Read CHAPTER LI of Dulcibel A Tale of Old Salem , free online book, by Henry Peterson, on

Lady Mary’s Coup D’Etat.

Master Raymond’s next proceeding was to call on Lady Phips. Sending in his name, with a request to see her ladyship on very important business, he was ushered as usual into her boudoir.

“I must be doing something, Lady Mary,” he said, after a few words relative to the evident change of weather; “I have news from Salem that the Magistrates are about to send Mistress Dulcibel back to Salem jail.”

“That is sad,” she answered.

“And, besides, there is no knowing what new proceedings they may be concocting against me. I must take Sir William’s advice, and get out of this hornet’s nest as soon as possible.”

“Well what can I do for you?”

“Get an order from Sir William releasing Dulcibel from prison.”

“Oh, that I could! God knows how gladly I would do it.”

“You can at least try,” said Master Raymond desperately.

The lady hesitated a moment. “Yes, as you say, I can at least try. But you know how impossible it is to carry on the government of this Province without the support of the ministers and the magistrates. Sir William is naturally anxious to succeed; for, if he fails here, it will block his road to further preferment.”

“And he will allow the shedding of innocent blood to go on, in order to promote his own selfish ambition?” said the young man indignantly.

“You are unjust to the Governor. He will do all he can to moderate this fanaticism; and, if it comes to the worst, he will order a general jail-delivery, and meet the consequences. But he hopes much from time, and from such developments as those of your chicken feathers” and the lady smiled at the thought of the minister’s discomfiture.

“Some things can wait, but I cannot wait,” insisted Master Raymond. “You must acknowledge that.”

“Sir William starts this afternoon on a visit to Plymouth, to remain for a day or so; but I will have a talk with him, and see what I can do,” replied the lady. “Call here again at six o’clock this evening.”

“Such beauty and spirit as yours must be irresistible in the cause of virtue and innocence,” said the young man, rising to depart.

“No flattery, Master Raymond; I will do all I can without that;” but Lady Mary being still a very comely woman, as she certainly was a very spirited one, was not much displeased at the compliment, coming from such a handsome young man as Master Raymond. Eulogy that the hearer hopes embodies but the simple truth, is always pleasant alike to men and women. It is falsehood, and not truth, that constitutes the essence of Flattery.

The day dragged on very drearily and slowly to Master Raymond. The waiting for the hour of action is so irksome, that even the approach of danger is a relief. But patience will at last weary out the slowest hours; and punctually at six o’clock, the young man stood again at the door of the Governor’s mansion.

Lady Mary evidently was expecting him for he was shown in at once. She looked up wearily as he entered. “I can do nothing to-day,” she said.

“What ground did the Governor take?”

“That sound policy forbade him to move in the matter at present. The persecuting party were very indignant at the escape of Captain Alden and the Englishes; and now for him to grant a pardon to another of the accused, would be to irritate them to madness.”

Master Raymond acknowledged to himself the soundness of the Governor’s policy; but he only said: “Then it seems that Dulcibel must go back to Salem prison; and I run a good chance of going to prison also, as a self-confessed deceiver and impostor.”

“If she were released, could you both get away from Boston at once?”

Master Raymond’s voice sank to a whisper. “I have all my plans arranged. By the third hour after midnight, we shall be where we can snap our fingers at the magistrates of Boston.”

“I have been thinking of a plan. It may work or may not. But it is worth trying.”

The young man’s face lightened.

“You know that England is ruled by William and Mary, why should not the Province of Massachusetts also be?”

“I do not understand you.”

“Upon leaving Sir William, I was somewhat indignant that he would not grant my request. And to pacify me, he said he was sorry that I had not the same share in the government here, that Queen Mary had at home and then I could do more as I pleased.”

Still Master Raymond’s face showed that he was puzzled to catch her meaning.

She laughed and rose from her chair; the old, resolute expression upon her spirited face, and, opening the door into the next room, which was the Governor’s private office, she said:

“Come here a moment, Master Josslyn.”

The private Secretary entered.

“Prepare me,” she said to the Secretary, “the proper paper, to be signed by the Governor, ordering Keeper Arnold to release at once Mistress Dulcibel Burton from confinement in the Boston Bridewell.”

“But the Governor, you know, is absent, Lady Mary,” said the Secretary, “and his signature will be necessary.”

