Press enter after choosing selection

Dudley's Escape

Dudley's Escape image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

" Well, Master Dudley, and what news have you uow 'i How tarea the cause of bis Majesty the King ? " The speaker was a Worcestershire squire. The person whom he addressed was a man of tine presenee aud military bearing ; of good deecent, yet with a decided business turn. His father had been a nobleman aud at the stuue time a.n iron manufacturen ïhis sou had lelt Oxford at twenty to assume direction of liis father's forge and furnaces. In such ivork he was deeply iuterested and actively engaged when the great civil war broke out - the war betweeu Charles 1. ind the poople of Eiigland. Dudley, Liy reason of birth and education, espoused the cause of the King, and had i-isen to the rank of general of artülery. A.l'ter niany suceesses by the Parliarnen;arv aruiy, a lull had tallen, which was jrokeu in 1648 by tumults and uprising n Wales. The influence cf this comtno;ion had extended through all Kngland, jut the vigorous measures oi' F.tirfax, the Parliamentary couiuiander, had compelled the coucentration of the insurgents t Colchester, in Essex. Against them i strenuou6 siege was being carried on jy Fairfax at the time our story opens. "111 enough, Mister Hodgson," was Dudley's answer, " Our friends are hard bestead in Colchester, and the Roundtiead Cromwell is sitting down before Pembrooke. Yet both places make gallan t resistance, and the right cause may yet triumph. " 'Twere a good deed now to raise troops here in the west and strike a blow tor Kiug Charles while the crop-oars are busy otherwheres." " Yes, neighbor ; you have reason on your side, aud my blood tingles to recover tor his Mfijasty somethiug of what lie has lost in these evil times. Beshrew me, but it shall bedone. So Dudley rode forth among his neighbors. " Harcourt," he said to one who had been a major in the royal torces cl uring the struggle that ended in 1646; " Shall we not make head once more for our good lord and kingp He hath right to our swords and lives ; and it is to our 3hame that we lie still when our friendo slsewhere are in peril for the cause." "With all my heart, Dudley," was the üiswer " Yea, I will ridu with you to irouse the country side, and take the field igainst the fiantic rebels whose successes tiave made them more insolent thau I can bear." They rode together, therefore, and jathered about them many more gentlemen and their adherents, uutil they could number two huudred men. Iu the neighborhood of the village of Madelcy, in htaffordshire, the place where John Fletcher lived aud wrote more than a, century later, was a wood called Bosco Bello. The rendezvous of Dudley and his friend8 was appointed there for safety and secrecy until 6uch time a?, being irilled and organized, their torces might be fit for some feasible enterprise. But, in the meantime, the adherents of the Parliament had not been idle, either. One bright morning a company of Puritants marched into the wood with the tinu purpose of destroying all the " malignants " as they termed them. In vaiu Dudley and his fallow-orHcers urged their followers to the conflict. The desperate intensity of the was not to be withstood, and iu comparatively a few minutes they were wholly triumph ant. Many of the poor fellows who had meant to fight for the divine rights of kings lay dead uuder the trees of Bosco Bello, and of those who remained ahve nearly ftll were taken prisoners. Atnong these were tho officers and men of mark, with Dudley at their head. "St, iuaster Dudley," said the leader of the successful party, " here is but an ill end of your misplaced loyalty A man iike you had better have feared God, and rougbt lor Parlianietil, than to he uiisleadiug tenants and servunts to death for a tyratit and traitor." False traitor, tbou, ' cried Dudley ; " on thee and such as tliou be the curse ot all the bli.od spilt, and the desolatioii made in our fair country." He would have gone on in his passionate utterances, but the luritan coinmander cut him short. "Take master Dudley and his fellowuialignants to Worcester," eaid he: " he once fortified it against us : now that ït Í8 in our hands let him test its strength as a prison." So Dudley and Harcourt, with Major Elliot and others, were taken away to Worce9ter, which Dudley had indeed strengthened and for the King, but which had Bince fallen into the hands of his enemies. The treatment of the captives was far rcore gentle, for those were rough