Part 3 out of 5
could be seen the hunt for fugitives. Torches and lanterns still flickered
obscenely, and the blood in the gutters shone sometimes golden in their
glare and sometimes spread drab and horrid in the waxing daylight.
The Jacobin stood at their elbow. "Follow me, my lords of Spain," he cried.
"No friends of God and the Duke dare be idle this happy morn. Follow, and I
will show you wonders."
He led them east to where a broader street ran to the river.
"Somewhere here lies Teligny," he croaked. "Once he is dead the second head
is lopped from the dragon of Babylon. Oh that God would show us where Conde
and Navarre are hid, for without them our task is incomplete.
There was a great crowd about the door of one house, and into it the
Jacobin fought his way with prayers and threats. Some Huguenot--Teligny it
might be--was cornered there, but in the narrow place only a few could join
in the hunt, and the hunters, not to be impeded by the multitude, presently
set a guard at the street door. The mob below was already drunk with blood,
and found waiting intolerable; but it had no leader and foamed aimlessly
about the causeway. There were women in it with flying hair like Maenads,
who shrilled obscenities, and drunken butchers and watermen and grooms who
had started out for loot and ended in sheer lust of slaying, and dozens of
broken desperadoes and led-captains who looked on the day as their
carnival. But to the mob had come one of those moments of indecision when
it halted and eddied like a whirlpool.
Suddenly in its midst appeared two tall horsemen.
"Men of Paris," cried Gaspard with that masterful voice which is born of
the deep seas. "You see this jewel. It was given me an hour back by Henry
A ruffian examined it. "Ay," he murmured with reverence, "it is our Duke's.
I saw it on his breast before Coligny's house."
The mob was all ears. "I have the Duke's command," Gaspard went on. "He
pursues Montgomery and the Vidame of Chartres. Coligny is dead. Teliguy in
there is about to die. But where are all the others? Where is La
Rochefoucault? Where is Rosny? Where is Grammont? Where, above all, are the
young Conde and the King of Navarre?"
The names set the rabble howling. Every eye was on the speaker.
Gaspard commanded silence. "I will tell you. The Huguenots are cunning as
foxes. They planned this very day to seize the King and make themselves
masters of France. They have copied your badge," and he glanced towards his
left arm. "Thousands of them are waiting for revenge, and before it is full
day they will be on you. You will not know them, you will take them for
your friends, and you will have your throats cut before you find out your
A crowd may be wolves one moment and chickens the next, for cruelty and
fear are cousins. A shiver of apprehension went through the soberer part.
One drunkard who shouted was clubbed on the head by his neighbour. Gaspard
saw his chance.
"My word to you--the Duke's word--is to forestall this devilry. Follow me,
and strike down every band of white-badged Huguenots. For among them be
sure is the cub of Navarre."
It was the leadership which the masterless men wanted. Fifty swords were
raised, and a shout went up which shook the windows of that lodging where
even now Teliguy was being done to death. With the two horsemen at their
head the rabble poured westwards towards the Rue d'Arbre Sec and the
Louvre, for there in the vicinity of the Palace were the likeliest coverts.
"Now Heaven send us Petrucci," said Gaspard. "Would that the Little Man had
been alive and with us! This would have been a ruse after his own heart,"
"I think the great Conde would have specially misliked yon monk," said the
"Patience, Gawain. One foe at a time. My heart tells me that you will get
The streets, still dim in the dawn, were thickly carpeted with dead. The
mob kicked and befouled the bodies, and the bravos in sheer wantonness
spiked them with their swords. There were women there, and children, lying
twisted on the causeway. Once a fugitive darted out of an entry, to be
brought down by a butcher's axe.
"I have never seen worse in the Indies," and Champernoun shivered. "My
stomach turns. For heaven's sake let us ride down this rabble!"
"Patience," said Gaspard, his eyes hard as stones. "Cursed be he that
putteth his hand to the plough and then turns back."
They passed several small bodies of Catholic horse, which they greeted with
cheers. That was in the Rue des Poulies; and at the corner where it abutted
on the quay before the Hotel de Bourbon, a ferret-faced man ran blindly
into them. Gaspard caught him and drew him to his horse's side, for he
recognised the landlord of the tavern where he had supped.
"What news, friend?" he asked.
The man was in an anguish of terror, but he recognised his former guest.
"There is a band on the quay," he stammered. "They are mad and do not know
a Catholic when they see him. They would have killed me, had not the good
Father Antoine held them till I made off."
"Who leads them?" Gaspard asked, having a premonition.
"A tall man in crimson with a broken plume."
"Maybe a hundred, and at least half are men-at-arms."
Gaspard turned to Champernoun.
"We have found our quarry," he said.
Then he spoke to his following, and noted with comfort that it was now some
hundred strong, and numbered many swords. "There is a Huguenot band before
us," he cried. "They wear our crosses, and this honest fellow has barely
escaped from them. They are less than three score. On them, my gallant
lads, before they increase their strength, and mark specially the long man
in red, for he is the Devil. It may be Navarre is with them."
The mob needed no second bidding. Their chance had come, and they swept
along with a hoarse mutter more fearful than any shouting.
"Knee to knee, Gawain," said Gaspard, "as at St. John d'Ulloa. Remember,
Petrucci is for me."
The Italian's band, crazy with drink and easy slaying, straggled across the
wide quay and had no thought of danger till the two horsemen were upon
them. The songs died on their lips as they saw bearing down on them an
avenging army. The scared cries of "The Huguenots!" "Montgomery!" were to
Gaspard's following a confirmation of their treachery. The swords of the
bravos and the axes and knives of the Parisian mob made havoc with the
civilian rabble, but the men-at-arms recovered themselves and in knots
fought a stout battle. But the band was broken at the start by the two grim
horsemen who rode through it as through meadow grass, their blades falling
terribly, and then turned and cut their way back. Yet a third time they
turned, and in that last mowing they found their desire. A tall man in
crimson appeared before them. Gaspard flung his reins to Champernoun and in
a second was on the ground, fighting with a fury that these long hours had
been stifled. Before his blade the Italian gave ground till he was pinned
against the wall of the Bourbon hotel. His eyes were staring with amazement
and dawning fear. "I am a friend," he stammered in broken French and was
answered in curt Spanish. Presently his guard weakened and Gaspard gave him
the point in his heart. As he drooped to the ground, his conquetor bent
over him. "The Admiral is avenged," he said. "Tell your master in hell that
you died at the hands of Coligny's kinsman."
Gaspard remounted, and, since the fight had now gone eastward, they rode on
to the main gate of the Louvre, where they met a company of the royal
Guards coming out to discover the cause of an uproar so close to the
Palace. He told his tale of the Spanish Embassy and showed Guise's jewel.
"The streets are full of Huguenots badged as Catholics. His Majesty will be
well advised to quiet the rabble or he will lose some trusty servants."
In the Rue du Coq, now almost empty, the two, horsemen halted.
"We had better be journeying, Gawain. Guise's jewel will open the gates. In
an hour's time all Paris will be on our trail."
"There is still that priest," said Champernoun doggedly. He was breathing
heavily, and his eyes were light and daring. Like all his countrymen, he
was slow to kindle but slower to cool.
"In an hour, if we linger here, we shall be at his mercy. Let us head for
the St. Antoine gate."
The jewel made their way easy, for through that gate Henry of Guise himself
had passed in the small hours. "Half an hour ago," the lieutenant of the
watch told them, "I opened to another party which bore the Duke's
credentials. They were for Amiens to spread the good news."
"Had they a priest with them?"
"Ay, a Jacobin monk, who cried on them to hasten and not spare their
horses. He said there was much to do in the north."
"I think the holy man spoke truth," said Gaspard, and they rode into open
They broke their fast on black bread and a cup of wine at the first inn,
where a crowd of frightened countrymen were looking in the direction of
Paris. It was now about seven o'clock, and a faint haze, which promised
heat, cloaked the ground. From it rose the towers and high-peaked roofs of
the city, insubstantial as a dream.
"Eaucourt by the waters!" sighed Gaspard. "That the same land should hold
that treasure and this foul city!"
Their horses, rested and fed, carried them well on the north road, but by
ten o'clock they had overtaken no travellers, save a couple of servants, on
sorry nags, who wore the Vidame of Amiens' livery. They were well beyond
Oise ere they saw in the bottom of a grassy vale a little knot of men.
"I make out six," said Champernoun, who had a falcon's eye. "Two priests
and four men-at-arms. Reasonable odds, such as I love. Faith, that monk
"I do not think there will be much fighting," said Gaspard.
Twenty minutes later they rode abreast of the party, which at first had
wheeled round on guard, and then had resumed its course at the sight of the
white armlets. It was as Champernoun had said. Four lusty arquebusiers
escorted the Jacobin. But the sixth man was no priest. He was a Huguenot
minister whom Gaspard remembered with Conde's army, an elderly frail man
bound with cruel thongs to a horse's back and his legs tethered beneath its
Recognition awoke in the Jacobin's eye. "Ah, my lords of Spain! What brings
Gaspard was by his side, while Champernoun a pace behind was abreast the
"To see the completion of the good work begun this. morning."
"You have come the right road. I go to kindle the north to a holy
emulation. That heretic dog behind is a Picard, and I bring him to Amiens
that he may perish there as a warning to his countrymen."
"So?" said Gaspard, and at the word the Huguenot's horse, pricked
stealthily by Champernoun's sword, leaped forward and dashed in fright up
the hill, its rider sitting stiff as a doll in his bonds. The Jacobin cried
out and the soldiers made as if to follow, but Gaspard's voice checked
them. "Let be. The beast will not go far. I have matters of importance to
discuss with this reverend father."
The priest's face sharpened with a sudden suspicion. "Your manners are
somewhat peremptory, sir Spaniard. But speak and let us get on."
"I have only the one word. I told you we had come north to see the fruition
of the good work, and you approved. We do not mean the same. By good work I
mean that about sunrise I slew with this sword the man Petrucci, who slew
the Admiral. By its fruition I mean that I have come to settle with you."
"You . . .?" the other stammered.
"I am Gaspard de Laval, a kinsman and humble follower of Goligny."
The Jacobin was no coward. "Treason!" he cried. "A Huguenot! Cut them down,
my men," and he drew a knife from beneath his robe.
But Gaspard's eye and voice checked the troopers. He held in his hand the
gold trinket. "I have no quarrel with you. This is the passport of your
leader, the Duke. I show it to you, and if you are questioned about this
day's work you can reply that you took your orders from him who carried
Guise's jewel. Go your ways back to Paris if you would avoid trouble."
Two of the men seemed to waver, but the maddened cry of the priest detained
them. "They seek to murder me," he screamed. "Would you desert God's Church
and burn in torment for ever?" He hurled himself on Gaspard, who caught his
wrist so that the knife tinkled on the high road while the man overbalanced
himself and fell. The next second the mellay had begun.
It did not last long. The troopers were heavy fellows, cumbrously armed,
who, even with numbers on their side, stood little chance against two swift
swordsmen, who had been trained to fight together against odds. One Gaspard
pulled from the saddle so that he lay senseless on the ground. One
Champernoun felled with a sword cut of which no morion could break the
force. The two others turned tail and fled, and the last seen of them was a
dust cloud on the road to Paris.
Gaspard had not drawn his sword. They stood by the bridge of a little
river, and he flung Guise's jewel far into its lilied waters.
"A useful bauble," he smiled, "but its purpose is served."
The priest stood in the dust, with furious eyes burning in an ashen face.
"What will you do with me?"
