Chapter XVIII. A Stroke of Good Fortune
 

Having finally disposed of John Wilkes's scruples as to leaving the house during the daytime, Cyril thenceforth went out with him every day. If the tide was in flood they rowed far up the river, and came down on the ebb. If it was running out they went down as far as it would take them. Whenever the wind was favourable they hoisted the sail; at other times, they rowed. The fresh air, and the exercise, soon did their work. Cyril at first could only take one scull, and that only for a short time, but at the end of a fortnight was able to manage both for a time, or to row with one for hours. The feeling of lassitude which had oppressed him passed away speedily, the colour came back to his cheeks, his muscles strengthened, and he began to put on flesh.

They were now in November, and needed warm garments when on the water, and John insisted on completely muffling him up whenever they hoisted the sail; but the colder weather braced him up, and he was often inclined to shout with pleasure as the wind drove the boat along before it.

It was cheering to know that others were benefiting by the change. In the week ending October 3rd the deaths officially given were 4,328, though at least another thousand must be added to this, for great numbers of deaths from the Plague were put down to other causes, and very many, especially those of infants, were never counted at all. It was said that as many people were infected as ever, but that the virulence of the disease was abated, and that, whereas in August scarce one of those attacked recovered, in October but one out of every three died of the malady.

In the second week of October, the number of deaths by the Plague was but 2,665, and only 1,250 in the third week, though great numbers were still attacked. People, however, grew careless, and ran unnecessary risks, and, in consequence, in the first week of November the number of deaths rose by 400. After this it decreased rapidly, and the people who had fled began to come back again--the more so because it had now spread to other large cities, and it seemed that there was less danger in London, where it had spent its force, than in places where it had but lately broken out. The shops began to open again, and the streets to reassume their former appearance.

Cyril had written several times to Captain Dowsett, telling him how matters were going on, and in November, hearing that they were thinking of returning, he wrote begging them not to do so.

"Many of those who have returned have fallen sick, and died," he said. "It seems to me but a useless risk of life, after taking so much pains to avoid infection, to hurry back before the danger has altogether passed. In your case, Captain Dave, there is the less reason for it, since there is no likelihood of the shipping trade being renewed for the present. All the ports of Europe are closed to our ships, and it is like to be a long time before they lose fear of us. Even the coasting trade is lost for the present. Therefore, my advice is very strongly against your returning for some weeks. All is going on well here. I am getting quite strong again, and, by the orders of the doctor, go out with John daily for a long row, and have gained much benefit from it. John sends his respects. He says that everything is ship-shape above and below, and the craft holding well on her way. He also prays you not to think of returning at present, and says that it would be as bad seamanship, as for a captain who has made a good offing in a gale, and has plenty of sea-room, to run down close to a rocky shore under the lee, before the storm has altogether blown itself out."

Captain Dave took the advice, and only returned with his wife and Nellie a week before Christmas.

"I am glad indeed to be back," he said, after the first greetings were over. "'Twas well enough for the women, who used to help in the dairy, and to feed the fowls, and gather the eggs, and make the butter, but for me there was nothing to do, and it seemed as if the days would never come to an end."

"It was not so bad as that, father," Nellie said. "First of all, you had your pipe to smoke. Then, once a week you used to go over with the market-cart to Gloucester and to look at the shipping there, and talk with the masters and sailors. Then, on a Sunday, of course, there was church. So there were only five days each week to get through; and you know you took a good deal of interest in the horses and cows and pigs."

"I tried to take an interest in them, Nellie; but it was very hard work."

"Well, father, that is just what you were saying you wanted, and I am sure you spent hours every day walking about with the children, or telling them stories."

"Well, perhaps, when I think of it, it was not so very bad after all," Captain Dave admitted. "At any rate, I am heartily glad I am back here again. We will open the shop to-morrow morning, John."

