Beau Brocade

Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Beau Brocade
by Baroness Orczy

Part I: The Forge

Part II: The Heath

Part III: Brassington

Part IV: H.R.H The Duke of Cumberland

Part I: The Forge

Chapter I

By Act of Parliament
The gaffers stood round and shook their heads.
When the Coporal had finished reading the Royal Proclamation, one or
two of them sighed in a desultory fashion, others murmured casually,
"Lordy! Lordy! to think on it! Dearie me!"
The young ones neither sighed nor murmured. They looked at one
another furtively, then glanced away again, as if afraid to read each
other's throughs, and in a shameful manner wiped their moist hands
against their rough cord breeches.
There were no women present fortunately: there had been heavy rains
on the Moor these last three days, and what roads there were had
become well-nigh impassable. Only a few men--some half-dozen,
perhaps--out of the lonely homesteads from down Brassington way,
had tramped in the wake of the little squad of soldiers, in order to hear
this Act of Parliament read a the cross-roads, and to see the document
duly pinned to the old gallows-tree.
Fortunately the rain had ceased momentarily, only a cool, brisk
nor'-wester came blustering across the Heath, making the older men
shiver beneath their thin, well-worn smocks.
North and south, east and west, Brassing Moor stretched its mournful
lengths to the distant framework of the Peak far away, with mile upon
mile of grey-green gorse and golden bracken and long shoots of
purple-stemmed bramble, and here and there patches of vivid mauve,
where the heather was just bursting into bloom; or anon a clump of
dark first, with ruddy trunks and gaunt arms stretched menacingly over
the sparse young life below.
And here, at the cross-roads, the Heath seemed more desolate than ever,
despite that one cottage with the blacksmith's shed beyond it. The roads
themselves, the one of Aldwark, the other from Wirksworth, the third
little more than a morass, a short cut to Stretton, all bore mute
testimony to the remoteness, the aloofness of this forgotten corner of

eighteenth-century England.
Then there was the old gallows, whereupon many a foot-pad or
sheep-stealer had paid full penalty for his crimes! True, John Stich, the
blacksmith, now used it as a sign-post for his trade: a monster
horseshoe hung there where once the bones of Dick Caldwell, the
highwayman, had whitened in the bleak air of the Moor: still, at
moments like these, when no one spoke, the wind seemed to bring and
echo of ghostly sighs and laughter, for Dick had breathed his last with a
coarse jest on his lips, and the ears of the timid seemed still to catch the
eerie sound of his horse's hoofs ploughing the ruddy, shallow soil of the
For the moment, however, the cross-roads presented a scene of quite
unusual animation: the Corporal and his squad looked resplendent in
their scarlet tunics and white buckskins, and Mr. Inch, the beadle from
Brassington, was also there in his gold-laced coat, bob-tailed wig and
three-cornered hat: he had lent the dignity of his presence to this
solemn occasion, and in high top-boots, bell in hand, had tramped five
miles with the soldiers, so that he might shout a stentorian "Oyez!
Oyez!" whenever they passed one of the few cottages along the road.
But no one spoke. The Corporal handed the Royal Proclamation to one
of the soldiers; he too seemed nervous and ill at ease. The nor'-wester,
with singular want of respect for the King and Parliament, commenced
a vigorous attack upon the great document, pulling at it in wanton frolic,
almost tearing it out of the hands of the young soldier, who did his best
to fix it against the shaft of the old gallows.
The white parchment looked uncanny and ghostlike fluttering in the
wind; no doubt the nor'-wester would soon tear it to rags.
"Lordy! Lordy! to think on it!"
There it was, fixed up at last. Up, so that any chance traveller who
could might read. But those who were now assembled there--shepherds,
most of them, on the Moor--viewed the written characters with awe and
misgiving. They had had Mr. Inch's assurance that it was ill writ there,

that the King himself had put his name to it; and the young Corporal,
who had read it out, had received the document from his own superior
officer, who in his turn had had it at the hands of His Grace the Duke of
Cumberland himself.
"It having come to the knowledge of His Majesty's Parliament that
certain subjects of the King have lately raised the standard of rebellion,
setting up the Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, above the King's most
lawful Majesty, it is hereby enacted that these persons are guilty
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 93
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.