as reader; and the little Prince, during his residence in the convent, had time to forget her and lose his preference for her. She was not discharged, but except for taking her turn as a nursery-maid when the Prince was at St. Germain, she was a mere supernumerary, nor was there any salary forthcoming. The small amount of money she had with her had dwindled away, and when she applied to Lady Strickland, who was kinder to her than any one else, she was told that the Queen was far too much distressed for money wherewith to aid the King to be able to pay any one, and that they must all wait till the King had his own again. Her clothes were wearing out, and scarcely in condition for attendance on the Prince when he was shown in state to the King of France. Worse than all, she seemed entirely cut off from home. She had written several times to her uncle when opportunity seemed to offer, but had never heard from him, and she did not know whether her letters could reach him, or if he were even aware of what had become of her. People came with passports from England to join the exiled Court, but no one returned thither, or she would even have offered herself as a waiting-maid to have a chance of going back. Lady Strickland would have forwarded her, but no means or opportunity offered, and there was nothing for it but to look to the time that everybody declared to be approaching when the King was to be reinstated, and they would all go home in triumph.
Meanwhile Anne Woodford felt herself a supernumerary, treated with civility, and no more, as she ate her meals with a very feminine Court, for almost all the gentlemen were in Ireland with the King. She had a room in the entresol to herself, in Pauline's absence, and here she could in turn sit and dream, or mend and furbish up her clothes--a serious matter now--or read the least scrap of printed matter in her way, for books were scarcer than even at Whitehall; and though her 'mail' had safely been forwarded by Mr. Labadie, some jealous censor had abstracted her Bible and Prayer-book. Probably there was no English service anywhere in France at that time, unless among the merchants at Bordeaux--certainly neither English nor Reformed was within her reach--and she had to spend her Sundays in recalling all she could, and going over it, feeling thankful to the mother who had made her store Psalms, Gospels, and Collects in her memory week by week.
She was so far forgotten that active attempts to convert her had been dropped, except by Pauline. Perhaps it was thought that isolation would be effectual, but in fact the sight of popular Romanism not kept in check by Protestant surroundings shocked her, and made her far more averse to change than when she saw it at its best at Whitehall. In fine, the end of her ambition had been neglect and poverty, and the real service that she had rendered was unacknowledged, and marred by that momentary alarm. No wonder she felt sore.
She had never once been to Paris, and seldom beyond the gardens, which happily were free in the absence of the Queen, and always had secluded corners apart from the noble terraces, safe from the intrusion of idle gallants. Anne had found a sort of bower of her own, shaded by honeysuckles and wild roses, where she could sit looking over the slopes and the windings of the Seine and indulge her musings and longings.
The lonely life brought before her all the anxieties that had been stifled for the time by the agitations of the escape. Again and again she lived over the scene in the ruins. Again and again she recalled those two strange appearances, and shivering at the thought of the anniversary that was approaching in another month, still felt sometimes that, alive or dead, Peregrine's would be a home face, and framed to herself imaginary scenes in which she addressed him, and demanded whether he could not rest in his unhallowed grave. What would Bishop Ken say? Sometimes even she recollected the strange theory which had made him crave execution from the late King, seven years, yes, a little more than seven years ago, and marvel whether at that critical epoch he had indeed between life and death been snatched away to his native land of faery. Imagination might well run riot in the solitary, unoccupied condition to which she was reduced; and she also brooded much over the fragments of doubtful news which reached her.