"This has been your day of triumph, father. I would round it off worthily
by helping you to a martyr's crown. Gawain," and he turned to his
companion, "go up the road and fetch me the rope which binds the minister."
The runaway was feeding peaceably by the highway. Champernoun cut the old
man's bonds, and laid him fainting on the grass. He brought back with him a
length of stout cord.
"Let the brute live," he said. "Duck him and truss him up, but don't dirty
your hands with him. I'd as lief kill a woman as a monk."
But Gaspard's smiling face was a rock. "This is no Englishman's concern.
To-day's shame is France's and a Frenchman alone can judge it. Innocent
blood is on this man's hands, and it is for me to pay the first instalment
of justice. The rest I leave to God."
So when an hour later the stunned troopers recovered their senses they
found a sight which sent them to their knees to patter prayers. For over
the arch of the bridge dangled the corpse of the Jacobin. And on its breast
it bore a paper setting forth that this deed had been done by Gaspard de
Laval, and the Latin words "O si sic omnes!"
Meantime far up in the folds of the Santerre a little party was moving
through the hot afternoon. The old Huguenot, shaken still by his rough
handling, rode as if in a trance. Once he roused himself and asked about
"I hanged him like a mad dog," said Gaspard.
The minister shook his head. "Violence will not cure violence."
"Nay, but justice may follow crime. I am no Nicodemite. This day I have
made public confession of my faith, and abide the consequences. From this
day I am an exile from France so long as it pleases God to make His Church
an anvil for the blows of His enemies."
"I, too, am an exile," said the old man. "If I come safe to Calais I shall
take ship for Holland and find shelter with the brethren there. You have
preserved my life for a few more years in my blaster's vineyard.
You say truly, young sir, that God's Church is now an anvil, but remember
for your consolation that it is an anvil which has worn out many hammers."
Late in the evening they came over a ridge and looked down on a shallow
valley all green and gold in the last light. A slender river twined by
alder and willow through the meadows. Gaspard reined in his horse and gazed
on the place with a hand shading his eyes.
"I have slain a man to my hurt," he said. "See, there are my new fishponds
half made, and the herb garden, and the terrace that gets the morning sun.
There is the lawn which I called my quarter-deck, the place to walk of an
evening. Farewell, my little grey dwelling."
Champernoun laid a kindly hand on his shoulder.
"We will find you the mate of it in Devon, old friend," he said.
But Gaspard was not listening. "Eaucourt by the waters," he repeated like
the refrain of a song, and his eyes were full of tears.
CHAPTER 8. THE HIDDEN CITY
The two ports of the cabin were discs of scarlet, that pure translucent
colour which comes from the reflection of sunset in leagues of still water.
The ship lay at anchor under the high green scarp of an island, but on the
side of the ports no land was visible--only a circle in which sea and sky
melted into the quintessence of light. The air was very hot and very quiet.
Inside a lamp had been lit, for in those latitudes night descends like a
thunderclap. Its yellow glow joined with the red evening to cast orange
shadows. On the wall opposite the ports was a small stand of arms, and
beside it a picture of the Magdalen, one of two presented to the ship by
Lord Huntingdon; the other had been given to the wife of the Governor of
Gomera in the Canaries when she sent fruit and sugar to the voyagers.
Underneath on a couch heaped with deerskins lay the Admiral.
The fantastic light revealed every line of the man as cruelly as spring
sunshine. It showed a long lean face cast in a high mould of pride. The jaw
and cheekbones were delicate and hard; the straight nose and the strong
arch of the brows had the authority of one who all his days had been used
to command. But age had descended on this pride, age and sickness. The
peaked beard was snowy white, and the crisp hair had thinned from the
forehead. The forehead itself was high and broad, crossed with an infinity
of small furrows. The cheeks were sallow, with a patch of faint colour
showing as if from a fever. The heavy eyelids were grey like a parrot's. It
was the face of a man ailing both in mind and body. But in two features
youth still lingered. The lips under their thatch of white moustache were
full and red, and the eyes, of some colour between blue and grey, had for
all their sadness a perpetual flicker of quick fire.
He shivered, for he was recovering from the fifth fever he had had since he
left Plymouth. The ailment was influenza, and he called it a calenture. He
was richly dressed, as was his custom even in outlandish places, and the
furred robe which he drew closer round his shoulders hid a doublet of fine
maroon velvet. For comfort he wore a loose collar and band instead of his
usual cut ruff. He stretched out his hand to the table at his elbow where
lay the Latin version of his Discovery of Guiana, of which he had been
turning the pages, and beside it a glass of whisky, almost the last of the
thirty-two gallon cask which Lord Boyle had given him in Cork on his way
out. He replenished his glass with water from a silver carafe, and sipped
it, for it checked his cold rigours. As he set it down he looked up to
greet a man who had just entered.
The new-comer was not more than forty years old, like the Admiral, but he
was lame of his left leg, and held himself with a stoop. His left arm, too
hung limp and withered by his side. The skin of his face was gnarled like
the bark of a tree, and seamed with a white scar which drooped over the
corner of one eye and so narrowed it to half the size of the other. He was
the captain of Raleigh's flagship, the
Destiny, an old seafarer, who in twenty years had lived a century of
"I wish you good evening, Sir Walter," he said in his deep voice. "They
tell me the fever is abating."
The Admiral smiled wanly, and in his smile there was still a trace of the
golden charm which had once won all men's hearts.
"My fever will never abate this side the grave," he said. "Jasper, old
friend, I would have you sit with me tonight. I am like King Saul, the
sport of devils. Be you my David to exorcise them. I have evil news. Tom
Keymis is dead."
The other nodded. Tom Keymis had been dead for ten days, since before they
left Trinidad. He was aware of the obsession of the Admiral, which made the
tragedy seem fresh news daily.
"Dead," said Raleigh. "I slew him by my harshness. I see him stumbling off
to his cabin, an old bent man, though younger than me. But he failed me. He
betrayed his trust. . . . Trust, what does that matter? We are all dying.
Old Tom has only gone on a little way before the rest. And many went before
The voice had become shrill and hard. He was speaking to himself.
"The best--the very best. My brave young Walter, and Cosmor and Piggot and
John Talbot and Ned Coffyn. . . . Ned was your kinsman, Jasper?"
"My cousin--the son of my mother's brother." The man spoke, like Raleigh,
in a Devon accent, with the creamy slur in the voice and the sing-song fall
of West England.
"Ah, I remember. Your mother was Cecily Coffyn, from Combas on the Moor at
the back of Lustleigh. A pretty girl--I mind her long ago. I would I were
on the Moor now, where it is always fresh and blowing. . . . And your
father--the big Frenchman who settled on one of Gawain Champernoun's
manors. I loved his jolly laugh. But Cecily sobered him, for the Coffyns
were always a grave and pious race. Gawain is dead these many years. Where
is your father?
"He died in '82 with Sir Humfrey Gilbert."
Raleigh bowed his head. "He went to God with brother Humfrey! Happy fate!
Happy company! But he left a brave son behind him, and I have lost mine.
Have you a boy, Jasper?"
"But the one. My wife died ten years ago come Martinmas. The child is with
his grandmother on the Moor."
"A promising child?"
"A good lad, so far as I have observed him, and that is not once a
"You are a hungry old sea-dog. That was not the Coffyn fashion. Ned was for
ever homesick out of sight of Devon. They worshipped their bleak acres and
their fireside pieties. Ah, but I forget. You are de Laval on one side, and
that is strong blood. There is not much in England to vie with it. You were
great nobles when our Cecils were husbandmen."
He turned on a new tack. "You know that Whitney and Wollaston have deserted
me. They would have had me turn pirate, and when I refused they sailed off
and left me. This morning I saw the last of their topsails. Did I right?,"
he asked fiercely.
"In my judgment you did right."
"But why--why?" Raleigh demanded. "I have the commission of the King of
France. What hindered me to use my remnant like hounds to cut off the
stragglers of the Plate Fleet? That way lies much gold, and gold will buy
pardon for all offences. What hindered me, I say?"
"Yourself, Sir Walter."
Raleigh let his head fall back on the couch and smiled bitterly.
"You say truly--myself. 'Tis not a question of morals, mark ye. A better
man than I might turn pirate with a clear conscience. But for Walter
Raleigh it would be black sin. He has walked too brazenly in all weathers
to seek common ports in a storm. . . . It becomes not the fortune in which
he once lived to go journeys of picory. . . . And there is another reason.
I have suddenly grown desperate old. I think I can still endure, but I
cannot institute. My action is by and over and my passion has come."
"You are a sick man," said the captain with pity in his voice.
"Sick! Why, yes. But the disease goes very deep. The virtue has gone out of
me, old comrade. I no longer hate or love, and once I loved and hated
extremely. I am become like a frail woman for tolerance. Spain has worsted
me, but I bear her no ill will, though she has slain my son. Yet once I
held all Spaniards the devil's spawn."
"You spoke kindly of them in your History," said the other, "when you
praised their patient virtue."
"Did I? I have forgot. Nay, I remember. When I wrote that sentence I was
thinking of Berreo. I loved him, though I took his city. He was a valiant
and liberal gentleman, and of a great heart. I mind how I combated his
melancholy, for he was most melancholic. But now I have grown like him.
Perhaps Sir Edward Coke was right and I have a Spanish heat. I think a man
cannot strive whole-heartedly with an enemy unless he have much in common
with him, and as the strife goes on he gets liker. . . . Ah, Jasper, once
I had such ambitions that they made a fire all around me. Once I was like
Kit Marlowe's Tamburlaine:
"'Threatening the world with high astounding terms,
And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.'
But now the flame has died and the ashes are cold. And I would not revive
them if I could. There is nothing under heaven that I desire."
The seaman's face was grave and kindly.
"I think you have flown too high, Sir Walter. You have aimed at the moon
and forgotten the merits of our earthly hills."
"True, true!" Raleigh's mien was for a moment more lively. "That is a
shrewd comment. After three-score years I know my own heart. I have been
cursed with a devil of pride,
Jasper. . . . Man, I have never had a friend. Followers and allies and
companions, if you please, but no friend. Others-- simple folk--would be
set singing by a May morning, or a warm tavern fire, or a woman's face. I
have known fellows to whom the earth was so full of little pleasures that
after the worst clouts they rose like larks from a furrow. A wise
philosophy--but I had none of it. I saw always the little pageant of man's
life like a child's peep-show beside the dark wastes of eternity. Ah, I
know well I struggled like the rest for gauds and honours, but they were
only tools for my ambition. For themselves I never valued them. I aimed at
a master-fabric, and since I have failed I have now no terrestrial cover."
The night had fallen black, but the cabin windows were marvellously patined
by stars. Raleigh's voice had sunk to the hoarse whisper of a man still
fevered. He let his head recline again on the skins and closed his eyelids.
Instantly it became the face of an old and very weary man.
The sailor Jasper Lauval--for so he now spelled his name on the rare
occasions when he wrote it-- thought he was about to sleep and was rising
to withdraw, when Raleigh's eyes opened.
"Stay with me," he commanded. "Your silence cheers me. If you leave me I
have thoughts that might set me following Tom Keymis. Kit Marlowe again! I
cannot get rid of his accursed jingles. How do they go?
"'Hell hath no limite, nor is circumscribed
In one self-place, for where we are is hell
And where hell is there must we ever be.'"
Lauval stretched out a cool hand and laid it on the Admiral's hot forehead.
He had a curiously steadfast gaze for all his drooping left eye. Raleigh
caught sight of the withered arm.
