She would not go back to her Priory till Anne’s fate was settled, being in hopes of doing something yet for the poor wench; but meantime she should die if she stayed there much longer, and she meant to set forth on pilgrimage in good time, before she had scandalised the good ladies enough to make them gossip to the dames of St. Helen’s, who would be only too glad to have a story against the Benedictines. A ride over the Kentish downs was the only cure for her or for Anne, who had been pining ever since they had been mewed up here, though, looking across at the girl, whose head was leaning against the bars, Sir Giles seemed to have brought a remedy to judge by those cheeks.
’Would that we could hope it would be an effectual and lasting remedy,’ sighed Sir Giles; ’but unless this poor King could be roused to insist, or the Earl of Warwick fell out with his cousin, I do not see much chance for the lad.’
‘Is it Warwick who is his chief foe or King Edward?’ asked the Prioress.
’King Edward, doubtless, for his father’s slaughter of young Rutland at Wakefield.’
‘That bodes ill,’ said the lady. ’By all I gather, King Edward is a tiger when once roused, but at other times is like that same tiger, purring and slow to move. But there’s a bell that warns us to vespers. They are mightily more strict here than ever we are at Greystone. Ah! you won’t tell tales, Sir Giles! You’ll soon hear of me at St. Thomas’s shrine at Canterbury.’
The knight took his leave. It was impossible not to like and pity the Prioress, though the life among devout nuns was clearly beyond her powers.
The dreamy peaceful days of the Tower of London were stirred by the arrival of the great Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, as people already called him. He took up his residence in his own mighty establishment at Warwick House near St. Paul’s; and the day after his arrival, he came clanking over London Bridge with a great following of knights and squires to pay his respects to King Henry.
Henry Clifford was not disposed to meet him, and only watched from a window when the drawbridge was lowered, and the sturdy man, with grizzled hair and marked, determined features, rode into the gateway, where he was received by the Earl of Oxford.
The interview was long, and when it was finished, the two Earls made the round of the defences, and Oxford drew up his garrison on the Tower Green to be inspected.
When Warwick had taken his leave, Hal was summoned to the Constable’s hall. ‘We must be jogging, my young master,’ he said. ’There are rumours of King Edward making another attempt for his crown, and my Lord of Warwick would have me go and watch the eastern seaboard. And you had best go with me.’
‘The King—’ began Hal.
’You will come back to the King by-and-by if so be he misses you, but he was more dazed than ever to-day, and perhaps it was well, for Warwick brought with him Dick Nevil, who has got your lands of Clifford, and might be tempted to put you out of the way in one of the dungeons that lie so handy.’