The Project Gutenberg eBook of Magic London, by Netta Syrett
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Title: Magic London
Author: Netta Syrett
Illustrator: Helen Jacobs
Release Date: June 2, 2021 [eBook #65490]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: MWS, Shaun Mudd and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)





Translated by
Alexander Teixeira de Mattos

and other Stories









Published 1922.


May they find a “Godmother” who will take them to all the
places visited by Betty, so that, like her, they may discover
they are really living in a Magic City.

[Pg 9]


I Magic London 13
  Roman London
  A Fairy Tale Museum
II The Middle Ages 43
  The London of Dick Whittington
III In Tudor Days 81
  The London of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth
IV The Restoration 117
  The London of Charles II and of Mr. Samuel Pepys
V The Eighteenth Century 145
  The London of the Georges and of Dr. Johnson

[Pg 11]


The Great Fire of London (Colour) Frontispiece
She was beginning to think she liked her godmother Facing page 14
The Slave Market (Colour) " " 24
Canterbury Pilgrims (Colour) " " 72
The Royal Barge (Colour) " " 104
Charles I " " 124
The King entered, leading the Queen by the hand " " 130
A Sedan Chair (Colour) " " 160

[Pg 13]

Magic London

All her life up to the time she was eleven years old, Betty had heard about, but never seen, her godmother. The reason for this, was that until a year ago, Betty’s home had been far away in the country, while Godmother Strangeways lived in London. Then, just when the child’s father and mother moved to town, Godmother decided to travel abroad. So it happened that Betty had been more than a year in London before she met the old lady who afterwards made such a difference in her life.

She never forgot the first day she met her.

“Your godmother has come back,” said her mother one morning at breakfast time, as with a curious smile she passed a letter to her husband.

“Has she? Oh, I do want to see her!” exclaimed Betty.

“Well, you will. She wants you to spend the day with her to-morrow.”

“Aren’t you and Dad coming too?”

“No, she wants you alone. She’s sending her car to fetch you to-morrow at eleven o’clock. Your father and I will go to see her another time.”

“I wish you were coming. I don’t know her, and I don’t want to be there all day alone with her,” grumbled Betty. “What will there be to do?”

“You’ll find she’ll provide plenty to do,” laughed her father. “Mind you don’t tell her though, how much you dislike London!” he added in his teasing voice.

[Pg 14]

“Why?” asked Betty.

“Because your godmother loves it. She’s a great authority on London. What she doesn’t know about it, isn’t worth knowing. It’s quite uncanny. I wish she’d write a book about it.”

“I can’t think how any one can love London,” Betty declared. “Such a horrid, big, ugly, dull place. I shall never, never like it!”

Godmother’s little car duly came round next morning, and after a drive, Betty found herself in a tiny room, in a tiny house, in a tiny street close to Westminster Abbey, seated opposite to a very handsome old lady.

“I’m sorry my godchild doesn’t like London,” this old lady remarked suddenly, in the midst of a conversation about something else.

Betty blushed and looked uncomfortable. She felt shy of her godmother who, as she had always heard, was very clever but “eccentric”—a word she thought meant different from other people.

“It’s all so confusing and noisy and there are such lots of ugly houses,” she began apologetically. “And I do miss the lovely country and our beautiful garden,” she added with tears in her voice.

“Of course you do,” said Godmother sympathetically. “But as it’s a pity to hate the place you have to live in, I’m going to make you think London the most fascinating town in the world.”

She spoke confidently, and just as confidently Betty said to herself, “You’ll never do that.”

“You think it’s ugly, don’t you?” Godmother inquired. “Well, so it is—in parts.”


“Oh, it’s not all ugly,” Betty hastened to allow. “This little street is awfully pretty—and so quiet. It’s like a street in a country town. You can forget you’re in London. It’s a very old street, isn’t it?” She was forgetting her shyness and beginning to think she liked her godmother. She certainly liked the look of her. Godmother Strangeways was dressed in a way[Pg 17] which Betty described to herself as “nicely old-fashioned.” She had snow-white curls fastened back behind her ears with tortoiseshell combs, and the ample-flowered silk dress she wore was, as her godchild decided, “just right” for the small white-panelled room with its old furniture and tall narrow cabinets filled with all sorts of curious things.

“Old?” repeated her godmother. “It’s about two hundred years old, and that, as London goes now, is rather ancient. But it’s new compared with the age of London itself. What is two hundred years compared with nearly two thousand?”

“Is London as old as that?”

“Where’s your history? Didn’t the Romans live here once upon a time?” asked Godmother Strangeways briskly.

“So they did,” murmured Betty.

“Well, some of them settled in this island soon after the birth of Christ, and that is nearly two thousand years ago.”

“But I didn’t know they lived in London?”

Godmother laughed. “They made London, child. The first London. And just in the place where it now stands, at the mouth of the Thames.”

“But was it called London then?”

“Something very like it. It’s earliest name was Llyn-din, and the Romans called it Londinium. You see how easy it is to get London out of that? They had another name for it as well—quite a different one.—They sometimes called it Augusta.”

Betty was silent for a minute, then after a quick glance at her godmother she said rather timidly, “Dad says what you know about London is quite uncanny. He says he wonders you don’t write a book about it. When you asked me to come to see you, he was very pleased because he said if any one could make me like London it was you. And of course as I have to live here I should like to like it!” She sighed rather hopelessly.

The old lady began to smile, and her smile was mysterious.

“Shall I tell you why I don’t write a book about London?” she said. “It’s because if I did, it would be considered uncanny, as Dad says.”

Betty began to look and feel excited.

“Oh, why? Do tell me why?”

[Pg 18]

“I’m not quite sure whether it would be of any use to tell you, but I shall know better in a few hours’ time, when I’ve seen a little more of you. I’m going to take you out for a drive now, before luncheon. The car is still at the door.”

Ten minutes later, Betty took her seat beside the old lady, and the car glided out of the quiet street into a busy thoroughfare. It was a lovely spring day, and she was glad to be out of doors in a part of London more or less new to her. She was also very curious about what Godmother had recently hinted, though she scarcely liked to question her on the subject.

They were passing Westminster Abbey now, and nodding toward it Godmother said:

“You don’t call that ugly?”

Before Betty could answer, they had reached the end of Westminster Bridge and turned on to the Embankment. Raised on the end parapet of the bridge, was a group of statues in which the chief figure was a woman in flowing robes furiously driving a strange-looking chariot.

“Do you know what that represents?” asked Godmother, when she saw Betty glance at the monument with interest. “It’s Queen Boadicea driving into battle. I only want you just to remember her name, because you may hear something about her later.”

Again Godmother’s voice was mysterious, and Betty glanced at her, with more curiosity than ever.

It was delightful to be driving by the side of the river with[Pg 19] the spring sunlight sparkling on the water, but she wondered where they were going.

As though she guessed her thought, Godmother said presently, “We are going first to drive slowly over London Bridge.”

In a few minutes they were upon it, and the car was threading its way among the crowded traffic, between great vans and lorries and taxicabs and the carts and wagons of all sorts that rolled along with a ceaseless roar. Betty looked up and down the river lined with huge buildings, its surface covered with shipping of every kind, and it struck her that London was, after all, a wonderful city. At the other end of the bridge, Godmother gave Williams, the chauffeur, an order to return, and to stop as close as possible to The Monument, that enormously tall pedestal near the Bridge, which, as Betty’s father had told her, was put up in the reign of Charles II.

“Now I’m going to stay here comfortably in the car while you and Williams climb to the top of that column,” said Godmother, when the chauffeur had driven into a narrow side street. “Neither of you will mind the steps, but I certainly should.”

Betty was only too delighted at the prospect, and with Williams as escort, she mounted gaily higher and higher, till at last the final step was reached, and she stepped out on to the caged-in top of the pillar. What a marvellous view it was, of miles and miles of streets and houses and domes and spires, with the river running like a silver ribbon in the midst!

Williams also was impressed. “It’s a fine great city, miss!” he exclaimed.

“Well?” demanded Godmother, when presently they returned to the car. “What do you think of London in point of size?”

“It takes your breath away!” was Betty’s answer, as she settled herself comfortably for the homeward drive.

“It’s been lovely,” she declared, when they sat down to lunch in the quaint parlour below the sitting-room. “I do believe I’m going to like London after all, Godmother. It somehow seems quite different seeing it with you. I have such a funny feeling about it. Just as though it was a sort of magic place that might be awfully surprising.”

[Pg 20]

Godmother gave her a quick look, but said nothing except “I’m glad.”

After the meal, however, when they were once more in the white-panelled sitting-room which Betty already loved, she exclaimed all at once, “Now I’m going to tell you a secret.”

You may imagine how Betty pricked up her ears. But without giving her time to speak, the old lady went on, sinking her voice to a most thrilling whisper: “I have a magic way of seeing London. It’s a special gift, and I’m not going to tell you how I discovered that I possess it. Very, very few people have the gift, but from certain signs I think you possess it too. Would you like to try?”

Betty’s face was a study in perplexity.

“Yes—but how?” she stammered. “I don’t understand....”

Instead of explaining, Godmother Strangeways got up, and opened the door of a cabinet that stood between two narrow square-paned windows, took something from a shelf and, returning, dropped it into her godchild’s hand.

Betty gazed at the little object. “It’s a ring,” she began. “But a very old one, isn’t it? It’s so dark and stained.”

“It’s a very old one,” said Godmother. “It’s a ring once worn by a young Roman nobleman. Put it on to your third finger.”

Betty obeyed. “Now say these words after me.” She began to chant very slowly and distinctly certain words which, though she did not understand them, her godchild knew to be Latin.

Feeling as though she were in a dream, Betty began to repeat them after her, looking meanwhile at the clock on the mantelpiece which pointed to three o’clock.

Outside in the street, a boy was calling “Evening Paper! Evening paper!

His voice was still ringing in her ears when the white-panelled room vanished, and she found herself standing in the sunshine on the bank of a river....

[Pg 21]


For a moment she felt frightened and lost, till she saw that Godmother stood beside her. “Where are we? What is this place?” she stammered.


Betty thought of the London through which she had driven this very day. She saw again the crowded streets, the streams of traffic, the long rows of shops, the huge buildings of all sorts; the churches, the banks, the railways. How could this be London?

She looked down at the long grass on which she was standing,—grass that sloped to a clear river. On the opposite bank she saw something rather like a castle or fortress, a large brick building with zigzag battlements and turrets. This castle was reached by a bridge made of broad beams resting on piles of wood driven into the water, and beyond and on either side of the fort she saw, dotted here and there, strange-looking houses, with orchards and gardens and fields all about them.

“We drove over London Bridge this morning, didn’t we?” Godmother asked.

“Yes,” murmured Betty, bewildered.

“Well. There it is!” Godmother pointed to the bridge with its wooden planks and roughly-made railings of wood. “The London you know to-day began just about where we are standing now,” she went on, “and there”—again she pointed—“you see the first bridge that was ever built across the river.”

“Then we’re ever so far back in the Past?” asked Betty.

“We’ve gone back to a day four hundred years after the birth of Christ.”

Before she had time to realize the strangeness of this, Betty’s attention was attracted by the most curious-looking boat she had ever seen, coming round a bend of the river. It had a high curved prow, and it was crowded with men wearing helmets that flashed in the sun, short tunics to their knees, and plates of brass covering their legs. Two rows of long oars stretched on either side of the boat, and as it drew nearer Betty saw that,[Pg 22] though it had a sail, the helmeted soldiers were rowing it, and thus making it move very fast.

“Oh, look! look!” she almost shouted. “Who are these men?”

“Roman soldiers, of course,” said Godmother. “Remember the date. It is 400 years after Christ, and our country (called Britain then) has been conquered by, and belongs to, Rome. Many Romans have been settled here now for as long as three hundred years. That building,” she pointed to the Castle, “is the fortress where the Roman soldiers live. We shall see them disembark in a minute, and go into their barracks. This boat of theirs is called a galley, and it was in boats like it that the first Roman soldiers came sailing up this river Thames when they conquered the country.”

“Yes! yes! the boat is stopping! Now they’re going into the fortress!” exclaimed Betty excitedly, as with breathless[Pg 23] interest she watched the soldiers being marched along the river bank by their officers.

“Can we go across the bridge?” she asked a moment later.

“Of course we can. No one sees us. No one hears us. We are invisible—for as long as we choose to be. Come, we’ll cross over to the fortress.”

Dancing with excitement, Betty followed her on to the bridge, over which, all the time she and Godmother had been standing on the bank, people had been crossing and recrossing. They were the strangest-looking folk imaginable, but so far she had been too confused and too interested in the soldiers to do more than glance at them.

“Let us stand here a moment, and watch,” Godmother suggested, drawing her back against the wooden parapet of the bridge.

“That’s a Roman nobleman,” she observed, as a fine-looking man passed, wearing a tunic, a white cloak wrapped round part of his body, the end flung over one shoulder, and sandals made of twisted leather. “That’s his villa over there.” She pointed to a house at some little distance set in the midst of blossoming fruit-trees.

“Here’s a British merchant coming!” she went on. “Look at his long furry trousers under the cloak, or toga as it is called, which he is wearing in imitation of the Romans. He has become so ‘Romanized’ that he copies the conquerors of his country in every possible way.”

“But for all that, he doesn’t look a bit like a Roman!” declared Betty, as she stared at the man’s red hair, which hung to his shoulders. “Oh! do look at this dear little girl!” she exclaimed almost in the same breath.

A woman leading a pretty fair-haired child was moving towards them. The little girl, who was bare-footed, wore a straight gown made of woollen material, dyed blue. She had big blue eyes, and her tangled curly hair hung loose about her face. All at once, just as she passed them, a coin fell from her hand and, dropping through a chink between the planks of the bridge, fell into the water with a splash.

[Pg 24]

The woman, talking angrily in a language that sounded strange and barbarous, shook the child, who began to cry.

“Oh, poor little thing!” said Betty pitifully. “Her mother needn’t be so cross with her! They’re British people, I suppose?”

“Yes. That was the money to pay the toll at the end of the bridge,” explained Godmother, “and now it’s at the bottom of the river.”

But Betty soon forgot the little girl in her interest in watching the other people who passed and re-passed, and looking at the boats which floated up and down the stream laden with all sorts of merchandise.


“London, as you see, was an important port even in these far-[Pg 25]off days, four hundred years after Christ,” Godmother remarked. “Tin and iron and lead and oysters are going away in some of those boats to other countries, and all sorts of things are coming in as exchange.... Now let us go on to the fortress and climb up to the battlements. Fortunately no one will interfere with us, and we shall get a good view of the country from the top.”

It was a very weird experience to pass unchallenged into the courtyard of the castle, filled with laughing, shouting and quarrelling soldiers. These men paid no attention to them, and Godmother led the way up a winding stone staircase to a pathway on the inner side of the battlements. From this height they had a wonderful view over the surrounding country, and as she gazed, Betty was lost in amazement.

The Monument, that great column to the top of which she had so recently climbed, was, she remembered, close to London Bridge. Therefore she must now be standing near the very same spot as that from which only this morning she had looked over London. It was an amazing thought.

She remembered the countless spires and domes and towers which rose far above their roofs, and the swarming traffic in all the streets.

Upon what a different scene she looked now! In place of the miles and miles of streets and houses, she saw along a narrow strip of the shore, right and left of the wooden bridge, a few steep lanes or alleys, lined with poor low dwellings. A few wharves and quays stretched along the bank of the river just below. There certainly a busy life went on, for men were loading and unloading boats. Behind the lanes leading down to the river, there was a belt of cultivated land, dotted over with gleaming one-storied dwellings which Godmother said were Roman villas, and beyond them, enclosing all the cultivated land, rose a strong wall with towers at intervals. But behind the wall came a long stretch of marshy ground, leading to the edge of a huge forest—a dark and gloomy and endless forest, clothing a line of hills, and stretching away, away, as far as eye could see.

Godmother was leaning on the parapet beside her.

“We are facing north now,” she said, and added suddenly, “You’ve been to Hampstead Heath, of course?”

[Pg 26]

Betty could not imagine what Hampstead Heath had to do with the scene upon which she was gazing, but she said, “Yes, we go nearly every Sunday.”

“Well, then, you have seen a tiny bit that is left of that great forest in front of you. There’s very little ‘forest’ about Hampstead Heath now, certainly, but such as it is, it is the descendant of that very one you see before you, which, a thousand years ago, stretched for hundreds of miles over this island.”

From the other side of the fortress, to which they presently moved, the view was equally strange, for here there was nothing to be seen but swampy land, just emerging from the water which everywhere surrounded it.

“We are looking south,” Godmother said, “and now that you see this great stretch of water right and left, you will understand why the first name of London was the lake fort.”

“Is that what Llyn-din means?” Betty asked.

“Yes. In the British language, Llyn-din means just that, and in the Roman language the word became Londinium—the Fortress on the Lake.”

“I do wish I could speak to some of the people,” said Betty, after a moment during which she watched the sunlight sparkling on the great expanse of water that ran under the oldest of all the London Bridges.

“Well, I can manage that for you. There’s no end to magic if you once learn how to work it,” Godmother added with her curious smile. “Let’s go down into the market-place.”

Between the houses that sloped down to the river just below, there was an open space, and from where she stood, Betty could see it was filled by a lively crowd of people, some evidently British, others Roman. They were buying and selling, and the noise and shouting of the crowd could be plainly heard.

“What’s that large building on the little hill just above the market-place?” Betty asked.

“That’s the Roman Hall of Justice, where people who have done wrong are tried, and sentenced to punishment,” replied the old lady as the child followed her to the top of the steps.

A few minutes later they stood in the market-place, where Betty could have lingered for hours watching the strange crowd.[Pg 27] It was by no means entirely made up of Romans and British. Many dark-skinned, dark-eyed men from Eastern lands were there as well. “They are traders from lands even farther off than Rome,” Godmother explained. “For London, you know, has always been filled with foreign merchants. Some of these are buying British slaves to take back with them in their ships to their own countries. You see that little group of girls and boys over there, wrapped in rough skin coats? They come from a part of Britain beyond the forest, and they have been bought by that black-haired man with the turban and the gold earrings.”

Betty looked at the poor children pityingly as they stood huddled together, confused and frightened. It was dreadful to think of them being sold as though they were sheep or cows! But her attention was all at once distracted by a boy of about her own age, who, having passed quite close, all at once turned round and stopped. It was the first time that any one had seen her, for up to this moment both she and Godmother had been invisible. But it was evident that, to the boy at least, this was no longer the case. He smiled, and walking towards her, said, “You are a stranger? You would like to see my father’s house?”

He was a Roman boy, as Betty at once recognized, and strangely enough she did not feel it at all odd that she should understand his speech, though afterwards she knew it must be Latin. At the time, however, she wondered how he guessed that she was desperately anxious to go into one of the many Roman houses so beautifully set among orchards and gardens.

“Yes, if you please,” was all she could find to say.

“Come then,” said the boy, smiling again pleasantly, but paying no heed to Godmother.

Betty turned to her, puzzled and uncertain, but Godmother only laughed.

“Don’t trouble about finding me again. It will be all right. Go with him, and stay as long as you like. You’ll discover it’s not so long as you imagine.”

Thus encouraged, Betty very willingly followed her guide. He was a handsome boy, dressed very much as the Roman[Pg 28] nobleman on the bridge had been clothed, except that the cloak he wore over his tunic had a broad purple band round its edge. That, as she afterwards learnt from Godmother, being the usual dress for Roman boys, for it was not till they were grown up, that they wore the tunic without this purple border.

“That is our villa,” he began presently when they came in sight of a long one-storied house surrounded by trees and shrubs. “My father has much land here, and many farms.”

“Will you tell me your name?” asked Betty shyly.

“My name is Lucius.... I will take you first straight through the house,” said the boy. By this time they had reached its entrance, and Betty caught a beautiful vision of rooms divided by pillars, each one opening into the next; of painted ceilings and walls, of coloured stone pavements, of couches with purple silk cushions upon them, and pedestals upon which statues stood. It was only a flashing glimpse she had of all this, and though she saw everything with the greatest distinctness, she was somehow conscious that none of it was actually real; that even Lucius was not really alive, even while she saw him as plainly as though he had been flesh and blood. Deep down in her mind, she knew that everything she saw and heard, was what had once existed but was over and done with long, long ago, and was only revived for a moment.

And yet everything looked so real. Just as this sad feeling came to her, she was walking over a pavement made of small coloured stones fitted together to make a pattern. This she knew was called mosaic work, and she noticed the design of it, which was that of a woman seated on the back of some animal in the centre of the pavement.

By the time she had walked through the villa and out of it upon a terrace overlooking the country, Betty had a confused idea of great luxury and beauty, displayed in a very different sort of house from any she had ever seen before.

“Ask me any questions you like,” said Lucius presently. But Betty scarcely knew where to begin.

“This country is called Britain, isn’t it?” she said at last, remembering her history. “And you Roman people conquered it?”

[Pg 29]

“We did,” answered the boy, smiling. “Long ago. Four hundred years ago.”

“And the British people are not angry about it anymore?”

“No. Why should they be? Everything is peaceful now.”

“But at first there was fighting, I suppose?”

“Long and bitter fighting,” said Lucius. “There is a story, which I believe is true, that when my ancestors first came to Britain, more than three hundred years ago, there was a British Queen who led men to battle against us. She actually took and burnt this town of Londinium—which was then, however, much smaller and less important than it is now.”

“Boadicea!” thought Betty, remembering in a flash the statue on Westminster Bridge.

But Lucius was again speaking. “My own family has been settled here nearly two hundred years. It was my great-grandfather who built this villa, and he was born in Londinium.”

“We call it London,” murmured Betty. But Lucius did not seem to hear her. “Then I suppose it was a good thing for the British to be conquered?” she inquired.

The boy laughed. “Without doubt. They were savages when we came, and we’ve taught them everything. From us[Pg 30] they’ve learnt how to till the land,”—he nodded towards a field. “Those are British labourers working there now. They’ve learnt how to make roads after our famous Roman plan. You can see one of our roads from this corner of the terrace. And how to build houses and ships, and work in metal and do a thousand other things. Some of them have grown rich, and have been educated, so that they are as good scholars now as we are. Already Londinium is a famous port to which foreign merchants come bringing riches. My father says it will some day be a great city, equal to any city in the world.”

“It has become a great city!” exclaimed Betty to herself, remembering the London she knew. It was sad to think that if she had spoken aloud, the boy would not have understood her, and she hastened to ask another question.

“Are these British people Christians?”

“Oh yes!” said Lucius. “Ever since we became Christians ourselves, you know. Of course when my ancestors first came here, they themselves were pagans. They worshipped gods and goddesses like Apollo and Venus. But that’s a hundred years ago. Now Londinium is a Christian city, and we’re teaching the British to be Christians also. It’s rather difficult though, because a great many of them cling to their old gods. Still, most of them at least call themselves Christians.”

“Do you like living in this country—in Britain?” asked Betty after a moment.

“Oh yes. It’s my home. I was born here. But I should like to go to Rome—the city from which my great-grandfather came when he settled here, and built this villa. Perhaps I shall, some day,” he went on dreamily. “My father often says we may have to go back to our own land. There are troubles there. The barbarians are growing stronger and stronger, and some day Rome will need all the fighting men she can get to defend her.”

“But the British will have no one to defend them if you go,” objected Betty.

Lucius shrugged his shoulders. “No, poor things. Their state will be very desperate if enemies come to invade them when we are gone....”

[Pg 31]

Betty scarcely listened to the end of his sentence, for she had made a discovery which interested her too much. On his third finger Lucius wore the very ring which not long ago had been in her own hand! But before she could exclaim, Betty found herself standing once more upon London Bridge, with her Godmother beside her, and strangely enough Godmother was repeating almost the very words the boy had just uttered!

“Poor things! They little know what a terrible time is before their children’s children!”

“You mean the British? When the Romans have gone?” said Betty, who by this time was beginning to accept all the strange things that were happening without much surprise.

“Yes. In a few years that villa you have just seen, and all the other beautiful Roman houses, will have dropped into decay. There will be no one left in London except perhaps a handful of British slaves, and most of them will have to flee to that forest over there, to escape from the murderous people who will overrun this island....”

The people were still passing to and fro upon London Bridge, as Betty gazed about her. The sunlight was still sparkling on the river, and from the fortress came the sound of the tramping feet of the soldiers.

“There’s a little boat just putting off,” said Godmother. “The man in it is going to fish higher up the river. We’ll step in with him. It’s a great advantage to be invisible!” she added, smiling, as they hurried down to the bank.

It was strange nevertheless to be seated opposite a shaggy-haired, bare-legged fisherman, who took no notice of them, but as the boat glided on, Betty was soon so interested in the scenery they were passing that she almost forgot the silent man who was rowing them. Very soon they had passed all the gardens and orchards on the banks, and now on either side there was nothing but a waste of water with here and there a low reed-covered island just showing above its level.

“We are now passing under Westminster Bridge,” observed Godmother presently. “On our left is St. Thomas’s Hospital and Lambeth Palace, and on our right the Houses of Parliament, with Westminster Abbey behind it.”

[Pg 32]

Betty stared. She thought Godmother must be joking.

“Perfectly true,” the old lady assured her in answer to her smile. “On that island just above the water on the right, in another six hundred years, Westminster Abbey will rise.”

Betty heard the gurgling of the water as it washed between the reeds and bulrushes of the island, and as she thought of the beautiful Cathedral under whose shadow her godmother’s house stood, it seemed a miracle that such a change could have taken place.

“Human beings are rather wonderful, aren’t they?” remarked Godmother, smiling, as though she read her thoughts. “They drain wet land and make it useful for growing food, or for buildings. They bore tunnels through solid rocks. They build bridges over rivers, and do a thousand things to alter the world for their own convenience. Who could have imagined that this great London of ours, the largest city in the world, could have grown up from this?” Godmother waved her hand towards the swamps and streams, east, west and south of where they sat rocking in the boat beside the swampy island.

“Just think of it!” she exclaimed after a moment’s silence. “This marsh, and that forest to the north, and all the open land as far as we can see in every direction, is now covered with streets and shops, with churches and schools and railway stations, and is the dwelling-place of millions of people.”

“It’s almost as wonderful as this magic way of seeing it as it used to be!” declared Betty. “Tell me again how far back in the Past we are?”

“All this is one thousand five hundred years ago,” said Godmother softly.

The fisherman had tied up his boat to a stake driven into the shore of the island, where later the great Cathedral of Westminster was to stand. The sun was setting, the water was a sheet of gold and crimson, and above the island a flight of birds rose suddenly with shrill cries.... The next second they stood in the white-panelled parlour.

“Oh!” cried Betty, rubbing her eyes. She glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. “Why!” she stammered, “it was[Pg 33] three o’clock the last time I saw it, and it’s still three. It must have stopped!”

Godmother shook her head. “It hasn’t stopped. Time is almost as magic a thing as——”

“As all we’ve seen,” put in Betty eagerly. “Oh, Godmother, it has been wonderful! But no one will ever believe it.”

“Don’t try to make them,” replied Godmother. “You’ll find it quite easy not to,” she added with her queer little smile. Then as the bell rang, “Here comes your maid to fetch you.”

“Oh, but this isn’t the end of the magic? You’ll let me come again? You’ll let me see how London goes on?” Betty implored.

“To-morrow I’m going to take you to a Museum,” returned the old lady. “I don’t think you’ll find it dull,” she said comfortingly, as Betty’s face fell. “I shall fetch you at three o’clock, and mind you don’t keep me waiting.”


