Chapter 1





If you go to Southampton and search the register of the Walloon Church
there, you will find that in the summer of 157,


"Madame Vefue de Montgomery with all her family and servants were
admitted to the Communion"--"Tous ceux cj furent Recus la a Cene du
157, comme passans, sans avoir Rendu Raison de la foj, mes sur la
tesmognage de Mons. Forest, Ministre de Madame, quj certifia quj ne
cognoisoit Rien en tout ceux la po' quoy Il ne leur deust administre
la Cene s'il estoit en lieu po' a ferre."

There is another striking record, which says that in August of the same
year Demoiselle Angele Claude Aubert, daughter of Monsieur de la Haie
Aubert, Councillor of the Parliament of Rouen, was married to Michel de
la Foret, of the most noble Flemish family of that name.

When I first saw these records, now grown dim with time, I fell to
wondering what was the real life-history of these two people. Forthwith,
in imagination, I began to make their story piece by piece; and I had
reached a romantic 'denoument' satisfactory to myself and in sympathy
with fact, when the Angel of Accident stepped forward with some "human
documents." Then I found that my tale, woven back from the two obscure
records I have given, was the true story of two most unhappy yet most
happy people. From the note struck in my mind, when my finger touched
that sorrowful page in the register of the Church of the Refugees at
Southampton, had spread out the whole melody and the very book of the
song.

One of the later-discovered records was a letter, tear-stained, faded,
beautifully written in old French, from Demoiselle Angele Claude Aubert
to Michel de la Foret at Anvers in March of the year 157. The letter lies
beside me as I write, and I can scarcely believe that three and a quarter
centuries have passed since it was written, and that she who wrote it was
but eighteen years old at the time. I translate it into English, though
it is impossible adequately to carry over either the flavour or the idiom
of the language:


Written on this May Day of the year 157, at the place hight Rozel
in the Manor called of the same of Jersey Isle, to Michel de la
Foret, at Anvers in Flanders.

MICHEL, Thy good letter by safe carriage cometh to my hand, bringing
to my heart a lightness it hath not known since that day when I was
hastily carried to the port of St. Malo, and thou towards the King
his prison. In what great fear have I lived, having no news of thee
and fearing all manner of mischance! But our God hath benignly
saved thee from death, and me He hath set safely here in this isle
of the sea.

Thou hast ever been a brave soldier, enduring and not fearing; thou
shalt find enow to keep thy blood stirring in these days of trial
and peril to us who are so opprobriously called Les Huguenots. If
thou wouldst know more of my mind thereupon, come hither. Safety is
here, and work for thee--smugglers and pirates do abound on these
coasts, and Popish wolves do harry the flock even in this island
province of England. Michel, I plead for the cause which thou hast
nobly espoused, but--alas! my selfish heart, where thou art lie work
and fighting, and the same high cause, and sadly, I confess, it is
for mine own happiness that I ask thee to come. I wot well that
escape from France hath peril, that the way hither from that point
upon yonder coast called Carteret is hazardous, but yet-but yet all
ways to happiness are set with hazard.

If thou dost come to Carteret thou wilt see two lights turning this-
wards: one upon a headland called Tour de Rozel, and one upon the
great rock called of the Ecrehos. These will be in line with thy
sight by the sands of Hatainville. Near by the Tour de Rozel shall
I be watching and awaiting thee. By day and night doth my prayer
ascend for thee.

The messenger who bears this to thee (a piratical knave with a most
kind heart, having, I am told, a wife in every port of France and of
England the south, a most heinous sin!) will wait for thy answer, or
will bring thee hither, which is still better. He is worthy of
trust if thou makest him swear by the little finger of St. Peter.
By all other swearings he doth deceive freely.

The Lord make thee true, Michel. If thou art faithful to me, I
shall know how faithful thou art in all; for thy vows to me were
most frequent and pronounced, with a full savour that might warrant
short seasoning. Yet, because thou mayst still be given to such
dear fantasies of truth as were on thy lips in those dark days
wherein thy sword saved my life 'twixt Paris and Rouen, I tell thee
now that I do love thee, and shall so love when, as my heart
inspires me, the cloud shall fall that will hide us from each other
forever.

ANGELE.

An Afterword:

I doubt not we shall come to the heights where there is peace,
though we climb thereto by a ladder of swords. A.


Some years before Angele's letter was written, Michel de la Foret had
become an officer in the army of Comte Gabriel de Montgomery, and fought
with him until what time the great chief was besieged in the Castle of
Domfront in Normandy. When the siege grew desperate, Montgomery besought
the intrepid young Huguenot soldier to escort Madame de Montgomery to
England, to be safe from the oppression and misery sure to follow any
mishap to this noble leader of the Camisards.

At the very moment of departure of the refugees from Domfront with the
Comtesse, Angele's messenger--the "piratical knave with the most kind
heart" presented himself, delivered her letter to De la Foret, and
proceeded with the party to the coast of Normandy by St. Brieuc.
Embarking there in a lugger which Buonespoir the pirate secured for them,
they made for England.

Having come but half-way of the Channel, the lugger was stopped by an
English frigate. After much persuasion the captain of the frigate agreed
to land Madame de Montgomery upon the island of Jersey, but forced De la
Foret to return to the coast of France; and Buonespoir elected to return
with him.



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