« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A ROMANCE OF THE DAYS OF BLUFF KING HAL.
BY JOHN TILLOTSON,
Author of "Stories of the War," " Crimson Pages," " Shot and Shell," “ London
Stone," etc., etc.
A CHARGE OF TREASON.
mingled with the political history of the period!
As the barge came near to Westminster, On the morning subsequent to the out. the scene became animated and magnificent
. break of the citizens about the hour Rich and gaily decked barges, with tilts of noon, a state-barge richly ornamented of velvet and cloth of gold, crowded the might have been observed proceeding down river near the famed old Palace, whose Thames from Richmond. Now although solid and beautiful architecture there was nothing extraordinary in this, yet majestically against the azure sky, its a pennon displayed from the stern, em- elaborate sculptures reflected on the placid blazoned with the arms of Wolsey quar- basin of the Thames, whilst the steps detered with those of England, made known scending to the water's edge were filled that the Cardinal was there : what wonder, with many a glittering group of knights, then, that the populace gazed with mingled courtiers, prelates, judges, and gentlemen feelings of awe and admiration on that of high degrée-for a council of state vessel containing as it did the greatest man was that day held by King Henry VIII. of the age, whose life and deeds are so l 'Twas a rare sight to behold those gorgeous
habits, dancing plumes, sparkling jewels— for he and Buckingham were opposed to each enough to make the very stones rejoice to other in the political sphere, each seeking bear so glorious a burthen.
the downfall of the other. But after some At length the Cardinal's barge arrived | time the Cardinal turned and demanded at the steps. The stalwart watermen rested the name of the accused. on their oars, and from beneath the splendid “ Ambrose Quartermain.” tilt Wolsey stepped forth; but ere he “But of what would you accuse him?” reached the landing-place, a tall priest, “ Of aiding the rioters." bearing a gilded cross full ten feet high,
“ In what way?" entered the barge, and, bowing reverentially, The priest drew a letter from his casket, addressed the Cardinal
the very letter which had been placed in “I crave forgiveness for thus intruding the hands of Quartermain during the attack on your presence, and had it not been an on the mansion of Sir Michael de la Pole. affair of serious import I would not so far He handed it to Wolsey. It ran in the have stepped beyond my station.”
following unconnected sentences : The Cardinal slightly bowed, and the “ Let Nick Denis be delivered over to the priest continued
fury of the populace. Create a quarrel with “ If I might so far presume, the intelli- the Spanish knight, Sir Michael de la Pole; gence being of a secret nature, to suggest detain him in dispute until our purpose be the propriety of a more private spot for accomplished and the mansion fired; then its disclosure."
draw off thy men and take to flight. FaWolsey interrupted him by a hasty vourably receive this advice, if thou would gesture, and commanding him to follow, led prosper. Hie thee to the villa at Southwark the way beneath the tilt'of golden cloth.
on the morrow,
there a disclosure shall be “Now, Sir Priest," quoth he, “what made concerning matters (to thee) of the tidings do you bear ?"
greatest import.--NICHOLAS SHERRING." Tidings, my Lord, of black iniquity- “ This, then, is the whole,” quoth Wolrank treason in the very Court.”
priest further explained that “By whom ?”
Quartermain had that morning kept the “A viper whom the King hath reared appointment after receiving a second comtenderly and fondly, scorpion casting its munication from the rioters. venom at its preserver.”
“The King must needs see this docu“Tell me of whom you speak," quoth ment,” said Wolsey; and passing from beWolsey.
neath the tilt he disembarked. " A blot in the creation--a second Jack Cadea sinner and black-hearted traitor
In the high court of King Henry VIII., an abandoned miscreant and rank enemy on the festival of May-day, in the Year of to your grace.”
Grace 1517, a council of state was held. “What! the Duke of Buckingham ?” The rays of the summer sun came pouring
“Not precisely the Duke himself, but a through the rieh gothic windows, casting fellow raised from the very dregs of so- the various hues of the stained glass upon ciety—a swaggering Captain, with more the pavement and oaken panelling, and on oaths than courage, and sins than gold-a the various suits of mail arranged around. man of dissolute habits, a frequenter of Opposite the eastern window the throne of the taverns, the bear-gardens, and play- state appeared, on which in regal state the houses, a drunkard and a glutton.”