Punctually at three o’clock next day, Godmother’s pretty little car pulled up at the door of Betty’s home in Chelsea, and a few minutes later she was driving away with her.

“Well!” began Godmother, as she observed a curious expression upon the face of her godchild, “did you try explaining to people all you saw yesterday?”

“Why, Godmother, till I caught sight of you just now, I’d forgotten all about it!” exclaimed Betty, breathless with surprise. “I mean I’d forgotten all the magic part about the ring and actually going back to see London as it was when the Romans were here,” she explained. “I kept wondering why I had a picture in my mind of London as it looked then. I simply couldn’t think how it was I knew, and I’ve only just remembered.”

“I told you that it wouldn’t be difficult to keep the secret,” returned Godmother, laughing.

“Oh, it’s a lovely secret!” Betty exclaimed. “Where are we going now?”

[Pg 34]

“I’m taking you to a Museum. But as you will see, it is, in its own way, a sort of fairy-tale place. A beautiful house, called Lancaster House, close to St. James’s Palace, has been turned into a kind of treasure-palace, containing all sorts of things that have to do with London from the very earliest times up to the present day. It is called The London Museum, and you ought to find it even more fascinating than it appears to most other people.”

“I generally hate Museums,” said Betty frankly. “But then I’ve never been to one with you before.”

“You won’t hate this one,” was Godmother’s reply. They were driving down St. James’s Street now, and in a few moments the car stopped before a stately-looking house quite near to the old Palace of St. James.

“Now,” said Godmother, as they went up the steps, “the way to see Museums is to look at a very little at a time, so, though this place is full of interesting things, I’m only going to show you one or two of them. First of all, we go downstairs into the basement.”

Betty followed her to the left of an entrance hall from which a grand staircase rose, into a corridor whose windows gave her a glimpse of a pretty green garden; then down a flight of steps into a big hall below. The floor of this had been hollowed out to look rather like a swimming-bath, but instead of water, the hollow was filled up by the skeleton of a great wooden boat. It was black with age, broken and battered, but the pieces had been carefully fitted together, so that one might at least guess how it looked more than a thousand years ago, when it was new. “It’s a Roman galley!” cried Betty, who had recently seen one, not ancient and decayed, but actually floating upon the Thames. In her excitement she scarcely knew whether to look first at the ancient boat, or at the picture which filled the end wall just above it, and showed a galley rowed by Roman soldiers.

“I see! I see!” she cried eagerly. “That’s how the man who painted that picture imagined it looked when it was new, ages ago? He hasn’t imagined it badly, has he, Godmother? The boat is just passing the fortress, and it’s very much like the one we really went up, isn’t it? And he’s made the[Pg 35] river clear, with grassy banks, just as it was. And the soldiers are quite good too. They did look like that! Oh! Godmother, how did they find this boat?”

“Here’s a notice that will tell you. It was dug up, you see, a few years ago—in 1910, to be precise—when men were at work on a road in Lambeth.”

“Under a road?” echoed Betty. “But how did it get there?”

“Have you forgotten already what you saw yesterday? Don’t you remember that the Thames then spread out all over what is now Lambeth as well as over Westminster on the opposite bank? This boat was found in what then was the bed of the river, and is now land covered with buildings.”

“Yes, I understand. Oh, Godmother, do you think it could be the very galley we saw? Perhaps it is!”

Godmother smiled. “I’m afraid not. It is thought that this galley was sunk a hundred years or so earlier than the one we saw when we stood on the first London Bridge. But it must have been very like it.”

Betty looked up again at the picture. “It shows a piece of the wall that went round London,” she said, gazing at it with interest. “And in the background there is the great forest. Oh, I think the painter has imagined it very well.”

“Considering that he hadn’t our magic advantage I think he has,” agreed Godmother.

Betty was silent a moment, looking down thoughtfully at the remains of the poor battered galley which once sailed so proudly on London’s river, filled with soldiers, their armour and helmets glittering in the sunshine of long ago. There were other things in this basement hall that looked interesting, but Godmother would not let her stay to examine them.

“We will go upstairs now,” she said. So up the narrow staircase they went, into the corridor again, and thence to a room with Roman London painted over the door.

No sooner had Betty entered it than she gave a little cry and stood staring at the end wall, where a sort of picture in mosaic work was hanging, filling up its whole space.

“That was in the villa that belonged to Lucius!” she exclaimed. “I remember it quite well. It was the pavement[Pg 36] of one of the rooms. There’s the lady riding on that funny animal’s back with the border round her, just as I saw it. Oh, Godmother! Just fancy its being here after all these years and years.”

“It is wonderful,” said Godmother. “How many of the thousands of people who every day hurry along the streets near London Bridge either know or remember that deep down under their feet lies a buried Roman city? Every now and then a fragment of it, like this one, is dug up. But there must be much, much more hidden far beneath houses and shops and roads where trams and omnibuses roll and rattle. By the way,” she added, “if you want to see the actual piece of pavement that was in the villa ‘that belonged to Lucius’ we shall have to go to the British Museum. This one is only a copy of it.”

“I shall go one day,” Betty answered. “I should like to see the very pavement I walked on. I’m luckier than any of the children in London,” she added with a little chuckle of delight.

“Now look at some of the things in these cases,” advised Godmother. “You will find them just as interesting.”

Betty obediently examined the contents of one of the glass boxes the room contained, and soon found occasion for a fresh excitement. On a label beside a collection of battered coins, she read: Found in the river bed near the present London Bridge. Instantly a scene rose in her mind of a little fair-haired girl crying and looking down through the chinks of a wooden bridge into the shining water.

“Oh, Godmother, perhaps one of them is the very coin that poor little girl dropped when her mother was so angry with her?” she cried.

“Perhaps,” said Godmother. “She dropped it one thousand five hundred years ago, and that’s about the date of this group of coins.”

“How do people know that?”

“By the inscriptions on them, we discover which emperor was ruling in Rome, and in that way we are often able to fix the date at which the money was in use.”

In another moment Betty had discovered other things in the[Pg 37] cases which took her thoughts back to the “magic” experience. These were ornamental pins for the hair, combs, and other toilet articles which must once have been pretty and shining, but were dull and rusty now from long burial in the earth. She thought of the glimpse she had had of a bedroom (perhaps belonging to the mother of Lucius), in which such things as these were lying on a marble table. In fact, everything she saw in the cases reminded her of Roman London, with its beautiful villas and gardens, now buried and almost as forgotten as though they had never existed. And she sighed.

“It’s very sad to think of,” she said.

“Yes,” answered Godmother in an understanding voice. “But the life of London still goes on, even though it’s a different life, and Roman London is forgotten.” They were standing by the window of the room, and beyond the garden upon which it looked, in the road outside St. James’s Park, people were walking, children running, and taxicabs and motor-cars swept past in a constant stream.

“When the Romans lived here, all this”—she waved her hand towards the Park and the busy road—“was a dreary swamp, impossible for human existence. Now you see it the home and pleasure-ground of thousands of people whose turn it is to enjoy the sunshine, the blue sky, and all the pleasant things the Romans and the British who lived side by side in this London of ours, enjoyed long ago.”

“This may be a Museum, but it’s an awfully nice one,” declared Betty, as she and Godmother walked back towards the corridor. “It wouldn’t be dull, even without the magic. But that makes it a hundred times more fascinating, of course. Can’t we look at some other things?”

“The only other thing I’m going to show you to-day, is a certain picture,” returned Godmother. “But before we look at it, I must explain a little, or you won’t understand it.”

They found a seat in the corridor, and she began at once.

“You will remember that when we saw London yesterday, on our magic journey into the Past, I told you we were very near the end of the Romans’ stay in Britain. Soon afterwards they had to go back to fight against enemies in their own land,[Pg 38] and you know what happened when the British were left unprotected?”

“Enemies came to fight against them.”

“And who were those enemies?”

“The Jutes and the Angles and the Saxons,” replied Betty, who was quite good at history.

“Yes, those names are all right; but the chief thing to remember about them is that they were our forefathers, and that before long they were known as the English people. This island, once called Britain, became England, and the original inhabitants—those British among whom the Romans lived—though they were not entirely driven out of the country, were hunted as far west as they could go, and received a different name.”

“I remember!” cried Betty, nodding. “They are called the Welsh now, and they live in Wales.”

“Well, for the future, in thinking about London, let us leave them there, remembering that though nowadays we scarcely know Welsh from our own countrymen, they are not our countrymen. They are of a different race, the descendants of the British, and though nearly all of them now talk in English, their native language is quite different from ours. It is really the old British language. Now, for goodness’ sake, get that clearly into your mind, and never let me hear you muddle up the British with the English, in the annoying way of most children!” concluded Godmother in her sharpest voice.

“I won’t. I promise,” Betty said, laughing, for she was getting quite used to Godmother, and was no longer afraid of her.

“Very well, then. Now you’re ready to look at the picture. Come along.”

Betty followed her down a corridor till she stopped before one of several pictures hung in a line. It represented a group of wild-looking men standing beneath the walls of a city which Betty at once saw was meant to represent the London or Londinium of the Romans.

“You must imagine that the scene shown by this picture, is about a hundred years after the Romans had gone,” said Godmother. “Those great strong men looking up at London Wall[Pg 39] are our forefathers, the English. Awful things have been happening for the past hundred years; terrible fighting between these invaders and the British, who by now are being everywhere defeated and driven farther and farther west. The Englishmen in the picture, have come suddenly into sight of a walled city that looks dangerous to approach. They are hesitating. One of them is blowing his horn to see whether any defenders will appear upon the battlements. No answer comes to the loud blast, and the warriors will presently rush at that gate, batter it down and enter. To their amazement they will find within, beautiful houses such as they have never seen or imagined. But all of them are empty and dropping into decay. They will see the ruined gardens and orchards of buildings the use of which they can’t even guess. For many, many years London has lain deserted, because on account of the fighting in the country all round, no food could reach it, and all its people have fled. Wondering and afraid, believing, no doubt, all these decaying remains of luxury to be some magic device of demons, those rough warriors will hurry away from the silent city, leaving it to fall into still deeper ruin.”

“Poor London!” said Betty. “But how did it ever wake up again?”

“It had to wait till the worst of the fighting was over before it was occupied again—this time by a different race—the English race. Then London once more came to life. But by this time probably nearly the whole of the Roman buildings had disappeared, and become buried under the first rough English houses where the new race of men lived who once more made the city into a thriving port.”

“And these English people forgot all about the Romans, I suppose?”

“They never knew them, you see. Even the few British who were left (the descendants of those who had lived under Roman rule), only had legends about them. They used the great roads the Romans had made, but they called them by new names—English names. Watling Street, for instance, was the name they gave to the great Roman road that led northwards out of London. It is now partly Oxford Street and partly[Pg 40] Edgware Road. Roman London disappeared as though it had never been, till bits of it, ages later, were, and are, being dug up.”

“Then didn’t the Romans ever have anything to do with the English at all?”

“They had a great deal to do with them—later on. For one thing, as you ought to remember, they converted them to Christianity.”

“Oh yes, of course. St. Augustine came from Rome, didn’t he, and taught the English to be Christians? But that was a long time afterwards.”

“When we see London again, it will be a Christian city once more, just as it was when you and I looked down upon it from the Roman fortress.”

“Only the people in it will be English—instead of British and Roman,” said Betty. “Oh, Godmother, when shall we see it the ‘magic’ way again?”

“All in good time,” was Godmother’s reply, as she looked at her watch. “I shall just have time to show you one little bit of Roman London which remains to this day just where the Romans left it,” she added.

“Not in a museum then?”

“No. It’s in the very midst of London, at the back of a modern hotel. You shall see it first, and I’ll tell you what I can about it, afterwards.”

“Stop at Strand Lane, close to Aldwych Tube Station in the Strand,” was Godmother’s direction to the chauffeur.

They were soon there, and Betty wonderingly followed the old lady down a winding, narrow road between houses, till she stopped before an ordinary-looking back-door, near which a board hung, with the words Roman Bath upon it. In another moment Betty was in a vaulted room, gazing down at what seemed to be a little swimming-bath. It was paved and lined with marble slabs, but these did not reach quite to the top, and a rim of ancient bricks was visible.

“Once upon a time, two thousand years ago, perhaps,” said Godmother, “there was a Roman villa on this spot, and here is the very bath belonging to it! Under those steps that go down[Pg 41] into the bath, there is a spring of water, constantly bubbling up—the same spring that filled it in Roman days.”

“And Roman people bathed here ages ago!” exclaimed Betty.

“It seems wonderful, doesn’t it? But there is the bath that they built nearly two thousand years ago. The water that fills it, comes from a stream forming a well, which in the Middle Ages was called Holy Well. Only a very few years ago there was a street over there, on the other side of the Strand, called Holywell Street, because it was built over the old well.”

“It’s awfully interesting to see something Roman that’s not in a Museum,” observed Betty. “And now I can so easily imagine the sort of villa that was here,” she added. “It had gardens round it where all these houses go down to the river, and the people who lived in it, saw only fields and forests, and swampy land where now there are miles and miles of[Pg 42] streets and London houses. Oh, it is wonderful to think about!”

But Godmother was again consulting her watch, and in a moment or two Betty was being driven in the car back to her home in Chelsea.

[Pg 43]

The Middle Ages


All the week, Betty went to a High School, but Saturday was a whole holiday, and greatly to her satisfaction, it was arranged that she should spend her Saturdays with Godmother.

It was just a week since she had visited the London of Roman times, but not till the following Saturday, when she actually saw her Godmother, did the memory of “the magic part” come back to her.

“It’s so exciting to remember the secret directly I see you!” she exclaimed. “How far back are we going to-day? Oh, do let us begin at once, without wasting a single instant.”

Godmother laughed. “We won’t waste a single instant certainly. But you’re not going back into the Past till this afternoon. I’ve ordered the car, and we shall drive again into the City.”

By “the City” Betty knew she meant all the business part of London, to which thousands of people went every day to work in offices or warehouses.

“Why is only this crowded part of London called the City?” she asked presently when they were driving through bustling streets near St. Paul’s. “I should have thought the whole of London was a city?”

“So it is,” returned Godmother. “But as it all gradually spread, east and west, north and south, from London Bridge, it has become usual to speak of this busiest and earliest part of it[Pg 44] as the City, and of all the rest by different names, such as the West End, North London, South London, and so forth. It’s such a huge place, you see, that such divisions as these are necessary.”

“Now we’re coming to London Bridge. I’m glad we’re going over it again,” Betty said presently, as they passed the Monument from which the previous week she had looked far and wide.

“We will drive very slowly, and I want you to notice several buildings that can be seen from the bridge.”

“There’s the Tower!” said Betty, looking to the left, where the solid square of the main building, with a tower at each corner, was visible. “And there’s St. Paul’s,” she added, turning to the right, and gazing at its dome and cross.

“Look at all these wharves and warehouses lining each bank of the river, with the great cranes hanging from them,” advised Godmother. “I want you to remember this scene. Try to get a clear picture of it in your mind.”

Betty looked with interest at the crowded shipping below the bridge, and at the bales of goods, some being lowered into boats, others hoisted up into the warehouses. She saw how, left and right, the river was spanned by bridges, and how, as far as she could see, warehouses and quays stretched in a continuous line, while smoke from thousands of factory chimneys rose into the air.

“Now we are on the south side of the river,” said Godmother, when the end of the bridge was reached. “All this district is called Southwark, and beyond it there are miles of dingy streets and houses, making up the parts of London called Bermondsey and Newington and Camberwell, and so forth. But it’s houses, houses, and most of them ugly houses, all the way. That black, dingy bridge overhead, spanning the road, belongs to London Bridge railway station.”

“But here’s one beautiful place at least!” Betty remarked, pointing to the right, where a fine church was hemmed in between walls of hideous sheds and other buildings belonging to the railway. A narrow churchyard, with a flagged path across it, separated the church from these ugly dirty surroundings, and a[Pg 45] few trees just breaking into leaf showed brilliantly green against its ancient walls.

“Yes, I particularly want you to notice that church. It’s called St. Saviour’s, Southwark. Look at it well, and don’t forget its name. We’ll go back now to the north end of the bridge, and drive a little way along that street which runs beside the river towards the Tower.”

Thames Street,” murmured Betty, reading its name on the wall as they turned into it.

So crowded was this particular street, so full of heavy lorries and wagons outside its warehouses, that they were soon obliged to leave it, and drive into Cheapside, quite close, but farther back from the river. Through St. Paul’s Churchyard, down Ludgate Hill into Fleet Street they drove, and straight on down the Strand.

“There’s the Savoy Hotel, and the Savoy Theatre next to it, where I saw ‘Alice in Wonderland’ once,” observed Betty, as they passed these buildings.

“Remember that also,” said Godmother, “and try to get some of the names of the streets into your head. These streets, I mean, that lead out of the Strand. All of them, you see, go down to the river.”

Betty had already noticed some of them, as the car passed, and had murmured their names. They were soon in Whitehall now, with the well-known Abbey in sight, and therefore near home.

“Westminster Hall,” said Godmother, when they passed the Houses of Parliament. She pointed to its long sloping roof, and added, “That’s one of the buildings you must remember.”

Every time Godmother drew her special attention to something, Betty gave a little smile of excitement, for she knew she would see that particular place or building again—by magic. And the magic made all the difference.

It was two or three hours later before she followed Godmother into the white-panelled room.

“Oh, I do hope it will be nice this time!” she exclaimed, full of excited anticipation.

[Pg 46]

Godmother laughed as she went to the cabinet.

“Last Saturday the talisman was a Roman ring. What is it going to be now?” Betty asked, as her godmother selected two objects from the cabinet. One she saw was an old book, the other, when she held it in her hand, she found to be a beautifully engraved gold chain.

“This book,” said Godmother, “was written by a poet—Geoffrey Chaucer by name—who lived more than five hundred years ago. You will discover to whom the chain once belonged, later on. Now, shut your eyes, hold the chain in both hands, and say, after me, these words written by old Chaucer, five hundred years ago.”

Betty obeyed, and repeated slowly after Godmother:

“ ... When that the month of May
Is comen, and that I hear the foules sing,
And that the floures ginnen for to spring,
Farewell my booke and my devotion....”

“Open your eyes,” said Godmother, after a silence. “We have gone back to the year 1388. Richard the Second is king. This is London Bridge, and it is May Day.”

Betty’s eyes, now wide open, wandered right and left. The London she looked upon, was completely changed from the scene she had beheld on her last magic visit. Gone were the Roman villas, gone the fortress, gone the Roman Hall of Justice. But the wall that had then encircled the city—or one very like it—was still there, for from where she stood, she could see parts of it, with its massive gates at intervals opening into the green country beyond. The bridge on which she stood, was now built of stone, firm and strong. At either end, stood fortified towers, with gates, and in the middle of the bridge, was a beautiful little Chapel. Leaning over the parapet, Betty saw that the chapel was in two parts, one built above the other, and from the lower one, steps descended into the water.

“We’ll look at the people as they pass, before I tell you how all this change has come about,” Godmother said. And indeed the people were interesting and picturesque enough to occupy all Betty’s attention.

[Pg 47]

“How gay they are! What beautiful coloured clothes they wear!” she cried. “Oh, Godmother, do look at this young man coming. Isn’t he splendid?”

She pointed to a boy of eighteen or nineteen who came swinging along the bridge, dressed in a short tunic edged with fur, and embroidered all over with flowers. The tunic had long wide hanging sleeves tapering to a point which almost reached the young gallant’s knee. He wore long green silk stockings, boots ending in a peak, and his crimped fair hair fell on either side of his face down to his shoulders.

“What a lot of monks there are!” she exclaimed, when the beautiful youth had gone by. Some of these were in rough grey habits with a knotted rope round their waists; others wore white robes under a black cloak, and there were many of them going to and fro upon the bridge.

“The grey ones are the Franciscans, or Grey Friars, and those with the black cloak are the Dominicans, or Black Friars,” Godmother told her.... “Here is an old countrywoman coming in from the southern gate with her butter and eggs! Doesn’t she look comfortable?”

She was a stout old lady, with folds of white linen round her neck drawn up on either side of her face under a flat broad-brimmed hat. Her woollen skirt was very short, showing scarlet stockings and buckled shoes, and she carried an enormous basket on one arm.

“That white linen arrangement round her face is called a wimple,” said Godmother. “Nuns, if you remember, still wear the same sort of thing.”

[Pg 48]

“She isn’t a bit like a nun though,” laughed Betty, watching the fat old woman as she waddled past her.

The next moment her attention was attracted by a group of children who came running along the bridge shouting and singing. They all had flowers in their hands, and some of the little ones wore wreaths of bluebells or primroses.

“Oh! don’t they look pretty!” exclaimed Betty in delight. “And they must have picked the flowers in the fields and woods just outside that gate at the end of the bridge,” she added.

“You remember what is at the end of the bridge as we saw it this morning? A railway station, and a railway arch over an ugly street, with miles and miles of streets beyond. The Church of St. Saviour’s, was the only beautiful thing visible—a change indeed,” said Godmother.

Betty watched the children and looked at their clothes with the greatest interest. The little girls wore frocks looped up on one side over a girdle, some of the boys had long stockings and short tunics and wore tiny capes of linen, with a hood buttoned under the chin.

The whole merry party presently ran into one of the recesses of the bridge where there was plenty of room, and began to play a singing game, dancing as they sang.

[Pg 49]

Though some of the words sounded strange in Betty’s ears, she understood most of them, and the verses of the song, if they were put into the English to which we are now accustomed, would run something after this fashion:

“London Bridge is broken down,
Dance over, my Lady Lee;
London Bridge is broken down
With a gay ladee.
How shall we build it up again?
Dance over, my Lady Lee;
How shall we build it up again?
With a gay ladee.
Build it up with stone so strong,
Dance over, my Lady Lee,
Then ’twill last for ages long
With a gay ladee.”

“That song is old even now—in this year 1388,” said Godmother. “The great-grandmothers of these children may have sung it. It probably celebrated the time when the last of the timber bridges was broken down in a storm, and this stone one, upon which we are standing, was built in its place about the time when Richard the First was reigning.”

“And we are in the reign of Richard the Second now, nearly two hundred years later,” Betty replied.

“The children are right when they say London Bridge will last for ages long,” Godmother remarked. “It lasted more than six hundred years—almost to our own time. My Grandfather, for instance, Betty, was born the year this Bridge upon which we are standing, was pulled down, and the one you saw this morning, built.”

But Betty’s eyes were still fixed on the children who at intervals in their game ran to offer their bunches of flowers to the passers-by, shouting “May Day! May Day!”

Presently one little girl with a pretty voice, began to sing (in words which were nearly, though not altogether, like the English of our own day) a little song which, written down, was this:

[Pg 50]

“Summer is icumen in;
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springeth the wude nu—
Sing cuccu!”

It was easy to put this into modern English, and Betty knew what it meant:

“Summer is a-coming in;
Loud sings cuckoo!
Groweth seed, and bloweth mead,
And springeth the wood new.
Sing cuckoo!”

“That’s the first verse of a song that is more than a hundred years old even in this year 1388 to which we’ve gone back,” said Godmother. “Yet you can understand it pretty well, can’t you? It shows how near to the language we speak to-day, the speech of the fourteenth century is growing.”

“Yes. And isn’t it lovely for those children to hear the cuckoo and pick flowers just on the other side of London Bridge? Oh, I wish the country came right up to the City now—like this,” sighed Betty, nodding towards the fields and woods that made a green belt close behind the wall.

“Godmother!” she exclaimed suddenly, pointing to a sort of castle near the river bank. “There’s something I know! Why, surely it’s the Tower of London? Only there’s not so much of it as there is now,” she added.

“Yes, it’s the Tower right enough—three hundred years old already in 1388, and eight hundred years old in our own time. But now, my dear, before you get too distracted by all you’re seeing and hearing, I’m going to take you in here to talk history for a few minutes.”

Betty followed her into the porch of the chapel on the Bridge, where they sat down on a bench out of sight of all the gay life outside.

“We left London,” Godmother began, “empty and deserted, with a group of our Saxon ancestors whom we may call English[Pg 51] people, standing uncertainly outside the walls built round the city by the departed Romans. What happened next?”

“Those English people settled in London, and in time made it alive and busy again.”

Godmother nodded. “And what became of the British who used to live here?”

“They were driven West, into Wales, and are the Welsh people now.”

“Yes. And then?”

Betty reflected. “Oh! Why, the Danes came, didn’t they? Yes. The English king, Alfred the Great, fought against them. And then afterwards the Normans came and conquered England. And they spoke French!... I don’t see why you call those Saxon people who stood outside London, our ancestors, Godmother? Because we must be all mixed up with the Danes and the Normans—especially with the Normans, who were quite different, and had a different language. So I don’t understand how those first English could be our ancestors exactly?”

“I’ll tell you how. When you say the Normans spoke a different language, you’re right. But in saying they were ‘quite different,’ you’re wrong. What does the word Norman mean? Merely a Northman. They came from the same northern countries as the English, and were originally of the same race. The reason they spoke French, was, that for two or three hundred years before they came to England they had been living in the north of France. But when they conquered this island and settled down here, what happened? Did the English people learn to speak the language of their conquerors? Far from it. The conquerors learnt to speak the tongue of the men they conquered, ‘mixed up,’ as you say, with some of their own French. Three hundred years after William the First landed, the people—conquerors and conquered alike—have become one people, speaking one language, the English language. Altered, of course, from the kind of language spoken by those wild-looking men blowing their horns outside London walls. If you had heard them talking, you wouldn’t have understood a word (even though it was the foundation of the English we talk to-day). But now, in this year 1388, three hundred years after the Norman Con[Pg 52]quest, you can understand most of it, can’t you? Out of the mixture of the Norman’s French and the English people’s early English, has come the language we now speak. Well, now that the history lesson is over, let us see all we can of the London the poet Chaucer knew in the reign of Richard the Second. We may even meet Chaucer himself—if we’re lucky!” she added.

“I want to see the Tower,” said Betty. “Dad took me there once. But it looked different, from the Tower we can see from this bridge.”

“That’s because parts have been added to it since the reign of Richard the Second. But you saw the keep, or White Tower, as it is called, when you went with your father the other day. That keep, or central tower, has been standing ever since William the Conqueror built it. Look at the moat full of water round the castle. That was made when Richard the First was king.”

“There’s no water there now,” Betty said. “When Dad and I went over the Tower the other day, soldiers were drilling[Pg 53] in the moat! Oh, Godmother,” she went on after a moment, “isn’t it strange and—uncanny to think that none of the people on this bridge, know all the things that are going to happen in that Tower?”

“The things we know because we live in a later time, you mean? Yes. Can you think of some of them?”

“The poor little princes are soon going to be murdered there, for one thing,” began Betty eagerly. “And Sir Thomas More, a good deal later on, will be beheaded. And——” she hesitated.

“Ah, yes, in the years to come many, many poor prisoners will go under the Traitor’s Gate there, never to return,” said Godmother. “But we won’t think of them now. Let us look at this beautiful little chapel beside us on the bridge. It’s dedicated to the latest on the list of saints. Can you guess who that is?”

Betty looked puzzled.

“St. Thomas à Becket. You remember all about him, and how he was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral?”

“Yes! and there used to be pilgrimages to his tomb,” put in Betty.

“Later on we may see some of the pilgrims starting on their journey,” Godmother told her. “Now let us take a boat and go westward up the river.”

“That will lead to Westminster, won’t it? Oh, Godmother, do let us see how Westminster has got on!” exclaimed Betty suddenly, remembering the low swampy island of Roman times.

