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The Adventures Of A Royal Fugitive
by [?]

It was early September of 1651, the year that tolled the knell of royalty in England. In all directions from the fatal field of Worcester panic-stricken fugitives were flying; in all directions blood-craving victors were pursuing. Charles I. had lost his head for his blind obstinacy, two years before. Charles II., crowned king by the Scotch, had made a gallant fight for the throne. But Cromwell was his opponent, and Cromwell carried victory on his banners. The young king had invaded England, reached Worcester, and there felt the heavy hand of the Protector and his Ironsides. A fierce day’s struggle, a defeat, a flight, and kingship in England was at an end while Cromwell lived; the last scion of royalty was a flying fugitive.

At six o’clock in the evening of that fatal day, Charles, the boy-king, discrowned by battle, was flying through St. Martin’s Gate from a city whose streets were filled with the bleeding bodies of his late supporters. Just outside the town he tried to rally his men; but in vain, no fight was left in their scared hearts. Nothing remained but flight at panic speed, for the bloodhounds of war were on his track, and if caught by those stern Parliamentarians he might be given the short shriving of his beheaded father. Away went the despairing prince with a few followers, riding for life, flinging from him as he rode his blue ribbon and garter and all his princely ornaments, lest pursuers should know him by these insignia of royalty. On for twelve hours Charles and his companions galloped at racing speed, onward through the whole night following that day of blood and woe; and at break of day on September 4 they reached Whiteladies, a friendly house of refuge in Severn’s fertile valley.

The story of the after-adventures of the fugitive prince is so replete with hair-breadth escapes, disguises, refreshing instances of fidelity, and startling incidents, as to render it one of the most romantic tales to be found in English history. A thousand pounds were set upon his head, yet none, peasant or peer, proved false to him. He was sheltered alike in cottage and hall; more than a score of people knew of his route, yet not a word of betrayal was spoken, not a thought of betrayal was entertained; and the agents of the Protector vainly scoured the country in all directions for the princely fugitive, who found himself surrounded by a loyalty worthy a better man, and was at last enabled to leave the country in Cromwell’s despite.

Let us follow the fugitive prince in his flight. Reaching Whiteladies, he found a loyal friend in its proprietor. No sooner was it known in the mansion that the field of Worcester had been lost, and that the flying prince had sought shelter within its walls, than all was haste and excitement.

“You must not remain here,” declared Mr. Gifford, one of his companions. “The house is too open. The pursuers will be here within the hour. Measures for your safety must be taken at once.”

“The first of which is disguise,” said Charles.

His long hair was immediately cut off, his face and hands stained a dark hue, and the coarse and threadbare clothing of a peasant provided to take the place of his rich attire. Thus dressed and disguised, the royal fugitive looked like anything but a king.

“But your features will betray you,” said the cautious Gifford. “Many of these men know your face. You must seek a safer place of refuge.”

Hurried movements followed. The few friends who had accompanied Charles took to the road again, knowing that their presence would endanger him, and hoping that their flight might lead the bloodhounds of pursuit astray. They gone, the loyal master of Whiteladies sent for certain of his employees whom he could trust. These were six brothers named Penderell, laborers and woodmen in his service, Catholics, and devoted to the royal family.