as well as earnest times. When they reaohed the city they wero conducted to the prison like dangerous felons, and strict measures were taken for their safe detention. " Let doublé guarda be stationed at tho prison doors to be relieved every four hours. Doublé guards likewise at every gate of the city, and strict watching at every outlet, that no knaves and traitors may escape." Such were the orders given in the prosence of Dudley and his company, who were then pushed into the courtyard of the prison, and presently locked in a large upper room. There they were left to such meditationa aa tho place and circumstances tnight suggest. Immediate escape is what they Ruggested to Dudley. He looked carefully for means to that end. The window was barred with iron ; Dudley, helped by his coinrades, climbed up and looked out. Far below lay the roofs of the adjaoent houses, as always in the crowded, old, walled cities, stood close together, and were even built against the very walls of the jail. " If I had but a knife or a dagger, and you would bear me up," said Dudley, " I would seon dig these bars out of their bed, and risk the leap to the tiles below." But neither knife nor dagger was in their couipany. They had boen too thoroughly searehed and completely plunderrd. Wherefore, Dudley came down again, and sat among his fellow-prisoners, help'ess butnot hopeless. Revolving many things in his niind, and looking all about, he spied a steel knee-buokle worn by Cornet Hodgetts, a young man who had fought beside him for the King in more than one contest. " The Tery thing," he exelaimed. " Hodgetts, give me but that buckle, and I wiil tnake such a hole in this den as shall give us all our freedom." Ihe buckle was quickly torn off and put into his hands. "Now Elliott, inan, lend me your broad shoulders for a standing place, and l'll begin my operations." "Ñay," interposed Major Long, a wise old soldier ; "youwill surely not work at the window in open daylight. You will bo seen from the street below, and so your hope will be defeated." " You say well, Major," was the reply ; " but 1 11 e'en uiount up and try which is Lile HUlieSL SlOUO 1U lile CUSeiilüIlt. This he did. The sharp corner of the buckle soon made impression upon the old stone iu which the bars were set. Dadley was satisfied that two hours work would open a passage. He made a careful survey of the neighborhood, and noticed in what direction the open country lay nearest at hand, wheii he was contented to wait for niglit. The long surnmer twilight came and waned. As the shadows grew thick, the royalist climbed up again and began his task. By and by the ïnoon looked in. " You will be discovered," boded the old major. But friendly clouds rolled up and covered the moon, save for a few occasional glimpses. "How goes it uow," inquired Elliott, after what seeined a long interval, in which gentle showers of dust and linie had been falling steadily upon his head. " Have a little patience, good Elliott," was the response, " this bar is alniost unseated." Presently the bar was entirely detached froin its setting, and a man could easily pass through the space thus made. " 'Tis a long leap to the housetops, but I'll venture it," said the sturdy Dudley. " Follow ine, comrades, as you best eau. There is 110 time for ceremouy," With that he crept out of "the opening, and, holding to the stone sül with his hands, lowered hiniself as f ar as possible; then tet go his hold and feil upon the tiles with a thud which was heard by his conipanions in the prison. A silence then tolloweii. " I fear he hath taken some hurt," said Long. "He was ever over-bold. Climb thou up the window, and see if he be dead or alive." Helped by the others, Elliott did so. Iu the darkness he could barely distinguish a shadow from the window. " Hist, Dudley," he cried. "Art hurt, inau '( " Jiay ! Safe and well so far, and but waiting for thee and the rost. 