CHAPTER IV. ESCAPE OF THE CHILDREN.
Henrietta Anne was now two years old, and was beginning to talk a little. When asked what was her name, they had taught her to attempt to reply princess, though she did not succeed in uttering more than the first letters of the word, her answer being, in fact, prah. Lady Morton conceived the idea of making her escape across the country in the disguise of a beggar woman, changing, at the same time, the princess into a boy. She was herself very tall, and graceful, and beautiful, and it was hard for her to make herself look old and ugly. She, however, made a hump for her back out of a bundle of linen, and stooped in her gait to counterfeit age. She dressed herself in soiled and ragged clothes, disfigured her face by reversing the contrivances with which ladies in very fashionable life are said sometimes to produce artificial youth and beauty, and with the child in a bundle on her back, and a staff in her hand, she watched for a favorable opportunity to escape stealthily from the palace, in the forlorn hope of walking in that way undetected to Dover, a march of fifty miles, through a country filled with enemies.
Little Henrietta was to be a boy, and as people on the way might ask the child its name, Lady Morton was obliged to select one for her which would fit, in some degree, her usual reply to such a question. She chose the name Pierre, which sounds, at least, as much like prah as princess does. The poor child, though not old enough to speak distinctly, was still old enough to talk a great deal. She was very indignant at the vile dress which she was compelled to wear, and at being called a beggar boy. She persisted in telling every body whom she met that she was not a boy, nor a beggar, nor Pierre, but the princess saying it all, however, very fortunately, in such an unintelligible way, that it only alarmed Lady Morton, without, however, attracting the attention of those who heard it, or giving them any information.
Contrary to every reasonable expectation, Lady Morton succeeded in her wild and romantic attempt. She reached Dover in safety. She made arrangements for crossing in the packet boat, which then, as now, plied from Dover to Calais. She landed at length safely on the French coast, where she threw off her disguise, resumed her natural grace and beauty, made known her true name and character, and traveled in ease and safety to Paris. The excitement and the intoxicating joy which Henrietta experienced when she got her darling child once more in her arms, can be imagined, perhaps, even by the most sedate American mother; but the wild and frantic violence of her expressions of it, none but those who are conversant with the French character and French manners can know.
It was not very far from the time of little Henrietta's escape from her father's enemies in London, though, in fact, before it, that Prince Charles made his escape from the island too. His father, finding that his cause was becoming desperate, gave orders to those who had charge of his son to retreat to the southwestern coast of the island, and if the Republican armies should press hard upon him there, he was to make his escape, if necessary, by sea.
The southwestern part of England is a long, mountainous promontory, constituting the county of Cornwall. It is a wild and secluded region, and the range which forms it seems to extend for twenty or thirty miles under the sea, where it rises again to the surface, forming a little group of islands, more wild and rugged even than the land. These are the Scilly Isles. They lie secluded and solitary, and are known chiefly to mankind through the ships that seek shelter among them in storms. Prince Charles retreated from post to post through Cornwall, the danger becoming more and more imminent every day, till at last it became necessary to fly from the country altogether. He embarked on board a vessel, and went first to the Scilly Isles.
From Scilly he sailed eastward toward the coast of France. He landed first at the island of Jersey, which, though it is very near the French coast, and is inhabited by a French population, is under the English government. Here the prince met with a very cordial reception, as the authorities were strongly attached to his father's cause. Jersey is a beautiful isle and, far enough south to enjoy a genial climate, where flowers bloom and fruits ripen in the warm sunbeams, which are here no longer intercepted by the driving mists and rains which sweep almost perceptibly along the hill sides and fields of England.
Prince Charles did not, however, remain long in Jersey. His destination was Paris. He passed, therefore, across to the main land, and traveled to the capital. He was received with great honors at his mother's new home, in the palace of the Louvre, as a royal prince, and heir apparent to the British crown. He was now sixteen. The adventures which he met with on his arrival will be the subject of the next chapter.