"That we will, master. We sha'n't do much trade at present. Still, a few coasters have come in, and I hope that every day things will get better. Besides, all the vessels that have been lying in the Pool since June will want painting up and getting into trim again before they sail out of the river, so things may not be so slack after all. You will find everything in order in the store. I have had little to do but to polish up brass work and keep the metal from rusting. When do the apprentices come back again?"

"I shall write for them as soon as I find that there is something for them to do. You are not thinking of running away as soon as we come back I hope, Cyril? You said, when you last wrote, that you were fit for sea again."

"I am not thinking of going for some little time, if you will keep me, Captain Dave. There is no news of the Fleet fitting out at present, and they will not want us on board till they are just ready to start. They say that Albemarle is to command this time instead of the Duke, at which I am right glad, for he has fought the Dutch at sea many times, and although not bred up to the trade, he has shown that he can fight as steadily on sea as on land. All say the Duke showed courage and kept a firm countenance at Lowestoft, but there was certainly great slackness in the pursuit, though this, 'tis said, was not so much his fault as that of those who were over-careful of his safety. Still, as he is the heir to the throne, it is but right that he should be kept out of the fighting."

"It is like to be stern work next time, Cyril, if what I hear be true. Owing partly to all men's minds being occupied by the Plague, and partly to the great sums wasted by the King in his pleasures, nothing whatever has been done for the Fleet. Of course, the squadron at sea has taken great numbers of prizes; but the rest of the Fleet is laid up, and no new ships are being built, while they say that the Dutch are busy in all their ship-yards, and will send out a much stronger fleet this spring than that which fought us at Lowestoft. I suppose you have not heard of any of your grand friends?"

"No. I should have written to Sydney Oliphant, but I knew not whether he was at sea or at home, and, moreover, I read that most folks in the country are afraid of letters from London, thinking that they might carry contagion. Many noblemen have now returned to the West End, and when I hear that the Earl has also come back with his family it will, of course, be my duty to wait upon him, and on Prince Rupert also. But I hope the Prince will not be back yet, for he will be wanting me to go to Court again, and for this, in truth, I have no inclination, and, moreover, it cannot be done without much expense for clothes, and I have no intention to go into expenses on follies or gew-gaws, or to trench upon the store of money that I had from you, Captain Dave."

They had just finished breakfast on the day before Christmas, when one of the apprentices came up from the shop and said that one Master Goldsworthy, a lawyer in the Temple, desired to speak to Sir Cyril Shenstone. Cyril was about to go down when Captain Dave said,--

"Show the gentleman up, Susan. We will leave you here to him, Cyril."

"By no means," Cyril said. "I do not know him, and he can assuredly have no private business with me that you may not hear."

Mrs. Dowsett and her daughter, however, left the room. The lawyer, a grave-looking gentleman of some fifty years of age, glanced at Cyril and the Captain as he entered the room, and then advanced towards the former.

"My name is unknown to you, Sir Cyril," he said, "but it has been said that a bearer of good news needs no introduction, and I come in that capacity. I bring you, sir, a Christmas-box," and he took from a bag he carried a bundle of some size, and a letter. "Before you open it, sir, I will explain the character of its contents, which would take you some time to decipher and understand, while I can explain them in a very few words. I may tell you that I am the legal adviser of Mr. Ebenezer Harvey, of Upmead Court, Norfolk. You are, I presume, familiar with the name?"

Cyril started. Upmead Court was the name of his father's place, but with the name of its present owner he was not familiar. Doubtless, he might sometimes have heard it from his father, but the latter, when he spoke of the present possessor of the Court, generally did so as "that Roundhead dog," or "that canting Puritan."

"The Court I know, sir," he said gravely, "as having once been my father's, but I do not recall the name of its present owner, though it may be that in my childhood my father mentioned it in my hearing."

"Nevertheless, sir, you know the gentleman himself, having met him, as he tells me, frequently at the house of Mr. Wallace, who was minister of the chapel at which he worshipped, and who came up to London to minister to those sorely afflicted and needing comfort. Not only did you meet with Mr. Harvey and his wife, but you rendered to them very material service."

