Read CHAPTER XIII.  GODLY VENN’S TROOP of Under the Storm Steadfast Charge, free online book, by Charlotte M. Yonge, on ReadCentral.com.

“Ye abbeys and ye arches,
Ye old cathedrals dear,
The hearts that love you tremble,
And your enemies have cheer.” 

                                        Bp.  Cleveland Coxe.

“What would Jeph say?” was the thought of both Steadfast and Patience, as Emlyn ran about with Rusha and Ben, making herself tolerably happy and enlivening them all a good deal.  After one fight she found that she must obey Patience, though she made no secret that she liked the sober young mistress of the hut much less than the others, and could even sometimes get Steadfast to think her hardly used, but he seldom showed that feeling, for he had plenty of sense, and could not bear to vex his sister; besides, he saw there would be no peace if her authority was not supported.  It was a relief that there was no visit from Jeph for some little time, though the fighting was all over, and people were going in and out of Bristol as before.

Stead took the donkey with the panniers full of apples and nuts on market day, and a pile of fowls and ducks on its back, while he carried a basket of eggs on his arm, and in his head certain instructions from Patience about the grogram and linen he was to purchase for Emlyn, in the hope of making her respectable before Jeph’s eyes should rest upon her.  Stead’s old customers were glad to see him again, especially Mrs. Lightfoot, who had Dr. Eales once again in her back rooms, keeping out of sight, while the good Dean was actually in prison for using the Prayer-book.  Three soldiers were quartered upon her at the Wheatsheaf, and though, on the whole, they were more civil and much less riotous than some of her Cavalier lodgers had been, she was always in dread of their taking offence at the doctor and hauling him off to gaol.

Steadfast confided to her Patience’s commission, which she undertook to execute herself.  It included a spinning-wheel, for Patience was determined to teach Emlyn to spin, an art of which no respectable woman from the Queen downwards was ignorant in those days.  As to finding his brother, the best way would be to ask the soldiers who were smoking in the kitchen where he was likely to be.

They said that the faithful and valiant Jephthah Kenton of Venn’s horse would be found somewhere about the great steeple house, profanely called the Cathedral, for there the troops were quartered; and thither accordingly Stead betook himself, starting as he saw horses gearing or being groomed on the sward in the close which had always been kept in such perfect order.  Having looked in vain outside for his brother, he advanced into the building, but he had only just had a view of horses stamping between the pillars, the floor littered down with straw, a fire burning in one of the niches, and soldiers lying about, smoking or eating, in all manner of easy, lounging attitudes, when suddenly there was a shout of “Prelatist, Idolater, Baal-worshipper, Papist,” and to his horror he found it was all directed towards himself.  They were pointing to his head, and two of them had caught him by the shoulders, when another voice rose “Ha!  Let him alone.  I say, Bill!  Faithful!  It’s my brother.  He knows no better!” Then dashing up, Jeph rammed the great hat down over Stead’s brow, eyes and all, and called out, “Whoever touches my brother must have at me first.”

“There,” said one of the others, “the old Adam need not be so fierce in thee, brother Jephthah!  No one wants to hurt the lad, young prelatist though he be, so he will make amends by burning their superstitious books on the fire, even as Jehu burnt the worshippers of Baal.”

Steadfast felt somewhat as Christians of old may have felt when called on to throw incense on the altar of Jupiter, as a handful of pages torn from a Prayer-book was thrust into his hands.  Words did not come readily to him, but he shook his head and stood still, perhaps stolid in resistance.

“Come,” said Jeph, laying hold of his shoulder to drag him along.

“I cannot; ’tis Scripture,” said Stead, as in his distress his eye fell on the leaves in his hand, and he read aloud to prove it ­

“Thy Word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

There was one moment’s pause.  Perhaps the men had absolutely forgotten how much of their cherished Bible was integral in the hated Prayer-book; at any rate they were enough taken aback to enable Jeph to pull his brother out at the door, not without a fraternal cuff or two, as he exclaimed: 

“Thou foolish fellow! ever running into danger for very dullness.”

“What have I done, Jeph?” asked poor Stead, still bewildered.

“Done!  Why, doffed thy hat, after the superstitious and idolatrous custom of our fathers.”

“How can it be idolatrous?  ’Twas God’s house,” said Stead.