“That’s just what we’re going to do. We’ll take a boat from the steps down there that lead from the lower chapel of St. Thomas to the water. We shall be in time, if we make haste, to join that party of monks who have been to say their prayers in the chapel, and are just going away by boat.”

Betty hurried after her from the upper to the lower chapel, and she and Godmother stepped into the boat with three or four of the Black Friars as they were called—a merry party, and, as Betty thought, not at all monk-like, in their conversation. Though she could not understand all they said, because many of the words were pronounced in a way strange to her, she gathered enough to know that they were talking about a pilgrimage to[Pg 54] Canterbury, to which they seemed to be looking forward as a delightful pleasure trip.

Interesting as the friars were to watch, the river banks were still more fascinating. Except for the landing-stages and a few quays and wharves near London Bridge, they might have been floating on a country river, and Betty thought suddenly of the unending line of warehouses, the smoke of a thousand chimneys, the noise and bustle near the river she had seen only this morning.

“There’s the Strand,” exclaimed Godmother presently, pointing towards the right-hand bank of the stream.

“The Strand?” echoed Betty, scarcely able to believe her eyes.

The Strand along which she had so recently driven, was a bustling street of shops and theatres, with tall-steepled churches at the end of it. Now she saw a country road lined with hedges, across which ran swift streams hurrying to empty their waters in the main river. There were bridges over the streams, and along the tree-shaded road, and across the bridges, rode or trudged a constant procession of people.

“It’s the main road from the City to Westminster, you see,” said Godmother, “so that’s why it’s so crowded.”

“I never knew what the Strand meant before,” declared Betty, all at once enlightened. “A strand is a shore, isn’t it? So that road is just the shore of the river.”

“Just as it is now,” Godmother returned. “Nearly all the narrow streets on the right of the Strand, as you walk up it from Charing Cross station, lead down to the river. But except for lucky people like ourselves, it needs a great deal of imagination to picture it as we see it here, back in the fourteenth century, doesn’t it?”

Betty was now gazing with admiration at a line of beautiful great houses whose gardens sloped to the water and were closed at its brink by a stone gate.

“Those are the palaces of the great nobles,” Godmother told her. “The one we are passing, is called the Savoy, and it belongs to John of Gaunt.”

“Why, there’s the Savoy Hotel, and the Savoy Theatre in[Pg 55] the Strand now!” exclaimed Betty. “We passed them to-day.”

“Yes, they stand on part of that very ground where now you see this grand palace. Nearly every street leading from the Strand to the river still bears the name of some nobleman’s palace, and shows where it stood. Essex Street, Buckingham Street, Cecil Street—you noticed some of them this morning? They all mark the site of some great house, now vanished. Many of them—in this reign of Richard the Second—are not yet built, and some of these at which we are looking, will be pulled down and re-built before they are finally destroyed. We are only in the fourteenth century as yet, remember.”

“This Savoy Palace is splendid!” Betty cried with[Pg 56] enthusiasm. “Look, Godmother. There are ladies and gentlemen walking on the terrace. Oh, how beautifully they are dressed. Aren’t the colours lovely? I do wish we had dresses like that now, don’t you? Do look at that lady with a thing like a sugar-loaf on her head, and a gauzy veil floating from it.”

“Yes, the costumes of this fourteenth century are certainly beautiful,” Godmother agreed. “Now you will understand why the English in the fourteenth century had the reputation for being the most gaily dressed people in Europe.”

“They look simply lovely on that terrace, and it’s such a beautiful house—that Savoy Palace, isn’t it?”

“It’s a wonderful looking place,” agreed Godmother. “I don’t think King John of France had a bad sort of prison, do you?”

“King John?” Betty looked puzzled.

“Don’t you remember how he was taken prisoner by John of Gaunt’s brother—the Black Prince—at Poitiers, and how because he was unable to pay his ransom, when he was set free, he returned to London like an honourable gentleman, and lived here, at the Savoy, till his death?”

“And that isn’t so very long ago, is it? I mean, counting that we’re in the fourteenth century now?”

“Twenty years ago. The Black Prince, King Richard’s father, has been dead about ten years, and he must often have come to this Savoy Palace to see John of Gaunt, his brother, and his so-called prisoner King John, of whom every one was very fond.”

They had fortunately lingered some time before the palace of the Savoy, to allow the Black monks to land at steps near it. Afterwards there was a long wait while the waterman who rowed the boat, followed them up a narrow lane over-arched with white hawthorn, and was seen to enter a little house with tiny latticed-paned windows and a swinging sign-board above its porch.

“That’s a tavern, and he’s gone to drink what he no doubt calls ‘a stoup of wine,’” said Godmother. “The muddy lane there, all overhung with trees, is now one of the narrow streets near the Savoy Hotel, leading into the Strand. At this moment[Pg 57] of the twentieth century, it is blocked with motor omnibuses and taxicabs!” she added with a smile.

Betty was glad of the delay, for it gave her time to look long at the stately palace, and at the other great houses lining the right bank of the river, with their backgrounds of gardens and orchards melting into green fields and woods where now, streets and innumerable buildings stretch for miles and miles. Presently the boatman returned, whistling a cheerful air, and wiping his lips on the sleeve of his leather jerkin. Springing into the boat he began to row very quickly, and in a few minutes, as it seemed, Godmother said, “Here we are at the Palace of Westminster.”

All Betty could see from the river, was a strong brick wall, turreted and pierced with gates.

“The Palace of Westminster? There isn’t one now, is there?” she asked, as they went up steps from the river.

“Not in reality. There is no actual palace here in our time. Yet because it stands on the same ground, another name for our modern Houses of Parliament is ‘The Palace of Westminster.’”

“Why, yes! The wide road outside it, is called Old Palace Yard, of course. I remember now. But there isn’t any of the old palace left, is there?”

“There is just one building left of what was the home of all the Kings of England from long before William the Conqueror till the time of Henry the Eighth.”

They were passing under the arch of the gateway at the moment—a fine stone gateway.

“This has only just been built by the present King,” Godmother observed. “It is quite a new gate, as you see.”

But Betty gave a cry of amazement when on passing through the gate she found herself in what was practically a little walled town, apart from the rest of London. The wall enclosed not only the Palace, and the great Abbey, but also little streets full of houses in which lived carpenters, stonemasons, armourers, jewellers, the makers of priestly robes, goldsmiths, blacksmiths—in fact, traders of every kind who worked either for the Palace or the Abbey, or for both.

[Pg 58]

Her thoughts went back to the swampy island of a thousand years ago. Here she was, standing on the very same isle. Yet how changed! Instead of a forest of reeds and bushes, here was a stately Palace and a still more stately Abbey. Busy men and women lived, where formerly only birds and water-rats made their homes. The island had, in fact, become a little town, divided from the greater city by massive walls.

“We are facing the Palace now,” said Godmother presently. “Do you see anything about it that looks familiar?”

“Why, surely that’s Westminster Hall?” Betty exclaimed after a moment, pointing to a long steep-roofed building in the midst of towers and pinnacles that were strange to her.

“Yes, and the only part of the Old Palace that will remain to the time in which you and I live. It was built by William Rufus, so it is old, even in this fourteenth century.”

“But it looks so new.”

“That’s because it has just been altered and almost rebuilt by the King now reigning. Let us go and look at the beautiful inner roof of the Hall.”

“The next time I see it, when we’ve moved on to our own time, it won’t look like this,” Betty observed, gazing up at its rafters as they entered Westminster Hall. “It will be all dark and old, won’t it? But it will be awfully interesting to think I saw it just after it was rebuilt and improved.”

“That’s Richard’s coat of arms up there below the line of windows,” said Godmother. “You see the white hart is repeated again and again. Don’t forget to look out for it when you see this Hall again—in ordinary circumstances, I mean, without the ‘magic.’ And don’t forget either that, except for the Tower, there’s no building in our history that has seen so much misery,” she added. “Think of all the famous people who have been tried here, and condemned to death.”

“Poor Charles the First was one, wasn’t he? Oh, Godmother, isn’t it strange to think it hasn’t happened yet—and won’t happen for—let me see?—about two hundred years!”

“Now for just a glimpse of the Abbey,” said Godmother after a moment, “and then we’ll slip back into our own day for a little while. It won’t do to see too much all at once.”

[Pg 59]

“I could stay for ever in this London!” Betty declared. “You’ll bring me back again, won’t you, Godmother? I mean to just this time in the fourteenth century. It’s so frightfully interesting.”

She had turned round to gaze at the beautiful Abbey in front of the Palace, the very Abbey so near to which her godmother lived. But at first sight she scarcely recognized it as the old grey place she knew, blackened by the years and the smoke of ages.

“It looks so clean and white,” she said. “And where are the towers that you see when you come up Victoria Street? And where is Henry the Seventh’s Chapel?”

“Now there’s a silly child!” cried Godmother. “How could there be a Henry the Seventh’s Chapel when we are only at the reign of Richard the Second—nearly a hundred years before Henry the Seventh reigned?”

“I forgot,” said Betty meekly.

“As for the towers you mention, they weren’t built till the eighteenth century, long after Henry the Seventh’s time.”

“But though the Abbey looks different, it’s quite as big as it is now, don’t you think so?”

“Yes, it covers quite as much ground, though, as you see, a good deal of it looks different from the Abbey of our day. That’s because from time to time, certain parts have been pulled down, and built in another way. We’ll sit down here in the porch a moment and watch the people going in.”

As they rested in the deep sculptured porch with the image of the Virgin above it, men, women, and children of all ranks were continually entering or leaving the Church. Now it was a soldier in a tight leather cap, leather tunic or jerkin, and long hose. Now a great lady arriving in a litter borne by serving-men from which she alighted in the porch, and swept into the Church. One of these wore a short velvet jacket edged with ermine, over a long silken skirt. Her hair was twisted up into bosses on either side of her ears, and covered with a golden net, and her cloak, kept together in front with a jewelled clasp, trailed behind her as she walked.

Following her came a boy, perhaps her son, as fantastically[Pg 60] dressed as the young man Betty had recently seen on London Bridge. All of the people, she noticed, crossed themselves as they passed the statue of the Virgin on entering the Abbey, and this reminded her that England was still a Roman Catholic country.

She thought she would never be tired of watching the scene before her, nor of letting her eyes wander over all the monasteries and gardens enclosed by the walls of Westminster.

The bells began to ring for service within the Abbey.... They were still ringing when she found the white-panelled walls of Godmother’s parlour round her, and rubbed her eyes as though to clear them of a vision....

“The Abbey bells!” exclaimed Godmother. “Ringing just as they rang long ago, when Chaucer was alive.”

[Pg 61]

“You said we might perhaps see him,” said Betty. “But we didn’t.” She knew something about Chaucer, for she had read one or two of the stories from the “Canterbury Tales,” and now that she had looked at London as it was when he lived in it, she was anxious to see the great poet himself.

“Plenty of time. Didn’t I promise you should go back again? As soon as we’ve taken a little walk about the Westminster of to-day, we can slip into fourteenth-century London as soon as we please.”

“The best of this magic is that it doesn’t really take any time, and yet it seems that we’ve been away hours and hours!” remarked Betty, as they turned out of Godmother’s quiet road.

They were in Victoria Street now, with the Houses of Parliament shutting out the view of the river, and on their right the Abbey. There was a roar of traffic, and all the ground on the left was covered with great modern buildings.

Betty remembered the walled town she had just seen, with its quaint houses, its shops full of workmen, its gardens and monasteries. Nothing of that olden Westminster remained, except the Abbey itself and Westminster Hall, just opposite to her, with its sloping roof, which at the moment modern workmen, standing upon scaffolding, were busy repairing.

She gave a long sigh. “Isn’t it wonderful to think it has changed like this,” she said. “Even the Abbey doesn’t look the same because of Henry the Seventh’s Chapel at the back there and the towers in front,—which weren’t built the last time we saw it.”

“I might go on telling you about that Abbey and its changes, all day,” was Godmother’s answer. “There’s so much to learn about it that I only propose to talk about a little bit at a time. We’ll just walk through it now, and out into the cloisters.”

Betty followed her, looking up at the beautiful soaring arches as they passed quickly across the Church and out at a little leather-covered door into a wonderful colonnade, enclosing a square of emerald-green grass.

“This is a very, very old part of the building,” said Godmother. “But long before even this colonnade, or cloister as it is called,[Pg 62] was built, there was a church here. Sit down, and I’ll tell you a pretty story about the first Abbey. Now,” she began, “you must think of the swampy island you saw in Roman times, and remember that our feet are on that very island now. Well, as you know, time passed, the Romans went, and our ancestors, the first English people came. They were heathens, worshipping wild gods like Thor and Woden, of whom you may have heard. Then, after years had gone by, they were converted to Christianity by Roman monks, and Sebert, one of their kings (who was really only what we should call the chief of a warlike tribe), built a church on this very spot, which though it had become by this time fairly dry, was so covered with rough thickets that it was called the Isle of Thorns, or Thorney Island. The church, which we must picture to ourselves as a very simple building, was to be called St. Peter’s. At last it was finished and ready to be consecrated, that is, dedicated to God, and the Bishop Mellitus, who was the first Bishop of London, was coming to perform the ceremony.

“Now the day before the consecration, was a Sunday, and in the twilight that Sunday evening a certain fisherman called Edric, was busy with his nets on the banks of this Isle of Thorns, when he saw near the newly-built church of St. Peter a mysterious light. Presently he saw approaching, a venerable-looking man who asked to be rowed across a stream which lay between the shores of the island and the church. Edric consented, and on reaching the opposite bank, followed the stranger towards the church. On the way the old man struck the ground twice with his staff, and to the fisherman’s amazement, each time, a spring of water gushed forth from the earth. But his wonder was increased when he saw the new building a blaze of light, and on entering, found it radiant with angels, each of whom held a candle. Then in the midst of the heavenly light the old man went through all the ceremonies of consecrating the church, while above its roof in a shining stream, Edric saw angels ascending and descending.

“When this lovely vision had disappeared, Edric rowed the old man back over the stream, and was bidden to tell the bishop next day that the church was already consecrated by no less a[Pg 63] person than St. Peter himself! He was also to tell the bishop that the church must be called the Abbey of Westminster.

“The old man, who was no other than St. Peter, also said that Edric might always be sure of catching many fish, on two conditions. First that he should never again work on a Sunday, and secondly, that he never forgot to take a certain quantity of the fish to the monks of the Abbey.

“So next day, when Bishop Mellitus came to perform the ceremony of consecration, Edric told him all that had happened, and showed him the crosses on the doors, and the wax spilt on the floor from the candles the angels had held, and the springs of water (which, as wells, remain to this day). The bishop was convinced of the truth of the fisherman’s story, and changed the name of the island from Thorney, to Westminster. So in remembrance of this appearance of St. Peter to Edric, the Thames fishermen for nearly four hundred years from that time, always brought a tithe of their fish to the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster, for that is the full and proper name of Westminster Abbey.”

“It’s a nice story,” said Betty. “The fisherman in it reminds me of the time when we came to this place in Roman days in a fisherman’s boat. But that was long before it was called Thorney Island, of course.”

“Well,” continued Godmother, “part of what I’ve just told you is only a legend. Now we come to real history. That first church built by Sebert, stood here for about four hundred years. Then Edward the Confessor came to the throne. He, as his name tells you, was a very pious king, and he had made a vow to God to build a great church. So he pulled down the one already standing on Thorney Island (as it was still called by the people) and on its foundations built another huge one—quite as large as this present Abbey. It was finished just before he died, and the very next year, in 1066, William the Conqueror took possession not only of the palace in which Edward the Confessor and the kings before him, had lived (that old palace we have so lately seen, you know)—but of the great new church belonging to it.

“It stood as Edward the Confessor left it, for two hundred years. Then King Henry the Third pulled nearly all of it down,[Pg 64] so that very little is left of the first ancient building now. The Chapel of the Pyx, which we will see one day, is, however, a part of Edward the Confessor’s Abbey, and so are some of the walls of this very cloister we are in.

“Edward the First, Henry’s son, went on with the re-building, and while Chaucer was alive, a great deal was added to it. The famous Jerusalem Chamber, for instance, was only just finished when you saw the Abbey by magic this morning, and so was the greater part of this cloister in which we are sitting.”

“No wonder the Abbey looked all bright and new,” said Betty. “What is the Jerusalem Chamber?”

“We’ll go and see it, and I’ll tell you about it when we’re there.”

They went through a little ancient court into a beautiful old room with a stained-glass window at one end.

“Chaucer may have seen that glass,” said Godmother, “for it was painted long before he was born. This room was built during his lifetime, for the use of the Abbot’s guests when they came to stay with him. It was probably called the Jerusalem Chamber because there used to be tapestry on its walls showing the history of Jerusalem. And about that there is a curious story.”

“Do tell me!” Betty urged.

“I will, when we go home. Or rather, I’ll let Shakespeare tell you, because he has used the story in one of his plays.

“Many things have happened in this Jerusalem Chamber from the days when Chaucer saw it, up to our own time. Not so very long ago, for instance, when the Bible was revised—(that is, translated again, and much of the wording altered) the learned men who worked at it sat here.... Now we’ve seen as much of the Abbey as was in existence when Richard the Second was king. But of course an enormous amount of its history comes after his time.”

“Does the story of the Jerusalem Chamber come after?” Betty asked.

“Yes, but so soon afterwards that we’ll read it in the play of Henry the Fourth.”

“He was the very next king after Richard, wasn’t he? Oh[Pg 65] yes, of course. He was the man who usurped the throne, and had poor Richard murdered.”

Directly they reached the parlour at home, Betty ran to the bookcase for a “Shakespeare,” and Godmother turned to the play.

“I must tell you what had happened before the few last words which are all I’m going to read!” she said. “King Henry the Fourth was setting out on a journey to the Holy Land, and just before he started, he went to pray in the Abbey. But there, before the altar, he was suddenly taken ill, and became unconscious. They carried him into the Abbot’s guest-chamber—the Jerusalem Room which you’ve just seen, but later moved him to another apartment. There when he was dying, remembering the place to which he had first been carried from the Abbey, he said:

‘Doth any name particular belong
Unto the lodging where I first did swoon?’

and Earl Warwick answered:

‘’Tis called Jerusalem, my noble lord.’

“Then the king, remembering a prophecy about the place of his death, replied:

‘Laud be to Heaven!—even there my life must end.
It hath been prophesied to me many years,
I should not die but in Jerusalem;
Which vainly I supposed the Holy Land:—
But bear me to that chamber; there I’ll lie;
In that Jerusalem shall Harry die.’”

“And that’s true? He really did die there?” asked Betty.

“Yes. So in a way the old prophecy, you see, was fulfilled, for he died in a room called ‘Jerusalem.’ There too, according to the old story which Shakespeare also tells in the same play, Prince Henry, when he was watching by his father’s bedside, put on the crown he was afterwards to wear as Henry the Fifth. But we’re getting too far away from the days of Richard the Second, and as we’re going back to them as soon as we’ve had tea, I mustn’t confuse you.”

[Pg 66]

Later on in the afternoon, when the magic rite of book and chain had been duly performed, to her great delight Betty found herself again standing at the gate leading on to London Bridge. After a short interval of modern days, she was delighted to be once more back in the Middle Ages.

“You remember Thames Street?” said Godmother,—“the street so crowded this morning with motor lorries that we had to turn out of it? Well, here it is!”

She pointed to the entrance of a lane open on one side to the clear sparkling river, and on the other lined with the quaintest of what Betty called “fairy-book” houses. They were built of wood, with timber beams across the front, each story projecting farther than the one below it, so that the topmost windows hung far out above the street below. Boards painted with various signs, such as fiery dragons, golden fish, and green bushes, swung over the dark little shops on the ground floor. The street upon which they opened, was muddy and unpaved, but it was filled with a bustling crowd of gaily-dressed people. Recalling the Thames Street of this morning’s visit, the river hidden by enormous warehouses, motor vehicles blocking the roadway, Betty could scarcely believe this to be the same spot.

“I want you to look at that house,” said Godmother, pointing to one of the gabled dwellings that had a wine shop below it. “Because there, Geoffrey Chaucer, the poet, was born and lived for some years. His father, as you may guess, by the sign over the door, was a wine merchant—or vintner as he would say.”

“Doesn’t Chaucer live there still?”

“No, he’s an old man now, and he’s living in that little walled town of Westminster, close to the Abbey. The year we’re in—1388—is the last year of his life, and he has still to write his most famous poem.”

“That’s the ‘Canterbury Tales,’ I know!”

Just at the moment, and before Godmother could answer, there was a stir and commotion in Thames Street. Children began to run, shouting to one another, “The Pilgrims!” “The Pilgrims come!” and there was a general rush in one direction.

Betty and her godmother followed the crowd. “Let us stand here in the middle of the bridge, outside the Chapel of St.[Pg 67] Thomas,” suggested Godmother. “Then we shall see them come in at the north gate and go out at the one at the other end of the bridge, into Southwark.”

They had just taken their places, when an elderly quiet-looking man dressed in a long brown garment, with a hood whose long peak hung to his shoulder, came up, stepping softly, and stood beside them.

“Do you know who this is?” Godmother asked. “No other than Geoffrey Chaucer, the great poet!”

Betty was torn between her desire to look at him, and her[Pg 68] excitement at the approach of a train of people on horseback, who now came clattering through the gateway on to the bridge.

“This is a company of pilgrims just setting out on their journey to Canterbury to visit the tomb of St. Thomas à Becket,” Godmother told her. “Do you notice how intently the poet is watching them?”

Betty glanced at him, and saw him smiling quietly as the procession passed by.

“He will go home presently and perhaps begin to write the ‘Canterbury Tales’ this very day, making an Introduction or Prologue to it which will describe all those people on horseback just as you see them.”

“Do look at that pretty nun. How she’s laughing!” exclaimed Betty. “Oh! what a lovely coat!” she cried again, as a handsome young man rode by, gaily and beautifully dressed. “And look at the fat woman with the scarlet stockings, and the enormous hat.... But what a lot of monks and nuns there are, aren’t there?”

“Yes,” agreed Godmother, “London is full of them. Everywhere there are great rich monasteries, and some of the monks and nuns are becoming very lazy and neglecting their duties. You may read in the Introduction to the ‘Canterbury Tales’ how Chaucer makes fun of them. Though he doesn’t forget to do honour to those of them who are good,” she added. “Look at that kind-faced priest with the shabby robe. No doubt Chaucer is at this moment planning how he will describe that very man as the good priest, who practises what he preaches.”

Betty glanced at the poet again, and wondered what he was thinking.

“Let us follow the pilgrims a little way,” Godmother suggested. “Before they actually leave London they are sure to go into some inn to have a meal or to drink wine, and you would perhaps be interested to see what fourteenth-century inns were like?”

Betty was more than willing, and glancing back she saw that the quiet-looking, brown-clad poet was following them.

“Now we are in Southwark,” Godmother said as they went off the bridge through the gateway under the tower. “Think[Pg 69] of Southwark as you saw it this morning! There,” she pointed to a meadow golden with buttercups, “ran the railway bridge over which trains were thundering, and where as far as you can see now, there are hedges and woods, if we had walked this morning we should have gone through miles of streets in Bermondsey and Newington.”

“Oh! And look at the church!” exclaimed Betty. “It’s the St. Saviour’s we saw this morning, isn’t it? But that beautiful great building near it is a monastery, I suppose?”

She remembered the narrow strip of churchyard she had seen a short time previously, and gazed with astonishment at the gardens and broad green lands that now surrounded the church.

“Oh, how different. What a pity!” she sighed. “I wish we didn’t live at the time we do, don’t you, Godmother?”

“Our times have some advantages,” said Godmother. “We’ll count up our blessings some day. But I agree that we haven’t improved Southwark,” she went on, smiling. “A few houses, but only a few, as you see, are standing on this side of the river in the fourteenth century, and most of these, as you may notice, are inns.”

The train of pilgrims was entering the courtyard of one of them at the moment, and soon Betty and Godmother stood in the archway looking round at the quaint old place.

“This inn is called the Tabard,” Godmother told her. “It is the very one that Chaucer, now, as you observe, talking to the fat landlord, is going to describe as the meeting-place of his pilgrims.”

“What does the Tabard mean?” Betty asked, looking at the sign-board over the main door. “There’s something painted on that sign, but I don’t know what it is.”

“It’s meant for a coat worn by a herald, and sometimes also by knights over their armour. Such a coat is called a tabard in these fourteenth-century days. Now look well at this particular inn, because most of the other taverns are very like it, and this fashion of building lasted for years. In fact, there were some left in Southwark till quite lately, and even now there is just a corner of one still remaining. The inn you see follows three sides of this square courtyard. Look at the curiously-carved galleries[Pg 70] running round two floors of it, and at the quaint gables above.”

“How pretty it looks to see all the pilgrims walking and sitting about,” exclaimed Betty. “And how they are chattering and laughing!”

She could have stayed for hours watching them and was sorry when presently they all remounted and with loud farewells to the jolly host of the Tabard, clattered out into the country road.

“Just think what miles of dull streets they would have to ride through if they were riding to Canterbury in our time,” she said.

“As it is,” said Godmother, “they’re in leafy lanes already, where the birds are singing and the banks are covered with wild flowers. That road they are taking to Canterbury, is still called the Pilgrim’s Way. The next time we take a country motor drive I’ll show you the continuation of it that runs over the green Surrey hills which by the end of the day those pilgrims will reach....”

“What shall we do now?” Betty inquired when the long procession was out of sight.

“Would you like to look on at a Miracle play?”

“What is a Miracle play?”

“Come and see. Fortunately there is one going on now at the Church of St. Margaret’s, not very far from St. Saviour’s.”

“Is St. Margaret’s Church still standing? We didn’t see it this morning when we went in the car, did we?”

“Not a stone of St. Margaret’s is left in our time. Some day you shall see all that there is now, to remind us of a church which in this fourteenth century is very celebrated for its Miracle plays. They don’t as a rule begin till Whitsuntide, but there happens to be a special performance because it’s May Day, and a general holiday.”

“A play in a church?” exclaimed Betty.

“Yes. Most of the acting in this fourteenth century, takes place either in churches, or in churchyards. Scarcely any of these people you see about you, can read, and so the priests and monks have hit upon the plan of teaching them the Bible stories by means of acting. Sometimes religious plays are performed inside the[Pg 71] churches, but more often—as in the case of the one we are going to see—outside them, where there is more room for the people. There! isn’t that a curious sight?”

They stood before a church which seemed to be part of a great monastery, whose buildings rose at the back of it. In front of the church was a wide grassy space where a great crowd of people was gathered, gazing breathlessly at strange figures moving about upon platforms raised up on scaffolding, close to the church door.

There were three of these platforms. On the lowest, near the ground, swarmed a number of boys dressed as demons, dancing round an ugly creature with claws and a long tail, who was meant for the Devil.

“That platform represents Hell,” said Godmother. “The next one, which as you notice is on a level with the top of the church door, is Earth, and the two people upon it are Adam and Eve. You see there are one or two trees, to show that it’s meant for the Garden of Eden.”

“And there’s the serpent!” exclaimed Betty. “He’s wriggling!”

“Yes, there’s a boy inside that painted case representing the serpent, tempting Eve to take the apple. Now look up at the highest platform, level with the church windows. That is Heaven, and the figure with the golden crown, and the priestly robe, stepping from the window on to the platform, means God to the people. You have only to glance at them to understand how full of awe and reverence they are.”

Looking at the faces in the crowd, Betty saw that this was true, for the people were silent and grave. Many of the children, frightened by the black demons and the clanking of their chains, were hiding their heads in their mothers’ skirts, and some were crying.

