The summer passed in various disputes. Towards its close the governor of Portsmouth declined to act upon a commission to organize the new levies of the parliament, and administered instead thereof an oath of allegiance to the garrison and inhabitants. Thereupon the place was besieged by Essex; the king proclaimed him a traitor, and the parliament retorted by declaring the royal proclamation a libel. Richard had his mare new-shod.
On a certain day in August, the royal standard, with the motto, ‘Give to Caesar his due,’ was set up at Nottingham. Richard mounted his mare, and taking leave of his father, led Stopchase and nineteen men more, all fairly mounted, to offer his services to the parliament, as represented by the earl of Essex.
With the decay of summer, lady Vaughan began again to sink, and became at length so weak that Dorothy rarely left her room. The departure of Richard Heywood to join the rebels affected her deeply. The report of the utter rout of the parliamentary forces at Edgehill, lighted up her face for the last time with a glimmer of earthly gladness, which the very different news that followed speedily extinguished; and after that she declined more rapidly. Mrs. Rees told Dorothy that she would yield to the first frost. But she lingered many weeks. One morning she signed to her daughter to come nearer that she might speak to her.
‘Dorothy,’ she whispered, ’I wish much to see good Mr. Herbert. Prithee send for him. I know it is an evil time for him to travel, being an old man and feeble, but he will do his endeavour to come to me, I know, if but for my husband’s sake, whom he loved like a brother. I cannot die in peace without first taking counsel with him how best to provide for the safety of my little ewe-lamb until these storms are overblown. Alas! alas! I did look to Richard Heywood—’
She could say no more.
’Do not take thought about the morrow for me any more than you would for yourself, madam,’ said Dorothy. ’You know master Herbert says the one is as the other.’
She kissed her mother’s hand as she spoke, then hastened from the room, and despatched a messenger to Llangattock.
Before the worthy man arrived, lady Vaughan was speechless. By signs and looks, definite enough, and more eloquent than words, she committed Dorothy to his protection, and died.
Dorothy behaved with much calmness. She would not, in her mother’s absence, act so as would have grieved her presence. Little passed between her and Mr. Herbert until the funeral was over. Then they talked of the future. Her guardian wished much to leave everything in charge of the old bailiff, and take her with him to Llangattock; but he hesitated a little because of the bad state of the roads in winter, much because of their danger in the troubled condition of affairs, and most of all because of the uncertain, indeed perilous position of the Episcopalian clergy, who might soon find themselves without a roof to shelter them. Fearing nothing for himself, he must yet, in arranging for Dorothy, contemplate the worst of threatening possibilities; and one thing was pretty certain, that matters must grow far worse before they could even begin to mend.