In Honour's Cause: A Tale of the Days of George the FirstGeorge Manville Fenn
Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England
In Honour's Cause, by George Manville Fenn.
This book is set in the Court of George the First, a Hanoverian King whowas not very popular. To make himself feel more comfortable he hadintroduced into his Court a number of German people, and also Dutchones. The hero of the story is 17-year old Frank Gowan, who is a pagein the ante-room of the Prince of Wales, the King's eldest son. Hisfather is an officer in the King's Guard. Another page is Andrew, whosefather is pro-Jacobite, as Andrew is himself.
One evening a German Baron deliberately insults Frank's father, and aduel ensues, in which the German is very badly wounded, but eventuallyrecovers. However, Frank's father, who is very loyal to the King, issentenced to be kicked out of his Regiment, and to leave the country.
The rest of the book is a series of searches for Frank's father, SirRobert Gowan, roof-top escapes, working out who are the spies, and whothe heroes in disguise. Most of the action takes place in the Palace,in the Park which is still adjacent (and a very pretty part of London),and in a house in a street just the other side of the Park from SaintJames's Palace. As always with this author there are a number of closeshaves. NH
IN HONOUR'S CAUSE, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.
TWO YOUNG COURTIERS.
A regular ringing, hearty, merry laugh--just such an outburst of mirthas a strong, healthy boy of sixteen, in the full, bright, happy time ofyouth, and without a trouble on his mind, can give vent to when he seessomething that thoroughly tickles his fancy.
Just at the same time the heavy London clouds which had been hanging allthe morning over the Park opened a little to show the blue sky, and abroad ray of sunshine struck in through the anteroom window and lit upthe gloomy, handsome chamber.
Between them--the laugh and the sunshine--they completely transformedthe place, as the lad who laughed threw himself into a chair, and thenjumped up again in a hurry to make sure that he had not snapped in twothe sword he wore in awkward fashion behind him.
The lad's companion, who seemed to be about a couple of years older,faced round suddenly from the other end of the room, glanced sharply atone of the doors, and then said hurriedly:
"I say, you mustn't laugh like that here."
"It isn't broken," said he who had helped to make the solemn place lookmore cheerful.
"What, your sword? Lucky for you. I told you to take care how youcarried it. Easy enough when you are used to one."
The speaker laid his left hand lightly on the hilt of his own, pressedit down a little, and stood in a stiff, deportment-taught attitude, asif asking the other to study him as a model.
"But you mustn't burst out into guffaws like that in the Palace."
"Seems as if you mustn't do anything you like here," said the youngerlad. "Wish I was back at Winchester."
"Pooh, schoolboy! I shall have enough to do before I make anything ofyou."
"You never will. I'm sick of it already: no games, no runs down by theriver or over the fields; nothing to do but dress up in these things,and stand like an image all day. I feel just like a pet monkey in acage."
"And look it," said the other contemptuously.
"What!" said the boy, flushing up to the temples, as he took a steptoward the speaker, and with flashing eyes looked him up and down."Well, if you come to that, so do you, with your broad skirts, salt-boxpockets, lace, and tied-up hair. See what thin legs you've got too!"
"You insolent--No, I didn't mean that;" and an angry look gave place toa smile. "Lay your feathers down, Master Frank Gowan, and don't drawMaster Frank Gowan, and don't draw your skewer; that's high treason inthe King's Palace. You mustn't laugh here when you're on duty. Ifthere's any fighting to be done, they call in the guard; and if any onewants to quarrel, he must go somewhere else."
"I don't want to quarrel," said the boy, rather sulkily. "You did amoment ago, for all your hackles were sticking up like a gamecock's."
"Well, I don't now, Drew," said the boy, smiling frankly; "but the placeis all so stiff and formal and dull, and I can't help wanting to be backin the country. I used to think one was tied down there at the school,but that was free liberty to this."
"Oh, you young barbarian! School and the country! Right enough forboys."
"Well, we're boys."
The other coughed slightly, took a measured pace or two right and left,and gave a furtive glance at his handsome, effeminate face and slightform in the glass. Then he said, rather haughtily:
"You are, of course; but I should have thought that you might have begunto look upon me as a man."