Something was said of all loyal clergy being expelled and persecuted, and this of course suggested those sufferings of the clergy during the Commonwealth, of which she had often heard, making her very anxious about her uncle, and earnestly long for wings to fly to him. The Archfields too! Had Charles returned, and did that secret press upon him as it did upon her? Did Lucy think herself utterly forgotten and cast aside, receiving no word or message from her friend? "Perhaps," thought Anne, "they fancy me sailing about at Court in silks and satins, jewels and curls, and forgetting them all, as I remember Lucy said I should when she first heard that I was going to Whitehall. Nay, and I even took pleasure in the picture of myself so decked out, though I never, never meant to forget her. Foolish, worse than foolish, that I was! And to think that I might now be safe and happy with good Lady Russell, near my uncle and all of them. I could almost laugh to think how my fine notions of making my fortune have ended in sitting here, neglected, forgotten, banished, almost in rags! I suppose it was all self- seeking, and that I must take it meekly as no more than I deserve. But oh, how different! how different is this captivity! 'Oh that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest.' Swallow, swallow! you are sweeping through the air. Would that my spirit could fly like you! if only for one glimpse to tell me what they are doing. Ah! there's some one coming down this unfrequented walk, where I thought myself safe. A young gentleman! I must rise and go as quietly as I can before he sees me. Nay," as the action following the impulse, she was gathering up her work, "'tis an old abbe with him! no fear! Abbe? Nay, 'tis liker to an English clergyman! Can a banished one have strayed hither? The younger man is in mourning. Could it be? No graver, older, more manly--Oh!"
"Anne! Anne! We have found you!"
"Mr. Archfield! You!"
And as Charles Archfield, in true English fashion, kissed her cheek, Anne fairly choked with tears of joy, and she ever after remembered that moment as the most joyful of her life, though the joy was almost agony.
"This is Mistress Anne Woodford, sir," said Charles, the next moment. "Allow me, madam, to present Mr. Fellowes, of Magdalen College."
Anne held out her hand, and courtesied in response to the bow and wave of the shovel hat.
"How did you know that I was here?" she said.
"Doctor Woodford thought it likely, and begged us to come and see whether we could do anything for you," said Charles; "and you may believe that we were only too happy to do so. A lady to whom we had letters, who is half English, the Vicomtesse de Bellaise, was so good as to go to the convent at Poissy and discover for us from some of the suite where you were."
"My uncle--my dear uncle--is he well?"
"Quite well, when last we heard," said Charles. "That was at Florence, nearly a month ago."
"And all at Fareham, are they well?"
"All just as usual," said Charles, "at the last hearing, which was at the same time. I hoped to have met letters at Paris, but no doubt the war prevents the mails from running."
"Ah! I have never had a single letter," said Anne. "Did my uncle know anything of me? Has he never had one of mine?"
"Up to the time when he wrote, last March, that is to say, he had received nothing. He had gone to London to make inquiries--"
"Ah! my dear good uncle!"
"And had ascertained that you had been chosen to accompany the Queen and Prince in their escape from Whitehall. You have played the heroine, Miss Anne."
"Oh! if you knew--"
"And," said Mr. Fellowes, "both he and Sir Philip Archfield requested us, if we could make our way home through Paris, to come and offer our services to Mistress Woodford, in case she should wish to send intelligence to England, or if she should wish to make use of our escort to return home."
"Oh sir! oh sir! how can I thank you enough! You cannot guess the happiness you have brought me," cried Anne with clasped hands, tears welling up again.
"You will come with us then," cried Charles. "I am sure you ought. They have not used you well, Anne; how pale and thin you have grown."
"That is only pining! I am quite well, only home-sick," she said with a smile. "I am sure the Queen will let me go. I am nothing but a burthen now. She has plenty of her own people, and they do not like a Protestant about the Prince."
"There is Madame de Bellaise," said Mr. Fellowes, "advancing along the walk with Lady Powys. Let me present you to her."
"You have succeeded, I see," a kind voice said, as Anne found herself making her courtesy to a tall and stately old lady, with a mass of hair of the peculiar silvered tint of flaxen mixed with white.
"I am sincerely glad," said Lady Powys, "that Miss Woodford has met her friends."
"Also," said Madame de Bellaise, "Lady Powys is good enough to say that if mademoiselle will honour me with a visit, she gives permission for her to return with me to Paris."
This was still greater joy, except for that one recollection, formidable in the midst of her joy, of her dress. Did Madame de Bellaise divine something? for she said, "These times remind me of my youth, when we poor cavalier families well knew what sore straits were. If mademoiselle will bring what is most needful, the rest can be sent afterwards."