“Oh, I will see to that,” replied the lady a little haughtily.

Master Raymond sat quietly waiting for what was to come next. He could not conceive how Lady Mary intended to manage it. As for the lady, she tapped the table with her shapely fingers impatiently.

In a few minutes Master Josslyn reappeared with the paper. “All it now wants is the signature of the Governor,” said he.

The lady took up a pen from the table by which she was sitting, and filled it with ink; then with a firm hand she signed the paper, “William Phips, Governor, by Lady Mary Phips.”

“But, your ladyship, the keeper will not acknowledge the validity of that signature, or obey it,” said Master Josslyn in some alarm.

“He will not? We shall see!” responded her ladyship rising. “Order my carriage, Master Josslyn.”

In fifteen minutes, Lady Mary, accompanied by Master Raymond, was at Keeper Arnold’s house.

“I bring you good news, Master Arnold,” said Lady Mary, “I know you will rejoice, such a tender-hearted man as you are at the release of Mistress Dulcibel Burton. Here is the official document.” She flourished it at him, but still kept it in her hand.

Dulcibel was soon informed of the good news; and came flying out to meet her benefactor and her lover.

“Put on a shawl and your veil at once; and make a bundle of your belongings,” said Lady Mary, kissing her. “Master Raymond is in a great hurry to carry you off at which I confess that I do not wonder.” Dulcibel tripped off the sooner she was out of that close place the better.

“Well, what is it, Master Arnold?” said Lady Mary to the keeper, who acted as if he wished to say something.

“It is only a form, my lady; but you have not shown me the Governor’s warrant yet?”

“Why, yes I have,” said Lady Mary, fluttering it at him as before.

But Keeper Arnold was fully aware of the responsibility of his position; and putting out his hand, he steadied the fluttering paper sufficiently to glance over its contents. When he came to the signature, his face paled. “Pardon me, my lady; but this is not the Governor’s writing.”

“Of course it is not why, you silly loon, how could it be when he has gone to Plymouth? But you will perceive that it is in Master Josslyn’s writing and the Governor ought to have signed it before he started.”

“This is hardly in regular form, my lady.”

“It is not? Do you not see the Governor’s name; and there below it is my name, as proof of the Governor’s. Do you mean to impeach my attestation of Sir William’s signature? There is my name, Lady Mary Phips: and I will take the responsibility of this paper being a legal one. If anybody finds fault with you, send him to me; and I will say you did it, in the Governor’s absence from town, at my peremptory order.” The lady’s face glowed, and her eyes flashed, with her excitement and determination.

“It would be as much as my position is worth to disobey it and me!” rejoined Lady Mary. “I will have you out of this place in three days’ time, if you cast disrespect upon my written name.”

“There can be no great haste in this matter. Bring the release tomorrow, and I will consult authority in the meanwhile,” said the keeper pleadingly.

“Authority? The Governor’s name is authority! I am authority! Who dare you set up beside us? You forget your proper respect and duty, Master Arnold.”

The keeper was overborne at last. “You will uphold me, if I do this thing, Lady Mary?” said he imploringly.

“You know me, Master Arnold and that I never desert my friends! I shall accept the full responsibility of this deed before Sir William and the magistrates. And they cannot order any punishment which he cannot pardon.”

By this time it had grown quite dark. “Shall I take you anywhere in my carriage?” said Lady Mary, as Dulcibel reappeared with a bundle.

“It is not necessary,” replied Master Raymond joyfully, “I will not compromise you any further. God forever bless your ladyship! There is not another woman in New England with the spirit and courage to do what you have done this day and the reader of our history a hundred years to come, as he reads this page, shall cry fervently, God bless the fearless and generous soul of Lady Mary!”

“Let me know when you are safe,” she whispered to the young man, as he stood by her carriage. “Master and Mistress English are now the guests of Governor Fletcher of New York changing a Boston prison for a Governor’s mansion. You will be perfectly secure in that Province or in Pennsylvania, or Maryland or Virginia.” And the carriage drove off.

It was in that early hour of the evening, when the streets in town and city, are more deserted than they are for some hours afterwards; everyone being indoors, and not come out for visiting or amusement. And so the young man and his companion walked towards the north-eastern part of the town, meeting only one or two persons, who took no special notice of them.

