We sat and talked a good while; and Mr. Grove brought chocolate up for the ladies. But for myself, I had such a variety of thoughts, as I talked with them all, knowing what I did, and they knowing nothing, that I could scarce command my voice and manner sometimes. For here were these innocent folk—with Mr. Grove smiling upon them with the chocolate—talking of the play and what-not, and of which of the actors pleased them and which did not—and I noticed that the ladies, as always, were very severe upon the women—and the good fathers, too, pleased that they were pleased, and rallying them upon their gaiety—(for it appeared that these ladies did not go often into company); and here sat I, with my secret upon my heart, knowing—or guessing at least—that a plot was afoot to ruin them all and turn their merriment into mourning.
But I think that I acquitted myself pretty well; and that none guessed that anything was amiss with me; for I spoke of the plays I had seen in Rome, before that I was a novice, and of the singers that I heard there; and I listened, too, to their own speeches, gathering this and that, of what they did and where they went, if by chance I might gather something to their own advantage thereafter.
It was pretty to see, too, how courteous and gallant Mr. Ireland was with his mother and sister; and how he put their cloaks about them at the door, and feigned that he was a constable to carry them off to prison—(at which my heart failed me again)—for frequenting the company of suspected persons; and how he gave an arm to each of them, as they set off into the dark.
* * * * *
That night too, as I lay abed, I thought much of all this again. I had established a great friendliness with the Fathers by now, telling them I was come up again to London, as Mr. Whitbread had recommended me, until the Court should go again to Windsor, and that perhaps I should go with it thither. They had told me at that, that one of their Fathers was there, named Mr. Bedingfeld (who was of the Oxburgh family, I think), and that he was confessor to the Duke of York, and that they would recommend me to him if I should go. But all through my anxiety I comforted myself with the assurance the King had given to me, that, whatever else might ensue, not a hair of their heads should be touched, for I had great confidence in His Majesty’s word, given so solemnly.
Now begins in earnest that chapter of horrors that will be with me till I die; and the learning of that lesson that I might have learned long before from one that was himself a Prince, and knew what he was talking of—I mean King David, who bids us in his psalm to “put no trust in princes nor in any child of man.”
For several days all passed peacefully enough. I waited upon Mr. Chiffinch, and asked whether the King had spoken of me again, and was told he had not; so I went about my business, which was to haunt the taverns and to frequent the company of the Jesuits.