“It all seems very childish and even absurd to us, doesn’t it? But remember these are simple ignorant people who can neither read nor write, and to them, it is wonderful. It is through these plays that they have learnt most of the Bible stories they know.”

“It’s awfully interesting!” Betty murmured, feeling that[Pg 72] though at first she had been inclined to laugh at what seemed to her a funny performance, the people were so serious that she must be respectful.

“This fourteenth century is the great time for Miracle plays,” explained Godmother, as they walked away from the gaily-coloured crowd grouped round the church. “Most of the people have still very childlike minds, and they depend upon the priests and monks to teach them. We have noticed already how full London is of these priests, and everywhere, as you have seen, there are monasteries. Pay attention to them as we pass, because the next time we see London, nearly all of the monasteries will be in ruins.”

“In ruins? Why?”

“Think of your history. The Reformation is coming, when all the monks will be turned out of their homes, and the great buildings in which they lived will be pulled down, and all the enormous wealth now belonging to the Church will be taken away from it, and given to the State. England will become a Protestant country, and the old form of worship will disappear in London, as in every other town in the land.”

“What a pity about the monasteries,” Betty said. “They are so beautiful and splendid. It’s awful to think of not seeing them again.”

“Yes. You see London now when the Church is all-powerful. The next time you come, its power will be broken, and London will be a Protestant city....”

“Where shall we go now, Godmother?” asked Betty as they left the south side of the city, and recrossed London Bridge.

“Well, it’s almost time we slipped back into our own day. But before we do that, you shall just have a glimpse of the Chepe.”

“The Chepe? What does that mean?”

“Didn’t we drive down Cheapside this morning?”

“Yes. I remember it. That busy street near St. Paul’s, was Cheapside.”

“And do you remember Bow Church in Cheapside?”

“Yes,” said Betty eagerly. “It has a lovely steeple with a dragon on the top. I always remember it because the bells that Dick Whittington heard, were the bells of Bow Church.”

[Pg 73]


“Well, come and see Cheapside as it looks now at the end of the fourteenth century. It isn’t called Cheapside yet. The people of London call it the Chepe, which is an old English word for market. The Chepe (Cheapside in our day) is the great market-place of London. We needn’t walk to it. Just shut your eyes and wish yourself there. A magic visit such as this has many advantages. One of them is that we needn’t tire ourselves with walking.”

Betty did as she was told, and a second later looked round her.

“Oh, Godmother, what a nice place! But it isn’t a bit like our Cheapside. It’s much wider, for one thing—and of course the houses are all different. Oh! it’s lovely.”

They stood in a broad open space paved with cobblestones. On either hand there were quaint houses like those in Thames Street, and among them a few much finer and larger, with carved balconies, and coloured and gilded coats of arms on their walls. “Those are the houses of the wealthy merchants,” said Godmother, pointing to the grander buildings. “Do you remember when we were in the car this morning passing a street out of Cheapside called Wood Street?”

“With a big tree at the corner? Yes!”

“Well, we are standing just about there.”

Betty gasped with astonishment.

“Oh! how difficult it would be to imagine all this if I wasn’t actually seeing it,” she murmured.

Down the middle of the market-place, at intervals, were stone fountains, and close to where she stood (opposite the modern Wood Street), rose a beautiful stone cross.

“That’s one of the crosses put up by Edward the First, in memory of his wife, Eleanor. You remember the story? And that church on the right, is Bow Church.”

“But it doesn’t look a bit like the Bow Church I know!”

“Except for the foundations it’s not the Bow Church we know, but another, built on its ruins. You have to remember that all this market, and in fact nearly the whole of London, is going to be swept away by a fire nearly three hundred years later on.”

[Pg 74]

“In the Great Fire, you mean? In the reign of Charles II? So I suppose that’s why London looks so different in our time?”

“It had to be almost rebuilt, so no wonder it’s different.”

“What a pity!” sighed Betty. “I like it so much better as we see it now.” She scarcely knew which to look at first, the quaint timber houses surrounding the market-place, or the amusing crowd with which it was filled. In the open space before her were arranged wooden booths upon which bread, milk, fruit, poultry and meat were sold, just as in a modern country market. But the crowd round the stalls was very different in appearance from a modern crowd. The noise was terrific, for from every booth came cries from the sellers to buy, buy, buy! and everywhere there was laughter and screaming and singing.

“Why are the houses decorated, I wonder?” asked Betty presently. For beautiful draperies of scarlet and blue and purple were hung over most of the balconies, and banners fluttered from the windows.

“Don’t forget it’s May Day. The Lord Mayor is going to ride through the Chepe. He must be coming now. See how the people are hanging out of the windows, and crowding on to the balconies! Let us stand up here on the steps of the cross, and watch.”

In a few moments a pretty May Day procession was seen crossing the market-place, led by a boy playing on a pipe, and followed by young girls and children crowned with flowers, and singing. Then came the clanking of horses’ feet, and soon a stately-looking man riding on a horse whose gay trapping hung low, came into sight. He wore a rich crimson cloak trimmed with fur, and a flat cap of crimson velvet with a plume, and by his side rode several other splendidly-dressed gentlemen.

“Those are the Sheriffs, the men who help the Mayor to govern the city,” Godmother explained. “This Lord Mayor is very popular. Listen to the cheering of the people! And see, they are showering flowers upon him from the windows.”

Just as he passed the cross, the Lord Mayor reined in his steed, lifted his cap and bowed to the applauding crowd, and at the moment, Betty caught sight of the heavy gold chain that lay about his shoulders, and across his tunic.

[Pg 75]

“Godmother! There’s the very chain you took out of your cabinet,” she cried.

“It is. And do you know the name of the Lord Mayor who wears it? No? Then I’ll tell you. Sir Richard Whittington.”

Betty stared at her. “Not Dick Whittington?”

“Yes—that’s Dick Whittington grown up, and this is the third time he’s been Lord Mayor of London.”

“Why, I’ve been to a pantomime about him!” exclaimed Betty. “I never knew he was a real person.”

“He’s a very real person, as you see.”

“Then it’s true, about his cat, and Bow Bells ringing ‘Turn again, Whittington,’ and Alice, the beautiful girl he married, who was his master’s daughter?” asked Betty, all in one breath.

“I’m afraid it’s not all true, though a great deal of it is. In the story, he’s a poor boy who leaves London with a bundle on his back, to seek his fortune. Stopping to rest on Highgate Hill he hears the bells of Bow calling him to return, for he shall be Lord Mayor of London. Well, I’m afraid he wasn’t a poor boy. He was the son of a country gentleman, and he was sent to live with a relation of his, a great London merchant called Sir John Fitzwarren. Dick was an industrious boy while he was learning his trade, and now he has grown very rich. His wife is Alice Fitzwarren, his master’s daughter, and he is Lord Mayor. So a good deal of the story is true after all.”

“But the cat?” said Betty. “Isn’t it true about his lovely cat?”

Something must be true about the cat, because later on, the image of a cat was put on all the houses that were built with the money Dick Whittington left for that purpose. So a cat must have had something to do with his success. I only wish we knew exactly what it was! Dick Whittington is now so wealthy that he sometimes gives banquets to the King, and he has a splendid house not far from the Chepe.”

“He looks nice and kind,” said Betty.

“He is very generous, and has done much for London. Already he is building a monastery and some almshouses for poor people.”

[Pg 76]

“Why, there are some Whittington Almshouses at Highgate.”

“Yes. But they were only built about a hundred years ago. They were built, however, with Dick Whittington’s money, and it was a nice thought, wasn’t it, to put them where, according to the story, he heard Bow Bells?”

“They said ‘Turn again, Whittington, Lord Mayor of London!’ And now he is Lord Mayor, and there he goes riding by. It seems too good to be true that I’ve actually seen him, Godmother!” declared Betty excitedly. “I used to love the picture-book of Dick Whittington we had in the nursery when I was little. And I loved the pantomime about him too. It was so jolly to hear the bells ringing when Dick sat on the stile at Highgate and listened to them.”

“There’s another old rhyme about Bow Bells, which tells a pretty story about these young ’prentices you see all round you, standing at the doors of their masters’ shops and shouting, ‘Buy! buy! buy!’ This is the tale. At one time an order was given by the Lord Mayor that Bow Bell should ring every night at nine o’clock. It was the signal for the shops to be closed. But according to the ’prentices the bell always rang late, and so kept them at work longer than there was any occasion. They were angry about this, and made a rhyme which they wrote out and put up against the clock:

‘Clerk of the Bow Bell, with the yellow lockes,
For thy late ringing, thy head shall have knockes.’

To which the bell-ringer replied in another rhyme,

‘Children of Chepe, hold you all still,
For you shall have the Bow Bell rung at your will.’”

“Oh, how nice of him,” said Betty. “I like the part about the yellow locks. Look! there’s a young man going past now with fair hair almost to his shoulders. He must be rather like that clerk who had to ring Bow Bell.”

“You will remember that rhyme the next time you go down Cheapside in an omnibus and pass Bow Church. Many other things you may remember also. For instance, when you look at[Pg 77] the names of some of the streets leading out of the modern Cheapside, they will recall this market-place of the Middle Ages. Do you see, for instance, how certain articles of food like milk and bread and honey are sold in separate places? All the milk sellers have their stalls together, you see, and all the bakers are together over there, and so on. Well, certain streets in or near the modern Cheapside are still called by such names as Milk Street, Bread Street, and so forth, and they mark the very spots where now, bread and milk are being offered for sale. So you will perhaps find Cheapside a more interesting place now that you have seen the Chepe of which it is the remains,” added Godmother with a smile.

“Oh, every time I see it, I shall remember this!” Betty declared as her eyes wandered over the beautiful market-place with its cross and fountains, its picturesque houses brilliant with coloured draperies, and its throng of quaintly-clad lively people. The bells of many churches were ringing and clashing merrily, but she heard the sweet chimes of one above all the rest.

“Bow bells!” she said, looking up at the church. “I wonder if the Lord Mayor is listening to them now, and remembering the time when they said ‘Turn again, Whittington’!”

But the last words were uttered in Godmother’s parlour, and outside, a newspaper boy was calling the latest racing news. “All the winners! All the winners!” he shouted.

Two or three days later, when Betty happened to be walking down St. James’s Street with her mother, it suddenly occurred to her that they were near the London Museum.

“Do let us go in for a minute,” she urged. “I want to see if there’s anything there that will remind me of the reign of Richard the Second.”

“Why are you interested in Richard the Second?” asked her mother. “Are you doing his reign at school?”

“No. But somehow I seem to know how London looked then. I’ve got a picture of it in my mind, and I can’t think why.”

“Well, we shan’t find any room labelled Richard the Second, of course,” said her mother as they entered the building, “so[Pg 78] we’d better look for a room that has to do with the Middle Ages.”

“Here it is!” cried Betty presently. “It says Mediæval London on that doorway. That’s the same as the Middle Ages, isn’t it?”

In this room, when they had looked at cases full of things that were made and used in the fourteenth century, such as bowls, jugs, lanterns, keys, ornaments and a hundred other objects, Betty’s mother all at once said, “Come and see this picture of London in the fourteenth century. Isn’t it a little place? How curious to think it was once like that.”

Betty gazed eagerly at a picture which represented the painter’s idea of the appearance of London about the year 1400.

“Yes, it’s very good,” she declared. “There’s London Bridge, with just a few old houses at one end of it. And there’s all that was built then of the Tower. And that’s the first St. Paul’s Cathedral, with a spire instead of a big dome. Oh! and look, mother! There’s St. Saviour’s in Southwark at the other end of the bridge. Behind it there’s another church called St. Margaret’s, where they used to have Miracle plays. Such funny plays. Only of course they taught the people about the Bible.”

Her mother looked surprised. “You know quite a lot about it, Betty!” she declared.

“It seems somehow as though I’d seen it,” said Betty in a puzzled voice.

“How wonderful it is to think of the country coming up close to that wall that goes round the tiny city,” her mother remarked, still examining the picture. “Fancy being able to walk through green fields in Southwark!”

“The children picked flowers there,” said Betty, rather dreamily, “and came running back over London Bridge with them, and sang, ‘London Bridge is broken down.’”

“My dear child, what an imagination you have!” laughed her mother.

That same evening, Betty had another reminder of London in the Middle Ages. In the library at home, when she was looking for something to read, she found a book full of poems[Pg 79] about London. Some were by new poets and some by writers of long ago. A rather long one was called London Lackpenny, and though the spelling and some of the wording was curious, she could make out its sense. It seemed to be about a poor young man who long, long ago came to London, and found it was a difficult place to live in unless one had plenty of pennies.

“Why, he’s talking about the very Chepe I saw!” she thought as she came to a certain verse.

“Then to the Chepe I began me drawne
Where mutch people I saw for to stand.
One offered me velvet, sylke, and lawne,
And other he taketh me by the hande,
‘Here is Paris thred, the fynest in the lande.’
I never was used to such thyngs indede
And wanting mony I myght not spede.
Then I hyed me into Eastchepe;
One cryes rybbs of befe, and many a pye;
Pewter potts they clattered on a heape,
There was harpe, pype, and mynstrelsye.”

“What have you got hold of there?” asked her father, looking over her shoulder. “Oh, that funny ballad written by old John Lydgate in the Middle Ages. I expect it’s quite a good description of Cheapside as it was then.”

[Pg 80]

“It’s just right. It was exactly like that,” Betty exclaimed, thinking of the booths in the Chepe, piled with goods, and all the noise and bustle and shouting, and the sound of music from harps and pipes, mingled with the clashing of church bells.

“How do you know?” asked her father, smiling.

But Betty hadn’t the slightest idea—till she saw Godmother again.

[Pg 81]

In Tudor Days


“What are we going to see this morning?” Betty asked on the following Saturday.

“We’re not going to see anything till I know whether you remember at least the names of the kings between Richard the Second and Queen Elizabeth,” returned Godmother firmly.

“Oh, then, it’s to Queen Elizabeth’s time we’re going presently?” Betty exclaimed. “I shall like that. I really do know the kings after Richard the Second, Godmother. So I’ll make haste about them. Henry the Fourth came next, and he was a usurper. Then Henry the Fifth. After him, Henry the Sixth (when the Wars of the Roses began), then Edward the Fourth, next Edward the Fifth, the poor little murdered-in-the-Tower king. After him, Richard the Third, his cruel uncle. Then Henry the Seventh, Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth (who died young), and then his sister Mary, and then his other sister Elizabeth.”

“Well done!” said Godmother, laughing, as Betty rattled off the names. “Well, the reigns of all those sovereigns took up about a hundred and sixty years. So when we magically see London again, it will be a hundred and sixty years older than it was at our last visit.”

“Oh, can’t we go back at once?” Betty urged impatiently.

[Pg 82]

“Not quite at once. The car is here, and I’m going to take you to the Royal Exchange.”

Much as she loved the magic part of these Saturdays, Betty also enjoyed the drives through modern London, especially as she knew the magic would come later. So she gladly followed Godmother into the waiting car.

“The Royal Exchange?” she began, almost before they were seated. “I’ve been past it often. It’s that big place near the Bank and the Mansion House. But I don’t know what it’s for.”

“It’s the great centre for English trade affairs. There, everything that has to do with England’s commerce is discussed by the merchants who meet to talk and arrange their business.”

In a very short time they reached that busy part of the City where, close together, stand the Bank of England, the Mansion House, and the Royal Exchange. But before the car drew up, Godmother had called Betty’s attention to the names of two streets close by, and also, a moment later, to a curious sign hanging from a house. The first street was called Gresham Street, and the sign not far from it was a large gilded grasshopper over a door in Lombard Street.

“I want you to remember these,” she said. “Now we’ll go into the courtyard of the Exchange and look at the pictures.”

Betty followed her up a flight of steps in front of the great building, and found that the walls of a corridor running on all four sides of the courtyard within the entrance, had large pictures painted upon them. She soon discovered that much of the history not only of London, but of England, was shown by these pictures.

Before two or three of them she lingered with special interest.

“Oh, Godmother, look! Here’s the market-place of London in Roman times. The market-place we saw.” And again, as another scene with which she had memories caught her eye, “Godmother, there’s dear old Dick Whittington giving alms to the people. He was dressed just like that when we saw him last Saturday, and so were the boys and girls in the Chepe!”

She would like to have stayed much longer before the painted[Pg 83] scenes (some of them represented things that had happened only a year or two ago, such, for instance, as the fight at Zeebrugge, and the Thanksgiving Service after the War)—but Godmother hurried her away.

“We’ll come again when we’ve seen a little more of London in the Past,” she said. “I want you now, only just to remember that you’ve seen the Royal Exchange of to-day.”

They drove back through Cheapside, Fleet Street and the Strand into Whitehall, where Betty looked up at that statue of King Charles the First on horseback, which stands with its back to Trafalgar Square.

“As we shall be in London of Queen Elizabeth’s time this afternoon,” said Godmother, “it may be useful to notice all that we are passing now. Where you see that statue of Charles the First, there stood in Elizabeth’s day, one of the crosses to the memory of Queen Eleanor. Remember that, for one thing. We’re passing the Horse Guards, with the soldiers on horseback outside. Remember exactly where the gateway stands. Now look at this line of houses and buildings on the left—Scotland Yard among them. Imagine them all swept away, what would you see?”

“The river,” replied Betty. “The Victoria Embankment first, and then the river.”

“Yes. Well, keep this picture of the present Whitehall in your head, because you will look upon a very different one this afternoon.”

Betty smiled in anticipation of “the magic time” that was[Pg 84] coming. “I do wonder what London will be like in Queen Elizabeth’s day!” she exclaimed. “Do you think we shall see her? And Shakespeare too, perhaps?”

“Possibly,” said Godmother. “Here we are at home, and if you like, you may amuse yourself by looking at an old map I’ve got upstairs, made towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth. You will see that though London has grown bigger since the days of Dick Whittington, it is still full of open spaces and large gardens, even within the walls. And outside them, where now we have miles and miles of streets, it was still nearly all open country, except on the south side of the river, where you will see some interesting buildings marked.”

Betty was interested in the quaint old map, but it was one thing to look at a map, and quite another to walk in the actual streets it represented, and she longed for the afternoon.

“How shall we get back to-day?” she asked when the time came.

“There are many ways of getting into the Past,” Godmother replied. “Sometimes a single word, or the sight of a picture, or a line of poetry is the magic that will send one there in the twinkling of an eye. To-day we will try one line from a poem written by a man called William Dunbar. No one has ever praised London better than this poet, who saw the city in the sixteenth century, though about fifty years before Elizabeth came to the throne. Shut your eyes, take this book in your hand, and say after me the line with which each verse of Dunbar’s poem ends:

London, thou art the flower of Cities all,” repeated Betty obediently....

“Now you may look!” said Godmother after a pause and as Betty’s eyes flew open, she added, “We are in the middle of the sixteenth century. Elizabeth is Queen, and here we are once more on London Bridge.”

They were standing by the tower at the entrance gate, looking towards the tower at the other end, leading into Southwark, but Betty did not at first recognize it as the same bridge on which she had stood in the Middle Ages.

[Pg 85]

“Why, it looks more like a street than a bridge,” she cried. And indeed when they began to walk across it, she and Godmother were in a street. Gabled houses lined the parapets on either hand, shutting out any view of the river, and at the foot of all the houses, were shops. Half-way across the bridge stood a fantastic-looking house which Godmother said was called Nonsuch,—a perfectly delightful name, Betty decided. Then came an open space from which one could look up and down the river before the houses and shops closed in again and extended right up to the gate and towers at the Southwark end of the bridge.

“Oh, how it’s altered!” cried Betty. “But the little Chapel of St. Thomas is there still, and it’s the same bridge, of course, only built over with all these funny old houses. And how the dress of the people has altered too,” she went on. “Look at this lady coming with the enormous ruff round her neck.”

“But they’re still very gay, aren’t they?” remarked Godmother. “Here’s a fine young man approaching, with his long crimson silk stockings and his slashed doublet, and the little red velvet cloak hanging from one shoulder. You see the men are quite as gaily dressed as the women. Just as they were in the fourteenth century. Only now the costume both for men and women has changed.”

“London’s grown bigger since we last saw it,” said Betty, looking right and left up and down the river from the open space where she stood.

“It’s had nearly two hundred years to do it in. But though the buildings cluster more thickly, the old wall, as you notice, still remains, and people enter or leave London through its gates. There’s one of them, you see. It’s called Aldgate, which means Old Gate, because it was one of the first to be built.”

“Is that where Aldgate Street is now?”

“Yes. Beyond it, as you know, in our day, London stretches on and on, northwards and eastwards. But though there are buildings outside the gates, as you may see, they are set in green fields, and there is still country just beyond the gates of London. Now let us wander about a little to discover what changes there are since the last time we were in the Past. Let[Pg 86] us see how much of the old has gone, and what there is that’s new.”

They began their walk along the river bank, and very soon Betty saw here and there, great spaces in which sometimes a wall, sometimes a column was left standing. Otherwise, except for a litter of stones, nothing remained of the buildings but ruins.

“What have they been doing here, Godmother?” she asked in surprise.

[Pg 87]

“Pulling down monasteries, colleges for priests, and hospitals that were looked after by monks and nuns.”

“But why?”

“Now you’ll have to think of your history. About fifty years ago, counting that we are now in the year 1590, Elizabeth’s father, Henry the Eighth, was reigning. Remember his quarrel with the Pope. Remember how he made his subjects become Protestants. The monasteries were the homes of the monks, so they were swept away because they represented the old Roman Catholic faith. When Elizabeth came to the throne, London was as full of ruins as it had formerly been full of monasteries. Now, as we shall see, new buildings are everywhere rising on the sites of the old religious houses. But as yet there hasn’t been time to build over all of them. This, for instance,” she pointed to the crumbling walls and broken pillars at which Betty was sadly gazing, “is still nothing but a heap of ruins.”

“What was it?”

“A college for priests, called the College of St. Spirit, built by our old friend Dick Whittington.”

“Oh, what a shame!” cried Betty. “It’s dreadful to come back to London and find so many beautiful places gone or spoilt, Godmother.”

“Yes, it’s sad, I agree. Though it’s true that the power of the Church had grown too great, and most of the clergy had become rich and idle, it seems unnecessary to destroy the beauty of churches and monasteries because the people to whom they belonged were unworthy. However, nothing can remain as it was for ever, you know, and though we shall find much that was beautiful in the fourteenth century vanished for ever, we shall also see new beautiful things that have sprung, or are springing into life in this, the sixteenth century. Let us go and look at some of them. We’ll go first to the Royal Exchange.”

“Why, we’ve just been there!”

“Not to the one we’re going to see, though it stands in exactly the same place. We’ll walk to it through the Chepe.”

“It was called Cheapside this morning when we drove down it,” said Betty, smiling. “How funny it is to think it should be really the same place.”

[Pg 88]

“More or less on the same ground, at any rate,” Godmother returned. “Here we are.”

“It isn’t so very much altered from the time we saw it when Richard the Second was king, is it?” Betty remarked, looking round. “Though some of the houses are larger and grander,” she added.

“You see many of them are built of brick and stone now. How handsome they are! This sixteenth century is the age for beautifully-built dwelling-houses. We shall see many of them along the Strand presently, and scattered about all over the City as well.”

“There’s Queen Eleanor’s cross, and there are the fountains and the booths and the funny shops, just as they were,” Betty observed.

“The same crowds, the same noise, the same bustle!” Godmother agreed. “The costume of the people is different, that’s all. They look very well off and happy, don’t they? England has become richer and much more prosperous lately. There are signs of it everywhere as you will not be long in discovering.”

“But there are lots of the old houses left,” Betty said.

They had turned out of the Chepe, and were walking down a narrow lane bordered on either side by the timber houses she remembered from her last visit to old-time London,—houses whose top stories so nearly met, that only a narrow strip of sky was visible between them.

“Yes, and they will last till the Great Fire sweeps them all away in less than a hundred years’ time. Now here we are at the Royal Exchange.”

They were out of the narrow lane now, and there, rising in front of them, was a fine, foreign-looking building of brick and stone with a high sloping roof, and pinnacles at the corners, upon each one of which was placed a huge metal grasshopper.

“Do you remember the name of the street I pointed out to you near this spot this morning?” asked Godmother.

“Yes. Gresham Street. And we saw a big gilt grasshopper, something like those up there, hanging out from a doorway, in another street close by,” Betty answered.

[Pg 89]

“Well, Gresham Street is named after the man who built that Exchange,—Sir Thomas Gresham. And the grasshopper in Lombard Street is the Gresham crest. London in this reign of Elizabeth has become very rich and prosperous. Well, its riches and its prosperity have been so greatly increased by Sir Thomas Gresham, that I must tell you something about him. He is a great merchant who in this year, 1590, has a goldsmith’s shop in Lombard Street at the sign of the Grasshopper. For though he has been knighted, and now has a great house in Bishopsgate Street, he still keeps his shop. When he was a younger man, he went to Antwerp, where there was a fine building for the use of the merchants in that city. Now in London, there was no convenient place for the use of merchants who wanted to discuss business, so on his return, Thomas Gresham built that Exchange you see before you, and made it as much as possible like the Exchange he had seen in Antwerp. That, you see, accounts for its foreign appearance. He then presented the mansion to the City of London, and invited Queen Elizabeth to open it, and it was she who called it The Royal Exchange—(a name our present Exchange still keeps). Well, at the time at which we’ve arrived now, it has been open about twenty years, and has been so useful for commerce, that the trade of London has enormously increased. There are, of course, other reasons for the present wealth of the City, some of which we shall find out later. But that Royal Exchange has greatly helped its prosperity.”

“It’s quite different from the one we have now,” said Betty, “and it looks as though it ought to last for ages. Why isn’t it standing in our day?”

“Because it was burnt down in the Great Fire, like so many other beautiful and interesting things. Then another one was built, and that also was burnt. So there have been two Royal Exchanges on the same spot as that on which the third—our present one—stands.”

“Sir Thomas Gresham, in this reign, is rather like what Dick Whittington was in the reign of Richard the Second, I suppose?” Betty remarked. “Dick Whittington was a great merchant too, who did a lot of good for London.”

[Pg 90]

“Yes, London has been very fortunate in having generous merchants.”

“Now let us go back to London Bridge, and see if we can find other reasons besides the Exchange for the increase of wealth and luxury in this city.”

As Betty followed her, she looked back at Sir Thomas Gresham’s quaint building with its sloping roof, its high middle tower, and the gilded grasshoppers on its pinnacles. It was a very different place indeed from the one she had visited this very morning with all the roar and bustle of modern London round about it, but its purpose was the same. For now, as then, the Royal Exchange is the centre of London’s enormous trade.

When they reached the river again, Betty noticed at once how much more crowded the shipping had become than it was in the fourteenth century.

On the side of the bridge towards the Tower, the broad sheet of water was filled with ships of a shape and build strange to her eyes, but picturesque and delightful in appearance. They were small, and had enormously high prows, coloured and gilded, and were hung with many gay flags and streamers.

“Some of those ships have sailed across the Atlantic to the strange newly-discovered country of America,” said Godmother. “Let us go down on to the quay, where you see the crowd of little boys round that sunburnt sailor. He is telling them all sorts of travellers’ tales, you may be sure.”

Betty ran eagerly down a slimy wooden staircase on to the quay that was thronged with sailors unloading some ships that had newly arrived. A rough, strong-looking man with a face burnt almost black by the sun, and large gold rings hanging from his ears, was talking to a group of men and boys who listened breathlessly to stories about gold and jewels, about marvellous animals and still more marvellous men, about wonderful islands under hot blue skies, all of which the sailor had seen in his travels.