Making her excuses for the moment, Anne with light and gladsome foot sped along the stately alley, up the stairs to her chamber, round which she looked much as if it had been a prison cell, fell on her knees in a gush of intense thankfulness, and made her rapid preparations, her hands trembling with joy, and a fear that she might wake to find all again a dream. She felt as if this deliverance were a token of forgiveness for her past wilfulness, and as if hope were opened to her once more. Lady Powys met her as she came down, and spoke very kindly, thanking her for her services, and hoping that she would enjoy the visit she was about to make.
"Does your ladyship think Her Majesty will require me any longer?" asked Anne timidly.
"If you wish to return to the country held by the Prince of Orange," said the Countess coldly, "you must apply for dismissal to Her Majesty herself."
Anne perceived from the looks of her friends that it was no time for discussing her loyalty, and all taking leave, she was soon seated beside Madame de Bellaise, while the coach and four rolled down the magnificent avenue, and scene after scene disappeared, beautiful and stately indeed, but which she was as glad to leave behind her as if they had been the fetters and bars of a dungeon, and she almost wondered at the words of admiration of her companions.
Madame de Bellaise sat back, and begged the others to speak English, saying that it was her mother tongue, and she loved the sound of it, but really trying to efface herself, while the eager conversation between the two young people went on about their homes.
Charles had not been there more recently than Anne, and his letters were at least two months old, but the intelligence in them was as water to her thirsty soul. All was well, she heard, including the little heir of Archfield, though the young father coloured a little, and shuffled over the answers to the inquiries with a rather sad smile. Charles was, however, greatly improved. He had left behind him the loutish, unformed boy, and had become a handsome, courteous, well-mannered gentleman. The very sight of him handing Madame de Bellaise in and out of her coach was a wonder in itself when Anne recollected how he had been wont to hide himself in the shrubbery to prevent being called upon for such services, and how uncouthly in the last extremity he would perform them.
Madame de Bellaise was inhabiting her son's great Hotel de Nidemerle. He was absent in garrison, and she was presiding over the family of grandchildren, their mother being in bad health. So much Anne heard before she was conducted to a pleasant little bedroom, far more home-like and comfortable than in any of the palaces she had inhabited. It opened into another, whence merry young voices were heard.
"That is the apartment of my sister's youngest daughter," said Madame de Bellaise, "Noemi Darpent. I borrowed her for a little while to teach her French and dancing, but now that we are gone to war, they want to have her back again, and it will be well that she should avail herself of the same escort as yourself. All will then be selon les convenances, which had been a difficulty to me," she added with a laugh.
Then opening the door of communication she said; "Here, Noemi, we have found your countrywoman, and I put her under your care. Ah! you two chattering little pies, I knew the voices were yours. This is my granddaughter, Marguerite de Nidemerle, and my niece--a la mode de Bretagne--Cecile d'Aubepine, all bestowing their chatter on their cousin."
Noemi Darpent was a tall, fair, grave-faced maiden, some years over twenty, and so thoroughly English that it warmed Anne's heart to look at her, and the other two were bright little Frenchwomen-- Marguerite a pretty blonde, Cecile pale, dark, and sallow, but full of life. Both were at the age at which girls were usually in convents, but as Anne learnt, Madame de Bellaise was too English at heart to give up the training of her grandchildren, and she had an English governess for them, daughter to a Romanist cavalier ruined by sequestration.
She was evidently the absolute head of the family. Her daughter-in- law was a delicate little creature, who scarcely seemed able to bear the noise of the family at the long supper-table, when all talked with shrill French voices, from the two youths and their abbe tutor down to the little four-year-old Lolotte in her high chair. But to Anne, after the tedious formality of the second table at the palace, stiff without refinement, this free family life was perfectly delightful and refreshing, though as yet she was too much cramped, as it were, by long stiffness, silence, and treatment as an inferior to join, except by the intelligent dancing of her brown eyes, and replies when directly addressed.