“You do not ask where we are going, Dulcibel?” at last said Master Raymond.

She could not see the sweet smile on his face; but she could feel it in his voice.

“Anywhere, with you!” the maiden replied in a low tone.

“We are going to be married.”

He felt the pressure of her hand upon his arm in response.

“That is, if we can find a minister to perform the ceremony.”

“That will be difficult, I should think.”

“Yes, difficult, but not impossible. After getting you out of prison, as Lady Mary did, I should not like to call anything impossible.”

“Lady Mary is an angel!”

“Yes, one of the kind with wings,” replied her companion laughing. “She has kindly loaned us her wings though and we are flying away on them.”

Before long they were at one of the wharves; then on a small boat then on the deck of the “Storm King.”

“I am better than my word, Captain Tolley.”

“Aye! indeed you are. And this is the birdie! Fair Mistress, the “Storm King” and his brood are ready to die to shield you from harm.”

Dulcibel looked wonder out of her clear blue eyes. What did it all mean? She smiled at the Captain’s devoted speech. “I do not want any one to die for me, Captain. I would rather have you sing me a good sea-song, such as my father, who was also a sea-captain, used to delight me with at home.”

“Oh, we can do that too,” answered the Captain gaily. “I hope we shall have a jolly time of it, before we reach our destination. Now, come down into the cabin and see the preparations I have made for you; a sailor’s daughter must have the best of sailor’s cheer.”

“One word, Captain,” said Master Raymond, as the Captain came up on deck again, leaving Dulcibel to the privacy of her state-room. “It does not seem fitting that a young unmarried woman should be alone on a vessel like this, with no matron to bear her company.”

“Sir!” said the Captain, “I would have you know that the maiden is as safe from aught that could offend her modesty on the decks of the “Storm King,” as if she were in her father’s house.”

“Of course she is. I know that well and mean not the least offense. And she, innocent as she is, has no other thought. But this is a slanderous world, Captain, and we men who know the world, must think for her.”

“Oh, I admit that,” said Captain Tolley, somewhat mollified, “we cannot expect of mere land’s people, who put an innocent girl like that into prison for no offense, the gentle behavior towards women that comes naturally from a seaman; but what do you propose?”

“To send for one of the Boston ministers, and marry her before we leave port.”

“Why, of course,” replied the Captain. “It is the very thing. Whom shall we send for? The North Church is nearest how would Master Cotton Mather do?”

The young man stood thoughtfully silent for a moment or two. The ministers of South Church and of King’s chapel were more heterodox in all this witchcraft business; but for that very reason he did not wish to compromise them in any way. Besides, he owed a grudge to Master Mather, for his general course in sustaining the persecution, and his recent language in particular towards himself. So his lips gradually settled into a stern determination, and he replied “Master Mather is the very man.”

“It may require a little ingenuity to get him aboard at this time of the evening,” said the Captain. “But I reckon my first mate, Simmons, can do it, if any one can.”

“Here, Simmons,” to the first mate, who was standing near, “you look like a pillar of the church, go ashore and bring off Master Cotton Mather with you. A wealthy young Englishman is dying and he cannot pass away from Boston in peace without his ministerial services.”

“Dying?” ejaculated Master Raymond.

“Yes, dying! dying to get married and you cannot pass out of Boston harbor in peace, without his ministerial services.”

“Would it not do as well to ask him to come and marry us?”

“I doubt it,” replied the Captain. “Master Mather is honest in his faith, even if he is bigoted and superstitious and death cannot be put off like marriage till tomorrow. But take your own course, Simmons only bring him.”

“Shall I use force, sir, if he will not come peaceably?” asked the mate coolly.

“Not if it will make a disturbance,” said his commander. “We do not want to run the gauntlet of the castle’s guns as we go out of the harbor. The wind is hardly lively enough for that.”

“I will go down and tell Dulcibel,” said Master Raymond. “It is rather sudden, but she is a maiden of great good sense, and will see clearly the necessity of the case. And as she is an orphan, she has no father or mother whose consent she might consider necessary. But Mate” going to the side of the vessel, which the boat was just leaving, “not a word as to my name or that of the maiden. That would spoil all.”

“Aye, aye, sir! Trust me to bring him!” and the boat started for the shore, under the vigorous strokes of two oarsmen.