"I was certainly unaware," Cyril said, "that Mr. Harvey was the possessor of what had been my father's estate, but, had I known it, it would have made no difference in my feeling towards him. I found him a kind and godly gentleman whom, more than others there, was good enough to converse frequently with me, and to whom I was pleased to be of service."

"The service was of a most important nature," the lawyer said, "being nothing less than the saving of his life, and probably that of his wife. He sent for me the next morning, and then drew out his will. By that will he left to you the estates which he had purchased from your father."

Cyril gave a start of surprise, and would have spoken, but Master Goldsworthy held up his hand, and said,--

"Please let me continue my story to the end. This act was not the consequence of the service that you had rendered him. He had previously consulted me on the subject, and stated his intentions to me. He had met you at Mr. Wallace's, and at once recognised your name, and learnt from Mr. Wallace that you were the son of Sir Aubrey Shenstone. He studied your character, had an interview with Dr. Hodges, and learnt how fearlessly you were devoting yourself to the work of aiding those stricken with the Plague. With his own son he had reason for being profoundly dissatisfied. The young man had thrown off his authority, had become a notorious reprobate, and had, he believed, sunk down to become a companion of thieves and highwaymen. He had come up to London solely to make a last effort to save him from his evil courses and to give him a chance of reformation by sending him out to New England.

"Mr. Harvey is possessed of considerable property in addition to the estates purchased of your father, for, previous to that purchase he had been the owner of large tanneries at Norwich, which he has ever since maintained, not so much for the sake of the income he derived from them as because they afforded a livelihood to a large number of workmen. He had, therefore, ample means to leave to his son, should the latter accept his offer and reform his life, without the estates of Upmead. When he saw you, he told me his conscience was moved. He had, of course, a legal right to the estates, but he had purchased them for a sum not exceeding a fifth of their value, and he considered that in the twenty years he had held them he had drawn from them sums amply sufficient to repay him for the price he had given for them, and had received a large interest on the money in addition. He questioned, therefore, strongly whether he had any right longer to retain them.

"When he consulted me on the subject, he alluded to the fact that, by the laws of the Bible, persons who bought lands were bound to return the land to its former possessors, at the end of seven times seven years. He had already, then, made up his mind to leave that portion of his property to you, when you rendered him that great service, and at the same time it became, alas! but too evident to him that his son was hopelessly bad, and that any money whatever left to him would assuredly be spent in evil courses, and would do evil rather than good. Therefore, when I came in the morning to him he said,--

"'My will must be made immediately. Not one penny is to go to my son. I may be carried off to-morrow by the Plague, or my son may renew his attempt with success. So I must will it away from him at once. For the moment, therefore, make a short will bequeathing the estate of Upmead to Sir Cyril Shenstone, all my other possessions to my wife for her lifetime, and at her death also to Sir Cyril Shenstone.

"'I may alter this later on,' he said, 'but for the present I desire chiefly to place them beyond my son's reach. Please draw up the document at once, for no one can say what half an hour may bring forth to either of us. Get the document in form by this evening, when some friends will be here to witness it. Pray bring your two clerks also!'

"A few days later he called upon me again.

"'I have been making further inquiries about Sir Cyril Shenstone,' he said, 'and have learnt much concerning him from a man who is in the employment of the trader with whom he lives. What I have learnt more than confirms me in my impression of him. He came over from France, three years ago, a boy of scarce fourteen. He was clever at figures, and supported his reprobate father for the last two years of his life by keeping the books of small traders in the City. So much was he esteemed that, at his father's death, Captain Dowsett offered him a home in his house. He rewarded the kindness by making the discovery that the trader was being foully robbed, and brought about the arrest of the thieves, which incidentally led to the breaking-up of one of the worst gangs of robbers in London. Later on he found that his employer's daughter was in communication with a hanger-on of the Court, who told her that he was a nobleman. The young fellow set a watch upon her, came upon her at the moment she was about to elope with this villain, ran him through the shoulder, and took her back to her home, and so far respected her secret that her parents would never have known of it had she not, some time afterwards, confessed it to them. That villain, Mr. Goldsworthy,' he said, 'was my son! Just after that Sir Cyril obtained the good will of the Earl of Wisbech, whose three daughters he saved from being burnt to death at a fire in the Savoy. Thus, you see, this youth is in every way worthy of good fortune, and can be trusted to administer the estate of his fathers worthily and well. I wish you to draw out, at once, a deed conveying to him these estates, and rehearsing that, having obtained them at a small price, and having enjoyed them for a time long enough to return to me the money I paid for them with ample interest thereon, I now return them to him, confident that they will be in good hands, and that their revenues will be worthily spent.'