"Tell me of your life, Jasper. How came you by such a mauling? Let the tale
of it be like David's harping and scatter my demons."
The seaman sat himself in a chair. "That was my purpose, Sir Walter. For
the tale is in some manner a commentary on your late words."
"Nay, I want no moral. Let me do the moralising. The tale's the thing. See,
fill a glass of this Irish cordial. Twill keep off the chill from the night
air. When and where did you get so woefully battered?"
"'Twas six years back when I was with Bovill."
Raleigh whistled. "You were with Robert Bovill' What in Heaven's name did
one of Coffyn blood with Robert? If ever man had a devil, 'twas he. I mind
his sullen black face and his beard in two prongs. I have heard he is
dead--on a Panama gibbet?"
"He is dead; but not as he lived. I was present when he died. He went to
God a good Christian, praying and praising. Next day I was to follow him,
but I broke prison in the night with the help of an Indian, and went down
the coast in a stolen patache to a place where thick forests lined the sea.
I lay hid till my wounds healed, and by and by I was picked up by a Bristol
ship that had put in to water."
"But your wounds--how got you them?"
"At the hands of the priests. They would have made a martyr of me, and used
their engines to bend my mind. Being obstinate by nature I mocked them till
they wearied of the play. But they left their marks on this arm and leg.
The scar I had got some months before in a clean battle."
"Tell me all. What did Robert Bovill seek? And where?"
"We sought the Mountain of God," said the seaman reverently.
"I never heard o't. My own Manoa, maybe, where gold is quarried like stone."
"Nay, not Manoa. The road to it is from the shore of the Mexican gulf.
There was much gold."
"You found it?"
"I found it and handled it. Enough, could we have brought it off, to
freight a dozen ships. Likewise jewels beyond the imagining of kings."
Raleigh had raised himself on his elbow, his face sharp and eager.
I cannot doubt you, for you could not lie were it to win salvation. But,
heavens! man, what a tale! Why did I not know of this before I broke my
fortune on Tom Keymis' mine?"
"I alone know of it, the others being dead."
"Who first told you of it?"
"Captain Bovill had the rumour from a dying Frenchman who was landed in his
last hours at Falmouth. The man mentioned no names, but the tale set the
captain inquiring and he picked up the clue in Bristol. But 'twas in north
Ireland that he had the whole truth and a chart of the road."
"These charts!" sighed Raleigh. "I think the fairies have the making of
them, for they bewitch sober men. A scrap of discoloured paper and a rag of
canvas; some quaint lines drawn often in a man's blood, and a cross in a
corner marking 'much gold.' We mortals are eternally babes, and our heads
are turned by toys."
"This chart was no toy, and he who owned it bought it with his life. Nay,
Sir Walter, I am of your mind. Most charts are playthings from the devil.
But this was in manner of speaking sent from God. Only we did not read it
right. We were blind men that thought only of treasure."
"It is the common story," said Raleigh. "Go on, Jasper."
"We landed in the Gulf, at the point marked. It was at the mouth of a wide
river so split up by sand bars that no ship could enter. But by portage and
hard rowing we got our boats beyond the shoals and found deep water. We had
learned beforehand that there were no Spanish posts within fifty miles, for
the land was barren and empty even of Indians. So for ten days we rowed and
poled through a flat plain, sweating mightily, till we came in sight of
mountains. At that we looked for more comfort, for the road on our chart
now led away from the river up a side valley. There we hoped for fruits,
since it was their season, and for deer; and 'twas time, for our blood was
thick with rotten victuals."
The man shivered, as if the recollection had still terrors for him.
"If ever the Almighty permitted hell on earth 'twas that valley. There was
no stream in it and no verdure. Oathsome fleshy shrubs, the colour of
mouldy copper, dotted the slopes, and a wilderness of rocks through which
we could scarce find a road. There was no living thing in it but carrion
birds. And serpents. They dwelt in every cranny of stone, and the noise of
them was like bees humming. We lost two stout fellows from their poison.
The sky was brass above us and our tongues were dry sticks, and by the foul
vapours of the place our scanty food was corrupted. Never have men been
nearer death. I think we would have retreated but for our captain; who had
a honest heart. He would point out to us the track in the chart running
through that accursed valley, and at the end the place lettered 'Mountain
of God.' I mind how his hand shook as he pointed, for he was as sick as
any. He was very gentle too, though for usual a choleric man."
"Choleric, verily," said Raleigh. "It must have been no common sufferings
that tamed Robert Bovill. How long were you in the valley?"
The better part of three days. 'Twas like sword-cut in a great mountain
plain, and on the third day we came to a wall of rock which was the head of
it. This we scaled, how I do not know, by cracks and fissures, the stronger
dragging up the weaker by means of the tow-rope which by the mercy of God
we carried with us. There we lost Francis Derrick, who fell a great way and
crushed his skull on a boulder. You knew the man?"
"He sailed with me in '95. So that was the end of Francis?"
"We were now eleven, and two of them dying. Above the rocks on the plain we
looked for ease, but found none. 'Twas like the bottom of a dry sea, all
sand and great clefts, and in every hollow monstrous crabs that scattered
the sand like spindrift as they fled from us. Some of the beasts we slew,
and the blood of them was green as ooze, and their stench like a charnel
house. Likewise there were everywhere fat vultures that dropped so close
they fanned us with their wings. And in some parts there were cracks in the
ground through which rose the fumes of sulphur that set a man's head
Raleigh shivered. "Madre de Dios, you portray the very floor of hell."
"Beyond doubt the floor of hell. There was but one thing that could get us
across that devil's land, for our bones were molten with fear. At the end
rose further hills, and we could see with our eyes they were green. . . .
Captain Bovill was like one transfigured. 'See,' he cried, 'the Mountain of
Paradise is before you, and the way to Paradise, as is
well known, lies through the devil's country. A little
longer, brave hearts, and we shall be in port.' And
so fierce was the spirit of that man that it lifted our
weary shanks and fevered bodies through another two
days of torment. I have no clear memory of those
hours. Assuredly we were all mad and spoke with
strange voices. My eyes were so gummed together
that I had often to tear the lids apart to see. But hourly that green hill
came nearer, and towards dusk of the second day it hung above us. Also we
found sweet water, and a multitude of creeping vines bearing a wholesome
berry. Then as we lay down to sleep, the priest came to us."
Raleigh exclaimed. "What did a priest in those outlands? A Spaniard?"
"Ay. But not such as you and I have ever known elsewhere. Papegot or no, he
was a priest of the Most High. He was white and dry as a bone, and his eyes
burned glassily. Captain Bovill, who liked not the dark brothers, would
have made him prisoner, for he thought him a forerunner of a Spanish force,
but he held up a ghostly hand and all of us were struck with a palsy of
silence. For the man was on the very edge of death.
"'Moriturus te saluto,' he says, and then he fell to babbling in Spanish,
which we understood the better. Food, such as we had, he would not touch,
nor the sweet well-water. 'I will drink no cup,' he said, 'till I drink the
new wine with Christ in His Father's Kingdom. For I have seen what mortal
eyes have not seen, and I have spoken with God's ministers, and am anointed
into a new priesthood.'
"I mind how he sat on the grass, his voice drifting faint and small like a
babe's crying. He told us nothing of what he was or whence he came, for his
soul was possessed of a revelation. 'These be the hills of God,' he cried.
'In a little you will come to a city of the old kings where gold is as
plentiful as sand of the sea. There they sit frozen in metal waiting the
judgment. Yet they are already judged, and, I take it, justified, for the
dead men sit as warders of a greater treasurehouse.
"I think that we eleven--and two of us near death--were already half out of
the body, for weariness and longing shift the mind from its moorings. I can
hear yet Captain Bovill asking very gently of this greater treasure-house,
and I can hear the priest, like one in a trance, speaking high and strange.
'It is the Mountain of God, he said, 'which lies a little way further.
There may be seen the heavenly angels ascending and descending.'"
Raleigh shook his head. "Madness, Jasper--the madness begot of too much
toil . . . I know it . . . And yet I do not know. 'Tis not for me to set
limits to the marvels that are hid in that western land. What next, man?"
"In the small hours of the morning the priest died. Likewise our two sick.
We dug graves for them, and the Captain bade me say prayers over them. The
nine of us left were shaking with a great awe. We felt lifted up in bodily
strength, as if for a holy labour. Captain Bovill's stout countenance wore
an air of humility. 'We be dedicate,' he said, 'to some high fortune. Let
us go humbly and praise God.' The first steps we took that morning we
walked like men going into church. Up a green valley we journeyed, where
every fruit grew and choirs of birds sang--up a crystal river to a cup in
the hills. And I think there was no one of us but had his mind more on the
angels whom the priest had told of than on the golden kings."
Raleigh had raised himself from the couch, and sat with both elbows on the
table, staring hard at the speaker. "You found them? The gold kings?"
"We found them. Before noon we came into a city of tombs. Grass grew in the
streets and courts, and the bronze doors hung broken on their hinges. But
no wild things had laired there. The place was clean and swept and silent.
In each dwelling the roof was of beaten gold, and the square pillars were
covered with gold plates, and where the dead sat was a wilderness of
jewels. . . . I tell you, all the riches that Spain has drawn from all her
Indies since the first conquistador set foot in them would not vie with the
preciousness of a single one among those dead kings' houses."
"And the kings ?" Raleigh interjected.
"They sat stiff in gold on their thrones, their bodies fashioned in the
likeness of men. But they had no faces only golden plates set with gems'"
"What fortune! What fortune! And what did you then?
"We went mad." The seaman's voice was slow and melancholy. "We, who an hour
before had been filled with high contemplations, went mad like common
bravos at the sight of plunder. No man thought of the greater treasure
which these gold things warded. We laughed and cried like children, and
tore at the plated dead. . . . I mind how I wrenched off one jewelled face
with the haft of my dagger, and a thin trickle of bones fell inside. . . .
And yet, as we ravened and plundered we would fall into fits of shivering,
for the thing was not of this world. Often a man would stop and fall to
weeping. But the lust of gold consumed us, and presently we only sorrowed
because we had no sumpter mules to aid its transit, and had a terror of the
infernal plain and valley we had travelled. ...
"Captain Bovill made camp in a mead outside the city, and one of us shot a
deer, so that we supped full. He unfolded his purpose, which was that we
should pack about our persons such jewels as were the smallest and most
precious, and some gold likewise as an earnest, and by striking northward
through the mountains seek to reach at a higher point in its course the
river by which we had entered from the sea. I mistrusted the plan, for the
chart had shown but the one way, but the terror of the road we had come was
strong on me and I made no protest. So we packed our treasure, so that each
man staggered under it, and before noon left the place of the kings."
"And then? Was the road desperate?" Raleigh's pale eyes had the ardour of a
"Desperate beyond all telling. An escalade of sheer mountains and a
battling through vales choked with unbelievable thorns. Yet there was water
and food, and the hardships were not beyond mortal endurance. 'Twas not a
haunted hell like the way up. Wherefore I knew it would lead us to
disaster, for 'twas not ordained as the path in the chart had been."
Raleigh laughed. "Faith, you show your mother's race. All Coffyns have in
their souls the sour milk of Jean Calvin."
"Judge if I speak not the truth. Bit by bit we had to cast our burdens till
only the jewels remained. And on the seventh day, when we were in sight of
the river, we met a Spanish party, a convoy from their northern mines. We
marched loosely and blindly, and they came on us unawares. We had all but
reached the river's brink, so had the stream for a defence on one side, but
before we knew they had taken us on flank and rear."