After Mrs. Labadie's homeliness, Pauline's exclusive narrowness, Jane's petty frivolity, Hester's vulgar worldliness, and the general want of cultivation in all who treated her on an equality, it was like returning to rational society; and she could not but observe that Mr. Archfield altogether held his own in conversation with the rest, whether in French or English. Little more than a year ago he would hardly have opened his mouth, and would have worn the true bumpkin look of contemptuous sheepishness. Now he laughed and made others laugh as readily and politely as--Ah! With whom was she comparing him? Did the thought of poor Peregrine dwell on his mind as it did upon hers? But perhaps things were not so terrible to a man as to a woman, and he had not seen those apparitions! Indeed, when not animated, she detected a certain thoughtful melancholy on his brow which certainly had not belonged to former times.
Mr. Fellowes early made known to Anne that her uncle had asked him to be her banker, and the first care of her kind hostess was to assist her in supplying the deficiencies of her wardrobe, so that she was able to go abroad without shrinking at her own shabby appearance.
The next thing was to take her to Poissy to request her dismissal from the Queen, without which it would be hardly decorous to depart, though in point of fact, in the present state of affairs, as Noemi said, there was nothing to prevent it.
"No," said Mr. Fellowes; "but for that reason Miss Woodford would feel bound to show double courtesy to the discrowned Queen."
"And she has often been very kind to me--I love her much," said Anne.
"Noemi is a little Whig," said Madame de Bellaise. "I shall not take her with us, because I know her father would not like it, but to me it is only like the days of my youth to visit an exiled queen. Will these gentlemen think fit to be of the party?"
"Thank you, madam, not I," said the Magdalen man. "I am very sorry for the poor lady, but my college has suffered too much at her husband's hands for me to be very anxious to pay her my respects; and if my young friend will take my advice, neither will he. It might be bringing his father into trouble."
To this Charles agreed, so M. L'Abbe undertook to show them the pictures at the Louvre, and Anne and Madame de Bellaise were the only occupants of the carriage that conveyed them to the great old convent of Poissy, the girl enjoying by the way the comfort of the kindness of a motherly woman, though even to her there could be no confiding of the terrible secret that underlay all her thoughts. Madame de Bellaise, however, said how glad she was to secure this companionship for her niece. Noemi had been more attached than her family realised to Claude Merrycourt, a neighbour who had had the folly, contrary to her prudent father's advice, to rush into Monmouth's rebellion, and it had only been by the poor girl's agony when he suffered under the summary barbarities of Kirke that her mother had known how much her heart was with him. The depression of spirits and loss of health that ensued had been so alarming that when Madame de Bellaise, after some months, paid a long visit to her sister in England, Mrs. Darpent had consented to send the girl to make acquaintance with her French relations, and try the effect of change of scene. She had gone, indifferent, passive, and broken- hearted, but her aunt had watched over her tenderly, and she had gradually revived, not indeed into a joyous girl, but into a calm and fairly cheerful woman.
When she had left home, France and England were only too closely connected, but now they were at daggers drawn, and probably would be so for many years, and the Revolution had come so suddenly that Madame de Bellaise had not been able to make arrangements for her niece's return home, and Noemi was anxiously waiting for an opportunity of rejoining her parents.
The present plan was this. Madame de Bellaise's son, the Marquis de Nidemerle, was Governor of Douai, where his son, the young Baron de Ribaumont, with his cousin, the Chevalier d'Aubepine, were to join him with their tutor, the Abbe Leblanc. The war on the Flemish frontier was not just then in an active state, and there were often friendly relations between the commandants of neighbouring garrisons, so that it might be possible to pass a party on to the Spanish territory with a flag of truce, and then the way would be easy. This passing, however, would be impossible for Noemi alone, since etiquette would not permit of her thus travelling with the two young gentlemen, nor could she have proceeded after reaching Douai, so that the arrival of the two Englishmen and the company of Miss Woodford was a great boon. Madame de Bellaise had already despatched a courier to ask her son whether he could undertake the transit across the frontier, and hoped to apply for passports as soon as his answer was received. She told Anne her niece's history to prevent painful allusions on the journey.