Glancing at his audience, Betty saw by their faces how his words stirred their imagination and filled them with excitement.

“Such stories of foreign travel are being told in every inn by sailors who have come back from new lands,” said Godmother. “All through the present reign of Elizabeth, great English[Pg 91] sailors like Drake and Hawkins, of whom you’ve heard, have been making voyages, and coming back to London with gold and all sorts of merchandise.”

“That’s one of the reasons why London is getting so rich, then?” Betty asked.

“One of the chief reasons. England has already beaten the Spanish Armada and become ‘Mistress of the Seas,’ and the ships you see here, go to and from this port of London increasing its trade and its riches every day. Now you understand why that Exchange built by Sir Thomas Gresham was so much needed as a meeting-place for merchants to arrange the enormous amount of business the sailors have won for them. London is becoming more and more a city of merchants, living in beautiful houses. We will go and look at one of them. It is called Crosby[Pg 92] Place, and it’s not far from the Royal Exchange which we have just seen.”

“Crosby?” echoed Betty. “But I thought it was somewhere in Chelsea? There’s a Crosby Hall there. I passed it only the other day!”

“I’ll explain that to you in a minute, when we’ve seen where the house stands now, where it was built, and where it ought to have remained—in Bishopsgate Street.”

Before very long they had reached a most beautiful and stately mansion. It was of immense size, with windows wonderfully sculptured in stone-work. It had a long noble hall and splendid gateways and outside staircases leading to doors entering the building at different levels. A big garden surrounded it.

“Oh, what a lovely place!” exclaimed Betty.

“It has such a wonderful history,” Godmother said, “that I must tell you at least some of it.”

“It was built by a merchant, a rich grocer called Sir John Crosby, in the reign of Edward IV, so already in this reign of Elizabeth it’s a hundred years old.”

“Who lives in it now?” asked Betty.

She was watching with interest the men and women moving about the courtyard in the costume of Elizabeth’s time, the men with slashed sleeves to their bright-coloured doublets, and the women in brocade skirts, with big ruffs standing up at the back of the neck.

“The Mayor of London, a merchant called Sir John Spencer, owns Crosby Place now. You see what splendid homes the merchants of this reign possess! The nobles are leaving London and selling their palaces to the rich traders. But before Sir John Spencer bought it, many famous people from time to time had lived at Crosby Place. One of them was Richard the Third before he became king, and it was in that great hall that he heard the news of the murder of his little nephews in the Tower. Another celebrated man who lived here for a time, was Sir Thomas More, and here, as it is thought, he wrote his most famous book.”

“You mean Utopia, don’t you?” Betty asked. “We had a lesson about it in school yesterday!”

[Pg 93]

“Yes, I’m glad you have heard of it. After he had been here some years, Sir Thomas More sold Crosby Place to a great friend of his, an Italian merchant, who, after the execution of his friend, let the mansion to the husband of Margaret Roper—More’s daughter.”

“Poor Margaret Roper!” exclaimed Betty. “I expect she was glad to come back to the house her father had lived in, don’t you, Godmother? But she’s dead now, I suppose—in this reign of Elizabeth, I mean?”

“Yes. Crosby Place belongs now to the Mayor of London, as I’ve already said, and before long, his daughter, a very extravagant lady, married to Lord Northampton, will come to live here. I’ll show you (when we slip back into our own day) an amusing letter from her to her husband in which she explains how she must have all her houses furnished. She was so rich that this Crosby Place was only one of them. But no doubt she filled it with all the things she mentions in her letter, ‘cushions, carpets, silver warming-pans, fair hangings,’ and so forth.

“Another woman of a very different sort will also come to live here very shortly. I mean Sir Philip Sidney’s fascinating sister, the Countess of Pembroke, of whom you will read if you don’t know anything about her already.”

“I do know a little. Sir Philip Sidney wrote the Arcadia for her, didn’t he? It does seem strange to think I’m in Queen Elizabeth’s reign and that some of these famous people must be alive,” said Betty. “But, Godmother, you haven’t told me how the Hall of this beautiful house comes to be at Chelsea now?”

“I must finish its story quickly. A good many years ahead this splendid Crosby Place will be partly burnt down, though its Great Hall will escape. It will fall partly into ruins and actually be used as a warehouse! Then almost in my day it will be restored, and finally become a restaurant. I remember having lunch there not so many years ago. But at last, not long before you were born, Betty, the Hall,—all that remained of this Crosby Place you are magically seeing now,—was pulled down to make room for modern buildings. But because it was so celebrated, and held so many memories of famous people, it[Pg 94] was taken down carefully, and as well as possible put together again and built up on Chelsea Embankment.”

“It’s not a bit the same thing as having it here, where it belongs, though,” Betty objected. “It’s dreadful, I think.”

“I quite agree with you. It ought to have remained here in Bishopsgate Street. But let us enjoy our magic sight of it while we can, before we have to return to our own century.”

Just at the moment, Betty turned round quickly to look after a boy who passed, wearing a long dark blue coat, with a red leather belt round the waist, yellow stockings and a little white tab or cravat at his neck.

“Why, there’s a Blue Coat boy!” she exclaimed. “Whatever is he doing in London in the reign of Elizabeth?”

“He might better ask you that question,” returned God[Pg 95]mother, laughing, “for he belongs to this age, and you don’t. But he reminds me that we ought to go and look at some of the great schools, and as you’re interested in that boy, we’ll see his school first.”

A short walk brought them in sight of a stately pile of buildings.

“If we were back in our own century,” said Godmother, “this spot on which we are standing, would be Newgate Street. Remember that, and now think of London as we saw it in the reign of Richard the Second. Do you remember the Grey Friars?”

“Yes, the monks in grey robes, with bare feet? There were hundreds of them about.”

“Well, that’s their splendid church and monastery, though the monks themselves are no longer there.”

“Henry the Eighth turned them out, I suppose?” asked Betty.

“Yes, he turned them out, and gave their dwelling to the City of London. Then his son, the young Protestant King Edward VI, came to the throne. Now only a few days before he died, Edward listened to a very touching sermon from one of the new Protestant bishops, about the need for looking after poor children who were fatherless. He was so impressed, that he set apart this Grey Friars’ monastery to be a school for orphan boys for ever, and called it Christ’s Hospital.”

“And it’s still a school for them, isn’t it?” Betty exclaimed eagerly. “Why, my cousin Dick goes to it. But it’s not in London now. Dick goes to school somewhere in the country.”

“It’s only about twenty years ago that Christ’s Hospital, or, as we generally call it now, the Blue Coat School, was moved to Horsham in Sussex. Up to that time it stood here. At first, as you see, the boys were lodged and taught in the monastery that once belonged to the Grey Friars. Long years afterwards, the monastery part was pulled down and new houses built. But the school still stood on the old ground, and forty years ago, boys played over the place where hundreds of Grey Friars were buried. Now they play in green fields in the country, and[Pg 96] live in red-brick newly-built houses, and have a new red-brick chapel instead of this ancient church.”

“Isn’t there any of it left in our time?” asked Betty.

Godmother shook her head. “Another and quite a different church stands on its site, and instead of the old Courts of Christ’s Hospital, you will see when you come to this place in our day, a huge modern building—the London Post Office.”

Betty sighed. “What a pity! But even though the school is moved, I’m glad the boys still wear the same dress as they did in Edward the Sixth’s time. That makes even the new school still interesting, doesn’t it?”

“There go some of them,” said Godmother, pointing to where in the distance two or three yellow-stockinged boys were running across a courtyard surrounded by walls that even in the reign of Elizabeth were ancient. “I saw their descendants playing football when I passed near Horsham in the train the other day. And from the look of them, they might have been the very same lads.”

“That is what’s so interesting about London,” Betty remarked. “Though it’s so changed now—in the time to which we belong, I mean—things that belong to the Past go on. In a different way, of course. But there’s always something about them to show what they had to do with the Past, isn’t there?”

“Yes, if it’s only the name of a street,” Godmother agreed. “Nearly every name in London is a magic key unlocking a door into some part or other of the Past. I’m glad you’re beginning to find London not quite so dull,” she added in a teasing voice.

“It’s simply wonderful—when you see it by magic,” Betty returned.

“Every one can see it by magic if they take a little trouble,” was Godmother’s reply.

“Are there any more big schools we can see?” Betty asked, as they turned away from the great monastery that once held the Grey Friars, and was now peopled by boys.

“Several. The century we are in, the sixteenth, is the great time for the starting of schools, many of which, like Christ’s Hospital, are great schools to this day. For instance, close to St. Paul’s, whose spire you can see from here, is the famous school[Pg 97] of St. Paul’s, begun, or founded, as we say, by Dean Colet, when Elizabeth’s father, Henry the Eighth, was reigning. It’s been more than fifty years in existence already.”

“And now it’s at Hammersmith. Why, my brother Harry goes there!”

“So that makes it about four hundred years old in our day, doesn’t it?” said Godmother. “But it’s still the same school. Then over there, is Charter House, where the boys are lodged in a monastery once belonging to certain monks called the Carthusians. They remained there till my day. But now, like the Blue Coat[Pg 98] boys, they have moved into the country—to Godalming. They still call themselves Carthusians, though, in memory of the old monastery from which they came. We’ll go and see all that is left of Charter House when we slip back into our own age. It’s still very interesting and beautiful. Just now we must move on, for there’s so much in Elizabethan London to look at, that we can’t spend too long over the schools. We’ll go back to London Bridge, because it’s on the way to something I particularly want to show you.”

In a moment as it seemed, they were there, for one of the convenient things about these magic visits, as Betty had of course noticed, was that they were able to whisk from one place to another in a few seconds, instead of having to walk a long way to reach different parts of London.

“Are we going over to Southwark?” she asked, when they were half-way across the Bridge.

“Yes, but before we get there I must explain what we are going to see, and find out how much you know about the great men who are living now in this sixteenth century with Elizabeth reigning. We’ll sit down in the porch of the Chapel of St. Thomas.”

“This is where we sat before, two hundred years ago, when Richard the Second was king,” murmured Betty.

“And there are the English people still coming and going over London Bridge as almost in the same place they come and go in our own century to-day! People of the same character,—the descendants of those men and women we saw in the fourteenth century, and of these we see now in their doublets and hose, their ruffs and hoops. It’s only their dress that changes after all,” said Godmother, as though speaking to herself. “The Great War has proved that.... But I mustn’t forget we are in the sixteenth century now, and not the twentieth,” she added, smiling, “and you shall tell me, Betty, the names of some of the great men who are either living in London now, or at least often come to it.”

“Well, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir John Hawkins, and Sir Walter Raleigh,” began Betty, thinking hard.

[Pg 99]

“Yes, those are three of the great sailors. Now let us have some of the great writers.”

“Shakespeare, and Kit Marlowe, and——” Betty hesitated. “Oh yes, Edmund Spenser and Ben Jonson, and——”

Godmother nodded. “There are many more, but let us keep to the four men you’ve mentioned. Out of those four, three of them are play-writers, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Ben Jonson. When you see a Shakespeare play now, you go to a big theatre, don’t you, where according to what you can afford, you sit either in the stalls or dress circle, or upper circle, or pit, or gallery? Facing you, is a large stage, with scenery arranged to represent the different scenes of the play as they pass, and sometimes this scenery is very beautiful. Curtains go up and down to hide, or to reveal the stage at the right moments, and the audience sits in comfort in what is often a fine building.”

“Yes,” said Betty, nodding her head.

“Now, remembering our modern theatres, come and see the places in which Shakespeare’s plays are acted in this sixteenth century in which we find ourselves!”

They went on over the bridge to that part of Southwark lying along the shore of the river, which is now called Bankside. But instead of the modern warehouses and breweries lining the river, with the streets of South London stretching away and away beyond, Betty saw only a single row of small gabled houses along the top of a mound.

“Before that bank was thrown up, all the ground on this south side of the river was under water at high tide,” explained Godmother. “Now, as you see, meadows and gardens stretch behind these houses and it is all fertile land.”

“What are those funny-looking buildings dotted about in the fields?” Betty asked. “I don’t mean the inns, because I remember them, from the time of Richard the Second. There’s the Tabard, where we saw the pilgrims. But there are two or three buildings sticking up like towers. Do you see?”

“Those are the theatres. Come and see one of them. We’ll go into one that has just been built—The Globe, as it is called.”

Betty followed the old lady wonderingly as she led the way to the right, along a path by the river till they came close to a[Pg 100] curious, tall, six-sided building. Over its door was an inscription in Latin.

“What does it mean?” Betty asked, as she gazed at this strange “theatre.”

“Well, we may translate it ‘All the world’s a stage.’”

“Why, that’s in ‘Shakespeare!’”

“Yes, and no doubt Shakespeare had that very inscription in mind when he wrote the line a few years ago—remember we are in Elizabeth’s reign!—in As you Like It.”

“Are they acting now? The play can’t have begun yet. There’s such a noise going on inside.”

Betty glanced about her at the crowd entering the theatre. Every now and then a boat rowed across from the opposite shore, would land a company of richly-dressed young men who, laughing and swaggering, pushed their way through the throng and went into the building.

“We’ll go too,” said Godmother.

In a moment Betty found herself in a round wooden place, part of which was open to the sky, though the stage facing her, was protected by an overhanging thatched roof. Three galleries, one above the other, ran round the theatre, and these were thronged with people. On the stage, which jutted out into the open-air part of the building, another smaller stage was set with a gallery above it, filled with musicians in funny tall hats trimmed with ribbons. Some young men were sitting actually on the stage itself, while the poorer people stood in the open space in front of it, with nothing but the sky above their heads. There was a perfect babel of noise, for hawkers were moving about calling nuts and ale and apples to sell, the young gallants on the stage were playing at dice and quarrelling, and the whole place seemed in confusion. Then there was a flourish of trumpets from the musicians’ gallery and suddenly everything was quiet.

“There have been two trumpet sounds before we came in,” Godmother explained. “This third one means that the play is going to begin.”

“I know what it is,” whispered Betty. “I saw some funny little play-bills on the door outside. It’s Richard the Second[Pg 101]—and that’s all about the very reign we were in when we came to old London last time!”

Her eyes were now fixed on the stage, which was hung round with curtains, and strewn with green rushes. There was no scenery except one roughly-painted canvas stretched across the back of the smaller stage, above which, on a board, was written King Richard’s Palace.

“That was Westminster, wasn’t it?” whispered Betty, just as King Richard himself, John of Gaunt and a train of nobles walked on to the stage, and the King began his first speech.

Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured, Lancaster——”

“But they’re none of them dressed a bit like the people they’re meant to be,” she objected. “They’re wearing the same sort of clothes as the people in the audience have on!”

“Yes, the Elizabethans don’t trouble about that,” Godmother replied, “and neither right costume nor proper scenery makes good acting, you know. If we had time to stay and listen, we should hear this play very well acted. Do you notice how breathlessly quiet the audience is?”

Betty followed her guide reluctantly out of this strange theatre, looking back at the curtain-hung stage, with the young men in their short velvet cloaks, seated on stools close to the players, at the crowd standing in the open space under the blue sky, and at the circular galleries thronged with people.

“So that’s how the theatres we go to now, began, I suppose?” she asked.

“Not quite. Even that rough, simple sort of building we’ve just left is an advance upon what the grandfathers of these people saw in the way of stage performances. Till the Globe, and one or two other theatres (which I’ll show you in a minute) were built, a few years ago, the plays were acted in the courtyards of inns. Let us come into the yard of this one, and I’ll explain.”

They went under an archway, and found themselves outside the Falcon Inn.

“There,” said Godmother, pointing to the wooden galleries into which the rooms of the tavern opened. “Inns like this one, were the first theatres. The stage was a number of boards laid upon trestles, and placed at the end of the courtyard. The[Pg 102] poorer people stood here where we are standing, in the middle of the yard, and from the galleries, the richer people looked on. You see how the same sort of arrangement goes on in the new Globe theatre, only it is built in a circle, instead of in a square, and the stage at least, is protected from the weather by a roof. If you think of any theatre in our own day, you will see that there’s more than a memory in it, of these inns, and that rough building from which we’ve just come. The pit is the yard, or open space. The Dress Circle and ‘Gallery’ correspond to the galleries round the inn, or round a building like the Globe. So the most modern up-to-date play-house in our century is really only the great-great-grandchild of the play-house in Elizabeth’s day!”

“And even before her time there were the miracle plays, where at least there was a stage and actors,” said Betty. “Do they still act miracle plays, now, in this sixteenth century?”

Godmother shook her head. “Not often. The people, you see, are better educated now, and have grown out of them—especially as they have splendid stirring plays written by great men who are alive amongst them, like Shakespeare and Marlowe and Ben Jonson. We may have learnt how to make fine scenery and luxurious theatres in our day, but we can’t write plays like William Shakespeare’s. By the way,” she added, “he lives over here in Southwark, not far from the great church of St. Saviour’s. He hasn’t yet left London to go back to his old home in Stratford-on-Avon.”

“I do hope we shall see him!” Betty exclaimed.... “What are these other buildings along the river, Godmother?”

“Some of them are theatres, more or less like the Globe, with pretty names such as the Rose and the Swan. That place some way farther up, where you see a crowd of people and a few roofs, is the famous Paris-Gardens, where poor wretched bears are kept, and baited for the people’s amusement. A horrible so-called sport! But the rich young noblemen enjoy the sight quite as much as the roughs do, and Paris-Gardens is a very fashionable place of amusement.”

“But they have to come over the river to it every time,” Betty observed. “I wonder why all the theatres and amuse[Pg 103]ments were put here, and not close to where the rich people live?”

“There’s a reason for that. In London there’s a very strong party, growing every year stronger, called the Puritan party. These men hate the theatre, and think all amusement ‘godless,’ and as many of them are men who manage city affairs, they won’t allow theatres in London itself. But here in Southwark, they have no power, so that’s why the theatres are over on this south side of the river, where the Puritans can’t prevent them from being built.”

“Queen Elizabeth isn’t like that, though, is she? Like the Puritans, I mean?”

“Not a bit,” laughed Godmother. “She loves every kind of amusement, acting and dancing especially. She dances herself, though she’s getting quite old. You remind me that now we’ve seen something of the life of the people in their business and pleasure, we must also take a glimpse of the Court and of the men and women surrounding the Queen. Not that she shuts herself away from her subjects. Far from it. Never was there a queen so popular as ‘Good Queen Bess!’ Every time she moves from one place to another there is a triumphal procession. To-day, for instance, she is coming back from her palace at Greenwich, which is down the river there, and she will ride in state through the Chepe.”

“Oh! can’t we see her?” Betty implored.

“Certainly we will.”

They hastened over the bridge, and much more quickly than they could have made the journey in what Betty called un-magic time, found themselves somehow or other seated at a window overlooking the Chepe. The market-place below was gaily decorated and crowded by eager people. Soon cheers announced that the Queen was in sight, and in a moment or two she passed the window from which they were leaning, riding on a white horse covered with splendid trappings. A very handsome young man dressed in white and silver, with a blue velvet cloak flung back from his shoulder, led the horse by the bridle.

“That’s the Earl of Essex,” Godmother said. “The Queen’s present favourite.”

[Pg 104]

Betty glanced at him admiringly, and then at the Queen, who was gorgeous in velvet and jewels, her long cloak falling in heavy folds about her. She wore a red frizzled wig, and her face was lined and old. Evidently the people loved her, for they cheered themselves hoarse, and as she passed, fell on their knees in the road. Every now and then, in answer to their shouts of welcome, she bowed and exclaimed in a clear voice, “Thank ye, my good people!” Following her came a crowd of pretty ladies, some in litters, others on horseback, and all beautifully dressed in white.

“Those are the Maids of Honour,” Godmother explained,[Pg 105] “and these”—as a train of gallant noblemen rode by—“are the courtiers who always travel about with the Queen.”


“She’s going to the palace of Westminster, I suppose?” Betty inquired.

“No. Don’t you remember I told you that the kings and queens of England no longer live there? Since we last saw London, a great new palace has risen—the Palace of Whitehall.”

“We drove down Whitehall this morning!”

“We did. And if you remember, I told you to imagine all the houses on the left of it swept away so that the river could be seen. Well, the Whitehall Palace in which Queen Elizabeth lives part of the year, covers all the ground between St. James’s Park and the Thames, as you will see in a moment. The Queen will ride down to the river now, and finish the journey by water, so let us follow her.”

The procession was out of sight by this time, but when Betty reached the river, she saw the Queen just stepping into a huge painted and gilded boat, drawn up against one of the landing stages.

“That’s the royal barge,” Godmother told her. “It’s been waiting there for her. We’ll get into this little boat and follow it up to Whitehall. Little does our waterman know that he will have two invisible passengers to row!”

Betty laughed as she sprang into the boat. It was the first time to-day that she had been on the river, and she could scarcely contain her delight at the beauty of the scene. On the surface of the clear sparkling water, floated numberless barges following the splendid one in which the Queen, her Maids of Honour, and several courtiers were seated. The barges were painted with bright colours and had gilded prows, and brilliant canopies of silk were stretched above them. Swans with snowy wings circled round the barges, from many of which came the sound of music and singing.

Looking back, she saw London Bridge with its quaint houses clinging to it like limpets, and the throngs of people leaning from the windows watching the crowded procession of boats moving towards Whitehall.

“Oh, Godmother, if only the river looked like this now—in[Pg 106] our time, I mean! All bright and clear, with no smoke about, and with all these beautiful barges on it!”

“Yes, as you see, in Queen Elizabeth’s day people use the river as the means of getting from one part of London to another. It is the great water road of the city, and in this age, one takes a boat, or enters a barge—instead of a taxi or an omnibus.”

“There are ever so many more great houses on the banks than there were in Richard the Second’s time,” Betty exclaimed, looking at the splendid mansions, each one standing in its own garden, stretching in a line along the Strand. The Strand, however, she noticed was still more or less of a country road, with fields and orchards at the back of it.

“The Savoy Palace still stands, you see,” Godmother said, “though it has been rebuilt. That great pile not far from it with the round towers, is Durham House, where Lady Jane Grey was born. Elizabeth has lately given it to Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous sailor and writer. He has a little study up in that turret.”

“He’s one of Elizabeth’s favourites, isn’t he? Oh yes, it was Walter Raleigh who once put down his cloak for the Queen to walk on. What a lovely view over the river he must have from his study.”

“That’s York House,” Godmother went on, pointing to the next mansion, “and there lives another famous man of Elizabeth’s day, Sir Francis Bacon. Later on, in the next reign, it will be the home of the great Duke of Buckingham, and there’s still a tiny bit left of it in our own day, which you can see when you turn down out of the Strand to go to Charing Cross Underground Station.”

“I know! A big stone gate?”

Godmother nodded. “Which of course at that time stood at the edge of the water. It was the Water Gate to the Duke of Buckingham’s palace. But to-day of course we shall not see it, for it isn’t yet built. We’ve passed Somerset House, but——”

“Somerset House?” interrupted Betty. “That’s still standing anyway! The front of it is in the Strand, and the back looks over the river, doesn’t it? Why, King’s College is part of Somerset House, and people I know, go there for examinations!”

[Pg 107]

“Yes. Somerset House still stands, and is a fine place, but it has all been rebuilt in quite a different style from the house we’ve just passed.” There was a moment’s silence before Godmother said: “Here is the royal landing-place for Whitehall! The Queen and her train of attendants have gone up the steps into the palace, which, by the way, you mustn’t think of as one big house, but rather as a number of separate buildings, scattered over the ground where now stand all the big Government offices like the Foreign Office, the Home Office, the Colonial Office, where, in our day, the business of governing our country is done. Elizabeth’s father, Henry the Eighth, has not long ago added to, and rebuilt much of the palace which he took from his famous minister, Cardinal Wolsey. Whitehall belonged to Wolsey before he fell into disgrace, and King Henry was only too glad to get such a splendid palace. You can see from here, the line of a great hall he added to it. It’s there that some of the masques of which his daughter Elizabeth is so fond, are often acted.”

“Masques? What are they?” Betty inquired. “Aren’t we going to see the palace?” she went on in the same breath.

“I think we’ll leave the palace till the next of our magic visits to London, when we shall see it at the height of its glory. We can land here though, and sit in this part of the royal garden while I tell you something about the Court Masques.”

Betty followed her godmother up some steps from the landing-stage, and sat down beside her on a marble bench behind which ran a yew hedge, shutting off the view of the palace beyond.

“Let me see if I can guess where we are now, if we were back in our own time, I mean,” she began. “I suppose this shady walk would be the part of the Victoria Embankment near Westminster Bridge?”

“That’s about right,” agreed Godmother approvingly. “Right and left of us we should see bridges crossing the river where now we see none at all. For London Bridge is out of sight, and that’s the only one that yet exists.

“But now let me tell you a little about the Court Masques.... You saw how very roughly and simply the splendid plays of Shakespeare and the other play-writers, are performed in the newly-built theatres on Bankside? Well, there’s nothing rough[Pg 108] or simple about the performances called masques which take place sometimes in the palace yonder, sometimes in one or other of the beautiful halls of the great houses scattered about the city. These masques are not true plays. They are generally little scenes written for special occasions—the Queen’s birthday perhaps, or the anniversary of the day she came to the throne, for instance. They are usually written in the form of an allegory, in which such figures as Justice, Mercy, or Love appear. But they are presented with the utmost magnificence in the way of dresses and scenery, and beautiful surroundings, and it has become the fashion for the great noblemen as well as the Queen to keep companies of well-trained actors ready to perform whenever a masque or a play is to be given at Court. The Queen has groups of children trained to act in these masques, some of which are written by true poets, like Ben Jonson, and the scenery and costumes are designed by true artists. Inigo Jones is one of them. But the best of the masques written by Ben Jonson and ‘produced,’ as we say, in our century, by Inigo Jones, will be given in a few years’ time, when James the First is king. I want you to remember, however, that the sixteenth century is the great time for plays of all sorts. We saw how the theatres on Bankside were crowded. Everywhere, not only in the theatres, but in private houses, and public halls, acting is going on, and plays are being written to meet the taste for it. This is the great age of the drama and London is full of geniuses who are play-writers and poets.”

“Oh! I think it’s even more interesting than the last time we saw it—in the Middle Ages,” Betty declared, as they stepped again into the boat whose waterman seemed to have been waiting for them. “I should love to stay in Queen Elizabeth’s London for weeks.”

“We’ve only had a glimpse of it,” said Godmother, “but even this glimpse is enough, I hope, to show you that London is full of life and energy in the sixteenth century. Full of great men who love and are proud of England, and have already made her a famous country. If we had stayed longer just now at the Globe theatre where King Richard the Second was being played, we should have heard what Shakespeare wrote this very year[Pg 109] about England. He put his own thoughts about our country into the mouth of the dying John of Gaunt, who calls England ‘this little world, this precious stone set in the silver sea,’ and, later in his speech,

‘This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world ...
... England bound in by the triumphant sea.’

It is good to think that Shakespeare is living in London now, and has been for many years a Londoner.”

“I do wish we could see him!” sighed Betty.

It was growing dusk. Lights were already twinkling from the windows of the great houses on the Strand, but the last glow of sunset lingered on the river, where the swans floated between the stately barges that passed to and fro.

“‘Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song,’” quoted Godmother, after a long silence.

“What is that?” Betty asked.

“It’s the line with which each verse of a beautiful poem ends. It was written not long ago by Edmund Spenser, who is one of the great poets of this marvellous time, and he composed it in honour of the marriage of two girls, the ladies Elizabeth and Katherine Somerset. We are passing their home,” replied Godmother, pointing to Somerset House.