"A matter of three score, fresh and well armed, against nine weary men
mortally short of powder. That marked the end of our madness and we became
again sober Christians. Most notable was Captain Bovill. 'We have seen what
we have seen,' he told us, as we cast up our defences under Spanish
bullets, 'and none shall wrest the secret from us. If God wills that we
perish, 'twill perish too. The odds are something heavier than I like, and
if the worst befall I trust every man to fling into the river what jewels
he carries sooner than let them become spoil of war. For if they see such
preciousness they will be fired to inquiry and may haply stumble on our
city. Such of us as live will some day return there. . . .'
I have said we had little powder, but for half a day we withstood the
assault, and time and again when the enemy leapt inside our lines we beat
him back. At the end, when hope was gone, you would hear little splashes in
the waters as this man or that put his treasures into eternal hiding. A
Spanish sword was like to have cleft my skull, but before I lost my senses
I noted Captain Bovill tearing the chart in shreds and using them to hold
down the last charges for his matchlock. He was crying, too, in English
that some day we would return the road we had come."
"And you returned?"
The seaman shook his head. Not with earthly feet. Two of us they slew
outright, and two more died on the way coastwards. For long I was between
death and life, and knew little till I woke in the Almirante's cell at
Panama. . . . The rest you have heard. Captain Bovill died praising God,
and with him three stout lads out of Somerset. I escaped and tell you the
Raleigh meditation. With a sudden motion he rose to his feet and stared
through the port, which was now tremulous with the foreglow of the tropic
dawn. He put his head out and sniffed the sweet cold air. Then he turned to
"You know the road back to the city?"
The other nodded. "I alone of men."
"What hinders, Jasper?" Raleigh's face was sharp and eager, and his eyes
had the hunger of an old hound on a trail. "They are all deserting me and
look but to save their throats. Most are scum and have no stomach for great
enterprises. I can send Herbert home with three shiploads of faint hearts,
while you and I take the Destiny and steer for fortune. Ned King will
come--ay, and Pommerol. What hinders, old friend?"
The seaman shook his head. "Not for me, Sir Walter."
"Why, man, will you let that great marvel lie hid till the hills crumble
and bury it?"
"I will return--but not yet. When I have seen my son a man, I go back, but
I go alone."
"To the city of the gold kings?"
"Nay, to the Mount of the Angels, of which the priest told."
There was silence for a minute. The light dawn wind sent a surge of little
waves against the ship's side, so that it seemed as if the now flaming sky
was making its song of morning. Raleigh blew out the flickering lamp, and
the cabin was filled with a clear green dusk like palest emerald. The air
from the sea flapped the pages of the book upon the table. He flung off his
furred gown, and stretched his long arms to the ceiling.
"I think the fever has left me. . . . You said your tale was a commentary
on my confessions. Wherefore, O Ulysses?"
"We had the chance of immortal joys, but we forsook them for lesser things.
For that we were thoroughly punished and failed even in our baseness. You,
too, Sir Walter, have glanced aside after gauds."
"For certain I have," and Raleigh laughed.
"Yet not for long. You have cherished most resolutely an elect purpose and
in that you cannot fail."
"I know not. I know not. I have had great dreams and I have striven to walk
in the light of them. But most men call them will o' the wisps, Jasper.
What have they brought me? I am an old sick man, penniless and disgraced.
His slobbering Majesty will give me a harsh welcome. For me the Mount of
the Angels is like to be a scaflold."
"Even so. A man does not return from those heights. When I find my
celestial hill I will lay my bones there. But what matters the fate of
these twisted limbs or even of your comely head: All's one in the end, Sir
Walter. We shall not die. You have lit a fire among Englishmen which will
kindle a hundred thousand hearths in a cleaner world."
Raleigh smiled, sadly yet with a kind of wistful pride.
"God send it! And you?"
"I have a son of my body. That which I have sowed he may reap. He or his
son, or his son's son."
The morning had grown bright in the little room. Of the two the Admiral now
looked the younger. The fresh light showed the other like a wrinkled piece
of driftwood. He rose stiffly and moved towards the door.
"You have proved my David in good truth," said Raleigh. "This night has
gone far to heal me in soul and body. Faith, I have a mind to breakfast. .
. . What a miracle is our ancient England! French sire or no, Jasper, you
have that slow English patience that is like the patience of God."
CHAPTER 9. THE REGICIDE
There was a sharp grue of ice in the air, as Mr. Nicholas Lovel climbed the
rickety wooden stairs to his lodgings in Chancery Lane hard by Lincoln's
Inn. That morning he had ridden in from his manor in the Chilterns, and
still wore his heavy horseman's cloak and the long boots splashed with the
mud of the Colne fords. He had been busy all day with legal
matters--conveyances on which his opinion was sought, for, though it was
the Christmas vacation, his fame among the City merchants kept him busy in
term and out of it. Rarely, he thought, had he known London in so strange a
temper. Men scarcely dared to speak above their breath of public things,
and eyed him fearfully--even the attorneys who licked his boots--as if a
careless word spoken in his presence might be their ruin. For it was known
that this careful lawyer stood very near Cromwell, had indeed been his
comrade at bed and board from Marston to Dunbar, and, though no Commons
man, had more weight than any ten in Parliament. Mr. Lovel could not but be
conscious of the tension among his acquaintances, and had he missed to note
it there he would have found it in the streets. Pride's troopers were
everywhere, riding in grim posses or off duty and sombrely puffing tobacco,
vast, silent men, lean from the wars. The citizens on the causeway hurried
on their errand, eager to find sanctuary from the biting air and the menace
of unknown perils. Never had London seen such a Christmastide. Every man
was moody and careworn, and the bell of Paul's as it tolled the hours
seemed a sullen prophet of woe.
His servant met him on the stair.
"He is here," he said. "I waited for him in the Bell Yard and brought him
Lovel nodded, and stripped off his cloak, giving it to the man. "Watch the
door like a dragon, Matthew," he told him. "For an hour we must be alone.
Forbid anyone, though it were Sir Harry himself."
The little chamber was bright with the glow of a coal fire. The red
curtains had been drawn and one lamp lit. The single occupant sprawled in a
winged leather chair, his stretched-out legs in the firelight, but his head
and shoulders in shadow. A man entering could not see the face, and Lovel,
whose eyes had been weakened by study, peered a second before he closed the
door behind him.
"I have come to you, Nick, as always when my mind is in tribulation."
The speaker had a harsh voice, like a bellman's which has been ruined by
shouting against crowds. He had got to his feet and seemed an elderly man,
heavy in body, with legs too short for the proportions of his trunk. He
wore a soldier's coat and belt, but no sword. His age might have been
fifty, but his face was so reddened by weather that it was hard to judge.
The thick straight black locks had little silver in them, but the hair that
sprouted from a mole on the chin was grey. His cheeks were full and the
heavy mouth was pursed like that of a man in constant painful meditation.
He looked at first sight a grazier from the shires or some new-made squire
of a moderate estate. But the eyes forbade that conclusion. There was
something that brooded and commanded in those eyes, something that might
lock the jaw like iron and make their possessor a hammer to break or bend
Mr. Lovel stirred the fire very deliberately and sat himself in the second
of the two winged chairs.
"The King?" he queried. "You were in two minds when we last spoke on the
matter. I hoped I had persuaded you. Has some new perplexity arisen?"
The other shook his big head, so that for a moment he had the look of a
great bull that paws the ground before charging.
"I have no clearness," he said, and the words had such passion behind them
that they were almost a groan.
Lovel lay back in his chair with his finger tips joined, like a
jurisconsult in the presence of a client. "Clearness in such matters is not
for us mortals," he said. "You are walking dark corridors which the lamp of
the law does not light. You are not summoned to do justice, being no judge,
but to consider the well-being of the State. Policy, Oliver. Policy, first
The other nodded. "But policy is two-faced, and I know not which to choose."
"Is it still the business of the trial?" Lovel asked sharply. "We argued
that a fortnight since, and I thought I had convinced you. The case has not
changed. Let me recapitulate. Imprimis, the law of England knows no court
which can bring the King of England before it."
"Tchut, man. Do not repeat that. Vane has been clacking it in my ear. I
tell you, as I told young Sidney, that we are beyond courts and lawyer's
quibbles, and that if England requires it I will cut off the King's head
with the crown on it."
Lovel smiled. "That is my argument. You speak of a trial, but in justice
there can be no trial where there is neither constituted court nor valid
law. If you judge the King, 'tis on grounds of policy. Can you defend that
policy, Oliver? You yourself have no clearness. Who has; Not Vane. Not
Fairfax. Not Whitelocke, or Widdrington, or Lenthall. Certes, not your old
comrade Nick Lovel."
"The Army desires it--notably those in it who are most earnest in God's
"Since when have you found a politic judgment in raw soldiers? Consider, my
friend. If you set the King on his trial it can have but the one end. You
have no written law by which to judge him, so your canon will be your view
of the public weal, against which he has most grievously offended. It is
conceded Your verdict must be guilty and your sentence death. Once put him
on trial and you unloose a great stone in a hill-side which will gather
speed with every yard it journeys. You will put your King to death, and in
Cromwell raised his head which he had sunk between his hands. "In the name
of the Commons of Parliament and all the good people of England."
Folly, man. Your Commons are a disconsidered rump of which already you have
made a laughingstock. As for your good people of England, you know well
that ten out of any dozen are against you. The deed will be done in your
own name and that of the hoteads of the Army. 'Twill be an act of war.
Think you that by making an end of the King you will end the Kings party?
Nay, you will give it a martyr. You will create for every woman in England
a new saint. You will outrage all sober folk that love order and at the
very moment when you seek to lay down the sword you make it the sole
arbitrament. Whatsay you to that?"
"There is no need to speak of his death. What if the Court depose him only?"
"You deceive yourself. Once put him on trial and you must go through with
it to the end. A deposed king will be like a keg of gunpowder set by your
hearth. You cannot hide him so that he ceases to be a peril. You cannot
bind him to terms."
"That is naked truth," said Cromwell grimly. "The man is filled with a
devil of pride. When Denbigh and the other lords went to him he shut the
door in their face. I will have no more of ruining hypocritical agreements.
If God's poor people are to be secure we must draw his fangs and destroy his
power for ill. But how to do it?" And he made a gesture of despair.
"A way must be found. And let it not be that easy way which will most
utterly defeat your honest purpose. The knots of the State are to be
unravelled, not cut with the sword."
Cromwell smiled sadly, and his long face had for
the moment a curious look of a puzzled child.
"I believe you to be a godly man, friend Nicholas. But I fear your soul is
much overlaid with worldlythings, and you lean too much on frail
understanding. I, too, am without clearness. I assent to your wisdom, but I
cannot think it concludes the matter. In truth, we have come in this dark
hour to the end of fleshly reasonings. It cannot be that the great marvels
which the Lord has shown us can end in barrenness. His glorious
dispensations must have an honest fruition, for His arm is not shortened."
He rose to his feet and tightened the belt which he had unbuckled. "I await
a sign," he said. "Pray for me, friend, for I am a man in sore perplexity.
I lie o' nights at Whitehall in one of the King's rich beds, but my eyes do
not close. From you I have got the ripeness of human wisdom, but my heart
is not satisfied. I am a seeker, with my ear intent to hear God's command,
and I doubt not that by some providence He will yet show me His blessed
Lovel stood as if in a muse while the heavy feet tramped down the
staircase. He heard a whispering below and then the soft closing of a door.
