Mr. Fellowes started at once with his servant for Walwyn, and Naomi accompanied the two Woodfords to Portchester. In spite of the cavalier sentiments of her family, Naomi had too much of the spire of her Frondeur father to understand any feeling for duty towards the King, who had so decidedly broken his covenant with his people, and moreover had so abominably treated the Fellows of Magdalen College; and her pity for Anne as a sufferer for her uncle’s whim quite angered her friend into hot defence of him and his cause.
The dear old parsonage garden under the gray walls, the honeysuckle and monthly roses trailing over the porch, the lake-like creek between it and green Portsdown Hill, the huge massive keep and towers, and the masts in the harbour, the Island hills sleeping in blue summer haze—Anne’s heart clave to them more than ever for the knowledge that the time was short and that the fair spot must be given up for the right’s sake. Certainly there was some trepidation at the thought of the vault, and she had made many vague schemes for ascertaining that which her very flesh trembled at the thought of any one suspecting; but these were all frustrated, for since the war with France had begun, the bailey had been put under repair and garrisoned by a detachment of soldiers, the vault had been covered in, there was a sentry at the gateway of the castle, and the postern door towards the vicarage was fastened up, so that though the parish still repaired to church through the wide court solitary wanderings there were no longer possible, nor indeed safe for a young woman, considering what the soldiery of that period were.
The thought came over her with a shudder as she gazed from her window at the creek where she remembered Peregrine sending Charles and Sedley adrift in the boat.
The tide was out, the mud glistened in the moonlight, but nothing was to be seen more than Anne had beheld on many a summer night before, no phantom was evoked before her eyes, no elfin-like form revealed his presence, nor did any spirit take shape to upbraid her with his unhallowed grave, so close at hand.
No, but Naomi Darpent, yearning for sympathy, came to her side, caressed her on that summer night, and told her that Mr. Fellowes had gone to ask her of her father, and though she could never love again as she had once loved, she thought if her parents wished it, she could be happy with so good a man.
CHAPTER XXIV: IN THE MOONLIGHT
I have had a dream this evening,
While the white and gold were fleeting,
But I need not, need not tell it.
Where would be the good?
Requiescat in Pace.—JEAN INGELOW.
Anne Woodford sat, on a sultry summer night, by the open window in Archfield House at Fareham, busily engaged over the tail of a kite, while asleep in a cradle in the corner of the room lay a little boy, his apple-blossom cheeks and long flaxen curls lying prone upon his pillow as he had tossed when falling asleep in the heat.