Tudor sat. Yet if one might judge from Methought by this fair catalogue you the expression of his features he was in no could mean no other than his grace ?" pleasant mood. He had jousted on the
“The fellow, my Lord, is he who was previous night with Brandon, Duke of with the soldiers during the late riots.” Suffolk, and in the lists had been disarmed
The Cardinal seemed disappointed, and and overthrown. He had cast the dice paced to and fro with an impatient step, ' with Sir Miles Partridge and lost the bells
of St. Paul's, * having staked them on one “ Aid me," quoth Henry,
« with thy cast, added to which the insurrection of wisdom in dissolving this strange enig. the evening occasioned no complacent mood Thou knowest one Ambrose Quarterin his right royal mind.
main ?" The chamber was crowded by the cour- “Pardon, your highness," interrupted tiers; messengers were continually arriving; Wolsey, “but I have proofs treasonthe utmost confusion prevailed, and so the able correspondence with that gentleman, debates proceeded.
from the leaders of the late disastrous Suddenly the great doors were cast open, riots, and this man he has hied him to and unattended, unannounced, Sir Michael Southwark to hold an interview with de la Pole strode in : with a hasty step and them.” gloomy brow he passed up the centre of “How long hath he been absent?” the ancient hall, then cast himself at Henry demanded, arising hastily. Henry's feet, and cried
“While I yet tarried in my barge,” reA boon—a boon ! dread sovereign.” turned Wolsey,“ he departed from the “Rise, rise, Sir Knight,” quoth Henry : palace, taking boat for Southwark.” “what is it that thou desirest?"
“I would speak with thee in private,” "Justice,” replied Michael, rising ; "jus- quoth Henry. And desèending from his tice. I claim it as an injured subject at throne he departed from the presence. thy right royal hands."
chamber. “And who," demanded the King, in no soft accent, for he remembered Sir Michael's conduct when the will was read at
CHAPTER XVIII. Wansted Hall some two years agone
SOUTHWARKR. “And who hath injured thee ?”
DURING the assembling of the council of “Ambrose. Quartermain," Sir Michael state, Ambrose Quartermain strode to and answered.
fro upon the landing-place at Westminster 'Surely this is some foul scheme," the listlessly gazing upon the glittering scene King cried, angrily.
“ It cannot be our spread out before him. trusty and well-beloved servant."
'Twas a bright and pleasant morning, “I grieve, your highness, to make this and glistening in the solar rays old Father accusation. Once we were friends -ay,
Thames went flowing' on. Boats and even as brothers—but lately some misun- | barges, wherries, punts, and every sort of derstanding hath occurred, and in the late craft, was there. Looking so bright and riots he aided the rebels; when my dwell gay, and richly carved and painted, boats ing in the Chepe was attacked, struck
came gliding up, rowed by some dozen men down my trusty squire, obliged me to draw who plashed their oars merrily with right and defend myself from his violence.”
good will. “Hast thou proofs of this accusation ?"
Lingering yet upon the royal quay, a ves. the King demanded.
sel small but of a graceful build came boundBut ere Michael could reply the great ing up. At the helm stood a stalwart figure : doors were thrown open. The nobles fell wrapped in a cloak, although the day was: back on either side, and a procession was bright and clear. When she came near seen advancing. Two stalwart priests led upon the landing-place, the stranger by a the way; then came the officers of the dexterous movement cast a paper to the household, and lastly the Cardinal himself, feet of Quartermain. clad in his sacerdotal habit.
Ambrose seemed surprised at this, but The mighty train swept on in silence to after gazing at the scroll and deciphering the dais, the steps of which Wolsey as
its contents, and for a time appearing un
decided, stepped forth and sprang into * The bells of St. Paul's were taken down and
the boat. Not a word was spoken as they sold by this notorious män,
skimmed along o'er the unstable element.
Merrily the little bark pressed along, and party of charlatans there. I once was down Thames they glided.
numbered in their band; a long time since, A panoramic view, unequalled of its kind though—some thirty years agone." in Europe-a more beautiful prospect of a And in a strange unconnected manner, city, it is impossible to imagine, than that which it would be useless to recapitulate, which burst upon their view as they ap- he proceededproached the ancient houses of the Savoy. “ The band," he said,
was then in Eastward the eye might roam over the France, a day's journey from the capital, whole of London in these days, from the and in the neighbourhood of a country towers of Julius to its junction with West- residence possessed by an English gentleminster, while to the west arose the beau- man bearing the name of Cholmondley tiful Abbey, with far in the distance glimpses Wansted.” of the Surrey hills might be obtained, whilst “ Thou surely meanest the brother of the the Thames, which flows in a crescent- late Lord Wansted,” cried Quartermain. shaped course, added that peculiar charm “Even so: yet listen. When we first to the scene which a river always affords to arrived at that spot, the wife of Cholmondley a landscape.
