Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

whose house in Broad-street, and the grand Court of Guard in Wine-street, the idle talkers gathered for the purpose of information. According to them, if the city should be taken, such a catastrophe could alone be caused by the obstinacy of the governor in pursuing his own plans instead of adopting those suggested by these criticisers and discussers.

Anxious mothers endeavoured to retain their

children within doors, lest they should suffer injury from the-many persons hurrying to and fro; whilst those who contrived to elude the vigilance of maternal love, instead of indulging in their usual noisy sports, stared with wondering inquiry into the faces of all they met ; or, showing the politics of their parents without their prudence, bandied the names of Roundhead and Cavalier, at first in a low voice, then louder and louder, till their party passions being roused, like those of greater age, the assault expected from without the walls was travestied within ; baby heroes leading baby bands with rags or handkerchiefs of the opposing colours floating from sticks for banners, and rams' horns sounding to the charge.

The trumpet's startling call alarmed the nervous and inspirited the brave.

The daring and the curious crowded to the walls, or sought to catch a view of the advancing hosts from the leads of the houses, or the numerous churches whose bells were tolling out for prayers ; whilst the timid, the loving, and the pious, bent in supplication for those they loved, or against what they feared; or gazed from the windows at those passing beneath, questioning each new comer, and listening for their answers with breathless eagerness.

But there was one, the fairest maiden within the city bounds, who looked not from her window on the hurrying crowd below, and who asked no questions, though her changing cheek on the first report of the coming of the King's troops, commanded by Prince Rupert, showed no indifference to the tale. She gave not her tongue the trouble to inquire who would conquer; she was contented with the prophecying of her own heart, whose quicker beating told her who was, who would be victor. .

No sooner had her uncle left the house, than, flinging down the work on which her fingers, not her thoughts, had been employed, she sprang up the stairs, two at a time, never staying her speed till she stood panting and breathless on the leads, straining her eyes in vain to catch a sight of the plume of some gay Cavalier floating in the distance. Around her was a maze of houses, before her the castle and the outer works; but she marked them not :—from below came up the sounds of the trampling of many feet, and the hum of many voices; but she heard them not ; -her eye sought to pierce beyond the boundary of the walls to obtain what, from her situation, it was impossible to obtain, a glimpse of the besiegers ; her ear only listened for the trumpets of the royalists, and when the spirit-stirring notes came on the breeze, the colour deepened on her cheek, and her hands were struck together as in triumph. She feared not the horrors of a siege; she remembered none of the frightful tales so often told of pleading wretches put to the sword; terms broken, towns sacked and fired; she considered not the justice of the war, the rights of the King, or the rights of the people; she thought but of one among the besiegers :-she was no patriot, no politician,she was but a simple, trusting girl.

The summer breeze played among the bright fair curls which floated on her shoulders after the fashion of the court, rather than of her station, that of a merchant's niece, -displaying and disordering them : but she heeded it not, though generally, it must be confessed, a little over precise as to their arrangement, since a visit to Oxford with her good uncle had made her better acquainted with the beauty of her silken tresses ; nay, even her own hand put them hastily and irreverently aside from eye and ear, hoping thus to quicken sight and hearing.

To

wards the Cornish army she turned no glance, neither troops nor leaders had interest for her ; but towards Horfield and the Gloucester road her gaze was so intently fixed, that she knew not she had ceased to be alone, and started when addressed by a handsome youth, who had stood for some moments by her side, looking admiringly on her silken tresses, glittering like gold in the noon-day sun.

“I guessed where you were, when old Deborah said that you had not gone to St. Werburgh's, and came to tell you the news, though you asked no questions, as is a maiden's wont. Our defences are strong, our men of a good spirit, and Colonel Fiennes resolved against surrender, so you may look for Prince Rupert and his Cavaliers on the outside of the walls if you please, for you will see none within, except as prisoners.

“ King Charles and his council at Oxford may reign,

But the freemen of Bristol their rights will maintain,”

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »