The Hounds of God
The Hounds of God
CHAPTER I. THE MISANTHROPE.
IT WAS WALSINGHAM WHO SAID of Roger Trevanion, Earl of Garth, that he preferred the company of the dead to that of the living.
This was a sneering allusion to the recluse, studious habits of his lordship. His lordship, no doubt, would have regarded the sneer as a thunderbolt of lath; that is, if he regarded it as a thunderbolt at all. It is much more likely that he would have accepted the statement in its literal sense, admitted the preference and justified it by answering that the only good men were dead men. This because, being dead, they could no longer work any evil.
You conceive that the experience of life which brings a man to such a conclusion cannot have been pleasant. His misanthropy dated from his adolescence, arose out of his close friendship for the gallant Thomas Seymour, who was brother to one queen and husband to another, and who, under the spur of ambition and perhaps indeed of love, would upon the death of Katharine Parr, have married the Princess Elizabeth. As Seymour's devoted and admiring friend, he had seen at close quarters the slimy web of intrigue in which the Lord Admiral was taken, and he had narrowly escaped being taken with him and with him sent to the block. He had witnessed the evil working of the envious ambition of the Protector Somerset, who, fearful lest fruition of the affair between the Lord Admiral and the Princess should lead to his own ultimate supersession, had not scrupled to bring his brother to the scaffold upon a fabricated charge of high-treason.
It was pretended that the Admiral was already the lover of the Princess and that he conspired with her to overthrow the established regency and to seize, the reins of power with his own hands. Indeed, the full pretence was that his courtship of the Princess was no more than a step in the promotion of his schemes. The two offences were made so interdependent that either might be established upon evidence of the other.
Young Trevanion suffered arrest, together with all the principal persons in the household of the Princess Elizabeth, and all who were in close relations with the Admiral, whether as servants or as friends. Because he was at once a member of the household of the Princess and probably more in Seymour's confidence than any other man, he became the subject of assiduous attention on the part of the Council of Regency. He was brought repeatedly before that Council, examined and re-examined, questioned and probed ad nauseam, with the object of tricking him into incriminating his friend by admissions of what he had seen at Hatfield whilst living there and of what confidences his friend might have reposed in him.
Although, years later, when the admission could do no harm to any, his lordship is known to have confessed that the Admiral's passion for the young Princess was very real and deep, with roots in other than ambition, and that once at Hatfield he had surprised her in the Admiral's arms-from which it may reasonably be concluded that she was not indifferent to his passion-yet before the Council, young Trevanion could remember nothing that might hurt his friend. Not only did he stubbornly and stoutly deny knowledge, direct or indirect, of any plot in which Seymour was engaged; but, on the contrary, he had much to say that was calculated to prove that there was no substance whatever behind this shadow of treason cast upon the Admiral. By his demeanour he put the members of the Council in a rage with him on more occasions than one. It was an education to him of the lengths to which human spite 'can be carried. The Protector, himself, went so far once as to warn him savagely that his own head was none so safe on his shoulders that by pertness of words and conduct he should himself unsettle it further. Their malevolence, begotten as he perceived of jealous fear, made these men, whom he had accounted among the noblest in