“The Thames is running softly,” said Betty, as they drew near to a landing-stage on the Southwark side of London Bridge. “Isn’t it all quiet?”

And indeed there was a strange hush everywhere. Even the boatman’s oars made no sound as he drew them out of the water, and when they landed and walked up a lane with a row of gabled houses on one side of it, the people they passed, flitted by like ghosts.

It was nearly dark now, and only one dim lantern slung on a rope across the lane showed the way. Every now and then, however, a man or boy passed, carrying a lighted torch which flung a ruddy glare across the road.

“We are passing St. Saviour’s Church,” said Betty, looking up at its tower dark against the stars.

[Pg 110]

Just as she spoke, a man wrapped in a cloak hurried by, making no sound, and entered a house opposite the church. The light from a torch fell for a moment upon him, giving Betty a glimpse of him before he closed the door.

“That’s William Shakespeare,” whispered Godmother.

Betty rubbed her eyes.

“Oh! I’m so sorry to come back!” she exclaimed, glancing round the parlour.

“To come forward, you mean,” Godmother corrected her, smiling. “We’ve leapt more than three hundred years onwards since a second ago.”

“Can’t we go at once to Southwark while it’s all fresh in my mind?” urged Betty. “I should like to see how that part of London where we’ve just seen Shakespeare, looks now.”

“Very well. We can’t have the car out again, but we’ll go on the top of an omnibus that runs over London Bridge, and you shall see all that remains to be seen, of the Southwark Shakespeare knew when he lived there.”

Rather more than half an hour later as they approached the south end of the bridge, Godmother pointed to the right. “That’s where you saw the Globe and the Rose theatres, and farther down the river, you remember we saw in the distance Paris-Gardens.”

“Oh, how different it is now!” Betty said, looking at the[Pg 111] crowded warehouses and dingy houses along the waterside. “There’s nothing of it left.”

“Nothing but the names of streets. Come down this one, now called Park Street. Look. That turning is Rose Alley.”

“Then here was the Rose Theatre?” Betty exclaimed, glancing up the dingy, grimy little road.

“Now look at the tablet on this brewery which tells us that here stood the Globe Theatre. It may have done; though some people think it is not the exact site.”

They walked farther along by the river’s edge, towards the next bridge, till Betty saw painted up at the entrance to another dingy street, Bear Gardens.

“From that name you know that you are on the spot where some of the poor bears were baited,” said Godmother, “and having so recently seen Southwark as it was, you can in imagination sweep away all these dreary streets and see the green fields and gardens round each of the separate buildings. Now we’ll go back to London Bridge, and walk straight on from it up what is now called the Borough High Street in Southwark.

“This,” she explained when they reached the crowded thoroughfare, “as you remember, was the country road along which, in the fourteenth century, the pilgrims passed on their way to Canterbury. Look on the left of the street for names of turnings which will bring the line of inns back to your memory. Here,”—she stopped at a turning called Talbot Yard—“was the Tabard you visited in Chaucer’s day, and as it was standing when Shakespeare lived here, he too must often have visited it.”

“But why isn’t it called Tabard Yard?”

“It was burnt down about seventy years after Shakespeare’s day, and rebuilt and re-christened, but this is the actual place on which the old Tabard stood. Let us cross the road. Do you see that Court nearly opposite?”

St. Margaret’s Court,” Betty read as they turned into a dingy-looking place with rather old but very poverty-stricken houses on either side. “Why, this must be where St. Margaret’s Church stood, and where we saw the Miracle play in the Middle Ages!”

“It is. The church was still there when Shakespeare lived,[Pg 112] though I doubt whether he saw a Miracle play acted. They had gone out of fashion in his day.”

“Well, I’m glad that at least the names of the old places are kept,” sighed Betty, “for there’s nothing else, is there? It’s all ugly and dirty and modern now. How I wish even one bit of an old inn was left!”

“Well, you have your wish,” said Godmother. “There is one tiny bit of an inn left standing. Come in here.”

They recrossed the road, and at No. 77 in the High Street entered a yard, the end of which was occupied by the carts and other belongings of a railway. But on the right, with its two rows of wooden galleries still there, stretched one wall of an ancient tavern.

“This is the George Inn, and, so far as I know, the only old one left in Southwark,” Godmother said. “Having seen the Tabard Inn as it looked in the days of Chaucer and Shakespeare, you can sweep away in thought, all the railway part of the yard, and see it as it used to be. But I agree with you that except for its memories, Southwark is dreary enough, though even now at the back of this High Street where in ancient times so many processions have passed in and out of London, there are old houses still standing.”

They took an omnibus again at the beginning of London Bridge, and looking back towards St. Saviour’s Church, she added, “There’s the only building which Shakespeare would recognize to-day, and even that is much altered since he lived near it three hundred years ago or more.”

“You said you’d take me to see the Charterhouse. Can’t we go now?” urged Betty, almost before they were off the bridge.

Godmother laughed. “Haven’t you had enough sight-seeing yet? Well, as what we’ve just been looking at isn’t beautiful, however interesting it may be, we’ll end our excursion at Charterhouse. You shall see there, not only a really lovely place, but the only one of the great London schools which in our day looks more or less as it did in the sixteenth century. This same omnibus will take us near it, so on the way I’ll tell you a little of its history.”

[Pg 113]

“You said it was a monastery before it was a school, didn’t you?”

“Yes, it was a monastery when your friend Richard the Second was reigning, and remained a monastery till the time of Henry the Eighth, when the monks were turned out. In Elizabeth’s reign, the place was sold to the Duke of Norfolk, who altered it to make it suitable for a private house. A little later—and here the school part comes in—the Duke of Norfolk sold it again to a rich man called Thomas Sutton, who turned it into a home of rest for old gentlemen and a school for boys. The school, as you know, has in our day moved into the country, but as a home for poor gentlemen who are still called ‘the Brethren,’ Charterhouse goes on to this day.

“We must get down here, at the Church of St. Sepulchre’s in Holborn, and walk through Smithfield,” she broke off to say, as the omnibus at the moment, stopped.

“Smithfield? Is this where the martyrs were burnt?” asked Betty while they crossed a wide space in front of the modern market.

“Yes. It’s full of memories, and all round about it there are wonderful buildings that we shall have no time to see to-day. Here we are at the entrance gate of the Charterhouse.”

They passed into a courtyard so quiet and old-world that for the moment Betty forgot that “the magic” was not working now, and thought herself once more back again in the sixteenth century. Indeed but for the modern clothes of the porter who showed them the place, she was as completely there, as she had been a few hours previously.

As they presently went up a splendid carved oak staircase, Godmother said, “You see here a beautiful private house and the remains of a monastery and of a great school, all in one, and that’s what makes Charterhouse specially interesting.”

A little while later Betty cried out in delight when they entered the dining-hall where once upon a time Queen Elizabeth was entertained by the Duke of Norfolk in the sixteenth century, and where that very evening of the twentieth century the poor gentlemen, “the Brethren” as they are still called, would dine as usual.

[Pg 114]

“What a beautiful room!” she exclaimed, looking at its arched roof and panelled walls.

“It’s a very fine example of a sixteenth-century hall,” Godmother agreed. “There’s the minstrels’ gallery opposite us, you see, where no doubt the musicians played their best when Queen Elizabeth was here to listen to them.”

“I don’t know which I like best, the Chapel we’ve just seen, or this Hall, or the Library, or the pretty Gardens where ‘the Brethren’ are walking or sitting,” Betty declared. “What a lovely place for them to have. I’m so glad Sir Thomas Sutton left it to be a home always for poor gentlemen. But what a pity that the boys have all gone!”

“Yes, it’s sad, but even the present Charterhouse boys, who have, of course, never lived in this old place at all (because it’s fifty years since the school was moved to Godalming), are very proud of this ancient dwelling which they feel still belongs to them. Did you notice that new marble tablet in the stone passage or cloister, as it is called, leading to the Chapel? On it are written the names of Charterhouse boys who fell a year or two ago in the Great War and are commemorated in the old school-house. Many famous men have been educated here, of whom you’ll learn something when you know more about the literature and history of our country. But there’s one of whom you may have heard. He was a boy here and afterwards wrote a celebrated novel in which Charterhouse plays a part.”

“Thackeray wrote about it in The Newcomes, I know! and I’ve just read it!” Betty exclaimed. “In the book, Colonel Newcome comes here and is one of the poor brothers. Thackeray was alive not so very long ago, wasn’t he?”

“It seems to me a very little while ago,” Godmother answered, “but it’s considerably over fifty years since he died, as I discovered just now by looking at the tablet to his memory in the Chapel Cloister.”

“Oh! I’m so glad I’ve seen this place,” Betty said as they were leaving, and she turned at the gate to look back at a sunny courtyard with a glimpse of green lawn beyond. “I shall read The Newcomes again now, and imagine old Colonel Newcome walking just here. I had no idea there were such beautiful[Pg 115] places in London, Godmother—even without the magic, I mean,” she added.

“Thousands of people live in this wonderful city of ours and never find them—never even take any trouble to know of their existence,” was Godmother’s reply. “And that seems strange to me, and also a great pity. They lose much pleasure.”

Betty would gladly have lingered in Smithfield, and was full of questions about various buildings which attracted her attention, but Godmother hurried her away even from the great beautiful church of St. Bartholomew near the Charterhouse.

“We must visit that another time,” she declared. “We’ve done enough for the present. But before next Saturday,” she added, “go to the London Museum. You will find all sorts of things in it to interest you if you keep in mind what we’ve seen to-day. Go to the gallery in the basement and look at the model of London in the sixteenth century. You will see the bridge with the quaint houses clinging to it, and recognize some of the buildings we saw on our magic visit. Then look at the big model of the Tower in another room. Because it was more or less like that model in Elizabeth’s day, and indeed except for the water in the moat, it has nearly the same appearance now.

“Don’t forget also to look for the life-size figure of Queen Elizabeth on horseback and one of the courtiers leading her horse. That also is in the basement of the Museum, and will remind you of how you saw her riding through the Chepe. There are, in fact, dozens of things in the Museum belonging to London of the sixteenth century that ought to be full of meaning to you now.”

“And Shakespeare’s plays will be more interesting too, and Edmund Spenser’s poetry, and all about Raleigh, and Drake,” exclaimed Betty rather incoherently. “Oh, the magic makes all the difference, Godmother!”

[Pg 117]

The Restoration


“We can’t go for a drive to-day before the ‘magic’ begins,” said Betty ruefully on the following Saturday,—a day of pouring rain.

“No. But how lucky that the rain won’t interfere with our visit to the London of Charles the Second,” Godmother returned.

“Is that what we’re going to see to-day? Oh, do let’s go at once, Godmother,” was Betty’s eager reply.

“Wait a little. I’m going to give you a short history examination first, to make sure that you will understand what we see, when we do see it. Elizabeth was reigning when we last went to old London. Who was the next king?”

“Her cousin James the First, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots,” returned Betty promptly. “We’ve just had it in the History class,” she added, to explain her readiness.

“And then?”

His son, Charles the First. And he was beheaded, and then Cromwell ruled and was called the Protector, and when he died, the people wanted a king again, so they sent for Charles the First’s son from abroad, and he was crowned, and that was called the Restoration,” said Betty very fluently.

Godmother nodded. “The Restoration of course meaning the restoring of kings to the English throne. Now Elizabeth died in the year 1603, and Charles the Second was crowned in[Pg 118] 1660, so as the London we shall see will only be about sixty years older than it was in the time of Elizabeth, you wouldn’t expect to find it much altered, would you?”

“No. Except that I suppose it will be a little bigger?”

“Yet during the reign of Charles the Second, London was almost completely changed for a reason you will understand presently,” Godmother returned. “Now before we go back to Restoration days, I want to tell you something about a man who lived in London in the time of Charles the Second. His name was Samuel Pepys. He was educated at that St. Paul’s School we talked about when we looked at some of the great schools that had just begun to flourish in the reign of Elizabeth. Afterwards he went to Cambridge, and then for some years he held posts in the Admiralty,—that is the great office in which the affairs of the Navy are managed. We have passed the street he lived in, many times on our journeys to London Bridge. It is called Seething Lane, and is close to the bridge, and not far from the Monument.”

“I remember seeing it,” Betty answered.

“Well, he was not a great man, though he was industrious and did his work well. He was vain and stingy, and had a great many petty faults, though on the whole he was lovable and kind-hearted. But we can never think of the days of Charles the Second without thinking of Samuel Pepys, and I’ll tell you why. He had the habit of keeping a diary, and that diary, now printed, is one of the most interesting and amusing books you can imagine. It is also very valuable, because as Pepys was a great gossip, and described everything he did, and everything he saw, and every place he went to, very fully, we seem to know the life of London in his day almost as though we had lived it ourselves.”

“Shall we see him?” asked Betty with interest.

“We are sure to. He went a great deal to the Palace of Whitehall, so perhaps we shall meet him there. Anyhow I can’t imagine going to London any time between 1660 and 1670 without seeing Samuel Pepys. I think it is he who must take us back to Restoration London.”

Godmother went to the Cabinet where the magic talismans[Pg 119] were kept, and took out a book. “Here is his ‘Diary,’ Shut your eyes, and I’ll read you what he wrote in it one May, two hundred and sixty years ago. He is recording in his ‘Diary’ how he spent that day, now so far in the past.

“‘To Westminster. In the way meeting many milkmaids with their garlands upon their pails, dancing with a fiddler before them, and saw pretty Nelly standing at her lodging door.... She seemed a mighty pretty creature.’”

“Who was ‘pretty Nelly’?” asked Betty, holding the book which Godmother put in her hand in the special “magic” way.

“You will see her if you look now.”

Betty’s eyes flew open upon a charming scene.

In place of the ordinary-looking street of Drury Lane, leading at one end into the Strand, she saw a road lined with gabled dwellings, rather like the old houses still left over Staple Inn in Holborn. The houses were not very close together, and slips of garden with trees in them, gave the “lane” a countrified look. A group of girls wearing muslin caps, short skirts and frilled aprons, and carrying milk-pails slung from their shoulders, came dancing down the road to the music played on a fiddle by a man who walked in front of them. From the milk-pails hung garlands of bluebells and cowslips, and some of the girls carried on their heads instead of pails, little pyramids of silver plates adorned with ribbons and flowers.

Opposite to where Betty and her godmother found themselves standing, leaning in the door of one of the gabled houses, was a pretty, merry-looking little creature, who had evidently only just got up, for she wore a flowered bed-jacket over her short skirt, and a night-cap trimmed with pink ribbons.

“That’s ‘pretty witty Nelly,’” said Godmother. “Nell Gwynne, the famous actress. She often plays at Drury Lane Theatre, lower down the road, and the King greatly admires her.”

“Why, there was a play acted in London not very long ago called Sweet Nell of Old Drury, wasn’t there?” Betty exclaimed. “Mother was talking about it the other day.”

“Yes, a modern play with ‘sweet Nell’ as heroine. Well, there she is. And this is ‘Old Drury’ where she lives.”

[Pg 120]

Just at the moment, the milkmaids and the fiddler stopped before Nell Gwynne’s house, and began to sing.

“London, to thee I do present
The merry month of May”—

Betty heard these words, but the rest of the song was drowned by the loud music of the fiddle, and the laughter of the girls, in which the charming little actress joined as they came crowding round her to take the coins she distributed right and left.

“If you look round,” said Godmother, “you will see Samuel Pepys, who is a great admirer of pretty Nelly, watching this little scene.”

Betty turned her head, and saw a fat-faced, good-natured, rather conceited-looking man grandly dressed in a black satin coat with silver buttons, huge sleeves made of fine white lawn, a lace cravat, and a wig with long curls. A sword in a scabbard hung at his side, and he carried a tall gold-mounted cane.

“He is very gorgeous because he is going on to Court—to the Palace of Whitehall,” said Godmother. “But we will follow the milkmaids to the Maypole.”

“The Maypole? How lovely!” Betty exclaimed. “Where is it?”

“Quite close. In the Strand. You know the church called St. Mary-le-Strand? It is the first of the two churches that stand in the middle of the road as you go up the Strand from Charing Cross. Well, just in front of that church, we shall find the Maypole. You can hear the shouts of the people now.”

In a minute or two they were in the Strand, and there, in the middle of the road, with long coloured streamers hanging from its summit, stood an enormously tall pole wreathed with flowers, round which with laughter and shouting, men and girls were dancing. Some of the boys had garters with bells round their knee-breeches, and nearly all of them were waving handkerchiefs. The whole street was crowded with noisy, merry-making people, and one boy in particular, standing on a high wooden stool close to the Maypole, seemed to be directing the dance.

“He is the May-Lord, and he arranges the fun,” Godmother said. “Listen to what he is reciting.”

[Pg 121]

“Up then, I say, both young and old,
Both man and maid a-Maying,
With drums and guns that bounce along
And merry tabor playing!
Which to prolong. God save our King,
And send his country peace,
And root out treason from the land!
And so, my friends, I cease.”

“London is very gay,” Betty remarked as they walked down the Strand towards Whitehall, passing groups of merry-makers on the way. “But it looks just the same as it did in Elizabeth’s day,” she added, glancing from the line of stately mansions on the left, with wide stretches of the river visible between them, to the fields and gardens on the right of the Strand. “The people wear different sort of clothes now, but the town hasn’t altered much, has it?”

“No. We are in the early years of Charles the Second’s reign as yet, and London is as full of gaiety as a few years ago it was dull and gloomy, when the Puritan party was powerful, Cromwell ruled, and all amusements were forbidden. Now the theatres have been reopened, and all the old sports and pastimes of the people have been revived.”

“Then there will be acting going on again in those funny theatres we saw in Southwark?”

“Yes, but these are already falling out of fashion, and will disappear, because finer play-houses are being built on this side of the river. Drury Lane Theatre is one of them.”

“I went there to a pantomime last Christmas,” Betty remarked. “But of course it’s quite a different building now, in our time, isn’t it?”

“There have been three Drury Lane theatres since the one in which Nell Gwynne plays now. You went to the fourth building on the same spot.... Now we’re at the end of the Strand and I’m just going to let you have a glimpse of Whitehall Palace which last time we saw only from the water. Look at that beautiful monument in the middle of the road, just where in our time, stands the statue of Charles the First on horseback. That’s the last of the thirteen crosses put up by Edward the First to[Pg 122] mark the place where his wife’s body rested when it was brought from Nottinghamshire to be buried in Westminster Abbey.”

“It’s in Charing Cross Station yard now, isn’t it?” Betty asked.

“Not that one. The monument outside the station in our day, is only a copy of the cross you are looking at. I needn’t tell you that when it was first set up, long, long ago in Edward the First’s time, this place was all country with a tiny hamlet called Cherringe surrounded by fields and woods, where we are standing....

“Now look down the road, remembering that if we were in our own day we should have our backs to Trafalgar Square and our faces towards Westminster. On our left we should see, first shops and houses, and then big buildings all the way down to the Houses of Parliament. On our right, there would be the Horse Guards and a line of Government Offices with St. James’s Park behind them.”

But on what a different scene Betty looked! The whole of the space stretching between the river (which she could see gleaming on her left) and St. James’s Park in full view on her right, was covered with houses, separated from one another by gardens and lawns, but all belonging to, and part of, the Palace of Whitehall. Right through the midst of this great plot of buildings, ran a public road, over-arched by two fine gateways at some long distance apart.

“You remember I told you that Henry the Eighth was the first king to live in this palace?” said Godmother. “He moved here, you remember, from the old Palace of Westminster when Cardinal Wolsey, to whom it originally belonged, fell into disgrace, and had to give it up to him. Henry invited the German painter Holbein, to live at Whitehall, and began a famous collection of pictures here. It was Henry the Eighth also who built many of the houses you see now. They are all part of the Palace. You know that this was one of Queen Elizabeth’s many homes, because you saw her land from the river over there on the left. Now look in the opposite direction. Do you see that great open space on the right? It is called the Tilt Yard, and you have[Pg 123] walked through it many times—as it is now in our own day, I mean.”

“Have I? What is it now?” Betty asked.

She was puzzled, for the whole place looked so different from the Whitehall she knew.

“The Horse Guards Parade. The great open space at the end of St. James’s Park, you know. It was there that Queen Elizabeth with her Maids of Honour sat to watch one of the masques she liked so much. It was a sort of masque and tournament combined. The gallery in which she was seated, was called The Fortresse of Perfect Beauty, and a company of splendidly-dressed knights stormed it by shooting sweetly-scented powder and perfumes at it. Then another company of knights calling themselves ‘The Defenders of Beauty’ met the enemy in a mock fight, and defeated them.”

“That was when she was young and beautiful, I suppose?” Betty said. “She was quite old when we saw her.”

“Yes. She was young at the time of that particular masque, but she kept her love for acting and for dancing almost to the day of her death.”

“Did she die here?”

“She died at her palace at Richmond, but her body was borne on a funeral barge down the river there, and here in Whitehall it lay in state till she was buried in the Abbey yonder. Then came James the First, and not content with this great palace, he planned to build a new one! Do you remember I told you of an artist called Inigo Jones who designed beautiful scenery for the masques in this reign? Well, he was also an architect, and he made a plan for a wonderful new palace, and actually began to build it. There is the little bit he finished.” Godmother pointed to a stately house on the left.

“Why, I remember that! It’s in Whitehall now. Opposite the Horse Guards.”

“It is, and it’s all that’s left of Whitehall Palace in our own day. The dream of a new palace remained a dream, for that’s all of it that was ever built, and was only a tiny part of what Inigo Jones meant to do. But it remains to our day, and I never pass it without thinking of the tragedy that happened there.”

[Pg 124]

“What tragedy?”

“Don’t you remember that it was there on a scaffold put up outside that second window at this end, that James’s son, Charles the First, was executed?”

“I’d forgotten,” Betty said, looking with interest at the window Godmother pointed out. “James little thought he was having the very place built where his poor son was to die, did he?” she added after a moment. “Then did Oliver Cromwell come to live at Whitehall?” she asked presently.

“Yes, and he took all the royal apartments for himself and lived in state with the poet Milton as his secretary. Here he died, only two or three years ago, and now the Palace is filled to overflowing with the great Court of the present King. Let us walk across to the river front.”

They passed through many gardens and courts surrounded by houses built in the Elizabethan fashion, with gabled roofs, and timbered fronts, till they came to a long stone building facing the river, but divided from it by a pretty garden.

“This is called the Stone Gallery,” said Godmother, “and here two of the beauties of the Court have their apartments. One is Lady Castlemaine, and the other the Duchess of Portsmouth.”

“What a lovely place to live in!” Betty exclaimed. “Overlooking this garden and the beautiful river.”

“It has its disadvantages,” Godmother remarked drily. “Sometimes the river floods the lower rooms at high tide. Only yesterday, for instance, when Lady Castlemaine had invited the King to dine with her, the cook came to tell her that the water had put the fire out in the kitchen.”

Betty laughed. “What did she do?”

“Pepys wrote it all down in his diary this morning, so we know. He tells us that Lady Castlemaine exclaimed, ‘Zounds!’ (a favourite word in these Restoration days), ‘you may burn the palace, down but the beef must be roasted!’ ‘So,’ the ‘Diary’ goes on, ‘it was carried to Mrs. Sarah’s husband, and there roasted,’ ‘Mrs. Sarah’ being the housekeeper to one of Mr. Pepys’s friends.


“Those are the Queen’s rooms,” Godmother went on, pointing to a row of windows some distance from the Stone Gallery,[Pg 127] but like it, facing the river. “Poor Catherine! she is very much neglected, and these Court ladies’ apartments are much grander and better furnished than hers.”

“Queen Catherine?” echoed Betty.

“Catherine of Braganza. She is a Portuguese lady whom King Charles has lately married.”

“Shall we see the King?” Betty asked.

“We may have a glimpse of him in a moment. He is far from being a good king, you know, though he is good-natured and witty, and easy to get on with. He hates to be troubled with business, and doesn’t care about the honour or welfare of his country so long as he has plenty of money, and can spend his time in amusement. He lives here in the greatest luxury, surrounded by frivolous courtiers. One of them wrote some amusing lines about him the other day which he had the audacity to fasten up on the door of the King’s bedroom:

‘Here lies our sovereign lord, the King
Whose word no man relies on.
He never said a foolish thing
And never did a wise one.’

And that very well describes Charles the Second. Now pay great attention to the Banqueting Hall, not long ago built by Inigo Jones, because it’s the only bit of all this scene that you will be able to look at when we are in our own day once more. There, wonderful banquets are held on a magnificent scale, when the King entertains ambassadors from foreign courts. And now let us stroll into St. James’s Park. The King has recently laid it out as part of the grounds of his palace, though the public is allowed to enter it.”

“It’s quite different now,” said Betty, gazing at a long straight canal which instead of the well-known winding lake, ran from end to end of the Park. “Look at those stiff avenues of trees on each side of the water! It isn’t a bit like an English park.”

“No. That’s because while he was in exile, Charles lived in Holland, and became very fond of the Dutch style of formal[Pg 128] gardening, which he has copied here. But I’ll show you something that will be familiar to you. Do you see that little island with the ducks and wild-fowl swimming near it. The water birds that live in St. James’s Park now, and had such a beautiful home before the Park was made ugly with sheds during the war, are the descendants of those very birds belonging to Charles the Second. He often comes here quite unattended to feed them.”

“Godmother, I do believe he’s there now!” Betty exclaimed, pointing to a dark, heavy-faced man with a long curling wig, throwing bread to the ducks, as with loud quacks they came swimming towards him. “He’s dressed like the pictures I’ve seen of Charles the Second anyhow.”

“Yes, that’s the King. And the man beside him, with the[Pg 129] splendid satin coat and the wide hat with the curling red feather, is the Duke of Rochester, one of his favourites. See how they’re laughing together!”

One moment Betty saw them thus. Then, the whole scene vanished, and instead of standing in the sunlight in the Park under the trees, she found herself in a gorgeous ball-room, lighted by hundreds of wax candles in sconces against the gilded walls. It was filled with men and women beautifully dressed in the costume of Stuart days, which Betty recognized from portraits she had seen of people belonging to Restoration times. The men carried in their hands big felt hats with sweeping feathers, and they all wore wigs with long curls to the shoulders, while the ladies were gay in rich brocades, and sparkled with jewels. A buzz of talk and laughter almost drowned the music played in a gallery above.

“They are waiting for the King and Queen to come in and[Pg 130] open the ball,” Godmother said. “Do you see Mr. Pepys in that corner under the musicians’ gallery? He is talking to his friend Mr. Povey, a member of Parliament, who has brought him here to-night to see this particular ball.”

Presently the doors at one end of the room were flung open and the King, leading the Queen by the hand, entered, followed by his brother, the Duke of York, who led the Duchess.

Then the dancing began. At first it was a stately dance called the Brantle, in which the couples followed one another round the room, keeping step to the music.

“That’s the Duke of Monmouth bowing low to Lady Castlemaine,” Godmother said, seeing that Betty was watching a very handsome young man whose partner was a pretty lady in a wonderful gown of blue and silver. “You will read about his tragic end in your history. But now he is young and gay and in high favour with the King.”

“Look! the King and a lady are dancing alone!” cried Betty. “Doesn’t he dance well?”

“That dance is called a Coranto. You see that every one in the room stands up when the King dances. There! He is calling to the musicians for a merrier tune, and now we shall see a country dance, very different from these stately measures.”

In a moment or two indeed the whole gay throng was jigging to a lively air such as Betty had heard the fiddler play for the milkmaids in Drury Lane.

“It’s a Morris dance,” she exclaimed. “We learn it at school.”