'Tis no great lall, Como on and leave to the üouudhead curs their empty room ! " Major Elliott turned back and held council with his comrades. They united in urging him to make the attempt to escape, although they for varioua reasons could prosecute it no further. Thus encouraged, the soldier followed Dudley's example, and in a few moments stood be8Íde him. Thu oity was altogether quiet. A few lights might be seen twinkliug from windows here and thore, aud the steeple of a great church was illuminated for some reason ; otherwise all was dark. "These houses continue in a direct line to the city wall," remarked Dudley. "If we can but reach that, undiscovered, I have little doubt we can get away." "Heave with you," replied Elliott. " 'Tis but a bold push, and if we fail, our case can be but little worse." Creeping carefully aloug the roofs, they set forward, and in a few moments reached the wall on the southern side of the city, not far from the river front. The street was closed by a gate whereat doublé sentries were stationed. The adventurers heard their steps, the rattle of their match-locks, even their voices as they spoke to each other in a subdued tone. When these were hushed they ueard the Severn flowiüg through the nigat. mere was a 8ense ot íreedom in the sound that made theni more resolute than ever to obtain their own liberty. The only possible way of escape was over the wall, and that was extremely high, to drop froun it involved great risk of life and limb. Even if that peril were escaped, the noise would oertaiuly attract the attentiou of the vigilant guard, and swift pursuit, if not death fr'oni their matehlocks, was inevitable. Poi a moment they were brought to a pause ; but Dudley'sfertile miad conceived an expedieut. He went to a window in the roof, on the slope more diatant trom the guarda. There was no light in the room, nor any sign of occupation. He shook the caseiuent gently ; there was no token that any ouo heard. The window seemed to be securely fastened, but Dudley had his steel buckie, and with it he cut away the lead that held one of the diamond-shaped panes in its place, he then removed the glaas, thrust hia hand through the opening and drew the bolt. He stepped softly into the chaniber. The inoon was struggling with the clouds, and sometimes overcouiing fheni, so that it was not absolutely dark. With cautious movements the royalist advanced until his hand rested upon a bed. If itwere occupied, and the sleeper, being awakened, should give the alarm ! But it was empty. Dudley stnpped off its sheet and blankets and oarried to the wiudow. Elliot auswered his whispered cali and took them froin his arms. Ensconcing themselves behind a chimney, the two soldiers applied themselves to tearing the articles into strips and knotting them flrmly together. Soon they had a long and strong rope. " If they be Eoundheads we have robbed 'tis lawful spoil of war," " and i they be on the King's side, they wil count it no loss if it has helpod his poor tervants in their need." One end of the rope was fastened se curely around the chimney, the othei was tnrown over tne wall. " lio you down first Elliot," urged Dudley. -'Make no stay tor me but hastea directly to London. There or otherwhere, we shall surely meet, if we both get safe away." ïhe soldier went to the edge of the wall, running bis band along the rope. He teated its strength by two or three pulls, and then committed himself to it for the ddscent. Hand over hand he went down, bracing his feet against the wall. The cord swung loose, and Dudley, watching above, knew his friend was safe upon 8olid ground. A great clock in the city struok " two !" A sentinel cried, "AU's well !" The oall was repeated froui gate to gate around the circuit of the walls.- -Dudley swung off f rom the parapet. A minutp, and he was free, standing in the open country, with his face towards London. Notwithstanding hig couusel to the contrary, Elliot had waited for him. They set out together. But Dudley did not fanoy a journey of a hundred miles on foot. He proposed to visit the stahles of some of the near-lying farms. Passing through the fields with that inteut, they found one horse grazing, already saddloU and bridled ; ao unusual thing in thoso troubled times, when no man knew at what momenthe might need to ride forhis own üfe, or for the good of the caXise he espoused. This animal Elliot took, Dudloy going to the stablo, where he soon provided himself with a spirited steed. He rode down to the Severri, where a bend in the river brought him iu f uil view of the sleeping city. The moon carae out from a dark bank of cloud. The image of walls, and roofs, and spires were faintly reflected in the swift current The light in the illurainated steeple shone through two round Windows that had a grotesque resemblance to glowing eyes. But they did not discry the escaping royalist. No outcry rose in tho silence ; no sound that indicated discovery or threatened pursuit. With a sigh for the friends left in captivity, Dudley shook his bridle, struck his horse with the whip, and galloped swiftly towards


Old News
Michigan Argus