"Ah, madame!" said Anne, "we too have a sad day connected with that unfortunate insurrection. We grieved over Lady Lisle, and burnt with indignation."
"M. Barillon tells me that her judge, the Lord Chancellor, was actually forced to commit himself to the Tower to escape being torn to pieces by the populace, and it is since reported that he has there died of grief and shame. I should think his prison cell must have been haunted by hundreds of ghosts."
"I pray you, madame! do you believe that there are apparitions?"
"I have heard of none that were not explained by some accident, or else were the produce of an excited brain;" and Anne said no more on that head, though it was a comfort to tell of her own foolish preference for the chances of Court preferment above the security of Lady Russell's household, and Madame de Bellaise smiled, and said her experience of Courts had not been too agreeable.
And thus they reached Poissy, where Queen Mary Beatrice had separate rooms set apart for visitors, and thus did not see them from behind the grating, but face to face.
"You wish to leave me, signorina," she said, using the appellation of their more intimate days, as Anne knelt to kiss her hand. "I cannot wonder. A poor exile has nothing wherewith to reward the faithful."
"Ah! your Majesty, that is not the cause; if I were of any use to you or to His Royal Highness."
"True, signorina; you have been faithful and aided me to the best of your power in my extremity, but while you will not embrace the true faith I cannot keep you about the person of my son as he becomes more intelligent. Therefore it may be well that you should leave us, until such time as we shall be recalled to our kingdom, when I hope to reward you more suitably. You loved my son, and he loved you--perhaps you would like to bid him farewell."
For this Anne was very grateful, and the Prince was sent for by the mother, who was too proud of him to miss any opportunity of exhibiting him to an experienced mother and grandmother like the vicomtesse. He was a year old, and had become a very beautiful child, with large dark eyes like his mother's, and when Mrs. Labadie carried him in, he held out his arms to Anne with a cry of glad recognition that made her feel that if she could have been allowed the charge of him she could hardly have borne to part with him. And when the final leave-taking came, the Queen made his little hand present her with a little gold locket, containing his soft hair, with a J in seed pearls outside, in memory, said Mary Beatrice, of that night beneath the church wall.
"Ah, yes, you had your moment of fear, but we were all in terror, and you hushed him well."
Thus with another kiss to the white hand, returned on her own forehead, ended Anne Jacobina's Court life. Never would she be Jacobina again--always Anne or sweet Nancy! It was refreshing to be so called, when Charles Archfield let the name slip out, then blushed and apologised, while she begged him to resume it, which he was now far too correct to do in public. Noemi quite readily adopted it.
"I am tired of fine French names," she said: "an English voice is quite refreshing; and do you call me Naomi, not Noemi. I did not mind it so much at first, because my father sometimes called me so, after his good old mother, who was bred a Huguenot, but it is like the first step towards home to hear Naomi--Little Omy, as my brothers used to shout over the stairs."
That was a happy fortnight. Madame de Bellaise said it would be a shame to let Anne have spent a half year in France and have seen nothing, so she took the party to the theatre, where they saw the Cid with extreme delight. She regretted that the season was so far advanced that the winter representations of Esther, at St. Cyr by the young ladies, were over, but she invited M. Racine for an evening, when Mr. Fellowes took extreme pleasure in his conversation, and he was prevailed on to read some of the scenes. She also used her entree at Court to enable them to see the fountains at Versailles, which Winchester was to have surpassed but for King Charles's death.
"Just as well otherwise," remarked Charles to Anne. "These fine feathers and flowers of spray are beautiful enough in themselves, but give me the clear old Itchen not tortured into playing tricks, with all the trout killed; and the open down instead of all these terraces and marble steps where one feels as cramped as if it were a perpetual minuet. And look at the cost! Ah! you will know what I mean when we travel through the country."