“Yes, there’s a fashion in our day to bring back the old-fashioned country dances that were common in England two or three hundred years ago. See how the King is enjoying it,” she added. “You can understand why, in spite of his failings as a ruler, he is so popular with his subjects. They love his free and easy ways, and his lazy good-nature.”

“I suppose Mr. Pepys will write about this ball?” Betty suggested.


“Oh yes. The ‘Diary’ says, ‘Mr. Povey and I to Whitehall: he taking me thither on purpose to carry me into the ball this[Pg 133] night before the King,’ and a few lines further on we read, ‘Then to country dances; the King leading the first, which he called for.’”

“And we’ve actually seen him do it!” Betty exclaimed.

But almost before she finished speaking, a thick mist swallowed up the ball-room with its sparkling lights and its whirling men and women.... The sun was shining, and they were once more in the open air.

“We are in the Chepe now,” Betty said, recognizing it immediately, for it had scarcely changed at all since the reign of Elizabeth.

It was decorated now in honour of May Day. Scarlet hangings draped the front of the houses not only of the market-place itself, but of those in the narrow streets leading from it. Wood Street, a dirty dark lane overhung by its picturesque wooden dwellings, was especially gay, Betty noticed. It was full of life and bustle. At every doorway people stood talking and laughing, and where the top stories almost met overhead, she noticed children leaning from the windows to exchange handfuls of flowers with little opposite neighbours who could reach them easily.

“Now,” said Godmother, “that we have seen London gay and merry on this May Day in the early part of Charles the Second’s reign, I’m afraid you must have just a glimpse of the city a few years later in terrible trouble. Shut your eyes.”

Betty obeyed, and when after a moment Godmother said, “Open them,” she looked round her in horror. They were standing on the same spot in the Chepe, for there was the entrance to Wood Street, just opposite. But what was this terrible change? The Chepe was silent and deserted. Grass was growing between the cobblestones with which it was paved, and the only creature in sight, was a man walking beside a covered cart ringing a bell. What was he repeating in that hoarse voice of his? She listened and with a shudder heard the words, “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!

“We will walk a few steps down Wood Street,” Godmother said.

[Pg 134]

Betty followed her along the narrow lane. The doors of the houses were all closed. No groups of gossiping people stood there now, and there were no laughing children high above, throwing flowers to one another. On almost every other door Betty saw a red cross drawn in chalk, and beneath it was scrawled God have mercie upon us. The air was full of the sound of tolling bells.

“Oh! how dreadful!” she cried. But the words were uttered in Godmother’s parlour, and she was thankful to be whisked so suddenly into her own day.

[Pg 135]

“The Plague was in London then, I suppose?” she asked.

“Yes. A moment ago, we were in the year 1665, and the Chepe, and Wood Street, showed you the terrible state of things that existed then all over the city. Nearly all the richer people had left London by the time we had that glimpse of only one of the streets in which the disease raged. The Court had moved from Whitehall; most of the clergy had run away. So had many of the doctors. The people died by thousands, and still in those narrow dirty streets the plague spread. Trade was at a standstill, and multitudes were starving, and only kept alive by money sent for their relief to the Lord Mayor and the Archbishop and two or three noblemen who bravely refused to desert the city.”

“Did Mr. Pepys go away?” Betty asked with interest.

“No. His work kept him in London nearly all the time, and of course he tells us much about this awful year. Let us look at his ‘Diary.’”

She opened the book which had been responsible for the magic scenes Betty had already beheld, and began to turn the leaves.

“Here,” she said, “on June 7th, 1665, long before the terrible disease had reached its height, Mr. Pepys wrote, ‘The hottest day that ever I felt in my life. This day, much against my will, I did in Drury Lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and Lord have mercy upon us writ there.’ But though Pepys owns that he is often afraid, he keeps quite calm, and does not forget to mention when he puts on new clothes. (He is very vain, you know, and fond of dress.)

“On September 3rd, when the plague was at its height, this is what appears in his ‘Diary’: ‘Up; and put on my coloured silk suit very fine.’ He goes on to say how he dares not put on his new ‘periwigg’ (that is the sort of long curling wig we saw him wearing just now) because he thinks it might hold the infection. Still Mr. Pepys was no coward during this terrible time, and seems to have done what he could to help the poor. Well, we will not linger over the misery of London during that awful year of 1665. A hundred thousand Londoners died of it, and even[Pg 136] before it was quite over, another terrible misfortune fell upon the poor city, of which you shall just have a second’s glimpse. Hold this book. Shut your eyes, and think yourself on Bankside in Southwark, near St. Saviour’s Church.”

Betty had no sooner done this, than even before she opened her eyes she was conscious of a fierce glare. Then just for a flashing second she saw on the opposite side of the river, London burning. From the Tower on the right hand, across the river, to St. Paul’s far down on the left, the city was a sheet of flame, and the night sky overhead was deep crimson with the reflected glare!

Before she had time to feel frightened she was in the quiet parlour where Godmother still sat, turning over the leaves of the “Diary.”

“How wonderful, but awful it looked, Godmother! I couldn’t have borne to see it a second longer. What does it say about it in Mr. Pepys’s book?”

“He describes the Fire very fully. He tells how at three o’clock on Sunday morning, Jane, the maid, called him up, saying there was a big blaze near them. But it is some hours later before he understands that this is something more than an ordinary fire. Then he goes to the Tower, and from one of the roofs there, sees all the wharves and quays and the houses in Thames Street (Chaucer’s street, you remember,) in a blaze. The houses on London Bridge were beginning to burn also. He tells of the scenes on the river where the people were rushing from their blazing houses on the bank and crowding into boats carrying all they could snatch up in their flight, ‘poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them,’ he writes, ‘and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceived were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconys till they burned their wings and fell down.’”

“We went down one of those very stairs on to the quay when we saw the sailor man telling the boys of his travels—in Queen Elizabeth’s days,” interrupted Betty. “And I remember the pigeons were flying about then! Do go on, Godmother.”

[Pg 137]

“Well, then Pepys goes on to say he takes a boat and rows down the river to Whitehall and informs the King and the Duke of York (afterwards, you know, James the Second) that this fire is very serious. So the King orders him to tell the Lord Mayor to have houses pulled down as fast as he can, to stop the flames, if possible, by making big gaps in the streets. For the wooden houses were burning furiously, as you saw just now, and the fire leapt from one to another. Soldiers were sent to help in this work, but all in vain, for fiery flakes were carried by the wind and fell on other roofs which began to blaze. Then he describes the streets blocked with carts in which furniture and treasures were stacked, and thronged also with escaping people, crying and lamenting. In Cannon Street he meets the distracted Lord Mayor who exclaims, ‘Lord! what can I do?... I have been pulling down houses, but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it.

“The same night, Pepys and his wife and some friends took a boat at Whitehall steps and rowed downstream towards the Tower, meeting hundreds of boats loaded with people escaping with their treasures, and seeing furniture and household goods floating about in the water. As they drew nearer to London Bridge, the heat from streets of flaming buildings was so great that they were obliged to land on Bankside opposite. There, from a little inn, they watched London burning, as you saw it just now. When he reached home he wrote in his ‘Diary’ that as it grew darker, the fire appeared more and more ‘and in corners, and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of the City in a most horrid malicious bloody flame, not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire.’ At last it seemed ‘as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long: it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and all on fire and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and the cracking of houses at their ruine.’”

“That was as I saw it!” cried Betty. “Was his house burnt? Because Seething Lane isn’t far from London Bridge.”

[Pg 138]

“No. It was in great danger, but it escaped. For two or three days after that Sunday, Pepys worked hard removing his treasures to a friend’s house at a distance, and burying his wine and important papers belonging to the Admiralty in a hole he dug in his garden. All that time London burnt, and the wildest scenes of confusion went on all round him, as the flames, helped by a strong wind, spread farther and farther. For nearly a week it raged, and when at last it was stopped in Smithfield——”

“At Pie Corner,” interrupted Betty.

Godmother smiled. “No child will ever forget that the fire began in Pudding Lane and ended at Pie Corner!” she remarked. “Well, when at last it was stopped, nearly the whole of London as it then existed, was in ruins, and two hundred thousand people were homeless.”

“Whatever became of them, poor things?”

“Thousands of them camped out in tents and huts, on what were then real fields in Moorfields, outside Moorgate (then a real gate in the City wall). But before we learn what became of them later, let us flash back for a moment or two and look at the city in ruins. It will be a sad sight, but we shall understand London better if we see it.”

The magic rite with the ‘Diary’ was once more performed, and in a flash they found themselves standing near one of the wharves close to London Bridge, on to which Mr. Samuel Pepys was just stepping from a boat. He was richly and trimly dressed as usual (having got over the fright of the Fire), and his face was full of importance and curiosity.

“He is going to look at the ruins,” Godmother said. “Let us follow him.”

Their unconscious guide led them over mounds of hot ashes into Cheapside.

“Oh, Godmother, the beautiful Chepe! All in ruins!” cried Betty. A moment later she saw what had been the Exchange, and was now nothing but a blackened skeleton. Mr. Pepys was standing before its remains, looking from the heaps of broken statues on the ground to one still standing, upon which he gazed in astonishment.

“It’s the statue of its founder, Sir Thomas Gresham—the[Pg 139] only one on the building not burnt, strangely enough,” Godmother said.

“Oh! that’s St. Paul’s; with the roof all fallen in. Scarcely any of it left,” Betty exclaimed sorrowfully.

A miserable sight, my Lord!” she heard Mr. Pepys remark with a low bow to a gentleman who stood near him among the crowd of dejected sightseers.

“The old Grey Friars’ church is gone, you notice,” Godmother said. “This, you remember, was Christ’s Hospital—the Blue Coat School, now all in ruins. Acres of streets and houses are destroyed, with more than eighty churches and an enormous number of schools and hospitals and public buildings of all sorts. In fact, old London, as you see, has practically vanished.”

“It’s too sad,” sighed Betty, looking round her at the ruin and desolation. “I don’t want to see any more. Look at those people crying. I suppose that heap of rubbish was their home?... Do let us go back to our own time, Godmother!”

In another flash they were there, and Betty, as usual when she returned so mysteriously to everyday life, rubbed her eyes.

“Poor London!” she sighed. “First the Plague, and then that awful Fire. I should think it was the worst fire that ever happened to a city, wasn’t it?”

“One of the worst, certainly. But out of the evil came one good at least. London has never since been visited by that dreadful Plague which before the Fire was always hovering in its narrow lanes ready to break out violently at intervals. In sweeping away the picturesque buildings, many of which had been standing for hundreds of years, it also swept the city free of the poisonous germs in it, which had never before died out. The new houses were healthier, many of the streets were made broader. There was air and light where formerly there had been stuffy darkness. And light and air are the good spirits that drive away the demons of disease.”

“But how did London ever get built again? I can’t think how ever the people found homes once more?”

“There was terrible suffering, of course, but they were brave and energetic. They did not sit down and cry for long,[Pg 140] but helped by money from the rich, they began to build their city again. The part by the riverside that was needed for shipping and trade of all kinds, rose first out of the ashes, and then by degrees new churches and mansions, and public buildings arose on the ruins of the old. You must remember one man in particular who lived at this time, because it was he who designed most of the new churches and a great many of the public buildings. His name was Sir Christopher Wren.”

“Oh! It was Sir Christopher Wren who built the new St. Paul’s, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, and many of the other London churches we see every day. After the Great Fire, when most of the city was in ruins, it was at first proposed to rebuild it in an altogether different way, and Sir Christopher Wren was asked to prepare a plan for New London. If it had been built according to his drawing, we should see a very different London now. It would be a regular city, with broad streets all more or less similar, running parallel to one another; rather like modern Paris or New York.”

“But it isn’t a bit like that, is it? There are lots of little curly streets and narrow lanes in the city in our own time,” said Betty.

“That’s because the people couldn’t wait to build till all these new arrangements were settled. They began putting up their new houses in the same places, following the lines of the old streets.”

“I’m so glad they did,” Betty remarked. “Because at least you can tell now exactly where the old places stood. It wouldn’t have been interesting to have a perfectly different city.”

“Well, it has stopped raining now,” said Godmother as a gleam of sunshine lighted her pretty parlour. “Shall we go to Whitehall and look at the only part of the Palace that is left?”

“Oh yes. I want to hear what happened to it after Charles the Second’s time. It wasn’t burnt, of course, because the Great Fire didn’t reach so far as Whitehall.”

“Not in the Great Fire certainly, but it was burnt down only[Pg 141] about thirty years later, in the reign of William and Mary. Afterwards St. James’s Palace, which you know well by sight, was the London home of royalty till Buckingham Palace took its place.”

In less than half an hour, they were driving from Westminster up Whitehall, and the car stopped before that building opposite the Horse Guards which is now called the United Service Museum.

“The famous Banqueting Hall has been turned into a museum, you see, where all sorts of interesting relics connected with the Army and Navy are preserved. We’ll go in and look at it,” said Godmother.

They went upstairs into the lofty hall, and Betty gazed up at the painted ceiling high above her head and at the flags hanging in a line just below it.

“The ceiling is the work of Rubens, a famous Dutch painter, and the old flags hanging up there once belonged either to famous ships or famous regiments. Now come and look at this model of Whitehall Palace as you saw it half an hour ago.”

Betty followed her eagerly to a glass case near the door.

“Oh, it’s a splendid model of it!” she exclaimed. “Here’s the part that went along by the river, where the Queen lived, and some of the beautiful ladies of the Court as well. And there are all the gabled houses round the big garden in the middle.”

“And that’s the building we’re standing in at the present moment,” Godmother added, pointing out the Banqueting Hall in the model. “The beginning of what the architect intended as a great new palace, and the only part of it either built or remaining now.”

“That’s where the Tilt Yard was,” Betty exclaimed, when having examined the model, she went to one of the big windows of the Hall and looked across at the Horse Guards, with the scarlet-coated soldiers on their horses standing on either side of the gateway. “And just under this window poor King Charles was beheaded.”

There were numberless interesting things besides the model to be seen in the Hall, but Betty’s mind was full of Restoration[Pg 142] days, and when Godmother proposed that they should drive to the place where the Great Fire ended, she readily agreed.

“You know where it began, because you’ve been up the Monument at London Bridge, and that commemorates the place of its outbreak. We must go to Smithfield to find the spot where it was checked.”

“Close to the Charterhouse, then?” murmured Betty.

“There!” Godmother said presently, when they reached Smithfield from a turning out of Holborn. “The figure of that fat boy on the corner house of Cock Lane, then called Pye Corner, marks the place where the flames were at last quenched by pulling down houses to make an open space.”

“I wonder what the fat boy has to do with the Great Fire?” Betty said.

Godmother laughed. “There used to be an inscription under the figure to say that the Fire was caused by ‘the sin of gluttony.’ But that was probably only because ‘Pudding Lane’ and ‘Pie Corner’ suggested eating too much of either or both!” she explained.

“Is there anything in the London Museum about the time of Charles the Second?” Betty asked on the homeward drive.

“Yes. You’d better go there before next Saturday. You’ll find plenty to interest you, and to remind you of the terrible as well as of the charming things you’ve lately seen. Look for the placards that were posted up in the streets at the time of the Great Plague. One is headed ‘Lord have mercy upon us’ and gives some curious directions about the sort of medicine people should take to prevent infection. Then just above these old placards, you will see one of the very hand-bells that were tolled in the streets when men went round with the carts crying, ‘Bring out your dead.’ Go downstairs into the basement if you want to see a splendid model of London burning.”

“Burning?” echoed Betty in surprise.

“Yes, and very cleverly managed too, as you’ll discover. Look at all the other models while you’re in the basement part of the Museum. There’s one of old St. Paul’s as it appeared before the Fire, and as you saw it for the last time in the early years of Charles the Second’s reign.”

[Pg 143]

“London will be almost a new city the next time we see it,” remarked Betty. “I wonder whether I shall like it so well as the old one?”

“It will be different, certainly. And now, my dear, it’s getting so late that I’m going to drive you straight home.”

[Pg 145]

The Eighteenth Century


“To-day we’re going to see London as it was after the Fire!” exclaimed Betty, when she had recovered as usual from her first astonishment and delight at “remembering everything” the moment she saw Godmother. “How are we going to get back this time?”

“Well, there’s a good deal we can see without ‘going back’ at all,” Godmother replied. “Because all that surrounds us every day is London after the Fire. Many buildings exist now, just as they were put up when the city began to rise from its ashes in the latter part of Charles the Second’s reign.”

“Isn’t there to be any ‘magic’ at all to-day, then?” Betty’s voice was full of disappointment.

“Not just yet, at any rate. We are not going back quite so far into the Past this time. Only, in fact, about a hundred and fifty years—to the middle of the eighteenth century.”

“But London must have changed even in that time?”

“It has—enormously. Yet at the same time much remains the same, and I propose to show you first what is left in our own day of the end of the seventeenth and the whole of the eighteenth centuries. It will only be necessary to employ magic in the case of certain places that have altogether vanished from the London of our own time. But before we go any further[Pg 146] with or without magic, we must have our usual little history examination. So sit down and collect your thoughts.”

Betty obeyed with a good grace, for she knew she would find all she was about to see, ten times more interesting for not being “in a muddle” about her history.

“When we left London last time,” Godmother began, “Charles the Second was reigning. Who was the next king?”

“James the Second, his brother,” Betty said, after a moment’s thought.

“And then?”

“William and Mary.”

“Why didn’t the son of James the Second come to the throne?”

“Because there was a revolution, and the people chose James the Second’s son-in-law to be king, and he was William of Orange, who was married to James’s daughter, Mary.”

“Very good!” exclaimed Godmother approvingly. “Queen Anne, you remember, Mary’s sister, was the next sovereign. And after her?”

“Let me see. She had no children, so a relation of hers, a German man, was chosen. He was George the First. Then came George the Second, and then——”

“That will do,” Godmother interrupted. “The reign of George the Second brings us to the London we’re going to see to-day, partly, but not altogether by magic. Some of it at least we can see in the course of a walk or drive, for it still exists. Now we’ll have the car and go as usual to London Bridge for a general view of the city that has risen up since the Fire and has been growing bigger and bigger for two hundred and fifty years.”

Half an hour later they were passing the Monument at the entrance to the Bridge, and this time Betty looked up at it with greater interest than ever.

“That marks the place where the Fire began,” she murmured. “How soon afterwards was it built, Godmother?”

“About eight years afterwards. Sir Christopher Wren designed it. He, as I hope you remember, was the great architect who practically rebuilt London. At least so far as great[Pg 147] public buildings are concerned. We’ll get out now, and walk to the middle of the bridge.”

“The last time I saw it ‘magically’ the funny pretty houses on it were burning!” Betty said. “I do wish this was the very same bridge,” she added with a sigh.

“Well, at least it’s almost, though not quite in the same place as the one you stood on with Chaucer, and that’s something, isn’t it? But now look right and left, and remembering the London you saw burning, tell me what changes you notice in the kind of buildings you see now. There’s the new St. Paul’s, for instance, and you remember the old one?”

“It’s quite a different sort of church now,” Betty said. “Old St. Paul’s had a spire and pointed roofs and arches instead of that big dome with the ball and cross on the top. All the churches now are different,” she went on, looking from one white steeple to another rising above the houses.

“Yes. You see, don’t you?—that the architecture of London,—that is, the way a building is made—has changed completely. Before the Fire, the churches and most of the other important buildings, were in a style we call Gothic. They had pointed arches, like Westminster Abbey, and if you keep the appearance of the Abbey in mind, you will have a good idea of what Gothic architecture means. See how very different is this new St. Paul’s! It has a dome. In front of it runs a line of pillars supporting a sort of stone triangle. Look at the gallery of columns upon which the dome rests. It is all as different as it can be, from the architecture of the Abbey. Now for the sort of architecture of which the new St. Paul’s is an example, the architects took the ancient Greek temples for their models. Nearly all the architects who lived later than Elizabeth’s time, built in this way, and Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones (who designed the Whitehall Banqueting House, you remember) were two of the men of the seventeenth century who planned their buildings on Grecian models. Now as Wren designed most of the important buildings, we may expect to find London architecture after the Fire, for the most part in this new style. It is called the classical style, and the new St. Paul’s is a good example of it.”

[Pg 148]

“But all the crowded houses and quays and bridges that we see now weren’t here till much later even, than George the Second’s time, were they?”

“Indeed no, though of course London had grown bigger in the eighteenth century than it was even after the time of the Fire. When we make use of the ‘magic’ presently we’ll just take a glimpse of the City from London Bridge in the eighteenth century. I’ve only brought you here now to get a general view of the new sort of churches.”

“Where are we going now?” Betty asked as they re-entered the car.

“I’m going to take you to see one at least of the four Inns of Court.”

“Inns of Court? What are they?”

“Well, they were founded to be colleges for the study of law, and lawyers still live in them and dine in their halls, and law students have to pass examinations set by the men who govern the Inns. They are all rather close together, round about Fleet Street, which as you know is a continuation of the Strand.”

“This is Fleet Street, isn’t it?” Betty said. “Yes! There’s the monument with the Griffin on it in the middle of the road, outside the Law Courts.”

“And here is the entrance to the Middle Temple, quite close to that monument,” Godmother replied, stopping the car. “The Middle Temple is the name of one of the Inns. The others are the Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn. They are all interesting and beautiful, but we shall only have time to look at the two ‘Temples’—Middle and Inner—which are side by side.”

“Oh! what a nice entrance!” Betty said as they passed under an old brick gate and house.

“Yes. That was designed by Christopher Wren just after the Fire.”

“Why is this place called the Temple?” Betty asked, and almost in the same breath, “Oh, Godmother, how pretty it is! Isn’t it wonderful to turn out of the noisy street into this quiet place?”

[Pg 149]

“That’s one of the surprises of London town,” Godmother said. “It’s full of charming leafy places like this—if you know where to look for them.”

Betty was gazing at the straight-fronted houses enclosing numberless quiet courts,—houses whose bricks were now dark red with age, and from them she looked past a row of big, beautiful trees to where green lawns sloped down to the Embankment with the shining river beyond. She saw that the courts and corridors and gardens, covered a great space between Fleet Street on one hand and the river on the other.

[Pg 150]

“Let us sit down here under the trees in King’s Bench Walk,” Godmother said, “and I’ll tell you a little about this place. You asked me just now why it was called the Temple. Did you notice the church we’ve just passed—a curious round-shaped church? Well, that was built more than seven hundred years ago, when Henry the Second was king, and knights from every civilized country were going to Palestine to fight in the Crusades. Some of these knights formed themselves into a society called the Templars, because they had sworn to defend the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Well, when the English knights belonging to this great Society, or Order as it was called, came home, they built that church and made it round in shape, in imitation of the Round Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Once upon a time these Knights Templars owned all this ground upon which the lawns and houses before us now stand.”

“But I thought you said this was a place for lawyers?” Betty began.

“So I did, and so it is now, and so it has been ever since the reign of Edward the Third. By that time, the Knights Templars were no longer the good sincere men who had formed the Society a hundred years or so before. They had become rich and proud and greedy of power, and the society was at last brought to an end. The property belonging to it went to the King, and in Edward the Third’s reign, was given to certain lawyers, and has ever since belonged to the profession of the law. But it keeps its old name of the Temple, and so recalls the time when it belonged to the great religious society of the Knights Templars.”

“But none of their houses or buildings are left here now?” Betty said.

“Nothing except the round church which they built seven hundred years ago.”

“And even the houses here now, aren’t so old as the time when the Temple first came to the lawyers, are they? They are quite different from the houses of Dick Whittington’s time, or even Elizabeth’s reign, for instance.”

“Yes. That’s because all these small houses were built[Pg 151] after the Fire, which destroyed most of the Temple. Fortunately it didn’t burn the church (the oldest part of it all), nor Middle Temple Hall, which was built in Elizabeth’s reign. We’ll go and look at that Hall now, because besides being beautiful, it’s full of interesting memories.”

They crossed various quiet courtyards till they came in sight of a Hall built of dark red brick and surrounded by the delicate green of trees, with lawns stretching in front of it towards the river.

“That great room,” said Godmother, “has seen some wonderful sights, especially at Christmas time, when feasting and revelry went on within it. You remember the ‘masques’ of Queen Elizabeth’s day? Well, Middle Temple Hall was a favourite place for them, and the Queen herself sometimes came to see them there. You will understand in a moment what a splendid place it was for entertainments.”

And indeed when Betty stood under the oak rafters of the great room, with its stained-glass windows and its wide floor, she could imagine it filled with laughing, dancing people of Elizabethan days, or as it looked when on a platform at one end of it, decked with holly and garlands of ivy, the players acted a masque before the standing crowd that filled the rest of the hall.

“In this very place,” Godmother said, “Twelfth Night was once acted, and it is thought that Shakespeare himself took part in the performance of his own play. I hope the people who dine in it now sometimes think of the folk who feasted and made merry here hundreds of years ago.”

“Is it still the dining-room for the law people, then?”

“Yes, the governors of the Inn, the benchers as they are called, and the students dine here, and by an old custom no student can become a barrister unless he or she has dined a certain fixed number of times in this Hall.”

She?” echoed Betty.

“Yes, don’t you know that women have lately been allowed to study for the law?” Godmother laughed. “If any of all the famous lawyers now dead, could come back to this place, perhaps of all the changes the one that might most astonish[Pg 152] them would be to find girls and women dining—‘keeping commons’ as it is called—in this Hall which for hundreds and hundreds of years has been sacred to men alone.”

Shakespeare wouldn’t be so very surprised, perhaps?” suggested Betty. “He wasn’t a lawyer, of course. But he would remember writing about Portia.”

Godmother laughed again. “Quite right, Betty. I’m sure he would. And now that you mention Shakespeare, do you remember anything about the Temple in his plays?”

Betty shook her head.

“These are the gardens of Middle Temple,” said Godmother, pointing to the lawns in front of the Hall (on one of which some young men were playing tennis). “It was the same garden that Shakespeare, who knew it well, chose for a famous scene in his play of Henry the Sixth when the party of Lancaster chose the red rose and the party of York the white one for a badge.”

“And then the Wars of the Roses began!” said Betty. “What does Shakespeare say about it?”

“The scene goes like this. The gentlemen who take different sides in the quarrel between the House of York and Lancaster are just coming out of that very building,” Godmother began, pointing to the Hall, “and one of them says:

‘Within the Temple Hall we were too loud:
The garden here is more convenient.’”

“This very garden,” interrupted Betty. “Only I expect it was wilder and had lots of flowers in it then?”

“Evidently there were many rose bushes, for one noble, who is on the side of the Yorkists, says:

‘Let him that is a true born gentleman
And stands upon the honour of his birth
If he suppose that I have pleaded truth
From off this briar pluck a white rose with me.’

Then Somerset, on the side of the Lancastrians, takes up the challenge:

[Pg 153]

‘Let him that is no coward nor no flatterer
But dare maintain the party of the truth
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me.’

So the white and red roses are picked and stuck into the doublets as the sides are taken, and another noble, wise enough to see into the future, says that this quarrel in the Temple Gardens ‘shall send between the red rose and the white, A thousand souls to death and deadly night.’ And so it did, in the dreadful long War of the Roses, as you remember.”

“But, Godmother,” began Betty after a moment, “I thought we were going to be in the eighteenth century to-day, and so far we’ve been talking about much earlier times!”

“So we have! And that’s the worst, or best, of London. When a place like this Temple, is very old, the history of a great many ‘times’ belongs to it. But you’re quite right to remind me that I brought you here because, except for the church, and the Hall, and one or two other buildings, the look of the place as it is now, is much more seventeenth and eighteenth century than anything else, and is ‘mixed up’ as you so often say, with the lives of many interesting eighteenth-century writers, who lived in one or other of the houses enclosing these charming courts. You’ll know, or you ought to know, two of them, if I mention their names. Dr. Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith.”

