Графични страници
PDF файл

'I have sounded him,' answered Catesby. But he appears reluctant.'

* Be not satisfied with one attempt,' urged Christopher Wright. “The jeopardy in which he now stands may make him change his mind.'

'I am loth to interrupt the discussion,' said Garnet : 'but I think we have tarried here long enough. We will meet again at midnight, when I hope to introduce Sir William Radcliffe to you as a confederate.'

The party then separated, and Garnet went in search of the knight.

Ascertaining that he was in his own chamber, he proceeded thither, and found him alone. Entering at once upon the subject in hand, Garnet pleaded his cause with so much zeal, that he at last wrung a reluctant consent from the listener. Scarcely able to conceal his exultation, he then proposed to Sir William to adjourn with him to the private chapel in the house, where, having taken the oath, and received the sacrament upon it, he should be forthwith introduced to the conspirators, and the whole particulars of the plot revealed to him. To this the knight, with some hesitation, agreed. As they traversed a gallery leading to the chapel, they met Viviana. For the first time in his life Radcliffe's gaze sank before his daughter, and he would have passed her without speaking had she not stopped him.

* Father! dear father!' she cried, 'I know whither you are going —and for what purpose. Do not-do not join them.'

Sir William Radcliffe made no reply, but endeavoured gently to push her aside.

She would not, however, be repulsed, but prostrating herself before him, clasped his knees, and besought him not to proceed.

Making a significant gesture to Sir William, Garnet walked for. ward.

* Viviana,' said the knight, sternly, my resolution is taken. I command you to retire to your chamber.'

So saying, he broke from her, and followed Garnet. Clasping her hands to her brow, Viviana gazed for a moment with a frenzied look after him, and then rushed from the gallery.

On reaching the chapel, Sir William, who had been much shaken by this meeting, was some minutes in recovering his composure. Garnet employed the time in renewing his arguments, and with so much address, that he succeeded in quieting the scruples of conscience which had been awakened in the knight's breast by his daughter's warning And

now, my son,' he said, since you have determined to enrol your name in the list of those who have sworn to deliver their church from oppression, take this primer in your hand, and kneel down before the altar, while I administer the oath which is to unite

[ocr errors]

you to us.'

Garnet then advanced towards the altar, and Sir William was about to prostrate himself upon a cushion beside it, when the door was suddenly thrown open, and Guy Fawkes strode into the chapel.

"Hold !'he exclaimed, grasping Radcliffe's right arm, and fixing his dark glance upon him; you shall not take that oath.'

What mean you ? cried Garnet, who, as well as the knight, was paralysed with astonishment at this intrusion. "Sir William Radcliffe is about to join us.'

'I know it,' replied Fawkes ; 'but it may not be. He has no heart in the business, and will lend it no efficient assistance. We are better without him than with him.'

As he spoke, he took the primer from the knight's hand, and laid it upon the altar.

• This conduct is inexplicable,' cried Garnet, angrily. "You will answer for it to others, as well as to me.'

'I will answer for it to all,' replied Guy Fawkes. “Let Sir William Radcliffe declare before me, and before Heaven, that he approves the measure, and I am content he should take the oath.'

'I cannot belie my conscience by saying so,' replied the knight, who appeared agitated by conflicting emotions.

* Yet you have promised to join us,' cried Garnet, reproachfully.

‘Better break that promise than a solemn oath,' rejoined Guy Fawkes, sternly. “Sir William Radcliffe, there are reasons why you should not join this conspiracy. Examine your inmost heart, and it will tell you what they are.'

'I understand you,' replied the knight.

'Get hence,' replied Garnet, unable to control his indignation, ‘or I will pronounce our Church's most terrible malediction against you.'

'I shall not shrink from it, father,' rejoined Fawkes, humbly, but firmly, 'seeing that I am acting rightly.'

Undeceive yourself, then, at once,' returned Garnet, and learn that you are thwarting our great and holy purpose.'

On the contrary,' replied Fawkes, 'I am promoting it, by pre. venting one from joining it who will endanger its success.'

• You are a traitor ! cried Garnet, furiously.

'A traitor ! exclaimed Guy Fawkes, his eye blazing with fierce lustre, though his voice and demeanour were unaltered— I, who have been warned thrice_twice by the dead, and, lastly, by a vision from heaven, yet still remain firm to my purpose-I, who have vo. luntarily embraced the most dangerous and difficult part of the enterprise-I, who would suffer the utmost extremity of torture, rather than utter a word that should reveal it-a traitor! No, father, I am none. If


take this sword and at once put an end to

you think your doubts.'