Another sight was from a gallery, whence they beheld the King eat his dinner alone at a silver-loaded table, and a lengthy ceremony it was. Four plates of soup to begin with, a whole capon with ham, followed by a melon, mutton, salad, garlic, pate de foie gras, fruit, and confitures. Charles really grew so indignant, that, in spite of his newly-acquired politeness, Anne, who knew his countenance, was quite glad when she saw him safe out of hearing.
"The old glutton!" he said; "I should like to put him on a diet of buckwheat and sawdust like his poor peasants for a week, and then see whether he would go on gormandising, with his wars and his buildings, starving his poor. It is almost enough to make a Whig of a man to see what we might have come to. How can you bear it, madame?"
"Alas! we are powerless," said the Vicomtesse. "A seigneur can do little for his people, but in Anjou we have some privileges, and our peasants are better off than those you have seen, though indeed I grieved much for them when first I came among them from England."
She was perhaps the less sorry that Paris was nearly emptied of fashionable society since her guest had the less chance of uttering dangerous sentiments before those who might have repeated them, and much as she liked him, she was relieved when letters came from her son undertaking to expedite them on their way provided they made haste to forestall any outbreak of the war in that quarter.
Meantime Naomi and Anne had been drawn much nearer together by a common interest. The door between their rooms having some imperfection in the latch swung open as they were preparing for bed, and Anne was aware of a sound of sobbing, and saw one of the white- capped, short-petticoated femmes de chambre kneeling at Naomi's feet, ejaculating, "Oh, take me! take me, mademoiselle! Madame is an angel of goodness, but I cannot go on living a lie. I shall do something dreadful."
"Poor Suzanne! poor Suzanne!" Naomi was answering: "I will do what I can, I will see if it is possible--"
They started at the sound of the step, Suzanne rising to her feet in terror, but Naomi, signing to Anne and saying, "It is only Mademoiselle Woodford, a good Protestant, Suzanne. Go now; I will see what can be done; I know my aunt would like to send a maid with us."
Then as Suzanne went out with her apron to her eyes, and Anne would have apologised, she said, "Never mind; I must have told you, and asked your help. Poor Suzanne, she is one of the Rotrous, an old race of Huguenot peasants whom my aunt always protected; she would protect any one, but these people had a special claim because they sheltered our great-grandmother, Lady Walwyn, when she fled after the S. Barthelemi. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked, the two brothers fled. I believe she helped them, and they got on board ship, and brought a token to my father; but the old mother was feeble and imbecile, and could not move, and the monks and the dragoons frightened and harassed this poor wench into what they called conforming. When the mother died, my aunt took Suzanne and taught her, and thought she was converted; and indeed if all Papists were like my aunt it would not be so hard to become one."
"Oh yes! I know others like that."
"But this poor Suzanne, knowing that she only was converted out of terror, has always had an uneasy conscience, and the sight of me has stirred up everything. She says, though I do not know if it be true, that she was fast drifting into bad habits, when finding my Bible, though it was English and she could not read it, seems to have revived everything, and recalled the teaching of her good old father and pastor, and now she is wild to go to England with us."
"You will take her?" exclaimed Anne.
"Of course I will. Perhaps that is what I was sent here for. I will ask her of my aunt, and I think she will let me have her. You will keep her secret, Anne."
"Indeed I will."
Madame de Bellaise granted Suzanne to her niece without difficulty, evidently guessing the truth, but knowing the peril of the situation too well to make any inquiry. Perhaps she was disappointed that her endeavours to win the girl to her Church had been ineffectual, but to have any connection with one 'relapsed' was so exceedingly perilous that she preferred to ignore the whole subject, and merely let it be known that Suzanne was to accompany Mademoiselle Darpent, and this was only disclosed to the household on the very last morning, after the passports had been procured and the mails packed, and she hushed any remark of the two English girls in such a decided manner as quite startled them by the manifest need of caution.
"We should have come to that if King James were still allowed to have his own way," said Naomi.
"Oh no! we are too English," said Anne.
"Our generation might not see it," said Naomi; "but who can be safe when a Popish king can override law? Oh, I shall breathe more freely when I am on the other side of the Channel. My aunt is much too good for this place, and they don't approve of her, and keep her down."
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