“Little one, little one,” said James, you are sorry for poor Richard, eh?”
“Oh, sir!” was all she could say.
“And you are in disgrace, they tell me, because my daughter chose to try to entice you away,” said James, “and you felt bound not to betray her. Never mind; it was an awkward case of conscience, and there’s not too much faithfulness to spare in these days. We shall know whom to trust to another time. Can you continue now? I would take a lesson how, ‘with mine own hands to give away my crown.’”
It was well for Anne that fresh tidings were brought in at that moment, and she had to retire, with the sore feeling turned into an enthusiastic pity and loyalty, which needed the relief of sobs and mental vows of fidelity. She felt herself no longer in disgrace with her Royal master and mistress, but she was not in favour with her few companions left—all who could not get over her secrecy, and thought her at least a half traitor as well as a heretic.
Whitehall was almost in a state of siege, the turbulent mob continually coming to shout, ‘No Popery!’ and the like, though they proceeded no farther. The ministers and other gentlemen came and went, but the priests and the ladies durst not venture out for fear of being recognised and insulted, if not injured. Bad news came in from day to day, and no tidings of the Prince of Wales being in safety in France. Once Anne received a letter from her uncle, which cheered her much.
DEAR CHILD—So far as I can gather, your employment is at an end, if it be true as reported that the Prince of Wales is at Portsmouth, with the intent that he should be carried to France; but the gentlemen of the navy seem strongly disposed to prevent such a transportation of the heir of the realm to a foreign country. I fear me that you are in a state of doubt and anxiety, but I need not exhort your good mother’s child to be true and loyal to her trust and to the Anointed of the Lord in all things lawful at all costs. If you are left in any distress or perplexity, go either to Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe’s house, or to that of my good old friend, the Dean of Westminster; and as soon as I hear from you I will endeavour to ride to town and bring you home to my house, which is greatly at a loss without its young mistress.
The letter greatly refreshed Anne’s spirits, and gave her something to look forward to, giving her energy to stitch at a set of lawn cuffs and bands for her uncle, and think with the more pleasure of a return that his time of residence at Winchester lay between her and that vault in the castle.
There were no more attempts made at her conversion. Every one was too anxious and occupied, and one or more of the chiefly obnoxious priests were sent privately away from day to day. While summer friends departed, Anne often thought of Bishop Ken’s counsel as to loyalty to Heaven and man.