“I’ve read The Vicar of Wakefield that Goldsmith wrote,” said Betty, “and I’ve heard of Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary—but I don’t know much about him.”

“Yet he’s the man who will help us with our magic journey presently,” Godmother returned. “For the time you may remember that Oliver Goldsmith was one of his friends.”

“Why, there’s his name!” Betty exclaimed as she caught sight of a medallion on the wall of a house in an enclosure called Brick Court.

“That’s where he lived and died, and the tablet is there to commemorate him. He was buried in the churchyard of the Temple Church. Come! I will show you his tombstone. You will, I expect, read Goldsmith’s life when you are older, and find out what a lovable man he was, in spite of many tiresome ways,” she went on as they stood looking down at his grave.

[Pg 154]

“Perhaps we shall see him when the magic begins?” Betty suggested. “I should love to see him. The Sixth Form acted a scene out of She Stoops to Conquer last term. That’s one of his plays, isn’t it?”

“Yes, and a very charming one. No doubt, as you say, we shall actually see him later on, but we can look at a very amusing picture of him even before the magic begins, in a house I’m going to take you to visit now at once.”

“What house? Who lives there?” asked Betty, turning[Pg 155] to take a last glance at the quiet dignified old houses of the Temple before they left it for the noise and bustle of Fleet Street.

“No one now. But a hundred and seventy years ago Dr. Johnson lived there with his wife. It isn’t far from here, so we’ll walk.”

By this time they were standing under the archway at which they had entered the Temple.

“That’s the Law Courts, isn’t it?” Betty asked, pointing to a pile of buildings opposite. “But they’re not old, are they?”

“No. They were built about forty years ago. But near them, are the two other beautiful old Inns I mentioned, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn, both of which you must see some day. This part of London is full of buildings connected with the law.

“Now let us walk a little way up Fleet Street, and as we go, notice what a number of narrow alleys or passages there are on the left. All of them are interesting, but we shall only have time for the special one we are going to see.”

“Crane Court, Bolt Court, Johnson’s Court—we’re getting near him, aren’t we?” Betty said as she read the names aloud.

“Fleet Street is full of memories of Dr. Johnson. He had many dwelling places, but however often he moved, he never went far from Fleet Street.”

Godmother now led the way up a narrow alley called Bolt Court, and in a moment they came to a little enclosure in which one or two of the houses were of the kind Betty had seen in the Temple, old, square, and built of dark red bricks, while others were quite modern business places.

“This is Gough Square, and here is Dr. Johnson’s house,” Godmother said, stopping opposite one of the old houses with the tiniest little garden in front of it. “For years it was used as an office for printers, and it would have been pulled down by now if a gentleman called Mr. Cecil Harmsworth had not bought it and given it to the nation to be kept for ever in memory of Dr. Johnson. Now we’ll ring the bell and go in, and you shall see what the inside of an eighteenth-century house was like. For this one has been arranged as nearly as possible as it was in Dr. Johnson’s time.”

[Pg 156]

Betty was delighted with the panelled rooms, with the quaint deep cupboards in the walls, one of which, as the interesting housekeeper who showed the place told her, was a powder closet, where the gentlemen’s wigs and the ladies’ hair were powdered before they went to parties or “routs,” and “assemblies,” as in eighteenth-century days, parties were called. Upstairs there was a big attic stretching the length of the house, and here it was that Dr. Johnson worked at his great and famous Dictionary. But every room was full of memories of him in the shape of letters or books arranged in glass cases, or in pictures on the walls.

“Here is the picture I told you about, showing Dr. Johnson and his friend Goldsmith together,” said Godmother, pointing to one of them. “It’s very interesting because the scene it represents, took place over there in Wine Office Court,”—she pointed out of the window to an opposite street,—“where at one time Goldsmith lived.”

“What are they doing?” asked Betty, looking at the painting. “That’s Goldsmith in the funny night-cap, I suppose?”

The caretaker, who seemed to know everything that was to be known about the house and its belongings, began to tell her the following story of the picture.

“Though he was the kindest-hearted man in the world, Oliver Goldsmith was so careless and happy-go-lucky that he was always in debt, and one morning before he was dressed, he sent over a messenger to this house in which you are standing, to borrow a guinea from his neighbour, Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson crossed this little Square which you see from the window, and went to his friend’s lodgings opposite, to find out what was the matter. The picture shows you why Goldsmith wanted the money. There is his angry landlady waiting to be paid, and there is Goldsmith in his night-cap and dressing-gown with Dr. Johnson sitting opposite to him, looking over some sheets of writing.”

“Why is he doing that?” Betty asked.

“Well, he knows that his friend is penniless, and even though he now has the money to pay his landlady, he must have some more to go on with. So he has asked him if he has written anything that might possibly be sold. Goldsmith, you see, has[Pg 157] been rummaging in that box into which he has thrown stories he has written from time to time, and the manuscript he has just handed to Dr. Johnson is no other than The Vicar of Wakefield!

“That’s the story so far as the picture tells it. But we know what happens next. Dr. Johnson puts the manuscript into one of those big pockets of his, goes out, and in a short time returns with sixty pounds—the price he has received for the book by which Oliver Goldsmith is best known—the famous Vicar of Wakefield.”

[Pg 158]

“And perhaps if Dr. Johnson hadn’t taken it, it would never have been published at all?” Betty suggested.

“Very likely,” agreed Godmother. “Well, now that you’ve seen Dr. Johnson’s house, we’ll go and look at the inn in which he and Goldsmith often sat.”

They crossed the little Square, and found themselves almost at once in Wine Office Court.

“Unluckily Goldsmith’s house has gone, but here is the Cheshire Cheese, one of the oldest inns in London, for it was old, when Johnson and Goldsmith used to come here.”

They stepped then into the quaintest of taverns! It was dark, with low ceilings and sanded floors, and when they had looked at everything and seen the chair pointed out as Dr. Johnson’s, Betty could scarcely believe they were in modern London.

“I understand now why we don’t need ‘the magic’ to see a good deal of London as it was in the eighteenth century!” she remarked. “There’s quite a lot of it left.”

“Much more than most people know about, because only a few take the trouble to discover it hidden away behind modern buildings,” Godmother returned.

“Is there any other place left in Fleet Street that Johnson used to go to?” Betty asked. “You said he was always walking about here.”

“I’m afraid most of the other houses with memories of him have been pulled down, but before we leave Fleet Street let us go into the church where Sunday after Sunday he worshipped. You know St. Clement Danes? Here it is, standing in the middle of the road near to the Temple—one of the seventeenth-century churches built after the Fire.”

They entered, and Betty followed her Godmother up into the gallery where a tablet on a certain pew near the pulpit, marked Dr. Johnson’s seat.

“It’s interesting to know just where he sat,” Betty said, as they left the church. “Is the next place we’re going to, hidden away like Gough Square, Godmother?”

“Far from it. I’m going to take you now to the Adelphi, to which business people who have offices there, go every day.”

[Pg 159]

“The Adelphi? That’s a turning out of the Strand, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Have you ever asked what the name means?”

Betty shook her head.

“Does it sound to you like an English name?”

Adelphi,” Betty repeated. “No, it doesn’t. What language is it?”

“Greek. It’s the Greek word for brothers.”

By this time the car had turned up a street near Charing Cross Station, and was moving slowly past lines of houses which Betty recognized as belonging to the eighteenth century.

“Look at the name of that street,” said Godmother, pointing to it.

“Durham House Street,” Betty read.

“Well now, remember the Strand as we saw it by magic about the time of Elizabeth, when stately houses surrounded by gardens, stood facing the river. Just here, where we are driving through these streets of eighteenth-century houses, stood Durham House, where Lady Jane Grey was born. We saw it, if you remember, when we were in Queen Elizabeth’s reign. That accounts for the name Durham House Street which you’ve just seen. But it doesn’t account for names like Adam Street, and James Street, does it?” As she spoke, Godmother was pointing to them as they appeared written up on the walls of corner houses. “I’ll explain about that in a minute, when you’ve looked at this beautiful place we’re coming to, called Adelphi Terrace.”

They had turned into a broad road, open on one side to the river, and lined on the other side by a row of stately houses with delicately ornamented flat pillars, against the walls.

“The Adelphi, as you see,” she went on, “is really a whole district laid out in streets of eighteenth-century houses, built over the ground where Durham House once stood. About a hundred and fifty years ago, when Dr. Johnson and Goldsmith were living, there was a Scotch family of four brothers in London. Their names were John, James, Robert and William Adam. They were all architects, and also designers of a beautiful kind of furniture which has ever since been called Adam furniture, and[Pg 160] is now very valuable. These brothers built this little part of London which was not only called the Adelphi—that is ‘the Brothers’—in honour of them, but each brother gave his Christian name to a street, while yet another street bears the surname of the family. So we have Adam, James, John and Robert Streets. There used to be a William’s Street, but that has been changed to Durham House Street within the last few years.”

“Poor William!” said Betty. “He’s gone out of the family! Still, the new name does remind us of Durham House and Lady Jane Grey, doesn’t it? Oh! two of the brothers, Robert and James, lived here, Godmother!” she went on, pointing to a tablet on one of the houses in the terrace. “And here’s another tablet next door. It says that David Garrick lived in this house. Who was David Garrick?”

“A famous actor of the eighteenth century and one of Dr. Johnson’s friends. He acted at Drury Lane Theatre where, eighty years or so before his time, Pepys, you remember, used to go to see the pretty actress, Nell Gwynne. But you will read about these eighteenth-century people when you are older, and perhaps feel as I do, that you know them all very well. Take a last look at this Adelphi, because it’s a good example of the sort of architecture that belongs to the time of George the Second and Third. There are many other eighteenth-century streets and nooks and corners scattered about London among the forest of new buildings that has sprung up since the reign of George the Second. But I shall leave you to find them for yourself. It will make a nice occupation for you when you go for a walk! Now we must rush home if we want any lunch to-day.”

“But you won’t forget the ‘magic,’ will you?” urged Betty anxiously.

In the white parlour, an hour or two later, she sat full of expectation, watching Godmother as she took a volume from the enchanted cabinet.


“Here is the book that will take us back to-day,” she said. “It’s called Boswell’s Life of Johnson, and it’s almost as good for news of the eighteenth century, as Pepys’ Diary is, for news of the seventeenth. Shut your eyes, hold the book in the magic[Pg 161] way, and say, as Johnson used to say to his friend Boswell, ‘Sir, let us walk down Fleet Street.’”

In a flash they were there, and at first sight Betty could scarcely believe it was the same Fleet Street she had left only a few hours previously. In a minute or two, however, she recognized it, in spite of the changes, for she stood close to the entrance to the Temple, and not far from it rose the church of St. Clement Danes. But the great pile of the new Law Courts had vanished, and so had the monument with the Griffin upon it in the middle of the road. Where that had stood an hour or two previously there stretched a fine stone gateway, and a line of little shops took the place of the Law Courts.

“That’s Temple Bar,” said Godmother, pointing to the gate. “If you had lived forty years ago, you would have seen it without the help of magic, for it had not then been pulled down.”

“What are those long spikes for on the top?” asked Betty, gazing up at the gate.

“For a horrible purpose. On them were fixed the heads of men who had been executed as traitors. Johnson and Goldsmith saw the heads of certain rebels on those spikes, only a hundred and seventy years ago.”

“I’m glad they’re not there now,” said Betty, shuddering. “Does Temple Bar belong to the time before the Fire?”

“No. The old one was burnt, and this took its place. But some sort of chain or bar or gate has been on this spot for eight hundred years to mark the place where the part of London called Westminster ends, and the City begins. Even now, in our time, though there’s no gate left, when the King pays a state visit to the City, he stops here and asks the Lord Mayor who comes to meet him for permission to pass Temple Bar!”

“Except that it’s newer, St. Clement Danes church, where Dr. Johnson goes, looks the same,” remarked Betty, searching for buildings with which she was familiar.

“Yes, it’s one of the many churches rebuilt after the Fire by Sir Christopher Wren.”

“‘Oranges and Lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s!’”

[Pg 162]

Betty quoted. “That’s a nursery rhyme about that very church, isn’t it? It goes on to tell what all the other church bells say too!” she added.

“We’ll read it when we slip back into our own day,” Godmother answered. “Now look up and down the street.”

Glancing first at the road, Betty saw that instead of the smooth wood pavement with motor omnibuses running quickly over it, Fleet Street was now paved with round cobblestones which extended right up to the shops on either hand, and only a row of posts divided the foot passengers from the traffic.

Big lumbering coaches, with powdered footmen standing up behind them, rolled clattering over the stones. Wagons piled with vegetables jolted along, the horses led by carters in smock frocks, cracking their whips. Every now and then a sedan chair slung on poles and carried by men-servants, passed by, giving her a glimpse of a lady within, dressed in flowered silk, her hair piled high and powdered thickly.

Instead of gabled houses with the latticed windows of earlier times, she saw taller, plainer houses, like those in the streets of the Adelphi, built of small bricks, with sash windows level with their walls, and each story exactly over the one beneath it. There were no top windows now from which opposite neighbours shook hands across the street. At every shop door, a sign hung out, some painted on wood, others made of gilded metal.

“It’s all much cleaner and lighter since the Fire!” Betty exclaimed. “And how pretty the sign-boards make the street. And, oh, Godmother, how pretty the dresses are.”

Even the more plainly-dressed business men, she thought, looked nice in their knee-breeches, brown stockings and ruffled shirts. But every now and then, beautifully-dressed young men passed her, wearing flowered waistcoats, white or coloured satin coats and silk stockings with knee-breeches. Their swords were fastened with broad sashes round the waist. Dainty lace ruffles fell over their hands. Under their arms they carried three-cornered hats, trimmed with gold lace, and their hair, rather long and powdered, was tied with a black ribbon. Nearly all of them carried gold snuff-boxes, and long gold-handled canes.

“The men are quite, if not more elegant, than the women,[Pg 163] you see—in this reign of George the Second,” said Godmother. “Here comes one, however, who is by no means well-dressed,” she added, smiling.

Betty looked in the direction to which she pointed, and saw two figures approaching. One was a neat dapper gentleman, but the other was the oddest-looking individual! He wore shabby buckled shoes, black worsted stockings, all wrinkled,[Pg 164] knee-breeches, a long coat of a rusty brown, and a wig much too small for him; old and unpowdered. He was stout, and clumsily made, moved very awkwardly, and had a large heavy face.

“It’s Dr. Johnson!” cried Betty. “And that’s Mr. Boswell with him, I suppose?”

“Yes, listening intently to every word he utters. He will rush home presently and write down every syllable of Dr. Johnson’s conversation, and later on, publish it in that wonderful Life of his friend. Well, now that we’ve had a glimpse of Fleet Street as it was in the eighteenth century, I’m going to whisk you off to look at the river. Shut your eyes and wish yourself standing on the Embankment somewhere close to Westminster Bridge.” ...

“Why, there’s no Embankment, and there’s no Westminster Bridge!” Betty exclaimed when she found herself standing at the edge of the river which washed right up to the houses on its banks. Remembering the many bridges to be seen from Westminster in our day, she looked right and left, but not one was visible.

“London Bridge, out of sight because of the winding of the river, is still the only bridge over the Thames, you will notice!” said Godmother. “They’re just beginning to build one here, where our Westminster Bridge now stands. But it isn’t finished yet, and one must still row from bank to bank.”

“And it’s still country on the other side,” Betty remarked, looking across the water at farms and clusters of cottages where now, immense buildings line the banks on the other side of the present Westminster Bridge. “And oh, Godmother, how strange not to see the Houses of Parliament of our time! They haven’t been built yet, of course? And that’s part of the Old Palace of Westminster that stands where our Houses of Parliament is now, I suppose?”

“Yes, and St. Stephen’s Chapel, where the House of Commons met, was standing there, just as you see it now, ninety years ago, in my father’s lifetime. He saw it burning, and watched the building of the new Parliament Houses familiar to you.

[Pg 165]

“Let us go down these steps, and take the boat that waterman is just pushing off. We’ll first go down the river a little way, and then up towards Chelsea.”

“The Strand begins to look like the Strand of our time, doesn’t it?” Betty said. “Nearly all the beautiful old palaces have gone, and what were country lanes between them are now streets,” she sighed. “What a pity! And there are no streams now running across the countrified Strand and emptying themselves into the river.”

“No. But they still run underground, beneath the houses and roads,” Godmother said. “Under Fleet Street, for instance, flows the stream called Fleet. But instead of dancing along in the sunlight, it runs through iron pipes and is a sewer! A sad fate for the poor little river, isn’t it?”

“There’s quite a lot of building going on,” said Betty presently. “What’s that big place just begun, where the workmen are now?”

“Don’t you recognize it? It’s going to be the Adelphi you saw this morning.”

Betty was silent a moment. “And once it was Durham House, and Lady Jane Grey lived there, when it was all country round her,” she said rather sadly at last. “How London changes, doesn’t it, Godmother?” ...

Presently the boat turned, and they rowed westward up the river.

“We are going in the direction of Chelsea—your home,” said Godmother. “You will find it a village among fields and woods. Kensington is also a country village, and the lanes and roads are terribly unsafe at night. Highwaymen often lie in wait for coaches that may be passing, and ‘Your money or your life!’ is what they say when they put a pistol at the heads of travellers.”

“It is funny to think of the King’s Road in Chelsea, full of omnibuses and taxis now, being a country lane!” Betty said, for the boat had moved with all the swiftness to which she was accustomed in these visits into the Past, and they were passing Chelsea Church. “But at least I know the church! That[Pg 166] must have been there for hundreds of years, because Sir Thomas More’s tomb is in it.”

“And do you see the remains of a house near the church?” Godmother asked, pointing to all that was left of a beautiful mansion which workmen were even then pulling down. “That’s where Sir Thomas More lived for many years. You see it being destroyed before your eyes in the reign of George the Second. So it seems they were no more careful to preserve beautiful or interesting buildings in the eighteenth century than we are who live in the twentieth! Every time you walk down Beaufort Street, Chelsea, you may remember that you are on the site of that old house and its gardens.”

[Pg 167]

One other building besides the church, Betty had recognized. Like the church, it stood surrounded by fields and gardens, instead of by the houses and streets of modern days. This was the Chelsea Hospital which, as she already knew, had been built by Charles the Second as a home for the old soldiers of his day and was still the home for the old soldiers of our own times. She knew well by sight the old men in their scarlet coats, and almost every day she walked through the gardens belonging to the Hospital. But the gardens she now saw from the boat looked much larger, and had an altogether different appearance.

“What’s that great round thing among the trees, Godmother?” she asked.

“That’s the Rotunda of Ranelagh.”

“But what is it? It’s not there now in our time!”

“No, but in this reign it’s a very celebrated place of amusement for all the gay world of London. The two fashionable pleasure gardens are Vauxhall and this Ranelagh, close to Chelsea Hospital. Do you know Doulton’s big factory on the opposite side of the river?”

“Yes, the place with the tall terra-cotta chimney, you mean?”

“Well, just about where the factory stands in our day, stretches a garden laid out with winding walks and avenues of trees. You can just see it from this point. That is the famous Vauxhall. Eighteenth-century novels are full of mention of Ranelagh and Vauxhall, and Boswell tells us how fond Dr. Johnson was of both of them.”

“Oh, can’t we land, and see one of them?” Betty implored.

“You shall have a glimpse of Ranelagh by night. We needn’t land either, for our magic is all powerful, you know. Just shut your eyes a moment and wish yourself in Ranelagh at ten o’clock in the evening.... Now open them and look.”

For a moment Betty was dazzled by glittering lights, but as she looked round her she drew a long breath of delight.

“Oh, how pretty!” she exclaimed. “It’s like fairy-land.”

The “round thing” of which she had caught sight between trees, she now saw to be a sort of dome, beneath which was a circle of gilded and painted recesses, something like the boxes in[Pg 168] a theatre. From a pavilion in the middle of the covered part of the gardens, came the sound of music, and in every recess ladies and gentlemen were seated before little tables with glasses and cups upon them. With the dome, or Rotunda, as Godmother called it, as a centre, long alleys of trees stretched in every direction, like the spokes of a wheel, and were lighted by lamps hanging from the trees. The whole place indeed sparkled with lights, and in their radiance walked charming figures. Pretty ladies in gowns of brocade with powdered hair[Pg 169] and little black patches on their faces, were escorted by gentlemen no less charming in their satin coats, flowered waistcoats and three-cornered hats. They walked up and down the leafy alleys, sometimes stopping before platforms where people were singing or acting, sometimes greeting other parties of friends with low curtsies from the ladies and deep bows from the gentlemen.

Betty was entranced by the charming scene.

“It’s very pretty, isn’t it?” said Godmother. “No wonder Dr. Johnson said, ‘When I first entered Ranelagh it gave me an expansion and gay sensation in my mind such as I never experienced anywhere else.’”

“I wonder if he’s here to-night?” Betty replied.

“Very likely. I see many well-known people. There’s Oliver Goldsmith in the claret-coloured velvet coat. He’s much tidier and better dressed than usual! And do you notice that little man, rather deformed, in black satin, with ruffles of lace? That’s Mr. Pope, the poet. He is very witty. You see how he is surrounded by laughing men and women? But they’re all rather afraid of him, for he’s quite likely to make fun of them in his next poem.”

“Oh, I should like to live in these times,” sighed Betty, “and go to parties in a sedan chair, and be dressed like these ladies when I grow up....”

Godmother laughed at her face of amazement when she found herself finishing the sentence in the white parlour at Westminster.

“There are advantages and disadvantages about every age,” she said. “I don’t think you’d care at all for the way most little girls of the eighteenth century were brought up. You wouldn’t have the freedom you enjoy now, I can assure you!”

Betty sighed again, but this time because she remembered with a pang that this was her last visit for a long time to the little house from which she had taken so many magic journeys. Godmother was going abroad again, and for many months her house would be closed. Before she could speak, however, the old lady went on: “Now mind you go soon to the London Museum to refresh your memory about to-day’s glimpse of the[Pg 170] eighteenth century in this wonderful city of ours. Go into the Costume rooms, and look at the dresses. You will find there the very velvet coat we saw dear old Oliver Goldsmith wearing at Ranelagh. You will see the sedan chairs in which the fine ladies were carried, and a thousand other things belonging to eighteenth-century London which you must find for yourself.”

“I can go on Monday,” Betty said, “because holidays are beginning.”

“Do. And on your way home, try to imagine how all the changes in the streets since the eighteenth century would strike Dr. Johnson, for instance.

“You will go back by Tube, which is to you a familiar way of getting about. But think of Dr. Johnson’s face if he could suddenly walk into a lift and be lowered into the depths of the earth, and then shot through a narrow tunnel from the Bank to Marble Arch, or farther!”

Betty laughed. “And he wouldn’t recognize Marble Arch when he got there, would he?”

“Not a bit. He would expect to see a more or less country road where Oxford Street now runs, and close to the place where the Marble Arch stands to-day he would look for the gallows called Tyburn Tree, where in his time people were hanged. Think how amazed he would be to behold motor vehicles instead of coaches and sedan chairs in the streets.”

“Or to see trains, and telephones, and electric lights, and telegrams and aeroplanes,” put in Betty. “They would all be strange to him. After all, aeroplanes are still a little strange to us!” she added.

“You’ll pass several Post Offices on your way to Chelsea,” Godmother went on, “and to you, to drop a letter this afternoon through a slit outside the office, and expect it to reach Newcastle or Exeter to-morrow morning seems quite natural. To Dr. Johnson it would appear marvellous, for in his day, letters had to be carried by men on horseback from one town to another. These are only a few examples of the changes which have taken place since the eighteenth century, which in some ways seems so near us and in other respects so far away.” ...

“Oh, Godmother, do come back soon!” Betty said, when[Pg 171] the sad moment for saying good-bye had come. “There are hundreds and hundreds more things I want to see in London!”

“Then you don’t hate it quite so much as you did some weeks ago?” asked the old lady slyly.

“Oh, I love it! But I never should have loved it without you and the magic journeys. And now there won’t be any more magic for ages.”

“That will be your own fault then,” returned Godmother briskly. “With certain books, some of which you know already, as guides, and a certain exercise of imagination which will grow stronger if you practise it, the Present will melt into the Past, and you will be able to call it up at your pleasure. But never forget, Betty, that the Past has made the Present, and when you are grown up, try to make other people reverence the Past of London, and be unwilling, except for very pressing reasons, to destroy what is old and full of memories. London is changing before our eyes, and too much that is beautiful and interesting is being swept away, often through carelessness and indifference. I hope you’ll be one of the small group of people who help to guard the Past, and use their influence to prevent unnecessary destruction in our wonderful city. And remember that you’ve only just begun to know a tiny fraction of its history. There is enough yet left to learn to last you your lifetime.”

“I know,” said Betty. “Godmother,” she added after a moment, “you said you would read me the rhyme about London bells.”

Godmother went to the cabinet, out of which so many charms had been drawn, and took out a book which she put into Betty’s hand.

“You’ll find it in this book, which I’m going to give you in memory of our journeys, magic and otherwise. It’s called London in Song, and I hope it will remind you of many things we’ve seen together. The Nursery Rhyme about the bells was written by some unknown lover of London who lived in the eighteenth century, and some of it at least you’ve often sung at parties when you played ‘Oranges and Lemons.’”

So in the Tube on her way home to Chelsea, which she could[Pg 172] now picture as it was before it had become just a part of London instead of a country village, Betty read the rhyme of the bells, and amused herself by counting up how many of the churches mentioned in it she knew.

“Gay go up and gay go down
To ring the bells of London Town.
Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.
Bull’s eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Marg’ret’s.
Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles’.
Halfpence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.
Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter’s.
Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of Whitechapel.
Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John’s.
Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Ann’s.
Old Father Baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.
You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen’s.
When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.
When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.
[Pg 173]
Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.
I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.
Gay go up and gay go down
To ring the bells of London Town.”

Never again could Betty think of London as a dull, dreary place, for though she continued to forget how she actually got back into the Past, she kept a picture in her mind of London through the ages.

There was the Roman city, with its fortress and its market-place filled with the British people the Romans had conquered. Then the city of the Middle Ages, inhabited by a different race—the English race—the little city with its gabled houses encircled by fields and woods. Next came the city of Elizabeth’s day, richer and bigger now, with its ships floating up to London Bridge, its beautiful “Chepe” or market-place crowded with prosperous people.

Again she saw it a heap of ruins in Restoration days, with only a few of its buildings remaining after the Great Fire that swept it clean. Her next glimpse of it showed her London two hundred and fifty years after the Fire—a different London, of broader streets, and plainer and more healthy dwellings, with churches and public buildings, different altogether in architecture from those of the Middle Ages, or of the days of Elizabeth. Finally there was the London of her own day, the huge city of streets and factories and big modern buildings, among which there still lingered not only many rows of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century houses and many churches and other public buildings dating from the time when London rose from its ashes after the Great Fire, but also buildings far, far older than these. There was the Tower; there was Westminster Abbey; there was Westminster Hall. These had looked down for ages upon the city by the Thames, and watched it through its many changes from early times to the day in which Betty herself lived.

But apart from these three ancient monuments, she could[Pg 174] scarcely now walk through any part of modern London without seeing something—if only the name of a street, which recalled a memory of the Past. London had, in fact, become for her what Godmother had once called it—the Magic City.

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner, Frome and London

Transcriber’s Note:

Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

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