"In this parcel is the deed in question, duly signed and witnessed, together with the parchments, deeds, and titles of which he became possessed at his purchase of the estate. I may say, Sir Cyril, that I have never carried out a legal transfer with greater pleasure to myself, considering, as I do, that the transaction is alike just and honourable on his part and most creditable to yourself. He begged me to hand the deeds to you myself. They were completed two months since, but he himself suggested that I should bring them to you on Christmas Eve, when it is the custom for many to give to their friends tokens of their regard and good will. I congratulate you heartily, sir, and rejoice that, for once, merit has met with a due reward."

"I do not know, sir," Cyril replied, "how I can express my feelings of deep pleasure and gratitude at the wonderful tidings you have brought me. I had set it before me as the great object of my life, that, some day, should I live to be an old man, I might be enabled to repurchase the estate of my father's. I knew how improbable it was that I should ever be able to do so, and I can scarce credit that what seemed presumptuous even as a hope should have thus been so strangely and unexpectedly realised. I certainly do not feel that it is in any way due to what you are good enough to call my merits, for in all these matters that you have spoken of there has been nothing out of the way, or, so far as I can see, in any way praiseworthy, in what I have done. It would seem, indeed, that in all these matters, and in the saving of my life from the Plague, things have arranged themselves so as to fall out for my benefit."

"That is what Mr. Harvey feels very strongly, Sir Cyril. He has told me, over and over again, that it seemed to him that the finger of God was specially manifest in thus bringing you together, and in placing you in a position to save his life. And now I will take my leave. I may say that in all legal matters connected with the estate I have acted for Mr. Harvey, and should be naturally glad if you will continue to entrust such matters to me. I have some special facilities in the matter, as Mr. Popham, a lawyer of Norwich, is married to my daughter, and we therefore act together in all business connected with the estate, he performing what may be called the local business, while I am advised by him as to matters requiring attention here in London."

"I shall be glad indeed if you and Mr. Popham will continue to act in the same capacity for me," Cyril said warmly. "I am, as you see, very young, and know nothing of the management of an estate, and shall be grateful if you will, in all matters, act for me until I am of an age to assume the duties of the owner of Upmead."

"I thank you, Sir Cyril, and we shall, I trust, afford you satisfaction. The deed, you will observe, is dated the 29th of September, the day on which it was signed, though there have been other matters to settle. The tenants have already been notified that from that date they are to regard you as their landlord. Now that you authorise us to act for you, my son-in-law will at once proceed to collect the rents for this quarter. I may say that, roughly, they amount to seventeen hundred pounds a year, and as it may be a convenience to you to draw at once, if it so please you I will place, on Monday next, the sum of four hundred pounds to your credit with Messrs. Murchison and Graham, who are my bankers, or with any other firm you may prefer."

"With the bankers you name, by all means," Cyril said; "and I thank you heartily for so doing, for as I shall shortly rejoin the Fleet, a portion, at least, of the money will be very useful to me."

Mr. Goldsworthy took his hat.

"There is one thing further I have forgotten. Mr. Harvey requested me to say that he wished for no thanks in this matter. He regards it as an act of rightful restitution, and, although you will doubtless write to him, he would be pleased if you will abstain altogether from treating it as a gift."

