‘Do I see thee arming at length, cousin?’ she said. ’I congratulate thee.’
She held out her hand to him. He took it and stared. The reception of his noisy news was different from what he had been vain enough to hope. So little had Dorothy’s behaviour in the capture of Rowland enlightened him as to her character!
‘Thou wouldst have me slain then to be rid of me, Dorothy?’ he gasped.
‘I would have any man slain where men fight,’ returned Dorothy, ‘rather than idling within stone walls!’
’Thou art hard-hearted, Dorothy, and knowest not what love is, else wouldst thou pity me a little.’
‘What! art afraid, cousin?’
‘Afraid! I fear nothing under heaven but thy cruelty, Dorothy.’
‘Then what wouldst thou have me pity thee for?’
‘I would, an’ I had dared, have said—Because I must leave thee. But thou wouldst mock at that, and therefore I say instead—Because I shall never return; for I see well that thou never hast loved me even a little.’
‘An’ I had loved thee, cousin,’ she rejoined, ’I had never let thee rest, or left soliciting thee, until thou hadst donned thy buff coat and buckled on thy spurs, and departed to be a man among men, and no more a boy among women.’
So saying she returned to her engine, which all the time had been pumping and forcing with fiery inspiration.
Scudamore mounted and rode, followed by one of the grooms. He found the king at Wallingford, presented the marquis’s letter, proffered his services, and was at once placed in attendance on his majesty’s person.
In the eyes of most of his comrades the mare he rode seemed too light for cavalry work, but she made up in spirit and quality of muscle for lack of size, and there was not another about the king to match in beauty the little black Lady. Sweet-tempered and gentle although nervous and quick, and endowed with a rare docility and a faith which supplied courage, it was clear, while nothing was known of her pedigree, both from her form and her nature, that she was of Arab descent. No feeling of unreality in his possession of her intruding to disturb his satisfaction in her, Scudamore became very fond of her. Having joined the army, however, only after the second battle of Newbury, he had no chance till the following summer of learning how she bore herself in the field.
Lady and Bishop.
In the meantime a succession of events had contributed to enhance the influence of Cromwell in the parliament, and his position and power in the army. He was now, therefore, more able to put in places of trust such men as came nearest his own way of thinking, and amongst the rest Roger Heywood, whom, once brought into the active service for which modesty had made him doubt his own fitness, he would not allow to leave it again, but made colonel of one of his favourite regiments of horse, with his son as major.