“Aye, there thou art in the gall of bitterness.  Know’st thou not that no house is more holy than another?” and Jeph would have gone on for some time longer, but that he heard sounds which made him suspect that someone had condemned the version of the Psalms as prelatical and profane, and that his comrades might yet burst forth to visit their wrath upon his young brother, whom he therefore proceeded to lead out of sight as fast as possible into the Dean’s garden, where he had the entree as being orderly to Captain Venn, who, with other officers, abode in the Deanery.

There, controversy being dropped for the moment, Stead was able to tell his brother of his expedition, and how he had been obliged to keep the child, for very pity’s sake, even if her late father’s master had not begged him to do so, and given an earnest of the payment.

Jeph laughed a little scornfully at the notion of a wild Cavalier ever paying, but he was not barbarous, and allowed that there was no choice in the matter, as she could not be turned out to starve.  When he heard that Stead had come with market produce he was displeased at it not having been brought up for the table of his officers, assuring Stead that they were not to be confounded with the roistering, penniless malignants, who robbed instead of paying.  Stead said he always supplied Mistress Lightfoot, but this was laughed to scorn.  “The rulers of the army of saints had a right to be served first, above all before one who was believed to harbour the idolater, even the priest of the groves.”

Jeph directed that the next supply should come to the Deanery, as one who had the right of ownership, and Stead submitted, only with the secret resolve that Dr. Eales should not want his few eggs nor his pat of fresh butter.

Jeph was not unkind to Stead, and took him to dine with the other attendants of the officers in the very stone hall where he had eaten that Christmas dinner some twenty months before.  There was a very long grace pronounced extempore, and the guests were stout, resolute, grave-looking men, who kept on their steeple-crowned hats all the time and conversed in low, deep voices, chiefly, as far as Stead could gather, on military matters, but they seemed to appreciate good beef and ale quite as much as any Cavalier trooper could have done.  One of them noticing Stead asked whether he had come to take service with the saints and enjoy their dominion, but Jeph answered for him that his call lay at home among those of his own household, until his heart should be whole with the cause.

On the whole Stead was proud to see Jeph holding his own, though the youngest among these determined-looking men.  These two years had made a man of the rough, idle, pleasure-loving boy, and a man after the Ironsides’ fashion, grave, self-contained, and self-depending.  Stead had been more like the elder than the younger brother in old times, but he felt Jeph immeasurably his elder in the new, unfamiliar atmosphere; and yet the boy had a strong sense that all was not right; that these were interlopers in the kind old Dean’s house; that the talk about Baal was mere absurdity; and the profanation of the Cathedral would have been utterly shocking to his good father.  His mind, however, worked slowly, and he would have had nothing to say even if he could have ventured to speak; but he was very anxious to get away; and when Jeph would have kept him to hear the serjeant expound a chapter of Revelation, he pleaded the necessity of getting home in time to milk the cows, and made his escape.

On the whole it was a relief that Jeph was too much occupied with his military duties to make visits to his home.  It might not have been over easy to keep the peace between him and Emlyn, fiery little Royalist as she was, and too much used to being petted and fascinating everyone by her saucy audacity to be likely to be afraid of him.

If Patience crossed her she would have recourse to Stead, and he could seldom resist her coaxing, or be entirely disabused of the notion that his sister expected too much of her.  And perhaps it was true.  Patience was scarcely likely to understand differences of character and temperament, and not merely to recollect that Emlyn was only eighteen months younger than she had been when she had been forced into the position of the house mother.  So, while Emlyn’s wayward fancies were a great trial, Steadfast’s sympathy with them was a greater one.

Stead continued to see Jeph when taking in the market produce, for which he was always duly paid.  Jeph also wished the whole family to come in on Sunday to profit by the preaching of some of the great Independent lights; but Stead, after trying it once, felt so sure that Patience would be miserable at anything so unaccustomed, so thunderous, and, as it seemed to him, so abusive, that he held to it that the distance was too great, and that the cattle could not be left.  The soldiery seemed to him to spend their spare time in defacing the many churches of the city, chiefly in order to do what they called purifying them from all idols, in which term they included every sort of carving or picture, or even figures on monuments.

And in this work of destruction a chest containing church plate had been come upon, making their work greedy instead of only mischievous.

When all the churches in Bristol had been ransacked, they began to extend their search to the parish churches in the neighbourhood, and Stead began to be very anxious, though he hoped and believed that the cave was a perfectly safe place.