“I hope there is any stuff in her to be moulded,” sighed the maiden.
“My dear child,” returned her mother, “I cannot permit you to talk in this manner. Yes, I know Mr. Archfield has been as a brother to you, but even his sister ought not to allow herself to discuss or dwell on what she deems the shortcomings of his wife.”
The mother in her prudence had silenced the girl; but none the less did each fall asleep with a sad and foreboding heart. She knew her child to be good and well principled, but those early days of notice and petting from the young Princesses of the House of York had never faded from the childish mind, and although Anne was dutiful, cheerful, and outwardly contented, the mother often suspected that over the spinning-wheel or embroidery frame she indulged in day dreams of heroism, promotion, and grandeur, which might either fade away in a happy life of domestic duty or become temptations.
Before going away next morning Peregrine entreated that Mistress Anne might have the Queen’s rosary, but her mother decidedly refused. “It ought to be an heirloom in your family,” said she.
He threw up his hands with one of his strange gestures.
“For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.”
Peregrine went off in good spirits, promising a visit on his return to London, of which he seemed to have no doubt; but no more was heard of him for ten days. At the end of that time the Portsmouth carrier conveyed the following note to Winchester:—
HONOURED AND REVEREND SIR—Seven years since your arguments and intercession induced my father to consent to what I hoped had been the rescue of me, body and soul. I know not whether to ask of your goodness to make the same endeavour again. My father declares that nothing shall induce him again to let me go abroad with my uncle, and persists in declaring that the compact has been broken by our visits to Papist lands, nor will aught that I can say persuade him that the Muscovite abhors the Pope quite as much as he can. He likewise deems that having unfortunately become his heir, I must needs remain at home to thin the timber and watch the ploughmen; and when I have besought him to let me yield my place to Robert he replies that I am playing the part of Esau. I have written to my uncle, who has been a true father to me, and would be loth to part from me for his own sake as well as mine but I know not whether he will be able to prevail; and I entreat of you, reverend sir, to add your persuasions, for I well know that it would be my perdition to remain bound where I am.
Commend me to Mrs. Woodford and Mistress Anne. I trust that the former is in better health.—I remain, reverend sir, Your humble servant to command, PEREGRINE OAKSHOTT.
Given at Oakwood House,
This 10th of October 1687.