For maybe five minutes he was motionless: then he spoke to himself after
the habit he had. "The danger is not over," he said, "but I think policy
will prevail. If only Vane will cease his juridical chatter. . . . Oliver
is still at the cross-roads, but he inclines to the right one. . . . I
must see to it that Hugh Peters and his crew manufacture no false
providences. Thank God, if our great man is one-third dreamer, he is
two-thirds doer, and can weigh his counsellors."
Whereupon, feeling sharp-set with the cold and the day's labour, he
replenished the fire with a beech faggot, resumed the riding cloak he had
undone and, after giving his servant some instructions, went forth to sup
in a tavern. He went unattended, as was his custom. The city was too sunk
in depression to be unruly.
He crossed Chancery Lane and struck through the narrow courts which lay
between Fleet Street and Holborn. His goal was Gilpin's in Fetter Lane, a
quiet place much in favour with those of the long robe. The streets seemed
curiously quiet. It was freezing hard and threatening snow, so he flung a
fold of his cloak round his neck, muffling his ears. This deadened his
hearing, and his mind also was busy with its own thoughts, so that he did
not observe that soft steps dogged him. At the corner of an alley he was
tripped up, and a heavy garment flung over his head. He struggled to regain
his feet, but an old lameness, got at Naseby, impeded him. The cobbles,
too, were like glass, and he fell again, this time backward. His head
struck the ground, and though he did not lose consciousness, his senses
were dazed. He felt his legs and arms being deftly tied, and yards of some
soft stuff enveloping his head. He ceased to struggle as soon as he felt
the odds against him, and waited on fortune. Voices came to his ears, and
it seemed that one of them was a woman's.
The crack on the causeway must have been harder than it appeared, for Mr.
Lovel fell into a doze. When he woke he had some trouble in collecting his
wits. He felt no bodily discomfort except a little soreness at the back of
his scalp. His captors had trussed him tenderly, for his bonds did not
hurt, though a few experiments convinced him that they were sufficiently
secure. His chief grievance was a sharp recollection that he had not
supped; but, being a philosopher, he reflected that, though hungry, he was
warm. He was in a glass coach driven rapidly on a rough road, and outside
the weather seemed to be wild, for the snow was crusted on the window.
There were riders in attendance; he could hear the click-clack of ridden
horses. Sometimes a lantern flashed on the pane, and a face peered dimly
through the frost. It seemed a face that he had seen before.
Presently Mr. Lovel began to consider his position. Clearly he had been
kidnapped, but by whom and to what intent? He reflected with pain that it
might be his son's doing, for that gentleman had long been forbidden his
door. A rakehell of the Temple and married to a cast-off mistress of
Goring's, his son was certainly capable of any evil, but he reminded
himself that Jasper was not a fool and would scarcely see his profit in
such an escapade. Besides, he had not the funds to compass an enterprise
which must have cost money. He thought of the King's party, and dismissed
the thought. His opponents had a certain regard for him, and he had the
name of moderate. No, if politics touched the business, it was Ireton's
doing. Ireton feared his influence with Cromwell. But that sober man of God
was no bravo. He confessed himself at a loss.
Mr. Lovel had reached this point in his meditations when the coach suddenly
stopped. The door opened, and as he peered into the semicircle of wavering
lamp light he observed a tall young lady in a riding coat white with
snowflakes. She had dismounted from her horse, and the beast's smoking
nostrils were thawing the ice on her sleeve. She wore a mask, but she did
not deceive her father.
"Cecily," he cried, astounded out of his calm. "What madcap trick is this?"
The girl for answer flung her bridle to a servant and climbed into the
coach beside him. Once more the wheels moved.
"Oh, father, dearest father, pray forgive me. I have been so anxious. When
you fell I begged Tony to give up the plan, but he assured me you had taken
no hurt. Tell me you are none the worse."
Mr. Lovel began to laugh, and there was relief in his laugh, for he had
been more disquieted than he would have confessed.
"I am very greatly the worse.!" He nodded to his bonds. "I do not like your
"Promise me not to try to escape, and I will cut them." The girl was very
grave as she drew from a reticule beneath her cloak a pair of housewife's
Mr. Lovel laughed louder. "I promise to bide where I am in this foul weather."
Neatly and swiftly she cut the cords and he stretched arms and legs in
"Also I have not supped."
"My poor father. But in two hours' time you will have supper. We sleep
at--but that I must not say."
"Where does this journey end? Am I to have no news at all, my dear?"
"You promised, remember, so I will tell you. Tony and I are taking you to
Mr. Lovel whistled. "A long road and an ill. The wind blows bitter on
Cotswold in December. I would be happier in my own house."
"But not safe." The girl's voice was very earnest. "Believe me, dearest
father, we have thought only of you. Tony says that London streets will
soon be running blood. He has it from secret and sure sources. There is a
King's faction in the Army and already it is in league with the Scots and
our own party to compass the fall of Cromwell. He says it will be rough
work and the innocent will die with the guilty. . . . When he told me
that, I feared for your life--and Tony, too, for he loves you. So we carry
you to Chastlecote till January is past, for by then Tony says there will
be peace in England."
"I thank you, Cis,--and Tony also, who loves me. But if your news be right,
I have a duty to do. I am of Cromwell's party, as you and Tony are of the
King's. You would not have me run from danger."
She primmed her pretty mouth. "You do not run, you are carried off.
Remember your promise."
"But a promise given under duress is not valid in law."
"You are a gentleman, sir, before you are a lawyer. Besides, there are six
of Tony's men with us--and all armed.
Mr. Lovel subsided with a chuckle. This daughter of his should have been a
man. Would that Heaven had seen fit to grant him such a son!
Two hours to supper," was what he said. "By the slow pace of our cattle I
judge we are on Denham hill. Permit me to doze, my dear. 'Tis the best
antidote to hunger. Whew, but it is cold! If you catch a quinsy, blame that
foolish Tony of yours."
But, though he closed his eyes, he did not sleep. All his life he had been
something of a fatalist, and this temper had endeared him to Cromwell, who
held that no man travelled so far as he who did not know the road he was
going. But while in Oliver's case the belief came from an ever-present
sense of a directing God, in him it was more of a pagan philosophy. Mr.
Lovel was devout after his fashion, but he had a critical mind and stood a
little apart from enthusiasm. He saw man's life as a thing foreordained,
yet to be conducted under a pretence of freedom, and while a defender of
liberty his admiration inclined more naturally to the rigour of law. He
would oppose all mundane tyrannies, but bow to the celestial bondage.
Now it seemed that fate had taken charge of him through the medium of two
green lovers. He was to be spared the toil of decision and dwell in an
enforced seclusion. He was not averse to it. He was not Cromwell with
Cromwell's heavy burden; he was not even a Parliment man; only a private
citizen who wished greatly for peace. He had laboured for peace both in
field and council, and that very evening he had striven to guide the ruler
of England. Assuredly he had done a citizen's duty and might now rest.
His thoughts turned to his family--the brave girl and the worthless boy. He
believed he had expunged Jasper from his mind, but the recollection had
still power to pain him. That was the stuff of which the King's faction was
made, half-witted rakes who were arrogant without pride and volcanic
without courage. . . . Not all, perhaps. The good Tony was a welcome enough
son-in-law, though Cecily would always be the better man. The young
Oxfordshire squire was true to his own royalties, and a mortal could be no
more. He liked the flaxen poll of him, which contrasted well with Cecily's
dark beauty--and his jolly laugh and the noble carriage of his head. Yet
what wisdom did that head contain which could benefit the realm of England?
This story of a new plot! Mr. Lovel did not reject it. It was of a piece
with a dozen crazy devices of the King. The man was no Englishman, but an
Italian priest who loved dark ways. A little good sense, a little honesty,
and long ago there would have been a settlement. But to treat with Charles
was to lay foundations on rotten peat.
Oddly enough, now that he was perforce quit of any share in the business,
he found his wrath rising against the King. A few hours back he had spoken
for him. Had he after all been wrong? He wondered. Oliver's puzzled face
rose before him. He had learned to revere that strange man's perplexities.
No brain was keener to grasp an argument, for the general was as quick at a
legal point as any lawyer. When, therefore, he still hesitated before what
seemed a final case, it was well to search for hidden flaws. Above all when
he gave no reason it was wise to hasten to him, for often his mind flew
ahead of logic, and at such times he was inspired. Lovel himself and Vane
and Fairfax had put the politic plea which seemed unanswerable, and yet
Oliver halted and asked for a sign. Was it possible that the other course,
the wild course, Ireton s course, was the right one?
Mr. Lovel had bowed to fate and his captors, and conscious that no action
could follow on any conclusion he might reach, felt free to indulge his
thoughts. He discovered these growing sterner. He revieived is argument
against the King's trial. Its gravamen lay in the certainty that trial
meant death. The plea against death was that it would antagonise
three-fourths of England, and make a martyr out of a fool. Would it do no
more? Were there no gains to set against that loss? To his surprise he
found himself confessing a gain.
He had suddenly become impatient with folly. It was Cromwell's mood, as one
who, living under the eye of God, scorned the vapourings of pedestalled
mortals. Mr. Lovel by a different road reached the same goal. An abiding
sense of fate ordering the universe made him intolerant of trivial claims
of prerogative and blood. Kingship for him had no sanctity save in so far
as it was truly kingly. Were honest folk to be harried because of the whims
of a man whose remote ancestor had been a fortunate bandit? Carles had time
and again broke faith with his people and soaked the land in blood. In law
he could do no wrong, but, unless God slept, punishment should follow the
crime, and if the law gave no aid the law must be dispensed with. Man was
not made for it, but it for man.
The jurist in him pulled up with a start. He was arguing against all his
training. . . . But was the plea false? He had urged on Cromwell that the
matter was one of policy. Agreed. But which was the politic road? If the
King lost his head, there would beyond doubt be a sullen struggle ahead.
Sooner or later the regicides would fall--of that he had no doubt. But what
of the ultimate fate of England? They would have struck a blow against
privilege which would never be forgotten. In future all kings would walk
warily. In time the plain man might come to his own. In the long run was
not this politic?
"'Tis a good thing my mouth is shut for some weeks," he told himself. "I am
coming round to Ireton. I am no fit company for Oliver."
He mused a little on his inconstancy. It had not been a frequent occurrence
in his life. But now he seemed to have got a sudden illumination, such as
visited Cromwell in his prayers. He realised how it had come about.
Hitherto he had ridden his thoughts unconsciously on the curb of caution,
for a conclusion reached meant deeds to follow. But, with the possibility
of deeds removed, his mind had been freed. What had been cloudy before now
showed very bright, and the little lamp of reason he had once used was put
out by an intolerable sunlight. He felt himself quickened to an unwonted
poetry. . . . His whole outlook had changed, but the change brought no
impulse to action. He submitted to be idle, since it was so fated. He was
rather glad of it, for he felt weary and giddy in mind.
But the new thoughts once awakened ranged on their courses. To destroy the
false kingship would open the way for the true. He was no leveller; he
believed in kings who were kings in deed. The world could not do without
its leaders. Oliver was such a one, and others would rise up. Why reverence
a brocaded puppet larded by a priest with oil, when there were men who
needed no robes or sacring to make them kingly? Teach the Lord's Anointed
his mortality, and there would be hope in the years to come of a true
He turned to his daughter.
"I believe your night's work, Cis, has been a fortunate thing for our family."
