I turned to the road again with a merrier heart than ever, for I thought, as Smite-and-spare-not would have thought before me, that the very handiwork of God Himself was here displayed, in that the seemingly most untoward events of our journey had been turned into means of strength and assurance.
And this led me on to my pride of ancestry, and I told her of Captain Smite-and-spare-not Wheatman, a tower of strength to the Parliament in these parts, who fought here and later on Naseby Field itself.
I had rarely seen a naked sword, other than our time-worn and useless relic of the doughty Smite-and-spare-not, and had never sat thus at the point of one drawn in earnest on myself. It is easy to blame me, and at the back of my own mind I was blaming and cursing myself, as I sat helpless there.
"Smite-and-spare-not would subscribe to that doctrine," said Margaret, thrusting her way gently between the Colonel and me, and hooking a hand round an arm of each of us. Putting her lips to my ear, she whispered merrily, "Push of pike and the Word," and then looked so winningly at me that the black shadow lifted, and I smiled back at her.
Our special pride, a spice-cupboard of solid mahogany, ages old, glowed red across the room, and from the neighbouring wall the great sword and back-and-breast with which Smite-and-spare-not Wheatman, Captain of Horse, had done service at Naseby, seemed to twinkle congratulations to me as one not unworthy of my name.
Then I told how one of these later Olivers, which one a matter of no consequence, had written verses and put them into the mouth of the doughty Smite-and-spare-not, sitting his horse, stark and strong, at the head of his men on Naseby Field, and gazing with grim, grey eyes on the opening movements of the fight.
Down he went, whether hit or not I did not know. In the darkness I heard the rush of a second man who came on so fearlessly and fast that he was far into the passage before I met him with a fierce thrust of my rapier. I thrilled with the zeal of old Smite-and-spare-not as, for the first time, I felt the point of my rapier in a man's body, and drove it home with a yell.
I looked at the wall as half expecting the sword of Captain Smite-and-spare-not Wheatman to rattle to the ground under this awful insinuation. "The only use our family has found for priests, madam," I said, "has been, I fear, to hunt them like vermin. As a Wheatman of the Hanyards, I'm afraid I'm a degenerate." "You'll not even be that much longer if I keep you from getting into some dry clothes.
In the near-by town of Cambridge there was a vigorous little university with more than a hundred students. Moreover, there was a rising political spirit which gave me a keen interest in the men who breathed the quick vital air of this vigorous new England. In many respects I found myself back in the times of Smite-and-spare-not Wheatman, captain of horse in the army of the Lord-General.