Lyme, but after that to the West, and that they could have his resignation if they liked. And they had to let it--and him--go at that.
So now the King had only one army instead of two to deal with --an army still considerably, but not overwhelmingly, superior to his own.
RUPERT'S FLANK MARCH THROUGH LANCASHIRE
RUPERT had not let the grass grow beneath his feet after his parting from the King. On the 16th of May he had started from his headquarters at Shrewsbury on his great adventure. He had only a few thousand men and these mostly infantry; but he counted on gathering weight like a snowball. After passing to the east of Chester, whence he was reinforced by its commander, Lord Byron, he stormed Stockport, and bursting into Lancashire, swept on to the relief of Lord Derby's great fortified residence, Lathom House, where the Countess, a Frenchwoman of the noble stock of de la Tremouille, had been maintaining the King's and her husband's cause in what was now its last stronghold in the county. It was Thomas Fairfax who had, as long ago as February, summoned her to surrender, but even he had been forced to retire baffled, and leave the siege to one Rigby, a lawyer with a personal animus against the Stanleys. This gentleman, as soon as he heard that Rupert was on the march, made a desperate effort to bluff her into surrender by terror of the fate that awaited her and her children and garrison if she did not submit to the mercy of the Parliament.
"The cruelty of the Parliament," she corrected.
"Nay, lady," protested the officer who had brought the summons, "the mercy."
"The mercies of the wicked," she replied, "are cruel"*This would have been putting it mildly, if we are to accept the story of the brave woman messenger, whom the Roundheads tortured, burning off three fingers of each hand, in a vain attempt to make her betray her trust; and then, tearing the summons to pieces, "Go," she cried, "go back to your commander and tell that insolent rebel he shall have neither persons, goods, nor house! When our strength is spent we shall find a fire more merciful than Rigby's ... Myself, my children, and