She smiled and patted his hand, and at the moment with a great jolting the
coach pulled up. Presently lanterns showed at the window, the door was
opened, and Sir Anthony Colledge stood revealed in the driving snow. In the
Chilterns it must have been falling for hours, for the road was a foot
deep, and the wind had made great drifts among the beech boles. The lover
looked somewhat sheepish as he swept a bow to his prisoner.
"You are a noted horse-doctor, sir," he said. "The off leader has gotten a
colic. Will you treat him? Then I purpose to leave him with a servant in
some near-by farm, and put a ridden horse in his place."
Mr. Lovel leaped from the coach as nimbly as his old wound permitted. It
was true that the doctoring of horses was his hobby. He loved them and had
a way with them.
The medicine box was got out of the locker and the party grouped round the
grey Flemish horses, which stood smoking in the yellow slush. The one with
the colic had its legs stretched wide; its flanks heaved and spasms shook
its hindquarters. Mr. Lovel set to work and mixed which a dose of spiced
oil and spirits which he coaxed down its throat. Then he very gently
massaged certain corded sinews in its belly. "Get him under cover now,
Tony," he said ``and tell your man to bed him warm and give him a bucket of
hot water strained from oatmeal and laced with this phial. In an hour he
will be easy."
The beast was led off, another put in its place, and the postilions were
cracking their whips, when out of the darkness a knot of mounted men rode
into the lamplight. There were at least a dozen of them, and at their head
rode a man who at the sight of Lovel pulled up sharp.
"Mr. Lovel!" he cried. "What brings you into these wilds in such weather?
Can I be of service? My house is not a mile off."
"I thank you, Colonel Flowerdue, but I think the mischief is now righted. I
go on a journey into Oxfordshire with my daughter, and the snow has delayed
He presented the young Parliament soldier, a cousin of Fairfax, to Cecily
and Tony, the latter of whom eyed with disfavour the posse of grave
"You will never get to Wendover this night," said Flowerdue. "The road
higher up is smothered four feet deep. See, I will show you a woodland road
which the wind has kept clear, and I protest that your company sleep the
night with me at Downing."
He would take no denial, and indeed in the face of his news to proceed
would have been folly. Even Sir Anthony Colledge confessed it wryly. One of
Flowerdue's men mounted to the postilion's place, and the coach was guided
through a belt of beeches, and over a strip of heath to the gates of a park.
Cecily seized her father's hand. "You have promised, remember."
"I have promised," he replied. "To-morrow, if the weather clears, I will go
with you to Chastlecote."
He spoke no more till they were at the house door, for the sense of fate
hung over him like a cloud. His cool equable soul was stirred to its
depths. There was surely a grim fore-ordering in this chain of incidents.
But for the horse's colic there would have been no halt. But for his skill
in horse doctoring the sick beast would have been cut loose, and Colonel
Flowerdue's party would have met only a coach laboring through the snow and
would not have halted to discover its occupants. . . . " He was a prisoner
bound by a promise, but this meeting with Flowerdue had opened up a channel
to communicate with London and that was not forbidden. It flashed on him
suddenly that the change of mind which he had suffered was no longer a
private matter. He had now the power to act upon it.
He was extraordinarily averse to the prospect. Was it mere petulance that
had swung round his opinions so violently during the journey? He examined
himself and found his new convictions unshaken. It was what the
hot-gospellers would call a "Holy Ghost conversion." Well, let it rest
there. Why spread the news beyond his own home? There were doctors enough
inspecting the health of the State. Let his part be to stand aside.
With something like fear he recognised that that part was no longer
possible. He had been too directly guided by destiny to refuse the last
stage. Cromwell was waiting on a providence, and of that providence it was
clear that fate had made him the channel. In the coach he had surrendered
himself willingly to an unseen direction, and now he dared not refuse the
same docility. He, who for usual was ripe, balanced, mellow in judgment,
felt at the moment the gloomy impulsion of the fanatic. He was only a pipe
for the Almighty to sound through.
In the hall at Downing the logs were stirred to a blaze, and food and drink
brought in a hospitable stir.
"I have a letter to write before I sleep," Mr. Lovel told his daughter. "I
will pray from Colonel Flowerdue the use of his cabinet."
Cecily looked at him inquiringly, and he laughed.
"The posts at Chastlecote are infrequent, Cis, and I may well take the
chance when it offers. I assure you I look forward happily to a month of
idleness stalking Tony's mallards and following Tony's hounds."
In the cabinet he wrote half a dozen lines setting out simply the change in
his views. "If I know Oliver," he told himself, "I have given him the sign
he seeks. I am clear it is God's will, but Heaven help the land--Heaven
help us all." Having written, he lay back in his chair and mused.
When Colonel Flowerdue entered he found a brisk and smiling gentleman,
sealing a letter.
"Can you spare a man to ride express with this missive to town? It is for
General Cromwell's private hand."
"Assuredly. He will start at once lest the storm worsens. It is business of
"High business of State, and I think the last I am likely to meddle with."
Mr. Lovel had taken from his finger a thick gold ring carved with a
much-worn cognisance. He held it up in the light of the candle.
"This thing was once a king's," he said. "As the letter touches the affairs
of his Majesty, I think it fitting to seal it with a king's signet."
CHAPTER 10. THE MARPLOT
At a little after six o'clock on the evening of Saturday, 12th October, in
the year 1678, the man known commonly as Edward Copshaw came to a halt
opposite the narrow entry of the Savoy, just west of the Queen's palace of
Somerset House. He was a personage of many names. In the register of the
Benedictine lay-brothers he had been entered as James Singleton. Sundry
Paris tradesmen had known him as Captain Edwards, and at the moment were
longing to know more of him. In a certain secret and tortuous
correspondence he figured as Octavius, and you may still read his sprawling
script in the Record Office. His true name, which was Nicholas Lovel, was
known at Weld House, at the White Horse Tavern, and the town lodgings of my
lords Powis and Bellasis, but had you asked for him by that name at these
quarters you would have been met by a denial of all knowledge. For it was a
name which for good reasons he and his patrons desired to have forgotten.
He was a man of not yet forty, furtive, ill-looking and lean to emaciation.
In complexion he was as swarthy as the King, and his feverish black eyes
were set deep under his bushy brows. A badly dressed peruke concealed his
hair. His clothes were the remnants of old finery, well cut and of good
stuff, but patched and threadbare. He wore a sword, and carried a stout
rustic staff. The weather was warm for October, and the man had been
walking fast, for, as he peered through the autumn brume into the dark
entry, he mopped his face with a dirty handkerchief.
The exercise had brought back his ailment and he shivered violently.
Punctually as autumn came round he had these fevers, the legacy of a year
once spent in the Pisan marshes. He had doped himself with Jesuits' powder
got from a woman of Madame Carwell's, so that he was half deaf and blind.
Yet in spite of the drug the fever went on burning.
But to anyone looking close it would have seemed that he had more to
trouble him than a malarial bout. The man was patently in an extreme
terror. His lantern-jaw hung as loose as if it had been broken. His lips
moved incessantly. He gripped savagely at his staff, and next moment
dropped it. He fussed with the hilt of his sword. . . . He was a coward,
and yet had come out to do murder.
It had taken real panic to bring him to the point. Throughout his tattered
life he had run many risks, but never a peril so instant as this. As he had
followed his quarry that afternoon his mind had been full of broken
memories. Bitter thoughts they were, for luck had not been kind to him. A
childhood in cheap lodgings in London and a dozen French towns, wherever
there was a gaming-table and pigeons for his father to pluck. Then drunken
father and draggletailed mother had faded from the scene, and the boy had
been left to a life of odd jobs and fleeting patrons. His name was against
him, for long before he reached manhood the King had come back to his own,
and his grandfather's bones had jangled on a Tyburn gibbet. There was no
hope for one of his family, though Heaven knew his father had been a stout
enough Royalist. At eighteen the boy had joined the Roman Church, and at
twenty relapsed to the fold of Canterbury. But his bread-and-butter lay
with Rome, and in his trade few questions were asked about creed
provided the work were done. He had had streaks of fortune, for there had
been times when he lay soft and ate delicately and scattered money. But
nothing lasted. He had no sooner made purchase with a great man and climbed
a little than the scaffolding fell from his feet. He thought meanly of
human nature for in his profess he must cringe or snarl, always
the undermost dog. Yet he had some liking for the priests, who had been
kind to him, and there was always a glow in his heart for the pale wife who
dwelt with his child in the attic in Billingsgate. Under happier
circumstances Mr. Nicholas Lovel might have shone with the domestic
Business had been good of late, if that could ever be called good which was
undertaken under perpetual fear. He had been given orders which took him
into Whig circles, and had made progress among the group of the King's Head
Tavern. He had even won an entrance into my Lord Shaftesbury's great house
in Aldersgate Street. He was there under false colours, being a spy of the
other camp, but something in him found itself at home among the patriots. A
resolve had been growing to cut loose from his old employers and settle
down among the Whigs in comparative honesty. It was the winning cause, he
thought, and he longed to get his head out of the kennels. . . . But that
had happened yesterday which scattered his fine dreams and brought him face
to face with terror. God's curse on that ferrety Justice, Sir Edmund Berry
He had for some time had his eye on the man. The year before he had run
across him in Montpelier, being then engaged in a very crooked business,
and had fancied that the magistrate had also his eye on him. Taught by long
experience to watch potential enemies, he had taken some trouble over the
lean high-beaked dignitary. Presently he had found out curious things. The
austere Protestant was a friend of the Duke's man, Ned Coleman, and used to
meet him at Colonel Weldon's house. This hinted at blackmailable stuff in
the magistrate, so Lovel took to haunting his premises in Hartshorn Lane by
Charing Cross, but found no evidence which pointed to anything but a
prosperous trade in wood and sea-coal. Faggots, but not the treasonable
kind! Try as he might, he could-get no farther with that pillar of the
magistracy, my Lord Danly's friend, the beloved of Aldermen. He hated his
solemn face, his prim mouth, his condescending stoop. Such a man was
encased in proof armour of public esteem, and he heeded Mr. Lovel no more
than the rats in the gutter.
But the day before had come a rude awakening. All this talk of a Popish
plot, discovered by the Salamanca Doctor, promised a good harvest to Mr.
Lovel. He himself had much to tell and more to invent. Could he but manage
it discreetly, he might assure his fortune with the Whigs and get to his
feet at last. God knew it was time, for the household in the Billingsgate
attic was pretty threadbare. His busy brain had worked happily on the plan.
He would be the innocent, cursed from childhood with undesired companions,
who would suddenly awaken in horror to the guilt of things he had not
understood. There would be a welcome for a well-informed penitent. . . .
But he must move slowly and at his own time. . . . And now he was being
himself hustled into the dock, perhaps soon to the gallows.
For the afternoon before he had been sent for by Godfrey and most
searchingly examined. He had thought himself the spy, when all the while he
had been the spied upon. The accursed Justice knew everything. He knew a
dozen episodes each enough to hang a poor man. He knew of Mr. Lovel's
dealings with the Jesuits Walsh and Phayre, and of a certain little hovel
in Battersea whose annals were not for the public ear. Above all, he knew
of the great Jesuit consult in April at the Duke of York's house. That
would have mattered little--indeed the revelation of it was part of Mr.
Lovel's plans--but he knew Mr. Lovel s precise connection with it, and had
damning evidence to boot. The spy shivered when he remembered the scene in
Hartshorn Lane. He had blundered and stuttered and confessed his alarm by
his confusion, while the Justice recited what he had fondly believed was
known only to the Almighty and some few whose mortal interest it was to be
silent. . . . He had been amazed that he had not been there and then
committed to Newgate. He had not gone home that night, but wandered the
streets and slept cold under a Mairylebone hedge. At first he had thought
of flight, but the recollection of his household detained him. He would not
go under. One pompous fool alone stood between him and safety--perhaps
fortune. Long before morning he had resolved that Godfrey should die.
