Nicholas’s vivacity of temperament made him feel the loss of his cousin at first very keenly, but it soon wore off. He vowed amendment and reformation on the model of John Bruen, whose life offered so striking a contrast to his own, that it has very properly been placed in opposition by a reverend moralist; but I regret to say that he did not carry out his praiseworthy intentions. He was apt to make a joke of John Bruen, instead of imitating his example. He professed to devote himself to his excellent wife—but his old habits would break out; and, I am sorry to say, he was often to be found in the alehouse, and was just as fond of horse-racing, cock-fighting, hunting, fishing, and all other sports, as ever. Occasionally he occupied a leisure or a rainy day with a Journal, parts of which have been preserved; but he set down in it few of the terrible events here related, probably because they were of too painful a nature to be recorded. He died in 1625—at the early age of thirty-five.
But to go back. A few days after the tragical events at Hoghton Tower, the whole village of Whalley was astir. But it was no festive occasion—no merry-making—that called forth the inhabitants, for grief sat upon every countenance. The day, too, was gloomy. The feathered summits of Whalley Nab were wreathed in mist, and a fine rain descended in the valley. The Calder looked dull and discoloured as it flowed past the walls of the ancient Abbey. The church bell tolled mournfully, and a large concourse was gathered in the churchyard. Not far from one of the three crosses of Paulinus, which stood nearest the church porch, a grave had been digged, and almost every one looked into it. The grave, it was said, was intended to hold two coffins. Soon after this, a train of mourners issued from the ancient Abbey gateway, and sure enough there were two coffins on the shoulders of the bearers; They were met at the gate by Doctor Ormerod, who was so deeply affected as scarcely to be able to perform the needful offices for the dead. The principal mourners were Sir Richard Assheton of Middleton, Sir Ralph Assheton, and Nicholas. Amid the tears and sobs of all the bystanders, the bodies of Richard and Alizon were committed to the earth—laid together in one grave.
Thus was their latest wish fulfilled. Flowers grew upon the turf that covered them, and there was the earliest primrose seen, and the latest violet. Many a fond youth and trusting maiden have visited their lowly tomb, and many a tear, fresh from the heart, has dropped upon the sod covering the ill-fated lovers.
CHAPTER XV.—LANCASTER CASTLE.
Behold the grim and giant fabric, rebuilt and strengthened by
“Old John of Gaunt, time-honour’d Lancaster!”