"I will try to obey his wishes," Cyril said, "but it does not seem to me that it will be possible for me to abstain from any expression of gratitude for his noble act."

Cyril accompanied the lawyer to the door, and then returned upstairs.

"Now I can speak," Captain Dowsett said. "I have had hard work to keep a stopper on my tongue all this time, for I have been well-nigh bursting to congratulate you. I wish you joy, my lad," and he wrung Cyril's hand heartily, "and a pleasant voyage through life. I am as glad, ay, and a deal more glad than if such a fortune had come in my way, for it would have been of little use to me, seeing I have all that the heart of man could desire."

He ran to the door and shouted loudly for his wife and daughter.

"I have news for you both," he said, as they came in. "What do you think? Cyril, like the King, has come to his own again, and he is now Sir Cyril Shenstone, the owner of the estate of Upmead."

Both broke into exclamations of surprise and pleasure.

"How has the wonder come about?" Nellie asked, after the first congratulations were over. "What good fairy has brought this round?"

"The good fairy was the Mr. Harvey whose name Cyril once mentioned casually, and whose life, as it now appears, he saved, though he has said nothing to us about it. That gentleman was, most strangely, the man who bought the estate from his father. He, it seems, is a wealthy man, and his conscience has for some time been pricked with the thought that he had benefited too largely from the necessities of Sir Aubrey, and that, having received back from the rents all the money he paid, and goodly interest thereon, he ought to restore the estate to its former owner. Possibly he might never have acted on this thought, but he considered the circumstance that he had so strangely met Cyril here at the time of the Plague, and still more strangely that Cyril had saved his life, was a matter of more than chance, and was a direct and manifest interposition of Providence; and he has therefore made restitution, and that parcel on the table contains a deed of gift to Cyril of all his father's estates."

"He has done quite rightly," Mrs. Dowsett said warmly, "though, indeed, it is not everyone who would see matters in that light. If men always acted in that spirit it would be a better world."

"Ay, ay, wife. There are not many men who, having got the best of a bargain, voluntarily resign the profits they have made. It is pleasant to come across one who so acts, more especially when one's best friend is the gainer. Ah! Nellie, what a pity some good fairy did not tell you of what was coming! What a chance you have lost, girl! See what might have happened if you had set your cap at Cyril!"

"Indeed, it is terrible to think of," Nellie laughed. "It was hard on me that he was not five or six years older. Then I might have done it, even if my good fairy had not whispered in my ear about this fortune. Never mind. I shall console myself by looking forward to dance at his wedding--that is, if he will send me an invitation."

"Like as not you will be getting past your dancing days by the time that comes off, Nellie. I hope that, years before then, I shall have danced at your wedding--that is to say," he said, imitating her, "if you will send me an invitation."

"What are you going to do next, Cyril?" Captain Dave asked, when the laugh had subsided.

"I don't know, I am sure," Cyril replied. "I have not really woke up to it all yet. It will be some time before I realise that I am not a penniless young baronet, and that I can spend a pound without looking at it a dozen times. I shall have to get accustomed to the thought before I can make any plans. I suppose that one of the first things to do will be to go down to Oxford to see Prince Rupert--who, I suppose, is with the Court, though this I can doubtless learn at the offices of the Admiralty--and to tell him that I am ready to rejoin his ship as soon as he puts to sea again. Then I shall find out where Sydney Oliphant is, and how his family have fared in the Plague. I would fain find out what has become of the Partons, to whom, and especially to Lady Parton, I owe much. I suppose, too, I shall have to go down to Norfolk, but that I shall put off as long as I can, for it will be strange and very unpleasant at first to go down as master to a place I have never seen. I shall have to get you to come down with me, Captain Dave, to keep me in countenance."

"Not I, my lad. You will want a better introducer. I expect that the lawyer who was here will give you a letter to his son-in-law, who will, of course, place himself at your service, establishing you in your house and taking you round to your tenants."

"Oh, yes," Nellie said, clapping her hands. "And there will be fine doings, and bonfires, and arches, and all sorts of festivities. I do begin to feel how much I have missed the want of that good fairy."

