ESCAPE FROM PRISON
JACK Ashburnham, after being driven from the King's presence, had betaken himself no further than to the opposite side of the Thames at Ditton, and about a couple of days afterwards asked Sir John Berkeley to come out from London, to dine with him and Colonel "Will" Legge, whose once sorely tried loyalty nothing had been able to shake, and who alone of the old Cavaliers recalled to the King's service was now permitted to remain in attendance. Before the meal was served, the other two took Berkeley aside and informed him that His Majesty was now in fear of his life from the extremists in the army and had resolved to make his escape with the aid of the three of them. Sir John, it need hardly be said, eagerly accepted the perilous honour, and it was two days later that Legge brought him by a back entrance to hear from the King's own lips of the peril he was in, but without receiving any indication of whither he proposed to escape--a matter not too easy to decide.
It was felt however that it was necessary to get the King away immediately at all hazards, and that the need was too urgent to allow of the careful planning that such an attempt would normally have demanded. The King was every day in receipt of anonymous communications warning him of designs on his life, and though he naturally tended to regard these with suspicion, verbal confirmation was not lacking from trustworthy persons who procured access to him. And then came a letter from Cromwell himself notifying his "Dear Cos Whalley" of rumours of some intended attempt on His Majesty's person, enjoining him to have a care of his guard, and adding that "if any such thing should be done it would be accounted a most horrid act." Whalley took care to show this letter to the King, but all the care he took of his recently doubled guard was so to dispose it that the King, accompanied by Legge, was able to make his way by the staircases and corridors leading from his apartments to a door opening into the park, and so, through the dark of a November evening, to a boat that was waiting to take him across the Thames to where the other two were posted with horses--and all this without challenge or notice of any sort.