He had expected a difficult task, but lo! it was unbelievably easy. About
ten o'clock that day he had found Sir Edmund in the Strand. He walked
hurriedly as if on urgent business, and Lovel had followed him up through
Covent Garden, across the Oxford road, and into the Marylebone fields.
There the magistrate's pace had slackened, and he had loitered like a
truant schoolboy among the furze and briars. His stoop had
deepened, his head was sunk on his breast, his hands twined behind him.
Now was the chance for the murderer lurking in the brambles. It would be
easy to slip behind and give him the sword-point. But Mr. Lovel tarried. It
may have been compunction, but more likely it was fear. It was also
curiosity, for the magistrate's face, as he passed Lovel's hiding-place,
was distraught and melancholy. Here was another man with bitter thoughts
--perhaps with a deadly secret. For a moment the spy felt a certain
Whatever the reason he let the morning go by. About two in the afternoon
Godfrey left the fields and struck westward by a bridle-path that led
through the Paddington Woods to the marshes north of Kensington. He walked
slowly, but with an apparent purpose. Lovel stopped for a moment at the
White House, a dirty little hedge tavern, to swallow a mouthful of ale, and
tell a convincing lie to John Rawson, the innkeeper, in case it should come
in handy some day. Then occurred a diversion. Young Mr. Forset's harriers
swept past, a dozen riders attended by a ragged foot following. They
checked by the path, and in the confusion of the halt Godfrey seemed to
vanish. It was not till close on Paddington village that Mr. Lovel picked
him up again. He was waiting for the darkness, for he knew that he could
never do what he purposed in cold daylight. He hoped that the magistrate
would make for Kensington, for that was a lonely path.
But Sir Edmund seemed to be possessed of a freakish devil. No sooner was he
in Paddington than, after buying a glass of milk from a milk-woman, he set
off citywards again by the Oxford road. Here there were many people, foot
travellers and coaches, and Mr. Lovel began to fear for his chance. But at
Tyburn Godfrey struck into the fields and presently was in the narrow lane
called St. Martin's Hedges, which led to Charing Cross. Now was the
occasion. The dusk was falling, and a light mist was creeping up from
Westminster. Lovel quickened his steps, for the magistrate was striding at
a round pace. Then came mischance. First one, then another of the
Marylebone cow-keepers blocked the lane with their driven beasts. The place
became as public as Bartholomew's Fair. Before he knew it he was at Charing
He was now in a foul temper. He cursed his weakness in the morning, when
fate had given him every opportunity. He was in despair too. His case was
hopeless unless he struck soon. If Godfrey returned to Hartshorn Lane he
himself would be in Newgate on the morrow. . . . Fortunately the strange
man did not seem to want to go home. He moved east along the Strand, Lovel
a dozen yards behind him.
Out from the dark Savoy entry ran a woman, screaming, and with her hair
flying. She seized on Godfrey and clutched his knees. There was a bloody
fray inside, in which her husband fought against odds. The watch was not to
be found. Would he, the great magistrate, intervene? The very sight of his
famous face would quell riot.
Sir Edmund looked up and down the street, pinched his chin and peered down
the precipitous Savoy causeway. Whatever the burden on his soul he did not
forget his duty.
"Show me," he said, and followed her into the gloom.
Lovel outside stood for a second hesitating. His chance had come. His foe
had gone of his own will into the place in all England where murder could
be most safely done. But now that the moment had come at last, he was all
of a tremble and his breath choked. Only the picture, always horribly clear
in his mind, of a gallows dark against a pale sky and the little fire
beneath where the entrails of traitors were burned--a nightmare which had
long ridden him--nerved him to the next step. "His life or mine," he told
himself, as he groped his way into a lane as steep, dank, and black as the
sides of a well.
For some twenty yards he stumbled in an air thick with offal and garlic. He
heard steps ahead, the boots of the doomed magistrate and the slipshod
pattens of the woman. Then. they stopped; his quarry seemed to be ascending
a stair on the right. It was a wretched tenement of wood, two hundred years
old, once a garden house attached to the Savoy palace. Lovel scrambled up
some rickety steps and found himself on the rotten planks of a long
passage, which was lit by a small window giving to the west. He heard the
sound of a man slipping at the other end, and something like an oath. Then
a door slammed violently, and the place shook. After that it was quiet.
Where was the bloody fight that Godfrey had been brought to settle?
It was very dark there; the window in the passage was only a square of
misty grey. Lovel felt eerie, a strange mood for an assassin. Magistrate
and woman seemed to have been spirited away. . . . He plucked up courage
and continued, one hand on the wall on his left. Then a sound broke the
silence--a scuffle, and the long grate of something heavy dragged on a
rough floor. Presently his fingers felt a door. The noise was inside that
door. There were big cracks in the panelling through which an eye could
look, but all was dark within. There were human beings moving there, and
speaking softly. Very gingerly he tried the hasp, but it was fastened firm
Suddenly someone in the room struck a flint and lit a lantern. Lovel set
his eyes to a crack and stood very still. The woman had gone, and the room
held three men. One lay on the floor with a coarse kerchief, such as grooms
wear, knotted round his throat. Over him bent a man in a long coat with a
cape, a man in a dark peruke, whose face was clear in the lantern's light.
Lovel knew him for one Bedloe, a
led-captain and cardsharper, whom he had himself employed on occasion. The
third man stood apart and appeared from his gesticulations to be speaking
rapidly. He wore his own sandy hair, and every line of his mean freckled
face told of excitement and fear. Him also Lovel recognised--Carstairs, a
Scotch informer who had once made a handsome living through
spying on conventicles, but had now fallen into poverty
owing to conducting an affair of Buckingham's with a
brutality which that fastidious nobleman had not bargained for. . . .
Lovel rubbed his eyes and looked again. He knew likewise the man on the
floor. It was Sir Edmund Godfrey, and Sir Edmund Godfrey was dead.
The men were talking. "No blood-letting," said Bedloe "This must be a dry
job. Though, by God, I wish I could stick my knife into him--once for
Trelawney, once for Frewen, and a dozen times for myself. Through this
swine I have festered a twelvemonth in Little Ease."
Lovel's first thought, as he stared, was an immense relief. His business
had been done for him, and he had escaped the guilt of it. His second, that
here lay a chance of fair profit. Godfrey was a great man, and Bedloe and
Carstairs were the seediest of rogues. He might make favor for himself with
the Government if he had them caught red-handed. It would help his status
in Aldersgate Street. . . . But he must act at once or the murderers would
be gone. He tiptoed back along the passage, tumbled down the crazy steps,
and ran up the steep entry to where he saw a glimmer of light from the
At the gate he all but fell into the arms of a man--a powerful fellow, for
it was like running against a brick wall. Two strong arms gripped Lovel by
the shoulder, and a face looked into his. There was little light in the
street, but the glow from the window of a Court perruquier was sufficient
to reveal the features. Lovel saw a gigantic face, with a chin so long that
the mouth seemed to be only half-way down it. Small eyes, red and fiery,
were set deep under a beetling forehead. The skin was a dark purple, and
the wig framing it was so white and fleecy that the man had the appearance
of a malevolent black-faced sheep.
Lovel gasped, as he recognised the celebrated Salamanca Doctor. He was the
man above all others whom he most wished to see.
"Dr. Oates!" he cried. "There's bloody work in the Savoy. I was passing
through a minute agone and I saw that noble Justice, Sir Edmund Berry
Godfrey, lie dead, and his murderers beside the body. Quick, let us get the
watch and take them red-handed."
The big paws, like a gorilla's, were withdrawn from his shoulders. The
purple complexion seemed to go nearly black, and the wide mouth opened as
if to bellow. But the sound which emerged was only a whisper.
"By the maircy of Gaad we will have 'em! . . .
A maist haarrid and unnaitural craime. I will take 'em with my own haands.
Here is one who will help."
And he turned to a man who had come up and who looked like a city
tradesman. "Lead on, honest fellow, and we will see justice done. 'Tis
pairt of the bloody Plaat. . . . I foresaw it. I warned Sir Edmund, but he
flouted me. Ah, poor soul, he has paid for his unbelief."
Lovel, followed by Oates and the other whom he called Prance, dived again
into the darkness. Now he had no fears. He saw himself acclaimed with the
Doctor as the saviour of the nation, and the door of Aldersgate Street open
at his knocking. The man Prance produced a lantern, and lighted them up the
steps and into the tumbledown passage. Fired with a sudden valour, Lovel
drew his sword and led the way to the sinister room. The door was open, and
the place lay empty, save for the dead body.
Oates stood beside it, looking, with his bandy legs great shoulders, and
bull neck, like some forest baboon.
"Oh, maist haunourable and noble victim!" he cried. "England will maarn
you, and the spawn of Raam will maarn you, for by this deed they have
rigged for thaimselves the gallows. Maark ye, Sir Edmund is the
proto-martyr of this new fight for the Praatestant faith. He has died that
the people may live, and by his death Gaad has given England the sign she
required. . . . Ah, Prance, how little Tony Shaston will exult in our
news! 'Twill be to him like a bone to a cur-dog to take his ainemies thus
By your leave, sir," said Lovel, "those same enemies have escaped us. I saw
them here five minutes since, but they have gone to earth. What say you to
a hue-and-cry--though this Savoy is a snug warrin to hide vermin."
Oates seemed to be in no hurry. He took the lantern from Prance and
scrutinised Lovel's face with savage intensity.
"Ye saw them, ye say. . . . I think, friend, I have seen ye before, and I
doubt in no good quaarter. There's a Paapist air about you."
"If you have seen me, 'twas in the house of my Lord Shaftesbury, whom I
have the honour to serve," said Lovel stoutly.
"Whoy, that is an haanest house enough. Whaat like were the villains, then?
Jaisuits, I'll warrant? Foxes from St. Omer's airth?"
"They were two common cutthroats whose names I know."
"Tools, belike. Fingers of the Paape's hand. . . . Ye seem to have a good
acquaintance among rogues, Mr. Whaat's-you-name."
The man Prance had disappeared, and Lovel suddenly saw his prospects less
bright. The murderers were being given a chance to escape, and to his
surprise he found himself in a fret to get after them. Oates had clearly no
desire for their capture, and the reason flashed on his mind. The murder
had come most opportunely for him, and he sought to lay it at Jesuit doors.
It would ill suit his plans if only two common rascals were to swing for
it. Far better let it remain a mystery open to awful guesses. Omne ignotum
pro horrifico. . . . Lovel's temper was getting the better of his
prudence, and the sight of this monstrous baboon with his mincing speech
stirred in him a strange abhorrence.
"I can bear witness that the men who did the deed were no more Jesuits than
you. One is just out of Newgate, and the other is a blackguard Scot late
dismissed the Duke of Buckingham's service."
"Ye lie," and Oates' rasping voice was close to his ear.
"'Tis an incraidible tale. Will ye outface me, who alone discovered the
Plaat, and dispute with me on high poalicy? . . . Now I come to look at it,
ye have a true Jaisuit face. I maind of ye at St. Omer. I judge ye an
accoamplice . . ."
At that moment Prance returned and with him another, a man in a dark
peruke, wearing a long coat with a cape. Lovel's breath went from him as he
"There is the murderer," he cried in a sudden fury "I saw him handle the
body. I charge you to hold him.
Bedloe halted and looked at Oates, who nodded. Then he strode up to Lovel
and took him by the throat
"Withdraw your words, you dog," he said, "or I will cut your throat. I have
but this moment landed at the river stairs and heard of this horrid
business. If you say you have ever seen me before you lie most foully.
Quick, you ferret. Will Bedloe suffers no man to charge his honour."
The strong hands on his neck, the fierce eyes of the bravo, brought back
Lovel's fear and with it his prudence. He saw very plainly the game, and he
realised that he must assent to it. His contrition was deep and voluble.
"I withdraw," he stammered, "and humbly crave pardon. I have never seen
this honest gentleman before."
"But ye saw this foul murder, and though the laight was dim ye saw the
murderers, and they had the Jaisuitical air?"
Oates' menacing voice had more terror for Lovel than Bedloe's truculence.
"Beyond doubt," he replied.
"Whoy, that is so far good," and the Doctor laughed. "Ye will be helped
later to remember the names for the benefit of his Maajesty's Court. . . .
'Tis time we set to work. Is the place quiet?"
"As the grave, doctor," said Prance.
"Then I will unfold to you my pairpose. This noble magistrate is foully
murdered by pairsons unknown as yet, but whom this haanest man will swear
to have been disguised Jaisuits. Now in the sairvice of Goad and the King
'tis raight to pretermit no aiffort to bring the guilty to justice. The
paiple of England are already roused to a holy fairvour, and this haarrid
craime will be as the paistol flash to the powder caask. But that the
craime may have its full effaict on the paapulace 'tis raight to take some
trouble with the staging. 'Tis raight so to dispose of the boady that the
complaicity of the Paapists will be clear to every doubting fool. I, Taitus
Oates, take upon myself this responsibility, seeing that under Goad I am
the chosen ainstrument for the paiple's salvation. To Soamersait Haase with
it, say I, which is known for a haaunt of the paapistically-minded. . . .
The postern ye know of is open, Mr. Prance?"
"I have seen to it," said the man, who seemed to conduct himself in this
wild business with the decorum of a merchant in his shop.
"Up with him, then," said Oates.
Prance and Bedloe swung the corpse on their shoulders and moved out, while
the doctor, gripping Lovel's arm like a vice, followed at a little
The Savoy was very quiet that night, and very dark. The few loiterers who
observed the procession must have shrugged their shoulders and turned
aside, zealous only to keep out of trouble. Such sights were not uncommon
in the Savoy. They entered a high ruinous house on the east side, and after
threading various passages reached a door which opened on a flight of
broken steps where it was hard for more than one to pass at a time. Lovel
heard the carriers of the dead grunting as they squeezed up with their
burden. At the top another door gave on an outhouse in the yard of Somerset
House between the stables and the west water-gate. . . . Lovel, as he
stumbled after them with Oates' bulk dragging at his arm, was in a
confusion of mind such as his mean time-serving life had never known.
He was in mortal fear, and yet his quaking heart would suddenly be braced
by a gust of anger. He knew he was a rogue, but there were limits to
roguery, and something in him--conscience, maybe, or forgotten
gentility--sickened at this outrage. He had an impulse to defy them, to
gain the street and give the alarm to honest men. These fellows were going
to construct a crime in their own way which would bring death to the
innocent. . . . Mr. Lovel trembled at himself, and had to think hard on his
family in the Billingsgate attic to get back to his common-sense. He would
not be believed if he spoke out. Oates would only swear that he was the
culprit, and Oates had the ear of the courts and the mob. Besides , he had
too many dark patches in his past. It was not for such as he to be
The body was pushed under an old truckle-bed which stood in the corner, and
a mass of frails, such as gardeners use, flung over it for concealment.
Oates rubbed his hands.
"The good work goes merrily," he said. "Sir Edmund dead, and for a week the
good fawk of London are a-fevered. Then the haarrid discovery, and such a
Praatestant uprising as will shake the maightiest from his pairch.
Wonderful are Goad's ways and surprising His jaidgements! Every step must
be weighed, since it is the Laard's business. Five
days we must give this city to grow uneasy, and then
. . . The boady will be safe here?"
"I alone have the keys," said Prance.
The doctor counted on his thick fingers. "Monday--Tuesday--Waidnesday--aye,
Waidneday's the day. Captain Bedloe, ye have chairge of the removal. Before
dawn by the water-gate, and
then a chair and a trusty man to cairry it to the plaace
of discovery. Ye have appainted the spoat?"
"Any ditch in the Marylebone fields," said Bedloe.
"And before ye remove it--on the Tuesday naight haply--ye will run the
boady through with his swaard--Sir Edmund's swaard."
"So you tell me," said Bedloe gruffly, "but I see no reason in it. The
foolishest apothecary will be able tell how the man met his death."
Oates grinned and laid his finger to his nose. "Ye laack subtelty, fraiend.
The priests of Baal must be met with their own waipons. Look ye. This poor
man is found with his swaard in his braist. He has killed himself, says the
fool. Not so, say the apothecaries. Then why the swaard" asks the coroner.
Because of the daivilish cunning of his murderers, says Doctor Taitus
Oates. A clear proof that the Jaisuits are in it, says every honest
Praatistant. D'ye take me?"
Bedloe declared with oaths his admiration of the Doctor's wit, and good
humour filled the hovel; All but Lovel, who once again was wrestling with
something elemental in him that threatened to ruin every thing. He
remembered the bowed stumbling figure that had gone before him in the
Marylebone meadows. Then he had been its enemy; now by a queer contortion
of the mind he thought of himself as the only protector of that cold clay
under the bed--honoured in life, but in death a poor pawn in a rogue's
cause. He stood a little apart from the others near the door, and his eyes
sought it furtively. He was not in the plot, and yet the plotters did not
trouble about him. They assumed his complaisance. Doubtless they knew his
He was roused by Oates' voice. The Doctor was arranging his plan of
campaign with gusto. Bedloe was to disappear to the West Country till the
time came for him to offer his evidence. Prance was to go about his
peaceful trade till Bedloe gave him the cue. It was a masterly
stratagem--Bedloe to start the ball, Prance to be accused as accomplice and
then on his own account to give the other scoundrel corroboration.
"Attend, you sir," the doctor shouted to Lovel. "Ye will be called to swear
to the murderers whom this haanest man will name. If ye be a true
Praatestant ye will repeat the laisson I taich you. If not, ye will be set
down as one of the villains and the good fawk of this city will tear the
limbs from ye at my nod. Be well advaised, my friend, for I hold ye in my
haand." And Oates raised a great paw and opened and shut it.
Lovel mumbled assent. Fear had again descended on him. He heard dimly the
Doctor going over the names of those to be accused.
"Ye must bring in one of the sairvants of this place," he said. "Some
common paarter, who has no friends."
"Trust me," said Prance. "I will find a likely fellow among the Queen's
household. I have several in my mind for the honour."
"Truly the plaace is a nest of Paapists," said Oates. "And not such as you,
Mr. Prance, who putt England before the Paape. Ye are worth a score of
Praatestants to the good caause, and it will be remaimbered. Be assured it
will be remaimbered. . . . Ye are clear about the main villains? Walsh,
you say, and Pritchard and the man called Le Fevre?"
"The last most of all. But they are sharp-nosed as hounds, and unless we go
wiarily they will give us the slip, and we must fall back on lesser game."
"Le Fevre." Oates mouthed the name. "The Queen's confessor. I was spit upon
by him at St. Omer, and would waipe out the affront. A dog of a Frainch
priest! A man I have long abhaarred."
"So also have I." Prance had venom in his level voice. "But he is no
Frenchman. He is English as you--a Phayre out of Huntingdon."
The name penetrated Lovel's dulled wits. Phayre! It was the one man who in
his father's life had shown him unselfish kindness. Long ago in Paris this
Phayre had been his teacher, had saved him from starvation, had treated him
with a gentleman's courtesy. Even his crimes had not estranged this friend.
Phayre had baptized his child, and tended his wife when he was in hiding.
But a week ago he had spoken a kindly word in the Mall to one who had
rarely a kind word from an honest man.
That day had been to the spy a revelation of odd corners in his soul. He
had mustered in the morning the resolution to kill one man. Now he
discovered a scruple which bade him at all risks avert the killing of
another. He perceived very clearly what the decision meant--desperate
peril, perhaps ruin and death. He dare not delay, for in a little he would
be too deep in the toils. He must escape and be first with the news of
Godfrey's death in some potent quarter. Buckingham, who was a great prince.
Or Danby. Or the King himself. . . .
The cunning of a lifetime failed him in that moment. He slipped through the
door, but his coat caught in a splinter of wood, and the rending of it gave
the alarm. As with quaking heart he ran up the silent stable-yard towards
the Strand gate he felt close on him the wind of the pursuit. In the dark
he slipped on a patch of horse-dung and was down. Something heavy fell atop
of him, and the next second a gross agony tore the breath from him.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Five minutes later Bedloe was unknotting a coarse kerchief and stuffing it
into his pocket. It was the same that had strangled Godfrey
"A good riddance," said Oates. "The fool had seen too much and would have
proved but a saarry witness. Now by the mairciful dispensation of Goad he
has ceased to trouble us. Ye know him, Captain Bedloe?"
A Papistical cur, and white-livered at that," the bravo answered.
"And his boady? It must be praamptly disposed of."
"An easy task. There is the Savoy water-gate and in an hour the tide will
run. He has no friends to inquire after him."
Oates rubbed his hands and cast his eyes upward. Great are the doings of
the Laard," he said, "and wonderful in our saight!"
CHAPTER 11. THE LIT CHAMBER
He was hoisted on his horse by an ostler and two local sots from the
tap-room, his valise was strapped none too securely before him, and with a
farewell, which was meant to be gracious but was only foolish, he tittuped
into the rain. He was as drunk as an owl, though he did not know it. All
afternoon he had been mixing strong Cumberland ale with the brandy he had
got from the Solway free-traders, and by five o'clock had reached that
state when he saw the world all gilt and rosy and himself as an applauded
actor on a splendid stage. He had talked grandly to his fellow topers, and
opened to their rustic wits a glimpse of the great world. They had bowed to
a master, even those slow Cumbrians who admired little but fat cattle and
blood horses. He had made a sensation, had seen wonder and respect in dull
eyes, and tasted for a moment that esteem which he had singularly failed to
But he had been prudent. The Mr. Gilbert Craster who had been travelling on
secret business in Nithsdale and the Ayrshire moorlands had not been
revealed in the change-house of Newbigging. There he had passed by the
name, long since disused, of Gabriel Lovel, which happened to be his true
one. It was a needful ,precaution, for the times were crooked. Even in a
Border hamlet the name of Craster might be known and since for the present
it had a Whig complexion it was well to go warily in a place where feeling
ran high and at an hour when the Jacobites were on the march. But that
other name of Lovel was buried deep in the forgotten scandal of London
The gentleman late re-christened Lovel had for the moment no grudge against
life. He was in the pay of a great man, no less than the lord Duke of
Marlborough, and he considered that he was earning his wages. A soldier of
fortune, he accepted the hire of the best paymaster; only he sold not a
sword, but wits. A pedant might have called it honour, but Mr. Lovel was no
pedant. He had served a dozen chiefs on different sides. For Blingbroke he
had scoured France and twice imperilled his life in Highland bogs. For
Somers he had travelled to Spain, and for Wharton had passed unquiet months
on the Welsh marches. After his fashion he was an honest servant and
reported the truth so far as his ingenuity could discern it. But, once quit