THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER
CHARLES S BENTLEY AND F KIMBALL SCRIBNER
The Fifth of November A Romance of the Stuarts
By Charles S. Bentley and F. Kimball Scribner
"No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets, But as truly loves on to the close As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets, The same look which she turn'd when he rose" —Thomas Moore.
Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Company, Publishers.
Copyright, 1898, by Rand, McNally & Co.
CHAPTER. PAGE. I. WHAT BEFELL AT THE SIGN OF THE LEOPARD. 1 II. IN THE SHADOW OF ST. PAUL. 11 III. THE HOME-COMING OF GUIDO FAWKES. 21 IV. THE SUPERIOR OF THE JESUITS. 33 V. WHY MASTER FAWKES WAS SUMMONED TO ENGLAND. 42 VI. "THE WISEST FOOL IN CHRISTENDOM." 52 VII. THE VISCOUNT EFFINGSTON. 61 VIII. IN THE GARDEN OF THE GENTLEMAN-PENSIONER. 73 IX. GARNET AND THE KING. 81 X. THE FORGING OF THE THUNDERBOLT. 89 XI. THE WAY OF THE WORLD. 97 XII. WHAT THE MOON SAW. 108 XIII. AT THE SIGN OF THE LEOPARD. 119 XIV. IN THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS. 130 XV. "THOU SHALT NOT KILL." 140 XVI. MONTEAGLE AND SALISBURY. 152 XVII. SOWING THE WIND. 158 XVIII. THE CELLAR. 167 XIX. THE NOTE OF WARNING. 178 XX. ON THE STROKE OF ELEVEN. 184 XXI. THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER. 192 XXII. FAWKES BEFORE THE KING. 200 XXIII. THE BANQUET. 207 XXIV. "IN THE KING'S NAME." 213 XXV. REAPING THE WHIRLWIND. 222
It has not been the intention of the authors of "The Fifth of November" to write an historical novel, though, throughout the story, they have endeavored to follow as closely as was consistent with the plot in hand, the historical facts collected by the various writers who have made the nature and workings of the "Gunpowder Plot" a special study. With one or two exceptions, the characters in the present romance have been borrowed from history, and, save in Chapters XXI and XXII, the lines of the story have followed those traced by the hand of the historian.
In presenting to the public this "Romance of the Stuarts," indebtedness is acknowledged by the writers to Professor S. R. Gardiner's "What the Gunpowder Plot Was," and also to the history of England as set forth by Knight, Hume, Froude and Ridpath.
THE AUTHORS. New York, February, 1898.
THE FIFTH OF NOVEMBER.
WHAT BEFELL AT "THE SIGN OF THE LEOPARD."
Snow had fallen through the day, and as night approached all objects were covered with a mantle of white. The noises incident to the life of a great city had long since become muffled and indistinct. The footfalls of those who traversed the streets could no longer be heard; and the only sounds which now and again broke the silence, were the voices of my lord's link-men, who, in goodly number, fully armed, carrying flaming torches whose lurid dancing light shone through the blinding snow, appeared at a distance to be a party of ancient saints come forth from their tombs to indulge in a ghostly frolic under cover of the night. The voices of the men, falling upon the snow-laden air, sounded dull and echo-less as they heralded the approach of a chair to some sharp turn or gateway. An armed escort in those days was no mark of royalty or distinction, for it was not well or safe for men to travel the streets alone after nightfall, as many a sinister face and cloaked form lurked hid in the shadow of secluded corners and dark by-ways, awaiting opportunity to cut the purse, or the throat, as need be, of the solitary wayfarer.
Numbers were no guarantee of escaping unmolested; for of late the rogues had become so bold that it was a common thing for a party of gentlemen to be attacked successfully, as the ruffians mustered in their ranks many soldiers of fortune who had served in Flanders, France and Spain, and were well versed in the play of both sword and dagger. These acts of robbery and murder were confined to no one locality, but the vagabonds who perpetrated the deeds had haunts and places of common rendezvous, and as night fell, these dens poured forth upon the town their murder-bent crews.
In one of the most narrow and crooked of streets, often lost amid the winding of greater thoroughfares, and safely hidden from the watchful eyes of the King's soldiers, was situated a tavern, patronized for the most part by those who replenished their purses when low, by running some belated traveler through the back, and taking what money he had. This tavern was famous among its patrons for its mulled ale, the like of which, they swore could not be found in all London. To those who had not partaken of this famous beverage, and knew not the inn by reputation, its business was made known by a swinging sign, upon which, very indifferently executed, was the figure of a leopard, and, further, as if the artist had not sufficient confidence in his powers of portrayal, he had printed in large and uncertain letters, "At the sign of the Leopard may be found all manner of goodly cheer and comfort." Below this evidence of what might be found within, a small and narrow doorway gave entrance to the hostelry. Inside, a larger room than the outer aspect of the place indicated, awaited the guest. A low ceiling, blackened by age, and hung with numberless spider webs, whose weavers had long since fled—driven thence by the clouds of tobacco smoke puffed from the lips of many a sturdy knave who nightly helped to fill the place. The walls of the room being paneled in some dark wood to an unusual height, the three windows, which furnished more air than light, were well up toward the ceiling. The sides of this chamber were decorated with rows of pewter pots and flagons of various shapes and sizes. The furniture consisted of half a dozen rough tables and high-backed benches ranged about the sides. The floor was freshly sanded, but rough in many places from the prominence of knots, the softer wood being worn from around them by the shuffling of numberless pairs of boots. An uncertain light proceeded from several large candles standing in brass candlesticks, but most of the illumination was due to a fire which burned briskly in a large stone fireplace at the extreme end of the room, and gave to all an aspect of warmth and good cheer.
Standing in front of the blaze was the host of the establishment, attired in the costume of his time,—a loose jacket, linen breeches and green apron. He was eyeing with a look of no small displeasure three men seated at one of the tables, two of whom, by their actions, seemed to have partaken a little too freely of the Leopard's special beverage. They wore the dress of a class, which, by their manner, was one of no great elevation. Long, soft, wide-brimmed hats adorned their heads, while tight-fitting jerkins of very much soiled leather covered their bodies. Trunks and tights of some faded material, and boots with deep falling tops, completed their costume, unless there should be added the two long bellguard rapiers lying upon the table, and to which, from appearances, the gentlemen in question owed their livelihood. The man seated opposite was thick-set and slightly under medium height; instead of the leather jerkin worn by them, his body was incased in a steel cuirass or breastplate, which, judging from the numerous dents thereon, had turned the force of many a savage thrust and blow. The face of the man was one which had long been exposed to both sun and storm, and even pestilence had not spared it, for in many places the disfiguring finger of smallpox had left its mark. His beard was worn in the style favored by the soldiers of the Spanish, rather than the English army, for it was pointed and surmounted by a long, black and up-curling moustache, which added fierceness to an already not too kindly countenance. His sword, a long point and blade rapier of Italian pattern, still hung by his side, as if even when surrounded by this good cheer, he, from habit born of many a hard campaign, still clung to it.
"What, ho, John Tapster;" exclaimed he of the steel cuirass, banging lustily on the table with the pummel of his sword, "another six-hooped pot of thy best mulled ale, for the sour and remorseful wine of Spain which I have drunk, ill befits my stomach."
The landlord advanced reluctantly to comply, with an air which plainly showed he was divided in his mind between the doubt of a settlement to an already long unpaid score, and the fear of personal violence did he refuse the man his request. The love of a whole skin, however, triumphed, for after filling the pot with ale and plunging the mulling iron into it, which he had drawn from the fire, he set the desired drink before his guest.
"By Sir Bacchus!" said the stranger, after taking a deep draught, "'tis the only fitting liquid to put into one's body, if he wishes to strike a stout blow for the King." Then, as he finished the pot, "It seemeth well to drown the clinging dust of Spain within one's throat, in merry English ale."
The landlord did not venture to reply to these offers of conversation; he seemed loath to enter into friendly talk, when in all probability he soon would be embroiled with the man in a dispute, if not in an issue of more serious nature. However, the other, nothing daunted, and gazing on his two companions, whom he discovered wrapped in drunken slumber, snoring roundly, prodded them both with the scabbard of his sword, which action eliciting from them nothing but a grunt, and being desirous of further conversation, he again turned to him of the green apron who had resumed his watchful scrutiny from before the fire, and continued:
"Thou seemest but sparing of thy speech, Sir Host. Judge a man not always by the company he keeps; these drunken knaves whose silly pates would have been turned with milk of the morning's drawing, are no comrades of mine; 'tis only a mere chance friendship. I was not over particular in my pick of friends, being lately landed, and but too glad to take up with the first varlets speaking my own sweet English; after many months of naught but jabbering Spanish sounding in my ears 'twas well and pleasing to hear once more the brave tongue in which my first aves were taught unto me."
"Aves have not, I trow, over-troubled thee," answered the landlord in not too jovial a tone.
"Nay, nay, friend; be not quick to judge by weight of purse or hilt of sword, for a man with not over much money in his gipsire may still have that about him which would recommend him more."
"And what, pray, might that be?" inquired the other;—"a handsome face and ready tongue? They are goodly coin to win the heart of some fair maid, but naught of cakes and ale they'll buy thee when thy belly's empty."