There was something so irresistible in the manner of Guy Fawkes, that Garnet remained silent.


[ocr errors]

Do with me what you please,' continued Fawkes, but do not compel Sir William Radcliffe to join the conspiracy. He will be fatal to it.'

• No one shall compel me to join it,' replied the knight.

* Perhaps it is better thus,' said Garnet, after a pause, during which he was buried in reflection. “I will urge you no further, my

But before you depart you must swear not to divulge what you have just learnt.'

Willingly,' replied the knight. *? • There is another person who must also take that oath,' said Guy Fawkes,'having accidentally become acquainted with as much as yourself.'

And stepping out of the chapel, he immediately afterwards returned with Viviana.

• You will now understand why I would not allow Sir William to join the conspiracy,' he observed to Garnet.

'I do,' replied the latter, gloomily.

The oath administered, the knight and his daughter quitted the chapel, accompanied by Guy Fawkes. Viviana was profuse in her expressions of gratitude, nor was her father less earnest in his ac. knowledgments.

A few hours after this, Sir William Radcliffe informed Sir Everard Digby that it was his intention to depart immediately; and, though the latter attempted to dissuade him from his purpose, by representing the danger to which he would be exposed, he continued inflexible. The announcement surprised both Catesby and Garnet, who were present when it was made, and added their dissuasions to those of Digby-but without effect. To Catesby's proposal to serve as an escort, Radcliffe likewise gave a peremptory refusal, stating that he had no fears; and when questioned as to his destination, he returned an evasive answer. This sudden resolution of the knight, coupled with his refusal to join the plot, alarmed the conspirators, and more than one expressed fears of treachery. Sir Everard Dig. by, however, was not of the number, but asserted, “ Radcliffe is a man of the highest honour. I will answer for his secrecy with my life.

Will you answer for that of his daughter ? said Tresham. 'I will,' replied Fawkes.

* To put the matter beyond a doubt,' said Catesby, 'I will set out shortly after him, and follow him unobserved till he halts for the night, and ascertain whether he stops at any suspicious quarter.'

Do so, my son,' said Garnet.

It is needless,' observed Sir Everard Digby ; but do as you please.'

By this time Radcliffe's horses being brought round by Heydocke, he and his daughter took a hasty leave of their friends. When they had been gone a few minutes, Catesby called for his steed; and,

[ocr errors]

after exchanging a word or two with Garnet, rode after them. He had scarcely proceeded more than a couple of miles along a crossroad leading to Nantwich, which he learnt from some cottagers was the route taken by the party before him, when he heard the tramp of a horse in the rear, and, turning at the sound, beheld Guy Fawkes. Drawing in the bridle, he halted till the latter came up, and angrily demanded on what errand he was bent.

My errand is the same as your own,' replied Fawkes. 'I intend to follow Sir William Radcliffe, and, if need be, defend him.'

Whatever Catesby's objections might be to this companionship, he did not think fit to declare them, and, though evidently much displeased, suffered Guy Fawkes to ride by his side without opposition.

Having gained the summit of the mountainous range extending from Malpas to Tottenhall, whence they beheld the party whose course they were tracking enter a narrow lane at the foot of the hill, Catesby, fearful of losing sight of them, set spurs to his steed. Guy Fawkes kept close beside him, and they did not slacken their pace until they reached the lane.

They had not proceeded along it more than a quarter of a mile, when they were alarmed by the sudden report of fire-arms, followed by a loud shriek, which neither of them doubted was uttered by Viviana. Again dashing forward, on turning a corner of the road, they beheld the party surrounded by half a dozen troopers. Sir William Radcliffe had shot one of his assailants, and, assisted by Heydocke, was defending himself bravely against the others. With loud shouts, Catesby and Guy Fawkes galloped towards the scene of strife. But they were too late. A bullet pierced the knight's brain; and, no sooner did he fall, than, regardless of himself, the old steward flung away his sword, and threw himself, with the most piteous lamentations, on the body.

Viviana, meanwhile, had been compelled to dismount, and was in the hands of the troopers. On seeing her father's fate, her shrieks were so heart-piercing, that even her captors were moved to com. passion. Fighting his way towards her, Catesby cut down one of the troopers, and snatching her from the grasp of the other, who was terrified by the furious assault, placed her on the saddle beside him, and striking spurs into his charger at the same moment, leapt the hedge, and made good his retreat.

This daring action, however, could not have been accomplished without the assistance of Guy Fawkes, who warded off with his rapier all the blows aimed at him and his lovely charge. While thus engaged, he received a severe cut on the head, which stretched him senseless and bleeding beneath his horse's feet.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ПредишнаНапред »