1. Kirke's Dragoons
Oglethorpe's farm stood a mile or so to the south of Bridgewater on the right bank of the
river. It was a straggling Tudor building showing grey above the ivy that clothed its lower
parts. Approaching it now, through the fragrant orchards amid which it seemed to
drowse in Arcadian peace beside the waters of the Parrett, sparkling in the morning
sunlight, Mr. Blood might have had a difficulty in believing it part of a world tormented by
strife and bloodshed.
On the bridge, as they had been riding out of Bridgewater, they had met a vanguard of
fugitives from the field of battle, weary, broken men, many of them wounded, all of them
terror-stricken, staggering in speedless haste with the last remnants of their strength
into the shelter which it was their vain illusion the town would afford them. Eyes glazed
with lassitude and fear looked up piteously out of haggard faces at Mr. Blood and his
companion as they rode forth; hoarse voices cried a warning that merciless pursuit was
not far behind. Undeterred, however, young Pitt rode amain along the dusty road by
which these poor fugitives from that swift rout on Sedgemoor came flocking in ever-
increasing numbers. Presently he swung aside, and quitting the road took to a pathway
that crossed the dewy meadowlands. Even here they met odd groups of these human
derelicts, who were scattering in all directions, looking fearfully behind them as they
came through the long grass, expecting at every moment to see the red coats of the
But as Pitt's direction was a southward one, bringing them ever nearer to Feversham's
headquarters, they were presently clear of that human flotsam and jetsam of the battle,
and riding through the peaceful orchards heavy with the ripening fruit that was soon to
make its annual yield of cider.
At last they alighted on the kidney stones of the courtyard, and Baynes, the master, of
the homestead, grave of countenance and flustered of manner, gave them welcome.
In the spacious, stone-flagged hall, the doctor found Lord Gildoy - a very tall and dark
young gentleman, prominent of chin and nose - stretched on a cane day-bed under one
of the tall mullioned windows, in the care of Mrs. Baynes and her comely daughter. His
cheeks were leaden-hued, his eyes closed, and from his blue lips came with each
laboured breath a faint, moaning noise.
Mr. Blood stood for a moment silently considering his patient. He deplored that a youth
with such bright hopes in life as Lord Gildoy's should have risked all, perhaps existence
itself, to forward the ambition of a worthless adventurer. Because he had liked and
honoured this brave lad he paid his case the tribute of a sigh. Then he knelt to his task,
ripped away doublet and underwear to lay bare his lordship's mangled side, and called
for water and linen and what else he needed for his work.