"Nay, I will offer neither, for I have none of them. The first was but rudely handled some thirty years ago by plague, at Havre; the second's had but small practice, and its tone was spoiled by breathing the damp winds of the Flemish marshes. I leave such graces to the stay-at-homes who twist a tap—but, a truce to this witty talk, for it makes but ill friends, and I would ask of thee a favor, which will cost naught but civility, that is cheap and in the end may gain thee much." So saying, he put his hand into a small bag which hung at his side, drawing therefrom a very much soiled and crumpled paper, and advancing with it toward the host, continued: "I am but illy versed in such priestly craft; the meaning I can understand, but its full intent may have missed my stupid eyes. Canst thou decipher it for me, Sir Host?"
This direct appeal to his learning softened to some extent him of the spigot, whose curiosity as well as pride was aroused, for the man addressing him, judging from his speech, was a little above the usual class who frequented the tavern. Reaching for a candle which stood upon the mantel, that he might better see, and taking the letter with grudging fingers, said in a slightly more gracious tone after a moment's scrutiny, "It ill pleases me, that monkish writing, but print such as honest John Caxton did manufacture, I can decipher right readily." Then with knitted brow, during which the other man remained standing, looking over his shoulder in an expectant attitude, he continued: "For truth, I could at first but illy make it out; I have it now." Then read from the paper:
"'To Guido Fawkes: In the Army of His Majesty, Philip of Spain: I doubt not that thou rememberest my promise, made some time since, which I have now the pleasurable opportunity to fulfill. Much it pleaseth me to offer thee a place, the duties of which will keep thee near thy daughter, and, moreover, the reward of such being not below the merit of him who, by my knowledge, most honestly gained it, and is well worthy. If it suit thee to accept the charge I have to offer, the naming of which I shall defer until we meet, detach thyself from thy present occupation, repair to London with all likely haste, and seek me at my house when soon arrived. "'(Signed) SIR THOMAS WINTER.'"
"Beshrew my heart, but thou art a ripe scholar, landlord, and much I marvel to see one with such goodly learning wasting time on knaves like these," cried the man, pointing to his companions at the table; "and pray," he continued, "since myself hath been introduced in name, I would know thine also, so I might thank thee the heartier."
"Giles Martin, for want of better," replied the host, "and dost thou know this Sir Thomas Winter?" he inquired after a moment, still looking at the note in his hand.
"Aye, and for a right brave gentleman, who hath done me noble service."
"For one done unto himself, I take it, from the purport of the letter?"
"A small service, not worth the mentioning," replied Fawkes. "Once in Spain, a gentleman—the self-same Sir Thomas, was sorely set upon by a surly ruffian, who, in exchange for his purse, would have given him Paradise." Then with a deprecating wave of the hand, which he dropped on the hilt of his rapier, "'twas but a weakly blow I turned, and spitted the varlet with my good sword here. Zounds," he continued with a voice full of enthusiasm, "for this petty act he did conduct my poor motherless lass out of a country where, to the men, a pretty face is as flint to powder, and brought her safe to London and her grandam."
"You saved his life; 'twas a worthy object and a worthy deed," exclaimed Martin heartily, who had been watching the speaker narrowly during his narration.
"Tut, tut; 'twas nothing; but I take it thou hast acquaintance with him," said Fawkes, turning toward the other, with a manner which denoted surprise at the landlord's outburst of appreciation, "and may direct me unto his residence, for after many years' absence I am lately come, and illy versed in London's streets which are as crooked as a blade that hath lain long in the fire."
"In truth, I do know where he lives," said Martin (then continued in a lower tone as if speaking to himself) "and further, that he's in none too good favor with the King. But as to his address: if thou wilt take the dome on St. Paul's as thy guide, which thou canst most readily see, proceed thither, and when reached, continue down the street running toward the left, a few more steps will bring thee to a house surrounded by an iron railing; it is the one thou seekest." He hesitated a moment, then continued as if good judgment had been overcome by enthusiasm—"and when thou dost behold Sir Thomas, make mention that Giles Martin (say naught of my present calling, for he knows me not by that) sends his duty, and would again at his elbow cry in the self-same voice, 'An Essex, An Essex!' Perchance," Martin added, suddenly breaking off, fearing he had been incautious before a stranger in connecting his name with an incident which had brought but little honor with it, "that is why I am now doing this," taking a soiled tankard from the table and wiping it on his apron.
"Gladly will I be the bearer of thy message, but as thou hast said, why does Sir Winter stand in ill repute?"
"It may be," answered Martin, turning his gaze upon the two men at the table, then setting down the tankard, "that he hath a quick temper and a ready tongue, swift steeds in our time to pull a man's head upon the block," and advancing toward the other concluded in a low voice full of emotion, "mayhap memory doth hold up a mirror to his eye, in which is reflected Mary's dripping head, chopped for her faith."
"Verily," cried Fawkes, in a loud tone characteristic of one not afraid of voicing opinions that lay near his heart, "would that good King James might look into the glass thou dost mention and see the promises of his youth, for naught of promise or his mother's head methinks——"
"Hist," whispered Martin, breaking in and laying his hand upon the speaker, "a truce to such treason talk; naught has it done but brought me to an ill-famed pot-house," he concluded in a thoughtful voice.
"Well, well, none of thy story will I ask; but in Spain they do illy treat a heretic," Fawkes continued, looking significantly at the fire, and pointing toward it with his outstretched arm; "a truce, as thou sayest, for I must no longer tarry. Saint Paul's bell is on the stroke of ten, and I would see Sir Winter, and (in a softer voice) my lass, to-night; for honestly, I am more than anxious to see her pretty face; first I must bid yon knaves good-bye." So saying he endeavored to rouse the companions of his cups. Not being able however to bring them to any degree of consciousness, he discontinued his exertions, and turning toward the landlord, who had been watching his efforts, said, laughingly: "'tis but little harm they'll do in sleep, and I trow they are none too good when in their seven senses, so I will leave them thus; but take thou from this the reckoning of us all, for naught of gold they have, I swear"—handing the other a purse, which, after extracting a sovereign, Martin returned to its owner.
"'Tis but a sorry night in which to travel," remarked the host, pocketing the money and proceeding to rake the fire, while his guest wrapped about himself a long, thick cloak which had hung over the back of a bench.
"Aye, 'tis cold, and steel draws unto itself the frost," responded Fawkes, as he finished his preparations for departure. "And now, Sir Host," he continued, extending his hand, "farewell, but soon, when I am once more to rights, it will do me pleasure to quaff a flagon in thy honest company, for such is a man who knoweth Sir Thomas Winter, and," he continued, drawing closer to the other, "is no prating Protestant in these times when he who would seek a favor or gain a title must blow out the candles on his altar, and break its images. Start not at my words, for by thy very speech thou art no heretic, and I do love thee the better for it. But see," he continued as he opened the door, "the night is already mended, the snow hath ceased, the moon shows bright, and by my troth, there is my guide," and he pointed to the distant dome of St. Paul, on which a huge cross glistened in the moonlight.
IN THE SHADOW OF ST. PAUL.
In the heart of London, a musket shot distance from the great dome of St. Paul, stood a dwelling of no mean pretension occupied by one Thomas Percy, Gentleman-Pensioner, a man of goodly parts, blood relative of the Earl of Northumberland and well known as a Catholic, though, by reason of his office, there attached to him scant suspicion in the minds of the King's ministers that his faith overlapped his loyalty.
On the same night which witnessed the appearance of Guido Fawkes and his drunken companions at the "Sign of the Leopard," there were gathered together, in an upper chamber of Percy's dwelling, four gentlemen. The house was an official structure given over as a meeting place for certain of the King's commissioners, the room wherein they sat being well adapted for the discussion of such matters as it seemed inexpedient to let reach the ears of those whose business called them not within the council chamber.
A snow storm made the night exceeding chilly, so three of those who came to partake of the hospitality of the Pensioner had provided themselves with ample cloaks, which, closely wrapped about their persons, and covering the lower portions of their faces, precluded recognition, were any, by chance, to accost the wearer on the King's highway. Although few were abroad on account of the extreme cold, and those few would not have marveled that a gentleman should be closely muffled even as a secret assassin, or highwayman, or noticed that the three went not together to the outer door of the house, still each came separately, knocking thrice upon the panel, whereupon Sir Percy himself opened to him, that he might enter quickly.
Being safe within, and the room warmed by great logs which sputtered in the open fireplace, the three laid aside their cloaks, and sat uncovered in the presence of their host, who, the better to discourse with each, occupied a place at the head of the long table about which were wont to sit the commissioners of the King.
That the little gathering was not composed of churchmen, or learned doctors of the day, might have been easily guessed by their youthfulness and dress. Scarce past five and thirty, with clear cut features, well knit frames, dignity of carriage, apparel of the higher class, and the court rapier then in vogue, hanging at the side of each, designated them as gentlemen.
Having drained with nervous haste a goblet of wine which stood before him, he who was the Pensioner turned with a frowning brow to his companions:
"Gentlemen!" said he, half rising from his seat, "shall we always talk and never do anything?"
This appeal uttered in an impatient voice moved each of his guests in a manner strikingly dissimilar. One on the right sitting with back to the door, turned uneasily as though fearing that the portal stood open, and that, on the threshold, might appear a stranger, or perchance the King's officer. Another, clad in a suit of gray velvet, drummed nervously upon the table, while the third, who seemed to be the eldest of the four, frowned darkly. To him the host turned impatiently.
"Ah!" cried he, "my words have struck you illy, my Lord Catesby, that you frown so ominously!"
"Nay, Percy!" replied the other, the shadow of a smile playing about the corners of his mouth. "Thy words but recalled me to my duty. As thou sayest, we have spoken much, and I did but consider that talking would scarce pull from the throne——"
He who was attired in the gray velvet started. "Not so plainly; not so openly, my good Catesby!" he interrupted, "or as my name be Jack Wright, I——"
The language of his companion aroused the dormant energies and spirit of Catesby.
"Faith!" cried he, bringing his clenched hand down upon the table, "methinks the adventure with my Lord of Essex hath left thy stomach but poorly fitted for so tough a morsel as the undoing of the 'Wisest Fool in Christendom.' Even Sir Digsby, who but now turned trembling toward the doorway, hath more spirit for the undertaking. Hath not Percy touched the keynote of our ill condition? What matters it that we writhe under the despotism of James Stuart? Wherefore are the penal laws renewed? Why hath England driven from her shores those who would serve us in our churches? Where is our Mass, our altars and the images of Holy Mother Church? Would we call on France, Spain and the Holy Father to sweep from the land this band of heretics who fear not God, nor respect the faith of five centuries of English kings? I tell thee, Sir John Wright, friend and fellow churchman though thou art, that 'tis to us—to all the Catholics in England—that the world looks for action. Will France act while we are idle? Thinkest thou Spain hath so soon forgotten the Armada, that she will consent to aid while we remain under cover? 'Tis for us to open a way whereby may enter those who stand without, seeking our deliverance. Words beyond count, like the drops of the ocean, have been uttered since James came to the throne, yet are we free? 'Tis not words, I tell thee, but action, swift, sharp and merciless, that will put down our enemies. Fearest thou the block? Did Essex, did Moore, a hundred others whose faith was their life, fear the headsman? Good Percy hath brought us to our senses and surely thou must see the truth of it."
Having thus delivered himself Catesby sank into his seat, his face white from the intensity of the fire which burned within him. His companions remained silent, so great was their astonishment at the openly expressed earnestness of Catesby. Percy was the first to regain speech.
"It ill becomes us," said he, "that a quarrel should arise in a company gathered for the discussion of so weighty a matter. Yet the words of Sir Robert Catesby are well balanced, and the time draws nigh when this same James Stuart shall know that there yet remain good Catholics in England. Sir Thomas Winter——"
"Ah! Sir Thomas Winter!" broke in Digsby, "the hour is long past and he is yet absent."
"There be some good reason," said Wright quickly. "Sir Thomas is too good a Catholic, too earnest in the undertaking which will yet free us from the heretic, to absent himself willingly. And," turning to Catesby with hand extended, "I thank thee that thou hast thus spoken so boldly; would there were more like thee to arouse the Catholics of our country."
The frown passed as a cloud from the brow of the elder conspirator.
"Forgive me!" cried he, "if my words bore too much of the flame of impatience and too little of that unity which should ever be between us. As to Sir Winter, fear nothing; even now, I warrant he is on his way hither, having perhaps been delayed by some slight adventure, for the times are troublous and after nightfall a gentleman may not walk with perfect safety through the streets of London."
As though in answer to this confidence, the speaker had scarcely finished, when there sounded through the house three muffled raps, and Percy, uttering an exclamation, hastily left the room.
"It may, indeed, be Winter," said Digsby, "or, perchance, Rookwood, although he made known to me but yesterday, that certain business demanded his presence in the country."
The sound of the opening and closing of the street door precluded a reply. There was a clatter of feet upon the stairs, and into the room came Percy, followed by two men whose forms and features were concealed by their huge cloaks.
The three at the table arose hurriedly, each with hand upon the hilt of his sword, but the words of one of the new comers changed their look of alarm into one of welcome.
"Faith!" cried he who pressed close behind Percy, "wherefore would you be so ready to draw blades at the coming of a comrade? Come! Sir Robert Catesby, and thou Wright, and Digsby, seest not that the cold hath well nigh overcome me? Wine, therefore, wine, that we may pledge each other in our venture."
So saying, Sir Thomas Winter cast aside his cloak, revealing a figure clad in doublet and hosen of somber brown, offset by slashes of cardinal, and the gilt of the sword belt which girded his hips.
"Welcome!" cried the others, crowding about him, "thou art, in truth, doubly welcome, as thy coming is so long after the appointed hour."
Endeavoring to get a better view of him who closely followed Winter, Catesby made a gesture of interrogation.
Sir Thomas laughed softly. "Ah! Good Catesby!" said he, "thou wert ever of a most careful nature. Know, then, that yonder cavalier is, in truth, one of whom I have so often spoken, Guido Fawkes; an old comrade of the wars, and whom I have brought hither that I might introduce him to so good a company, a cheerful fire and a goblet of Sir Percy's stoutest wine."
At the name of Fawkes, pronounced by Winter with an intonation which would have puzzled any one not familiar with certain matters known only to a few in England, Catesby, Wright and Digsby cast searching glances at the new comer, as though seeking to read in the impassive features of the soldier of fortune some riddle which heretofore had puzzled them. As to Fawkes, not deigning to notice the evident curiosity with which the three gentlemen greeted him, he allowed his cloak to fall upon the floor, walked to the fireplace, and stood with back to the blaze, his eyes fixed upon the face of Winter.
"Come!" said that personage, accepting the goblet which Percy tendered and passing it to Fawkes, "you are surprised that I appear among you with Master Guy at my heels. It was, indeed, a happy venture that threw us together."
"Happy, forsooth," replied Wright, "but yesterday thou didst tell us that this same bold captain was even now in Spain, though thou hadst summoned him hither."
"And so I thought him," said Winter, "fighting among the Dons that the gold pieces might jingle more merrily in his wallet. Yet he is here, and to-morrow at my own house we will confer together. What sayest thou, friend Guido?"
"Faith!" replied Fawkes, setting down the goblet which he had drained to the bottom, "'twas for that same purpose I came to London, also to see once more my daughter."
"That thou shalt," broke in Winter heartily, "and a better favored wench can scarce be found in all the kingdom."
Percy and Catesby exchanged glances. Winter continued:
"But first, perchance, 'twould be to the liking of the company that I make known the manner of so unexpected a meeting, when, thinking Friend Guido basked beneath the skies of Spain, I fell across him 'mid the snows of London."
"'Twas of little import," spake Fawkes gruffly; "a cast of fortune, the simple drawing of a blade, such as once befell when thou didst serve in Spain."
"As to that," replied Sir Winter, "these gentlemen can judge when they hear concerning it. 'Tis true, that had this same bold cavalier remained in Castile, Thomas Winter were now ready for burial."
"Then," cried Percy, "thou art doubly welcome, Master Fawkes, as perchance thou shalt learn presently."
Having refilled the goblets Winter seated himself before the fire.
"I was delayed some two hours by certain matters within my own dwelling," began he, "and it was with exceeding impatience that I hastened hither, not following the most public highways, but seeking a shorter passage through unfrequented alleys, in order to join you the sooner.
"Methinks I had gone some two thousand paces, my face muffled and sword ready to hand, when suddenly there sprang upon me from the shadow of a doorway, two ruffians, who, making short shift of courtesy, demanded my purse and such valuables as were upon my person. Having slight desire for so rude a giving, I did straightway put my back against a wall, and with drawn blade contended against the two. They, being persons of fixed purpose, and withal, excellent swordsmen, had near ended the matter by thrusting me through, when most opportunely came a third man who, perceiving two against one, thrust the larger of the ruffians through the back, and would have done likewise with the other, but the fellow took to his heels and ran as though the devil pursued him.
"The adventure was quickly over, and my rescuer coolly wiping his blade upon the cloak of the dead robber did swear roundly in Spanish, for that his amusement had been of so short duration.
"'Faith!' growled he looking up at me, ''tis not thus they fight in Spain; yet, having perchance rendered thee some slight service, canst thou, good sir, direct me to a certain dwelling, hard by St. Paul's, wherein may be found one Sir Thomas Winter, to seek whom I have come to London?'
"Much amazed at his words I scanned him closely, for his voice had a familiar ring in my memory.
"'Zounds!' cried he, noting that I sought to read his features, 'wherefore dost thou look so hard upon me? Hath the air of Spain——'
"'Fawkes!' cried I, seizing him by the shoulders, ''tis truly my friend Guido!'
"'Ah!' said he gruffly, 'then thou knowest me?'
"'And why not?' I replied, 'having sent for thee.'
"At this his astonishment was great, yet was he pleased that he had come upon me so handily. He had, he told me, but just arrived in London, having come hither to obtain service under me, and to see once more his daughter."
"And," said Fawkes, Winter having finished, "having so quickly found one, I would seek the other. Blood is thicker than water, and I warrant me the lass is much improved both in stature and knowledge. 'Tis now close upon the morning, good gentlemen, therefore I pray thee, Sir Winter, direct me whither I shall go, being in sore haste to find her."
Winter drew Catesby aside, whereupon a whispered consultation followed, the drift of which was evidently known to Percy, Wright and Digsby, though Fawkes wondered somewhat at it. His impatience soon showed itself.
"Zounds!" cried he, striking with his clenched hand the hilt of his rapier, "I am much beholden to thee, Sir Winter, and later—but now, I pray thee, make haste, that I find my daughter."
Catesby flushed angrily, for the words of the soldier of fortune struck illy upon his haughty temper, and he would have replied, but Winter pressed his arm.
"Good Guido," said he, soothingly, "thy haste is most commendable. Go then to thy daughter, and that thou mayest not miss the way, follow closely the directions I shall give thee. Upon leaving Sir Percy's door, turn thou to the left, going down the street which leads past the gate of St. Paul's. Proceed five hundred paces, then turn about to thy left, when thou wilt see before thee a narrow street, upon the corner of which is situate a gabled dwelling, bearing upon its peak a golden arrow. Count then two score doors from the corner, and upon the three and fortieth, knock loudly; 'tis there thy daughter dwelleth."
At Winter's words all signs of impatience vanished from the soldier's manner.
"By the keys of Peter!" cried he, "I am much beholden to thy lordship. Having spoken with the lass, where may I find thee?"
"Fear not," replied Winter, "for in the evening, about the hour of nine, I will come for thee. Go thou, then, speedily."
Fawkes made haste to snatch his cloak, and having wrapped it about him, bowed to the company and, preceded by Percy, clattered down the stairs.
"Methinks he will serve us," muttered Winter; "yet, good Catesby, must we deal gently with him, for, being of an exceeding rough nature, 'twill need but an ill-timed word to turn him into gunpowder."
THE HOME-COMING OF GUIDO FAWKES.
"By my hilt!" exclaimed Fawkes, as he closed the door of the council chamber and wrapped his long cloak well about him, "'tis a merry night I've had; first, in none too clean a pot-house; then a stout thrust for good Sir Thomas,—'twas passing strange that I did once more stand twixt him and glory; and, last of all, a stoup of good old wine in the company of a most noble throng. Indeed, good Guido," he continued, as musing to himself he walked along, "thou wert made, I marry, for better things than cracking the knavish pates of yellow Dons; but guard thy touchy temper well, for even to-night thou couldst but sadly brook a small delay, and wouldst have answered my Lord Catesby's haughty look with scant courtesy. I fear thy warlike nature would poorly thrive upon a diet of quiet living. But these be times when the dogs of war are ill leashed, and need small urging to slip their fetters and bark and bite anew. I question much what the morrow holds, and would that Sir Thomas had made some mention of my employ.
"By St. George," he added after a moment, slackening his pace as if a sudden thought occurred to him, "they did seem but poorly pleased to see a strange face standing in their door, until Sir Walter stood sponsor for the same. Aye, and what names had these noble gentlemen—Catesby, Wright, Digsby, Percy! All good Catholics," he continued, a cunning smile twitching the corners of his mouth. "And, who is King? Why, James Stuart, to be sure, a most bigoted Protestant! What was it that Master Martin said about Mary's dripping head? Well, well, friend Guido, thy good sword may not be red with rust alone; wait but a little while, and thy employment may be most pleasing to thy taste, and thy conscience, also." Then he drew his cloak more closely about him and quickly proceeded on his way.
At last, following the direction given him by Winter, Fawkes arrived before a small, neat house, situated in the outskirts of the city; stopping in front to make sure it was the one for which he was in quest, he proceeded up the steps and knocked thrice. No answer followed his summons, and after several moments of waiting, which were consumed in the stamping of feet and walking up and down, for it was bitterly cold in the frosty air, he again repeated the announcement of his presence to those within, this time with better result. The sound of a casement opening, caused him to look up, and he beheld the wrinkled visage of an old woman, who, with blinking red-rimmed eyes, and night-cap on her head, stood regarding him with an air of evident disfavor, for presently she cried in a shrill, toothless voice, "Get thee gone, thou beggar, I have naught for thee." "By my soul, good mother," answered the man, laughing heartily, "thy welcome doth match the morning air in warmth. Dost not know thy son Guy?"
"By the blessed Virgin!" exclaimed she, in half-frightened tones, evidently engendered by a most wholesome respect for her son, "wait but a trice until the door be unbarred." Saying which, she hastily withdrew her head and closed the window. Immediately after, the shrill tones of her voice were heard within the house, crying: "Mistress Elinor! Mistress Elinor! hurry down and let thy sire in, for he stands without!" A moment of silence, followed by the drawing of bolts, and suddenly the door was thrown open, disclosing the figure of a girl, who, with outstretched arms, exclaimed: "My father!"
Standing bathed in the rosy light of coming day, she was in high contrast to the rough, weather-beaten man, who quickly clasped her to his breast. The pale and lightly tinted olive complexion, which showed descent from some far-off Castilian ancestor, harmonized well with the dainty but clear cut features. A shapely head, surrounded by a wealth of dark and glossy hair, carried downward from the temples and gathered into a knot behind, so as to completely cover the fragile ears, formed a fitting frame for eyes of the darkest violet, which, as they gazed up into his, showed the fondest love. A soft gray gown, half closed at the throat and fastened about the waist by a silver girdle, completed the attire of a slender but perfect figure, thrown into bold outline by her attitude.
"Forsooth," exclaimed Fawkes, as soon as he could speak for her caresses, "methinks thou at least art glad to see thy old father once again." Then, as he held her at arm's length, that he might better gaze upon the face, "indeed, thou art changed; 'tis the promise of the bud fulfilled in the blossoming flower. But let us in, for the cold air ill becomes me after the warming sun of Spain, and frost but roughly handles such tender plants as thou art."
"Nay, nay!" exclaimed she, closing the door and throwing her arms about him, "thy tender plant is naught but a sprig of hardy ivy, which hath needed these many months the sturdy oak on which to cling." Then, with a little shiver, and a laugh, as her warm body rested against the cold steel of his breastplate, "thou dost give thy ivy but a chilly hold, Sir Oak."
"Ah," said Fawkes, looking at her; "thou wert always the same dainty puss, but I trow this cold cuirass hath been warm enough even for thy nestling, as down it hath gushed the warm blood of many a valiant foe killed in close conflict. But enough of battles now, my pretty, for home once more am I, and not sorry to let such bloody deeds rest." Unfastening his cloak, sword and breastplate, he threw himself into a chair before the fire which burned brightly on the hearth.
"But where's thy good grandam?" queried he, "must she tarry to put on silks and satins in which to bid her son a welcome?"
"Nay," replied the girl with a laugh, kneeling at his side; "she, poor soul, was but half awake; for these cold days illy suit her bones, and she doth lie long in bed."
"And thou," said the man, taking her head between his hands, "art up like a lark, to bid thy father welcome. Didst expect my return?"
"Sir Winter made mention of thy coming, but set no special day for thy arrival," answered the girl, a shadow passing over her face as she looked into the blaze.
"And did he say for what I was to come?" inquired Fawkes, evidently anxious to set his mind at rest upon that subject.
"That he did not," she replied, still gazing abstractedly at the fire, "but simply said that if thou camest to England he would give thee service which would keep thee and me near to each other. And," continued she, suddenly turning toward him and taking both his hands in hers, "thou wilt not leave me again for so long a time; I have been sore lonely and oft have felt the need of thy sturdy arm on which to lean."
"That I will not, my pretty dear," said Fawkes, drawing her closely to him; "and thou didst really miss me, whom some do illy term a pock-marked ruffian?"
"Indeed, thou art no ruffian!" Elinor cried, her eyes ablaze in a moment; "and if any one so dared to call thee, I'd——"
"Well, well!" the father exclaimed, evidently surprised and looking into the flushed face, "my sweet rose hath thorns as well as blushing leaves, and would, I dare swear, strike a good blow for her sire's name. By good Sir Cupid, but I do pity the one who doth try to balk thy temper, little woman."
"And soon will come a time when thou wilt have a brave gentleman to pity," broke in a mumbling voice which made the two start and turn.
The figure of an old woman, bent by age, with face resembling an ill-fitting parchment mask placed upon a skull, advanced toward them.
"By the blessed dead, mother!" said Fawkes, arising, "thou didst turn my blood with thy prophetic voice; but hast thou not a blessing for thy son?"
"That I have, good Guido, and most glad am I to see thee back! I gave thee a rude greeting from the window, for my eyes and ears have failed of late, but I am not so blind that I cannot see two brave gentlemen tied to my lady's girdle there," she cried, with a wheezy laugh, pointing her trembling hand at the girl who stood with an arm drawn through her father's.