"Oh, I will, if you like," said the other, smiling,--"a very young one,though. Of course you're ever so much older than I am. But there, I'mgoing to try and like it; and I like you, Forbes, for being so good tome. I'm not such a fool as not to know that I'm a sort of un-lickedcub, and you will go on telling me what I ought, to do and what Ioughtn't. I can play games as well as most fellows my age; but all thisstiff, starchy court etiquette sickens me."
"Yes," said his companion, with a look of disgust on his face;"miserable, clumsy Dutch etiquette. As different from the grand,graceful style of the old _regime_ and of Saint Germains as chalk isfrom cheese."
"I say," said the younger of the pair merrily, after imitating hiscompanion's glances at the doors, "you must not talk like that here."
"Talk like what?" said the elder haughtily.
"Calling things Dutch, and about Saint Germains. I say, isn't that hightreason?"
"Pooh!--Well, yes, I suppose you're right. Your turn now. But we won'tquarrel, Franky."
"Then, don't call me that," said the boy sharply; "Frank, if you like.I did begin calling you Drew. It's shorter and better than Andrew. Isay, I am ever so much obliged to you."
"Don't mention it. I promised Sir Robert I would look after you."
"Yes, my father told me."
"And I like Lady Gowan. She's as nice as she is handsome. My motherwas something like her."
"Then she must have been one of the dearest, sweetest, and best ladiesthat ever lived," cried the boy warmly.
"Thank ye, Frank," said the youth, smiling and laying his arm in ratheran affected manner upon the speaker's shoulder, as he crossed his legsand again posed himself with his left hand upon his sword hilt. Butthere was no affectation in the tone of the thanks expressed; in fact,there was a peculiar quiver in his voice and a slight huskiness of whichhe was self-conscious, and he hurriedly continued:
"Oh yes, I like you. I did at first; you seemed so fresh and daisy-likeamongst all this heavy Dutch formality. I'll tell you everything; andif you can't have the country, I'll see that you do have some fun.We'll go out together, and you must see my father. He's a fine, dashingofficer; he ought to have had a good command given him. I say, Frank,he's great friends with Sir Robert."
"Is he? My father never said so."
"Mine did; but--er--I think there are reasons just now why they don'twant it to be known. You see your father's in the King's Guards."
"Well, and mine isn't. He is not very fond of the House of Brunswick."
"I say, mind what you are saying."
"Of course. I shouldn't say it to any one else. But, I say, what madeyou burst put into that roar of laughter about nothing?"
"It wasn't about nothing," said Frank, with a mirthful look in
"What was it then? See anything out of the window?"
"Oh no; it was in this room."
"Well, what was it?"
"Oh, never mind."
"Here, I thought we were going to be great friends."
"Then friends must confide in one another. Why don't you speak?"
"I don't want to offend you."
"Come, out with it."
"Well, I was laughing at you."
"To see you admiring yourself in the glass there."
Andrew Forbes made an angry gesture, but laughed it off.
"Well, the Prince's pages are expected to look well," he said.
"You always look well without. But I wish you wouldn't do that sort ofthing; it makes you seem so girlish."
There was another angry gesture.
"I can't help my looks."
"There, now, you're put out again."
"No, not a bit," said the youth hastily. "I say, though, you don'tthink much of the King, do you?"
"Oh yes," said Frank thoughtfully; "of course."
"Why? Well, because he's the King, of course. Don't you?"
"No! I don't think anything of him. He's only a poor German prince,brought over by the Whigs. I always feel ready to laugh in his face."
"I say," cried Frank, looking at his companion in horror, "do you knowwhat you are saying?"
"Oh yes; and I don't think a great deal of the Prince. My father got mehere; but I don't feel in my place, and I'm not going to sacrificemyself, even if I am one of the pages. I believe in the Stuarts, and Ialways shall."
"This is more treasonable than what you said before."
"Well, it's the truth."
"Perhaps it is. I say, you're a head taller than I am."
"Yes, I know that."
"But you don't seem to know that if you talk like that you'll soon bethe same height."
"What, you think my principles will keep me standing still, while yoursmake you grow tall?"