had but just expired. Yet after some time At length the boat came near to London the grief occasioned by her decease began Bridge. When pulling aside to the steps to wear away, and the possessor of the of the bear-garden its progress was stayed. domain walked forth again in the busy
“Where is the sick man lodged ?” Quar. haunts of life. The charlatan under whom termain demanded. His companion an- I served, Colner by name, by some means swered not, but motioning him to follow, I never could learn how-established an led the way to the ancient hostel of the intimacy with Cholmondley ; at least such Tabarde. Unheeded they passed the com- an intimacy as could well exist between a mon guest-chamber, and ascending the noble and a charlatan. A stranger soon oaken stair entered a small apartment, arrived—a short sallow-complexioned man, where, stretched upon a mean and worn bearing the name of Scrivener. He and couch, lay the idiot Erkinwald Aubrey. Colner soon became friends, and many a When the strangers entered the patient secret conference was held. They wanpartially arose, and stretched his wan hand dered in the woods together, and far from to Quartermain. “Ha, Master Ambrose," the haunts of men communed with one he said, “I've long’d to see thee: they another. At length, one cold and wintry tell me I've been dangerously injured in night the charlatan and Scrivener were the fire at the cruel Spanish knight's; but missed from the camp. I followed them I heed not that, for hath it not saved me through the lane and passed the high road; fron that cold dark dungeon where so long then skirting the domains of Wansted they kept me?"
came to the little postern ; 'twas partially Soothing him with words of kindness, unclosed. Here they halted, and in an Quartermain soon became aware that the under tone conversed: then with a stealthy poor idiot, for some unknown cause, had step entered the parks surrounding the been detained a prisoner in the mansion of mansion close on their steps. I followed on: Sir Michael, and that he had been liberated on they went to the entrance. I dared not do by the rioters. Vague hints he made, too, the like, but staid below and listened. All of some dreadful yet hidden crime of which for a time remained silent; not a light was the Spanish knight was guilty, but soon he seen from any of the casements-not a turned from these subjects and demanded - step was heard. Then suddenly a loud, « Thou rememberest Frost Fair?” wild shriek rent the air with its piercing
Surely,” Quartermain answered. “I cadence. Then hasty footsteps sounded, indeed have cause to remember the time and two men bearing chests and other and place thou speakest of.”
spoils came running out. I fed before “Yes," continued he. “ There was a them until I nearly reached the camp: In an
then suddenly turning I sprang upon the His listener, however, scarce waited for first man and bore him to the ground, these particulars, but darting towards the when, what think you? I discovered, con door, flung it widely open, when he was cealed as he thought under his horse. suddenly staid by the appearance of what man's cloak, what but a young child! he least expected in the person of Nicholas
instant the fellow regained his Denis and a file of Hackbutt men. feet, and drawing his ponderous broadsword “In the name of his Majesty King Henry from his belt, he raised it in the air, and VIII,” said that puissant gentleman, advandown it came. I fell beneath the blow. cing and laying his hand on Ambrose, “I When I recovered from the effects of the arrest you, Ambrose Quartermain, on a blow the camp was broken up and the charge of high treason against the state.” band in motion. From one of them I learnt “ This is no time for mumming,” replied that the dwelling of Cholmondley Wansted Quartermain ; "make way and let me had been plundered, and his only son car. ried off, and was then with the charlatans. “This is no mumming,” retorted Denis. Around his neck, they said, when stolen, “A charge of treason hath this morning a golden chain of curious workmanship was been laid against you, and a warrant for hung, and that this the leader of the gang your committal to the Tower hath been had concealed in a certain spot they men. made out. Accordingly, resistance is vain, tioned. That night I seized it from its and the boat waits at the steps of the Bear hiding-place and fed; afterwards learning Garden." that the stolen child was sold to Sir Geoffry “ And who hath dared to accuse me ?” Wansted, who upon the death of the old demanded Quartermain. lord succeeded to the title.”
“ The orders I have received must be “But tell me,” said Quartermain, “how obeyed,” said Denis ; " and I doubt not the child was called.”
all will soon be explained.” “Ambrose Quartermain,” said Aubrey. Without the slightest conception of the
With an exclamation of surprise Quar. circumstances which caused this strange termain sprang
from his seat. “And vicissitude in his career, Quartermain stood what,” he demanded, “became of him you perfectly bewildered. The intelligence he call Cholmondley ?”
had just received, added to this sudden “He entered a religious house, and be transition from the royal favour to the came a priest, weary of the world's ini. depths of misery—to be cast into the dun. quity."
geons of the Tower as a traitor-created a “Where can I discover him, to fly and sensation in his mind which made the sur. give him comfort ?”
rounding objects reel before his view, and “You have already slept beneath his ere he could recover from its effects, he was roof and eaten of his bread.”
surrounded by the soldiery, hurried from the “ What name ?”
house, and placed in the boat, which darted “Father Fitz Aldwine. You slept in his from the shore, shot through the arches of house during the Frost Fair. 'Twas over London Bridge, and stayed not in its course against St. Mary Overy's.”.
until it floated under the Traitors' Gate.