"It will be all very disagreeable," Cyril said seriously; whereat the others laughed.

Cyril then went downstairs with Captain Dave, and told John Wilkes of the good fortune that had befallen him, at which he was as much delighted as the others had been.

Ten days later Cyril rode to Oxford, and found that Prince Rupert was at present there. The Prince received him with much warmth.

"I have wondered many times what had become of you, Sir Cyril," he said. "From the hour when I saw you leave us in the Fan Fan I have lost sight of you altogether. I have not been in London since, for the Plague had set in badly before the ships were laid up, and as I had naught particular to do there I kept away from it. Albemarle has stayed through it, and he and Mr. Pepys were able to do all there was to do, but I have thought of you often and wondered how you fared, and hoped to see you here, seeing that there was, as it seemed to me, nothing to keep you in London after your wounds had healed. I have spoken often to the King of the brave deed by which you saved us all, and he declared that, had it not been that you were already a baronet, he would knight you as soon as you appeared, as many of the captains and others have already received that honour; and he agreed with me that none deserved it better than yourself. Now, what has become of you all this time?"

Cyril related how he had stayed in London, had had the Plague, and had recovered from it.

"I must see about getting you a commission at once in the Navy," the Prince said, "though I fear you will have to wait until we fit out again. There will be no difficulty then, for of course there were many officers killed in the action."

Cyril expressed his thanks, adding,--

"There is no further occasion for me to take a commission, Prince, for, strangely enough, the owner of my father's property has just made it over to me. He is a good man, and, considering that he has already reaped large benefits by his purchase, and has been repaid his money with good interest, his conscience will no longer suffer him to retain it."

"Then he is a Prince of Roundheads," the Prince said, "and I most heartily congratulate you; and I believe that the King will be as pleased as I am. He said but the other day, when I was speaking to him of you, that it grieved him sorely that he was powerless to do anything for so many that had suffered in his cause, and that, after the bravery you had shown, he was determined to do something, and would insist with his ministers that some office should be found for you,--though it is not an easy matter, when each of them has special friends of his own among whom to divide any good things that fall vacant. He holds a Court this evening, and I will take you with me."

The King was most gracious when the Prince again presented Cyril to him and told him of the good fortune that had befallen him.

"By my faith, Sir Cyril, you were born under a lucky star. First of all you saved my Lord of Wisbech's daughters; then, as Prince Rupert tells me, you saved him and all on board his ship from being burned; and now a miracle has well-nigh happened in your favour. I see, too, that you have the use of your arm, which the Prince doubted would ever altogether recover."

"More still, Your Majesty," the Prince said. "He had the Plague in August and recovered from it."

"I shall have to keep you about me, Sir Cyril," the King said, "as a sort of amulet to guard me against ill luck."

"I am going to take him to sea first," Prince Rupert broke in, seeing that Cyril was about to disclaim the idea of coming to Court. "I may want him to save my ship again, and I suppose he will be going down to visit his estate till I want him. You have never seen it, have you, Sir Cyril?"

"No, sir; at least not to have any remembrance of it. I naturally long to see Upmead, of which I have heard much from my father. I should have gone down at once, but I thought it my duty to come hither and report myself to you as being ready to sail again as soon as you put to sea."

"Duty first and pleasure afterwards," the King said. "I am afraid that is a little beyond me--eh, Rupert?"

"Very much so, I should say, Cousin Charles," the Prince replied, with a smile. "However, I have no doubt Sir Cyril will not grudge us a few days before he leaves. There are several of the gentlemen who were his comrades on the Henrietta here, and they will be glad to renew their acquaintance with him, knowing, as they all do, that they owe their lives to him."

As Cyril was walking down the High Street, he saw a student coming along whose face seemed familiar to him. He looked hard at him.

"Surely you must be Harry Parton?" he said.

"That is my name, sir; though I cannot recall where I have met you. Yet there seems something familiar in your face, and still more in your voice."

