Thus passed more than six weeks, during which Sir Philip’s attention was somewhat diverted from domestic anxieties by an uninvited visit to Portchester from Mr. Charnock, who had once been a college mate of Mr. Fellowes, and came professing anxiety, after all these years, to renew the friendship which had been broken when they took different sides on the election of Dr. Hough to the Presidency of Magdalen College. From his quarters at the Rectory Mr. Charnock had gone over to Fareham, and sounded Sir Philip on the practicability of a Jacobite rising, and whether he and his people would join it. The old gentleman was much distressed, his age would not permit him to exert himself in either cause, and he had been too much disturbed by James’s proceedings to feel desirous of his restoration, though his loyal heart would not permit of his opposing it, and he had never overtly acknowledged William of Orange as his sovereign.
He could only reply that in the present state of his family he neither could nor would undertake anything, and he urgently pleaded against any insurrection that could occasion a civil war.
There was reason to think that Sedley had no hesitation in promising to use all his influence over his uncle’s tenants, and considerably magnifying their extremely small regard to him—nay, probably, dwelling on his own expectations.
At any rate, even when Charnock was gone, Sedley continued to talk big of the coming changes and his own distinguished part in them. Indeed one very trying effect of the continued alarm about Charles was that he took to haunting the place, and report declared that he had talked loudly and coarsely of his cousin’s death and his uncle’s dotage, and of his soon being called in to manage the property for the little heir—insomuch that Sir Edmund Nutley thought it expedient to let him know that Charles, on going on active service soon after he had come of age, had sent home a will, making his son, who was a young gentleman of very considerable property on his mother’s side, ward to his grandfather first, and then to Sir Edmund Nutley himself and to Dr. Woodford.
“O dearest Marjorie, stay at hame,
For dark’s the gate ye have to go,
For there’s a maike down yonder glen
Hath frightened me and many me.”
“Nana,” said little Philip in a meditative voice, as he looked into the glowing embers of the hall fire, “when do fairies leave off stealing little boys?”
“I do not believe they ever steal them, Phil.”
“Oh, yes they do;” and he came and stood by her with his great limpid blue eyes wide open. “Goody Dearlove says they stole a little boy, and his name was Penny Grim.”
“Goody Dearlove is a silly old body to tell my boy such stories,” said Anne, disguising how much she was startled.
“Oh, but Ralph Huntsman says ’tis true, and he knew him.”