"No. I think if it gets known you'll grow short all in a moment."
"They'll chop my head off? Pooh! I'm not afraid. You won't blab."
"But you've no business to be here."
"Oh yes, I have. Plenty think as I do. You will one of these days."
"Never! What, go against the King!"
"This German usurper you mean. Oh, you'll come over to our side."
"What, with my father in the King's Guards, and my mother one of thePrincess's ladies of the bed-chamber! Nice thing for a man to have ason who turned traitor."
"What a red-hot Whig you are, Frank! You're too young and too fresh toLondon and the court to understand these things. He's King because afew Whigs brought him over here. If you were to go about London, you'dfind every one nearly on the other side."
"I don't believe it."
"Come for a few walks with me, and I'll take you where you can hearpeople talking about it."
"I don't want to hear people talk treason, and I can't get away."
"Oh yes, you can; I'll manage it. Don't you want to go out?"
"Yes; but not to hear people talk as you say. They must be only thescum who say such things."
"Better be the scum which rises than the dregs which sink to the bottom.Come, I know you'd like a run."
"I'll go with you in the evening, and try and catch some of the fish inthat lake."
"What, the King's carp! Ha--ha! You want old Bigwig to give you fivepounds."
"Old Bigwig--who's he?"
"You know; the King."
"Pooh! no one can hear."
"But what do you mean about the five pounds?"
"Didn't you hear? They say he wrote to some one in Hanover saying thathe could not understand the English, for when he came to the Palace theytold him it was his, and when he looked out of the window he saw a parkwith a long canal in it, and they told him that was his too. Then nextday the ranger sent him a big brace of carp out of it, and when theytold him he was to behave like a prince and give the messenger fiveguineas, he was astonished. Oh, he isn't a bit like a king."
"I say, do be quiet. I don't want you to get into trouble."
"Of course you don't," said the lad merrily. "But you mustn't think ofgoing fishing now. Hark! there are the Guards."
He hurried to the window, through which the trampling of horses andjingling of spurs could be heard, and directly after the leaders of along line of horse came along between the rows of trees, the men gay intheir scarlet and gold, their accoutrements glittering in the sunshine.
"Look well, don't they?" said Andrew Forbes. "They ought to have givenmy father a command like that. If he had a few regiments of horse, andas many of foot, he'd soon make things different for old England."
"I say, do be quiet, Drew. You'll be getting in trouble, I know youwill. Why can't you let things rest."
"Because I'm a Royalist."
"No, you're not; you're a Jacobite. I say, why do they call themJacobites? What Jacob is it who leads them?"
"And you just fresh from Winchester! Where's your Latin?"
"Oh, I see," cried the boy: "Jacobus--James."
"That's right; you may go up. I wish I was an officer in the Guards."
"Behave yourself then, and some day the Prince may get you acommission."
"Not he. Perhaps I shall have one without. Well, you'll go with methis evening?"
"Oh, I don't know."
"That means you would if you could. Well, I'll manage it. And I'llsoon show you what the people in London think about the King."
"Sh! some one coming."
The two lads darted from the window as one of the doors was thrown open,and an attendant made an announcement which resulted in the pages goingto the other end to open the farther door and draw back to allow thePrince and Princess with a little following of ladies to pass through,one of the last of the group turning to smile at Frank Gowan and kissher hand.
The boy turned to his companion, looking flushed and proud as the doorwas closed after the retiring party.
"How handsome the Princess looked!" he said. "Hush!" said Forbes."Pretty well. Not half so nice as your mother; you ought to be proud ofher, Frank."
"I am," said the boy.
"But what a pity!"
"What's a pity?"
"That she should be in the Princess's train."
"A pity! Why the Princess makes her quite a friend."
"More pity still. Well, we shall be off duty soon, and then I'll getleave for us to go."
"I don't think I want to now."
"Well I do, and you'd better come and take care of me, or perhaps Ishall get into a scrape."
"No, you will not. You only talk as you do to banter me."
"Think so?" said Andrew, with a peculiar smile. "Well, we shall see.But you'll come?"
"Yes," said Frank readily, "to keep you from getting into a scrape."