"I am Cyril Shenstone."

"Why, what has become of you, Cyril?" Harry said, shaking him warmly by the hand. "I searched for you a year ago when I was in London, but could obtain no tidings whatever of you, save that you had lost your father. We are alike there, for my father died a few months after yours did."

"I am sorry indeed, Harry. I had not heard of it before. I was not, indeed, in the way of doing so, as I was working in the City and knew nothing of what was passing elsewhere."

"This is my college, Cyril. Come up to my room; there we can talk comfortably, and we have much to tell each other. How is it that you have never been near us?" he went on, when they were seated in front of a blazing fire in his room. "I know that there was some quarrel between our fathers, but when we heard of Sir Aubrey's death, both my father and mother thought that you would come to see us or would have written--for indeed it was not until after my father's death that we paid a visit to London. It was then my mother asked me to search for you; and after great difficulty I found the quarter in which you had lived, and then from the parish register learned where your father had died. Going there, I learned that you had left the lodging directly after his death, but more than that the people could not tell me."

"I should have come to see your mother and Sir John, Harry. I know how deeply I am indebted to them, and as long as I live shall never cease to be grateful for Lady Parton's kindness to me. But I had received so much kindness that I shrank from seeming to wish to presume upon it further. I had, of course, to work for my living, and I wanted, before I recalled myself to them, to be able to say that I had not come as a beggar for further favours, but that I was making my way independently. Sooner or later I should have come, for your father once promised me that if I followed out what you remember was my plan, of entering foreign service, he would give me letters of introduction that would be useful to me. Had I that favour still to ask I could do it without shame. But more than that I would not have asked, even had I wanted bread, which, thank God! was never the case."

"I can understand your feeling, Cyril, but my mother assuredly would always have been pleased to see you. You know you were a favourite of hers."

"Had you been near town, Harry, I should certainly have come to see her and you as soon as I had fairly established myself, but I heard from my father that you had all gone away into the country soon after the unfortunate quarrel he had with Sir John, and therefore delayed taking any step for the time, and indeed did not know in what part of the country your father's estates lay. I know that he recovered them as soon as he returned."

"They had never been forfeited," Harry said. "My father retired from the struggle after Naseby, and as he had influential friends among the Puritans, there was no forfeiture of his estates, and we were therefore able, as you know, to live in comfort at Dunkirk, his steward sending over such monies as were required. And now about yourself. Your brains must have served you rarely somehow, for you are dressed in the latest fashion, and indeed I took you for a Court gallant when you accosted me."

"I have been truly fortunate, Harry, and indeed everything has turned out as if specially designed for my good, and, in a most strange and unlooked-for manner, I have just come into my father's estates again."

"I am glad indeed to hear it, Cyril. Tell me how it has all come about."

Cyril told the story of his life since he had come to London.

"You have, indeed, had strange adventures, Cyril, and, though you say little about it, you must have done something special to have gained Prince Rupert's patronage and introduction to Court; but I shall worm all that out of you some day, or get it from other lips. What a contrast your life has been to mine! Here have you been earning your living bravely, fighting in the great battle against the Dutch, going through that terrible Plague, and winning your way back to fortune, while I have been living the life of a school-boy. Our estates lie in Shropshire, and as soon as we went down there my father placed me at a school at Shrewsbury. There I remained till his death, and then, as was his special wish, entered here. I have still a year of my course to complete. I only came up into residence last week. When the summer comes I hope that you will come down to Ardleigh and stay with us; it will give my mother great pleasure to see you again, for I never see her but she speaks of you, and wonders what has become of you, and if you are still alive."

"Assuredly I will come, and that with the greatest pleasure," Cyril said, "providing only that I am not then at sea, which is, I fear, likely, as I rejoin the ship as soon as Prince Rupert takes the sea against the Dutch. However, directly we return I will write to you."

"If you do so, let it be to Ardleigh, near Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Should I be here when your letter arrives, my mother will forward it to me."