town of Lavenham; indeed the whole country was dotted with the farmhouses and manors of the Veres. Seven miles down the valley of the Colne lies the village of Earl's Colne, with the priory, where ten of the earls of Oxford lie buried with their wives.
The parish church of Castle Hedingham stood at the end of the little village street, and the rectory of Mr. Vickars was close by. The party gathered at morning prayers consisted of Mr. Vickars and his wife, their two sons, Geoffrey and Lionel, and the maid-servants, Ruth and Alice. The boys, now fourteen and fifteen years old respectively, were strong-grown and sturdy lads, and their father had long since owned with a sigh that neither of them was likely to follow his profession and fill the pulpit at Hedingham Church when he was gone. Nor was this to be wondered at, for lying as it did at the entrance to the great castle of the Veres, the street of the little village was constantly full of armed men, and resounded with the tramp of the horses of richly-dres