General Fairfax and his company ascended the great white stair, crossed the moat on the drawbridge, passed under the double portcullis and through the gates, and so entered the deserted court. All was frightfully still; the windows stared like dead eyes—the very houses seemed dead; nothing alive was visible except one scared cat: the cannonade had driven away all the pigeons, and a tile had killed the patriarch of the peacocks. They entered the great hall and admired its goodly proportions, while not a few expressions of regret at the destruction of such a magnificent house escaped them; then as soldiers they proceeded to examine the ruins, and distinguish the results wrought by the different batteries.
‘Gentlemen,’ said sir Thomas, ’had the walls been as strong as the towers, we should have been still sitting in yonder field.’
In the meantime the army commissioner, Thomas Herbert by name, was busy securing with the help of his men the papers and valuables, and making an inventory of such goods as he considered worth removing for sale in London.
Having satisfied his curiosity with a survey of the place, and left a guard to receive orders from Mr. Herbert, the general mounted again and rode to Chepstow, where there was a grand entertainment that evening to celebrate the fall of Raglan, the last of the strongholds of the king.
R. I. P.
As the sad, shining company of the marquis went from the gates, running at full speed to overtake the rear ere it should have passed through, came Caspar, and mounting a horse led for him, rode near Dorothy.
As they left the brick gate, a horseman joined the procession from outside. Pale and worn, with bent head and sad face, sir Rowland Scudamore fell into the ranks amongst his friends of the garrison, and with them rode in silence.
Many a look did Dorothy cast around her as she rode, but only once, on the crest of a grassy hill that rose abrupt from the highway a few miles from Raglan, did she catch sight of Richard mounted on Lady. All her life after, as often as trouble came, that figure rose against the sky of her inner world, and was to her a type of the sleepless watch of the universe.
Soon, from flank and rear, in this direction and that, each to some haven or home, servants and soldiers began to drop away. Before they reached the forest of Dean, the cortege had greatly dwindled, for many belonged to villages, small towns, and farms on the way, and their orders had been to go home and wait better times. When he reached London, except the chief officers of his household, one of his own pages, and some of his daughters’ gentlewomen and menials, the marquis had few attendants left beyond Caspar and Shafto.
It was a long and weary journey for him, occupying a whole week. One evening he was so tired and unwell that they were forced to put up with what quarters they could find in a very poor little town. Early in the morning, however, they were up and away. When they had gone some ten miles—lord Charles was riding beside the coach and chatting with his sisters—a remark was made not complimentary to their accommodation of the previous night.