"What is this tale?" said Fawkes, with feigned sternness, turning toward his daughter; "hath thy pretty ways been breaking hearts already?" Then, as he observed the blushing face and downcast eyes:—"There, there, my darling; all in good time. When thy heart doth open of its own accord, thy father's ear will ever be a willing listener. By Venus," he continued in a voice full of admiration, as he gazed upon her fair figure, "I could not marvel or condemn if thou hadst fifty gallants at thy little heels, and would but admire the rogues the more for their excellent taste in beauty. But," he added, evidently wishing to turn the conversation on noting her embarrassment, "I have not broken bread for nigh onto fifteen hours; after I have taken food I will listen to thy pretty tale, and tell thee many a one such as thou once wert fond of. Dost remember how thou didst, long ago, climb upon my knee, and tugging with thy baby hands at my shaggy beard, beg for a story ere thy bedtime came?"
"That I do," exclaimed the girl, all her embarrassment gone; "but first I will set before thee what our larder affords."
So saying, and aided by the old woman, she began preparations for the morning meal. Having done ample justice to the repast quickly set before him, and having lighted a long pipe from a coal without the blaze, Fawkes again settled himself before the fire, and, after two or three long puffs, turned toward Elinor, who was employed about the room, and said:
"Now, my pretty little housekeeper, thou hast done enough; sit thee beside thy father. It is long since he hath known the pleasure of thy sweet face and a blazing hearth, and the good grandam seems ill company, for there she nods but a drowsy greeting," added he, pointing with his pipe to the old woman, who had fallen asleep in a remote corner of the chamber.
"Dost thou remember the last time we sat so?" asked the girl, as she came and knelt beside him, placing an arm upon his shoulder; "'twas the night before I left for England; and, oh! it was a most sorry time." Then fingering the ends of her silver girdle and glancing at the old woman, who was still asleep, she began in a hesitating voice:
"Mayhap the speech of my good grandam might mislead thee into thinking me but a sorry flirt. Therefore, I would make explanation, which is most easy, and set thee right."
"I thought naught of it, daughter, for I am much too well acquainted with her mischief-working words, that are ever ready to brew a trouble. If thou hast aught to say, however, and would feel better for the telling, pray go on, and know an ever-loving heart awaits thy speech," replied Fawkes, stroking her hair.
"Then thou must know," she began abruptly, "that Sir Thomas Winter is a frequent caller at this house, and, my father, how can I tell thee for the very shame of it? He hath never spoken to that effect, but there are many thoughts ne'er proclaimed by tongue which are most loudly uttered by eye and hand, often, too, more truly eloquent are they than those framed in simple words; and by this very language yet outspoken, I know soon will come the day when there will be asked a heart——" she broke off suddenly and buried her face in her hands—"that is not now mine to give."
"There, there, my pretty one, stop thy crying, for thine eyes were made for smiles and not for grief. It is naught so bad; Sir Winter is a fine gentleman and much we owe him. But thou art my daughter, and I, a poor, rough soldier; it would be an ill-assorted match; in truth, I believe that the lark should not pair with the golden finch, who would soon tire of her sweet song, because she lacked the yellow feathers of her mate. What, dost thou but cry the harder for my words? I have not, I know, the tender touch of a mother to dry thy tears, but a more willing hand to comfort cannot be found." Then he added tenderly: "If thou hast aught more to tell, open thy heart to me and I will play the woman for a while."
"Think not, then, from my tears," she suddenly exclaimed, lifting her head and confronting her father with that spirit which is often hid in a seemingly gentle nature, "that I am ashamed of him on whom my love doth fall; or, rather, of him to whom my love doth mount, for he is as far above me in worth, as I beneath him in station. But what hath equality to do with it? Is it so—that love is only right between those whose purses tip the scale alike? Nay, that would be a sacrilege, for this mortal love of ours is the one thing which lifts us from the earth. Doth God not love the most unworthy of his creatures? Would it be just to say that salvation should be meted only to those who are the Creator's equal? Who of us, then, would escape the flame? Not so," she continued, her eyes ablaze with the intensity of her emotion. "It is that very affection bestowed upon us by our God that lifts us poor mortals into fellowship with him. Love knows no laws of title, tithes or wealth, and by the very act of loving, the peasant rightly seats himself beside the king. Ah, think not, dear father," she cried, falling on her knees, "that I would lightly cast aside a wish of thine. Dwell but upon the love that thou once felt, and remember it is she, the reflection of that self-same love, who seeks thy aid."
There was silence, broken only by the sobs of the kneeling girl. Fawkes regarded his daughter with an air of evident surprise, not unmixed with anxiety in anticipation of what might follow; for every action showed she was wrought up to the highest state of excitement and earnestness. After a moment he said in a quiet voice: "I trust these hot words of thine are but the outcome of some foolish fancy, which, like the silly scorpion, will kill itself with its own violence. But thou hast not told me all; until I am fully advised, my counsel can be but scant. What name hath he? What title doth he hold? For by thy speech he must be noble?"
"Herbert Effingston," replied the girl.
"I know not that name," answered the other, after a moment's musing. "And his title?"
"Viscount Herbert Effingston, son of Lord Monteagle."
"Thou hast indeed flown high," Fawkes cried, with a sudden outburst of passion. "Because I love thee I would wish thee dead, aye, dead," he continued, fiercely, raising himself from the chair, "rather than have thee bear the hated name of Monteagle."
"But thou knowest no evil of him," cried the girl, springing to her feet. "He is good; he is true and noble; aye, and hear me, it was he who saved my life—a life thou lovest. I know what thou wouldst say, but the son is not holden for his father's sins; he is not——"
"But he is of the brood," thundered Fawkes, now thoroughly aroused; "the litter of the jackal will eat the holy dead left by its sire—'tis in their nature. Monteagle!" he repeated with fine scorn. "And marry, that would be a pretty name for thee to choose—a name that hath done more to set aside our Holy Catholic Church than all the fiends in hell. What I know is true," he exclaimed, seizing her by the arm. "Hark to what I say to thee; even I have heard, for ill fame flies with swallow's wings swiftly across the sea, and when I am done, if thou still dost love, pray to the Madonna to stop the beating of a heart that holds so unworthy a regard. Thou sayest the son saved thy life—by what means I know not. Think you that doth make amends for all the evil done by him and his? Enough of this, and listen," he continued, mastering his anger and pacing up and down the room. "Monteagle and his son, both Catholics, and until James Stuart reached the throne, most valiant champions of their faith, have, since the scepter reached the hands of that wise fool, endeavored by all the foul means within their power, to defeat the efforts of their fellow churchmen, which, as thou knowest—and all England as well—were directed against those laws which meant the downfall of our church. Did these hell hounds come boldly out and show a lusty fight—which would, in a small degree, have recommended them? Nay, that is not the nature of the serpent. They falsely affirm themselves most strong adherents to the Pope, receive the confidences of the Papal Delegates, and by treasonable use of this knowledge of their secret mission, defeat them ere they strike a blow. Is it for truth that they are against the faith? Not so; for the hypocrites do cross themselves and bow before the Host. Is it for a principle that they act thus? Nay, for they have none. What, then, is their object? It is to gain favor with the King, and place themselves by underhanded, sneaking ways where true merit ne'er could raise them. Ah, my daughter," he cried, with a voice full of supplication, "I love thee much too well to cause thy heart a single pang. Canst thou not see it all aright? And even if for love of me thou wilt not pluck this passion from thy heart, then do it for the love thou owest God."
While her father had been speaking, the girl stood motionless, every line on her face showing plainly the conflict raging within her breast. Her eyes were dry, for there are griefs so deep and searing that they, with their fiery tongues, do lick up the springing tears before they can fall. It was not in her nature to love lightly; to her passion meant more than a mere auxiliary to her existence; simply making life brighter and happier; every action, deed or thought, however trivial and far removed from him, by some subtle influence like that which turns the magnetic needle toward the north, had been turned to bear upon this love of hers. The accusations just uttered concerning his traitorous actions with regard to her faith, influenced her but little; for her attitude toward religion resembled that of most of her kind; the pure feminine mind turns instinctively toward that which they deem great and good, believing, as a rule,—shall we say ignorantly?—in all which is said to issue from a source they cannot comprehend, and which they fear for the mystery attached to it. Man, by instinct, loves power and dominion over others. Woman substitutes for that characteristic the longing to be ruled, and in that subordination of herself seeks protection. In this girl's breast, the desire for a mystical and intangible power which promised to protect, had been, to a degree, supplanted by the knowledge that there awaited one who would clasp her in strong arms, and guard her against all the world. Therefore the words spoken a moment ago had but little weight, and played a small part in forming the resolution to which she soon gave voice. Duty was clear. This poor, lonely man, her father, who had known but little happiness, whose whole existence was summed up in two great all-absorbing passions—a fearful, passionate belief in God, and after that, his love for her,—for his sake she must make the sacrifice.
"Ah!" thought she, "sacrifice means death, and my love can never die, but I shall hide it, bury it deep within my bosom, until in time its strength shall tear my heart asunder; then I, in place of love, will be the sacrifice."
This, and more, quickly passed through her mind, but now she turned toward the man with that wonderful self-control which only can be found in woman, and said, in a quiet voice, devoid of passion and malice, for she felt none:
"If it be thy wish, I will do it for love of thee."
"My daughter!" cried he, taking the motionless figure in his arms, "thou hast saved me from a living hell. Thou wilt soon find I have brought but good counsel. Pluck this poisoned shaft from out thy heart, and if the wound hurt, soothe the smart with sweet knowledge of my love, and above all, with a sense of justice done to God. Forget, my pretty one, thy father's hasty temper; or, if remembered, let it be only as called forth by love of thee. But we shall talk no more of passions; let them go. Come now beside me, while I rest, for I am sore weary after my long journey. Sit so," he continued, reclining on a bench before the blaze, taking the white hand she offered and drawing her down to him, "that I may not lose thee again, even in my dreams."
She silently complied with his request. It would have been impossible to express what was in her mind, so paralyzed and benumbed was it by the heavy blow which had suddenly fallen. As the fingers which held hers gradually relaxed in slumber, she slowly sank upon her knees, and with outstretched arms, in a tearless voice, exclaimed: "Oh, my love, thou who art my life; since on earth I must forever be without thee, let some kindly hand give me unto death!"
THE SUPERIOR OF THE JESUITS.
While Guy Fawkes held converse with his daughter, the five gentlemen he had left at Percy's house were soberly discussing the weighty matters which had drawn them together. The sun had already gilded the dome of St. Paul, when Winter, Catesby, Wright and Digsby made ready to take their departure. On the threshold of the chamber Catesby paused, and turning to Percy, said: "'Twill mayhap be two days ere I again come to thee, for it is my purpose to make a journey into the country, that I may gain better understanding concerning certain matters which rest heavily on my mind; therefore marvel not if for one night I be absent."
"Thou goest then to Worcester?" asked Winter.
"Aye, to Hendlip that, in its wisdom, the counsel of the Church may direct me. Having gone so far 'twere ill to draw back, yet methinks there is another whose words we must not treat lightly."
"Garnet!" burst forth Digsby.
Winter started. "Not here," he whispered quickly, "name not one whose zeal hath banished him from England. Let James once know that he is yet among us, and not a hiding place in Britain could shelter him."
And a wise precaution it was that the name of Henry Garnet should not be brought to the King's notice. Balancing the advantage of being neither Catholic nor Protestant, the accusation that he was about to favor the Papists, had so angered James, that he cast aside all pretentions of toleration to the adherents of Rome. Coming to the throne with promises of favor to the Catholic nobility, he had renewed with great severity the laws of repression, and the banishment of the Jesuits. Many of the latter had sought refuge in the houses of the more zealous Papists, and among them Henry Garnet, Superior of the Order of Jesus in England, an accomplished scholar, and a man of mild demeanor, though an uncompromising adherent to his faith. 'Twas to Garnet, that Catesby, troubled in spirit and, perhaps, uncertain of the undertaking which lay before him, had resolved to turn, that the advice of the wily Jesuit might strengthen his purpose, or check for a time, his zeal in the desperate venture which at present filled his mind.
Some two hours after leaving his companions, Catesby, mounted upon a powerful chestnut mare and wrapped closely about with a fur lined cloak, cantered slowly through the streets of London which led to the outskirts of the city facing the northwest. The storm of the previous night had ceased, and the country side lay wrapped in a mantle of white, broken here and there by the gray wall of some silent habitation from whose chimneys the first blue smoke was rising in circling clouds through the crisp morning air.
Having reached the open country, the rider set his horse into a gallop, for his destination lay many leagues away, and it was his purpose to reach it ere nightfall. Hendlip House stood near the middle of a spacious park thickly studded with trees; the structure itself was surrounded by shrubbery, and contained within its walls many secret hiding places, trap doors and double wainscotings. It had been constructed by one Thomas Abington, a devoted recusant of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the dwelling was a famous resort for those whose desire it was to conceal themselves from the authorities. 'Twas there, the Superior of the Jesuits, together with a clerk of that Order, Oldcorne by name, and Owen, a servant, had been taken by certain of the Catholic gentry, among whom were Lord Rookwood and Sir Everard Digsby.
That precaution had been observed to guard against surprise was shown by the presence of a watchman, who, on the arrival of Catesby outside the manor grounds, stepped from his lodge that he might hold converse with the new comer, and if an officer, or one attached to the Parliament, might give warning to those within the house.
Upon perceiving, however, that it was Sir Robert Catesby who came thus unexpectedly to Hendlip, the man doffed his cap, returning a civil greeting to the rider's remark upon the coldness of the weather.
"Has my Lord Rookwood passed this way?" inquired he, reining in his horse.
"He has, in truth," replied the servant, catching dexterously the silver piece tossed him. "Even now, together with Mistress Vaux, he is within the house."
"Vaux! Anne Vaux!" muttered Catesby, "there must be then some weighty matter afoot that she comes to Hendlip." And touching his horse with the spur, he galloped up the avenue which led to the main entrance of the mansion. Being well known by its inmates he was at once conducted to an upper chamber, the door of which was unbarred by Owen, who motioned him to enter.
There were three occupants of the room. Before the great fireplace, ablaze with logs, sat Henry Garnet. Scarce past middle age, the learned prelate was a striking figure, clad though he was in the simple, dark-hued garb of his Order. Beneath a brow white and smooth as a child's, shone a noble countenance, gentle almost to effeminacy, but redeemed by firm lines about the mouth, and the intensity of the steel-gray eyes. As Catesby entered, these eyes, which had been gazing abstractedly into the fire, lighted with a smile of welcome.
One of the Jesuit's companions was a personage whose dress and manner proclaimed him a noble of the period. He leaned indolently against the frame of the wide window facing the avenue, through which the horseman had come, and he it was, Lord Rookwood, who first announced to the Prelate that a visitor approached.
The third occupant of the apartment was a woman. Born and bred in luxury, the daughter of a peer of England, Anne Vaux was numbered among the most devoted followers of the Superior. Scarce six and twenty, she had passed her minority at the court of Elizabeth, and the accession of James the First had marked no change in the life of the lady-in-waiting. Anne of Denmark, pleased with the loveliness of the daughter of Lord Vaux, had retained her near her person.
Pausing on the threshold, Catesby took in the three personages at a glance, but it was to the Jesuit that he offered his first salutation, dropping on one knee as Garnet extended his hand, upon a finger of which glistened the signet ring denoting his holy office.
"Welcome, Sir Robert Catesby!" murmured the Prelate, motioning the cavalier to draw near the fire. "'Tis, indeed, a most happy circumstance which brings to Hendlip so devoted a servant to the cause of God."
"The more happy," replied Catesby, "that I find your Reverence of good cheer, and in converse with my Lord of Rookwood and Mistress Vaux."
"They are truly of much comfort to me in my solitude," said the Superior, "and with the help of God I have patience to remain in idleness, that at the time of harvest I may be ready."
Catesby cast a quick glance at Rookwood, but the imperturbable face of the latter told him nothing. It was Anne Vaux who spoke.
"'Tis but little, indeed, the followers of this most holy man can do to comfort him," she said softly, "yet it seemeth fit that such of us as may, shall make known to him that even the court of James——"
Garnet smiled. "Anne!" said he, turning his gray eyes affectionately upon her, "'tis a comfort beyond human utterance." Then to Catesby: "But thou hast ridden hard, good son?"
"That I may benefit by thy wisdom," replied Sir Robert, "for my soul is troubled."
"A confession!" cried Anne, rising quickly. "Therefore I will retire with my Lord of Rookwood."
The latter shrugged his shoulders; evidently it but poorly fitted his desire that the conversation with the Superior should be unheard by him. Catesby noted his displeasure, and signaled him to remain. Garnet comprehended the matter.
"Not so!" said he, "I warrant me, good Catesby seeketh not the confessional, but to render certain reports concerning that which hath transpired in London, and of which Lord Rookwood hath some understanding. Yet, lest our discourse weary thee, good Anne, thou mayst retire, and if it please thee, return when our conference is ended." So saying, he arose and conducted her to the door.
When alone with the two gentlemen, the Prelate looked fixedly at Catesby.
"It were fitting," said he "that Mistress Vaux, zealous though she be, know not too much concerning the temper of our following. Now tell me quickly what hath arisen to disturb thee."
Catesby walked thrice about the room, then stopped before the Jesuit and said soberly:
"That which agitates my mind is, perforce, the same matter which troubles thee—a holy father of the Church, my Lord of Rookwood, and some tens of thousands of loyal Catholics in England. 'Tis the broken promises of James—the overthrow of our religion, the——"
Garnet checked him.
"Thou speakest as a true Catholic," said he, "yet has thy grievance been long endured. There are many men whose childhood witnessed these selfsame wrongs."
"Aye!" cried Catesby, seizing the hand of the Superior, "our sufferings have, indeed, been of long duration, but we looked to the ascension of the new King to lessen evils which have pressed so hard upon us. 'Twas to James of Scotland——"
The eyes of the Jesuit blazed fiercely.
"Wretched country!" cried he, stretching out his arms, "thou hast in truth suffered long, and the blessing of Most Holy God hath gone from thee. Thy soul is troubled, Sir Robert Catesby, thou, who art free to live as suiteth thee! Thinkest thou then that I, whom the Holy Church hath appointed to teach her children, suffer nothing being thus a prisoner behind the walls of Hendlip House? If thou art vexed at thought of penalties, and cruel enactments against thy brethren, what thinkest thou of the happiness of one to whom banishment without voice or trial, such as are granted to the lowest criminal, follows from so unjust a law? What have I done, wherein lieth the crime of all the priests in England, that the hand of James is turned against us? If thou seek out the King, or question the Parliament, and ask wherefore we are driven from our churches—they will answer thee, 'Ye are Catholics.'"
During his words, spoken with the fire of an ardent spirit, the slender form of the Jesuit seemed to tower, as an enraged deity, above the persons of his two companions. But having poured out the bitterness of his soul, the meekness of the man asserted itself, and sinking into a chair he buried his face in his hands. The sight aroused Catesby to madness.
"Aye!" cried he, advancing to the Prelate's side, "I will go to James, but 'twill not be to test his arguments. One thrust and thou, with all Catholics, will be free."
Drawing out his sword he threw it at the feet of the silent Jesuit.
"Bless thou therefore this trusty blade, good Father, that it may do its work quickly. Bless it, and me, for ere night comes again 'twill have drunk the blood of the heretic!"
The recklessness of the other's purpose roused Garnet from his lethargy.
"Thou art mad, good Catesby," said he sadly; "that thou thinkest to kill the King of England. Put up thy sword! 'Tis not through the violence of one man that England will be freed. We have waited long already; pray for patience that thou mayst bear with meekness the burden which rests heavily upon thee. Thinkest thou I groan not under it?"
Catesby might have replied in anger, but the voice of Rookwood forestalled him.
"There are many gentlemen in England this day who from waiting have grown weary, and who hope no more for indulgence from the King and his Parliament. Some there may be, who, even as good Catesby, have in their minds resolved upon most desperate measures. If it be then a sin to——"
Garnet turned upon him saying:
"A sin! A sin to slay the King of England?"
"Yet one who hath broken his promises, forsaken the religion of his mother, and who, blind to the mercy of God, doth seek to uproot this holy cause!" cried Catesby.
Whatever might have been the ultimate purpose of the Jesuit, whether as an Englishman he recoiled at the thought of the assassination of his King, or, as a Catholic, his zeal overbalanced his loyalty, he saw that it was quite time to curb the fanatical tendencies of his companions. The very life of the Catholic religion in England, his own safety, and that of his fellow priests, might be sacrificed by a premature attempt on the part of Catesby, or some of his followers, to end their wrongs by the murder of the King. With the keen perception which Garnet eminently possessed, he saw that the desired change in the religious policy of the government could only be brought about by a farther reaching blow than the removal of the person of James. Nor would a decided objection on his part to their purpose serve his ends, for it was his policy to draw about him the leading Catholic gentry of the kingdom. He therefore cast about for a middle course whereby those whose zeal had overcome their discretion might be pacified. The remembrance of Anne Vaux suggested an expedient.
"Good Catesby, and thou, Lord Rookwood," said he blandly, "your zeal in the cause hath much endeared you to me, yet, it were well to proceed with due caution in so grave a matter. Perchance King James hath it in his mind to extend to us that kind indulgence which we crave for. Ye know that the Parliament of England is composed of many who prate much about their liberties, and if James seek to aid us by dissimulation, 'twere an ill thing to cut the unripe corn."
"What then, good Father?" asked Catesby.
"Thou knowest," replied the Jesuit, "that Mistress Vaux is closely united to the Court. Maybe thou knowest, also, that there is a certain gentleman, close to the King, who would make Anne his mistress. 'Tis a truth that the wit of woman worketh much, and it comes to me that this courtier, to please Anne Vaux, might seek to discover what is in the mind of his master regarding the Catholics of England."
"'Tis a happy thought," said Rookwood, "if we be benefited."
"All is in the hands of God," replied Garnet solemnly, and rising he touched a bell which summoned Owen from the ante-chamber.
"Good Owen," said he, "bear to Lady Vaux my desire for her presence; our conference is ended."
WHY MASTER FAWKES WAS SUMMONED TO ENGLAND.
Elinor sat by the fire with a piece of embroidery in her hand. Her thoughts were evidently not upon it, for ever and anon she would lay down the work and sink into deep meditation, which ended in sighs; then, recollecting herself, the busy fingers would once more resume their task. The sound of footsteps echoing in the corridor without, caused her to turn toward the door, through which a man presently entered, who exclaimed in a petulant voice, as he ineffectually endeavored to fasten a sword belt: "Come, my daughter, lay down thy pretty work for a moment, and aid thy father to gird this cursed baldric about him, for the ends be as coy as an old maid and her lover." She arose to comply with his request, and quickly fastened the desired buckle, then inquired, on noting his attire:
"Dost thou go abroad to-night?"
"Verily, I do, if Sir Thomas doth keep his appointment. 'Tis past the hour of nine, and much I marvel that he hath not yet arrived."
"Then I will now bid thee good night," she answered, approaching and about to kiss him, when hearing one coming up the steps caused her to delay.
"There, by St. Paul, he is at last," as a knock sounded on the door. "Run, my daughter, and open to Sir Thomas."
The girl hesitated a moment as if loth to comply, then stepped into the hall and withdrew the bolt. Soon the tones of a man's voice could be heard exclaiming: "A good evening to thee, Mistress Elinor. It is but fitting that an angel should unbar the door of Paradise, for I deem the house naught else wherein thou dwellest." Kissing the reluctant hand which he held, then observing Fawkes, who had advanced to greet him, "Well, well, friend Guido; thou lookest fit for a battle royal, with thy long war rapier girded by thy side. But," he continued with a laugh, "it would ill become thee to go abroad poorly armed in my company, for we do in truth seem to invite attack when together. Did thy father tell thee, Mistress Elinor, of his adventure yester-night, which had for its intent the rescuing me again from dire straits?"
"Nay, he did not; for my father's brave deeds need not his tongue to set them forth, and he is much too modest to narrate his exploits, even though they had so worthy an object as the saving of thy life," she replied with a little courtesy.
"Marry," broke in Fawkes, "I was marveling why thou didst not come, and was thinking perchance 'twould be better to go outside and listen for the sound of a distant brawl." Then observing the small court sword which hung by the other's side, he continued, pointing toward it: "Thou art but lightly equipped. I wonder much that thou dost go so poorly prepared; but," he added, loosening his long rapier from its scabbard, "thy purse is safe to-night at least. Wilt come for a moment to the fire, and warm thyself?"
"I cannot, though much I regret that precious time forbids; if thou art ready, methinks we had best depart."
"I am ever at thy service," cried Fawkes, and turning towards his daughter, who had thrown a long cloak over his shoulders, "I'll wish thee a good repose, sweet one, for 'twill be late ere I return." Embracing her, then going toward Winter, he continued: "'Tis most pleasing to have a pretty face on which to kiss a sad good-bye, and know that loving arms await to greet a happy return."
"Aye, that it is," he responded, biting his lip and watching the two; "but we poor single men have no such bliss, and must be content to watch the happiness of others. Still, there is left me the sweet sorrow of saying good night." He extended his hand to the girl, who let hers rest for an instant within his. "Now, if thou art ready, Master Fawkes, I will follow."
The two passed out into the night, both turning, however, when half way down the path to wave a parting adieu to the fair figure standing within the door. For some little distance the men continued on in silence, each engrossed in thought. At length, Winter observing that Fawkes seemed well aware as to the direction they were taking, exclaimed with some little surprise: "Master Guido, one would think the way to my residence an old traveled road to thee, but if I recollect aright, this to my knowledge is the first time thou hast gone over it."
"Marry, but I have a guide, Sir Thomas," pointing to the dome of St. Paul's church, which reared itself dark against the star-studded sky.
"Beshrew my heart, doth some angel of heaven fly before thee?" as just at the moment Fawkes turned sharply down another street leading to their destination.
"Nay, I have not that to point the way, but a friend of thine gave me the direction. I did not think to tell thee the first night of our meeting, for we had other matters of more pointed nature to engross our thoughts," he added with a laugh, striking his sword; "and it did slip my tardy mind that I was the bearer of a message from him to thee."
"I can but illy guess who he may be; but, pray, say on, by what name went he?"
"Giles Martin; and he did wish I would convey his best respects and wishes for thy good welfare."
"By St. Peter! Where didst thou run across the man? I had deemed him long dead, for naught have I seen of him these many years."
"The truth is, Sir Winter, he wished no mention made of his present whereabouts; but I deemed thou hadst a sturdy friend in him, and," continued Fawkes, looking at the other significantly, "he did seem well informed on divers topics concerning these troubled times."
"What dost thou mean, friend Guido?" asked Winter, turning a quick glance toward Fawkes.
"I am but a plain man, and thy outspoken question invites little but a plain reply. Therefore, I'll repeat his words, which were that thou didst stand poorly with those in high places, and, further, the times were such that hot outspoken opinions on certain subjects were apt to be quickly followed by the whistle of an axe flying through the air, and that the King——"
"A truce," Winter broke in, laying his hand upon the other's arm and looking behind with some alarm as the two entered a thoroughfare, which, by the number of people passing up and down, indicated their approach to a central portion of the city; "by holy St. Dunstan, frame not thy speech in such loud words, for it might be illy construed. But here we are at our destination, and when within, thou mayst recite all that Master Martin told."
The two paused in front of an iron railing surrounding a court-yard, on which fronted a residence of no mean pretensions. After unlocking the wicket, Winter, followed by his companion, proceeded up the walk, and passing through the main doorway, entered the house.
"This is the first time, Fawkes, that I've had the honored pleasure of thy company at mine own fireside," exclaimed Winter, when inside, throwing his fur-lined coat upon a chair. Then observing that his companion was already busily engaged in examining a trophy of swords which decorated the wall, he continued: "What, do thy warlike eyes ever seek the implements of thy trade? See, Guido, there is a suit of mail that a valiant ancestor of mine did wear at Crecy," pointing toward a stand of armor.
"Indeed," answered the other, examining it, "he must of necessity have been brave, for, I can but illy see how running could be done, even if the spirit prompted the legs, attired in this heavy harness."
"And now, if thou be ready," exclaimed Winter, evidently anxious to arrive quickly at the task of the evening, "I will conduct thee to a chamber wherein we may hold converse without fear of interruption."
The two proceeded, Winter leading the way to the end of the hall, and passing through a heavy open door, which closed behind them, entered a room well adapted to the discussion of such things as must not fall on untrusted ears. The chamber was one of spacious proportion, but on account of its massive black furniture, seemed to be of medium size. The walls were hung in some dark, unfigured tapestry, which added to the somberness of the apartment, and tended to spread over all an air of gloom. The dimness of the place was in some degree relieved by a crackling fire burning upon the hearth, and two silver candelabrums holding lighted tapers, stood upon an oaken table occupying the middle of the room.
The only window in the place opened down to the floor, leading out upon a balcony overlooking the court-yard, and the interior of the chamber was hidden from those passing by heavy curtains, which now were closely drawn. A divan, several massive black oak cabinets, and three or four high-back chairs completed the furniture of the room, with the exception of a small table, on which stood a large and curiously wrought silver flagon and several tankards.
"Come Master Guy," cried Winter, filling two of the cups, "let us preface dry work with a drink of honest vintage, and then we will to our task."
"With all my heart," replied Fawkes, taking the cup and draining it at a draught.
"And now to business," exclaimed the other, seating himself by the table and motioning his companion to a place opposite. Having settled himself easily in the chair, shading his face from the light of the tapers that he might better watch the countenance of the other, he began in a quiet voice:
"I doubt not but thou didst deem it passing strange I made no reference to the nature of the employment I had to offer thee, and, mayhap," he continued, holding up his hand to silence an interruption from his listener, "there hath arisen in thy mind suspicious thoughts caused by a combination of incidents since thy arrival, which would place me as one with whom to be identified were not as safe as serving in the King's Guard. In point of fact, I refer particularly to the outspoken words of our friend Giles Martin."
"In truth," responded the other, in that quick, brusque manner belonging to his nature, "Master Martin did lay naught at thy door, but what I, or any other righteous man, might deem an honor to a house. Nay," he continued, with some vehemence, "if what he said be true, then I am overjoyed to find employment with one whose faith is his greatest crime."
"What may be the purport of thy words?" inquired Winter, slowly turning a keen glance upon the speaker.
"I mean," exclaimed Fawkes, leaning over the table toward his questioner, "that I would think it no disgrace to serve, or, if need be, fall by the side of one who had the courage to openly or secretly espouse the Catholic cause in these cross-breaking days. Aye, Sir Thomas, I will speak without concealment, for I have guessed at many things, and know full well that the time must soon be ripe when all who have not craven hearts will arise in wrath, and by word of mouth, of mayhap, if need be, by a more violent measure put down those who advise the enactment of laws which have for their intent the uprooting of the Church in this our Kingdom."
"By St. Michael!" exclaimed Winter, surprised that the other should bring to the front so clearly his opinion on a subject upon which, he had feared, it would require no small amount of questioning to elicit anything, "thou dost astonish me with thine ardor; I always knew thee as a brave churchman, but never——"
"Time hath altered my views on many subjects," interrupted Fawkes. "The manners of the Spaniard are not always good, and their breath is oft odorous of garlic; but by my troth, they know full well how to treat a heretic," he added with a decisive nod of his head. "Say on, for by thy manner I judge it is thine object to sound my depth in certain matters. I know not what's afoot; but by St. Peter," continued he, striking the table a blow which made the tapers dance, "if it hath aught to do with those—even though they be kings—whose unholy hands would snuff our altar lights, thou canst count on Master Guy to twist the rack or carry faggots."
During this recital Winter watched the other with keen attention. Knowing Fawkes to be a man of indomitable will, combined with undaunted courage, and one to stop at nothing in gaining ends justified by his conscience, he had not hesitated to recommend him as a valuable adjunct to the cause dear to himself and his companions. Heavily the weight of responsibility rested upon him; it had fallen to his lot that he should be the one to sound this man, and decide as to how great or small a degree of their confidence might be given to him. One error in judgment now might be followed by the death of all their hopes, and by the thud of heads dropping into the axman's basket. Therefore he weighed the matter well before saying:
"I did not over-estimate thy zeal. There are many things I would fain tell thee, the purport of which methinks thou hast already guessed, but which at present must not, for reasons, be spoken of. If thou art willing for a time to remain in darkness, and take service as a gentleman about my household, I can almost promise that the gloom of thy ignorance on many matters may soon be dispelled by a lurid glare which shall be red enough, even to thy liking. I have told thee naught, but the very concealment of some things, to the observing, doth show plainly what is hid. Ask no more, and, for the present, content thyself with suppositions. If the conditions which I have named suit thee, then thou wilt have access to these premises at all times. Further, be my companion when I go abroad; for what is more natural in these purse-cutting days than that a gentleman should desire a lusty swordsman with him? Dost accept, and agree to all?" The last word he pronounced with great emphasis.
"Aye, to all," responded the other grimly, arising and extending his gauntlet.
"And I would further recommend," continued Winter, drumming on the table with his fingers, "that thou say but little about this meeting, even," looking narrowly at Fawkes, "to thy pretty daughter; for I have remarked there is sometimes a certain visitor at thy house who, if the report did reach his ears that two or three gentlemen of the Catholic persuasion were closeted together, might denounce the assembling as a conspiracy,—which would be most unjust—and bring the King's Guard with small courtesy. Dost follow me, friend Guido?"
"That I do; but there's naught to fear; I know your meaning. Heretics will no more darken my door."
"That is well, and I hope, truly spoken," replied Winter, nodding his head in approval, and rising from his chair with an air of relief that the business of the evening was settled. "Let us," he continued, filling up the cups, "drink success to our compact."
"Ah!" cried Fawkes, pointing to the wine as it flowed from the flagon's mouth, "A most fitting color be the draught;" then, as he raised the tankard to his lips, "A toast, Sir Thomas, I will offer thee. May we be as willing to give our blood when asked, as this good flagon to yield its red cheer to us! And now I must set out for home, and 'tis with a lighter heart than when I came. Dost thou wish my presence here to-morrow?" he inquired as they reached the door.
"Thou mayst call on the stroke of ten, or thereabouts. Until then, farewell."
The host watched the form of his guest disappear in the darkness, and shutting the door, returned with a thoughtful step to the chamber wherein they had been sitting. Filling a cup with wine and raising it on high, he exclaimed with a laugh: "Troth, Master Fawkes, I did drink to thy health awhile ago; now I will quaff a flagon to thy daughter. Here is to one, Mistress Elinor, the fairest, the sweetest wench in all England, and for one warm kiss from whose lips Sir Thomas Winter would right gladly face grim death. Marry," he mused, setting down the cup, "thou hast done, mayhap, a good stroke for the cause, in bringing this bloodhound Fawkes from out of Spain, but young Monteagle, beware; for if I be judge, the Spanish treatment of a heretic leaves but little for the burial."
THE WISEST FOOL IN CHRISTENDOM.
The Royal Court of King James, at Whitehall, was furnished and embellished with all the luxury which love of show and the power of the owner could command. Choicest tapestries draped the walls, carpets of marvelous softness covered the floors. In the King's bedchamber stood an elaborately carved bedstead canopied with perfumed velvet cunningly wrought in silk and gold. Upon its front glittered the royal arms of England.
Reared as he had been in the plainness of Scottish simplicity, the wealth and lavish display in the English manor houses where he had rested during his journey from Edinburgh delighted and enchanted him in the highest degree. Vain, fond of indolent diversions, and prodigal in expenditures, he at once surrounded himself with the choicest products of the weavers, decorators and artisans of the Continent.
In a chamber of this palace, on the second afternoon following the meeting of Catesby with Rookwood and Anne Vaux at the hiding place of the Jesuit Superior, an interesting conversation took place between the Queen's lady-in-waiting, and one Robert Carr, a Scotchman, and favorite of the King. After James ascended the throne of England he meted out ample measure to his countrymen, likening himself to Joseph, who, being raised to power, forgot not his brethren. That this Robert was of goodly parts, being fair of feature and elegant of limb, rendered him the more acceptable to his royal master; forsooth, there were few of the nobles in the two kingdoms but knew certain tales concerning the favorites of the King, young gallants of the period whose presence at Court added nothing to the honor of their sovereign.