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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.
AT THE GUILDHALL.
THE riot being suppressed, there was strict to suggest his being in communication with
gent search was made. Some surmised that
he had been slaughtered in the fray, others CONCERNING THE RIOTERS AND THEIR TRIAL
that he had escaped by ship, whilst some few
(themselves willing to turn traitors) ventured THE
search made for the agitators who had the Government to turn King's evidence. brought about the mischief, and for those However, all these suggestions proved who had made themselves conspicuous dur. incorrect, when, at length, the news arrived ing the insurrection.
of his arrest that morning in Southwark, in Lincoln, Studeley, Betts, and Bell were company with Ambrose Quartermain ; thus secured with very little resistance ; yet, to adding to the chain of evidence (connected the surprise of everyone, none could dis- with the latter personage), already sufficover the retreat of Sherring, although dili- ' ciently weighty to imperil his life. . IV.
Under strong escorts the rioters were
CHAPTER XX. conducted to the several gaols in London, whilst many were placed in the Tower, for
QUARTERMAIN CONDEMNED. the prisons were not of sufficient size to An upper chamber in the Wakefield Tower hold the vast number arrested, nearly was allotted to Quartermain, and to this, every house in the City being invaded by on his arrival at the fortress, he was conthe troops, to secure one or other of the veyed. inhabitants who had been in some way con
All communication with the Court was at nected with the late disturbances. Strong once stopped by orders of Wolsey, and he bodies of cavalry patrolled the streets from had, therefore, no means of appealing to the Tower Ditch to Lud Gate, and all was the King, either for a speedy trial, or to be consternation and affright. Barriers and made aware of the course of his imprisonchains were drawn across the streets, and ment; and although many missives were most of the shops were closed. So the day penned by the anxious captive, all were passed, and the order for trial was sent detained by the lieutenant, Cholmondley. down to the City from Westminster.
The various circumstances of his life now On the 4th of May the trials were opened rushed upon his over-excited brain, and at Guildhall, according to the writ of Oyer seemed to bear him down to the lowest and Terminer. The commissioners con- depths of despair. He thought of the sisted of the Lord Mayor, the Earl of Surrey, narrative concerning his parentage related and the Duke of Norfolk. The body by Aubrey, considering whether it might of the court was crowded by the citizens, be depended on, sometimes doubting and whilst the spot facing the bench, and raised then again firmly believing every syllable. some two or three steps from the ground, Then came thoughts of the fair Alice was left unoccupied, and was guarded by Keble, and the now crushed hopes of his the officers of the court.
love. Then his sudden accusation and im. Vast crowds filled the streets from New. prisonment, all mingling together, created a gate to Guildhall as the rioters passed feverish excitement, added to which the along under a strong escort of cavalry, and oppression on his spirits brought on a geneit was with great difficulty the soldiers rode ral depression, and sickness was the result. amidst the crowd.
At length he was summoned (some six The trial commenced, the prisoners days after his incarceration) by the lieuarraigned, the indictment read, and the tenant to attend at Guildhall. A small plea of “Not Guilty” put in.
body of cavalry awaited his coming on the Whilst the proceedings went on in the green, and for the purpose of escorting court, the crowd without expressed their him to the place of trial. indignation at the harsh measures pursued When they arrived at Guildhall, the priby the King, and the greatest anxiety was soner was conducted to a small chamber, manifested to learn the result. Lincoln for the trials of the rioters were not yet Studeley, Betts, and Sherring were amongst concluded, and there left to his solitary those first indicted, and, after a long inves- reflections. tigation, a verdict of “Guilty” was returned, The murmur of voices broke the silence and sentence of death passed.
at intervals, and the hours passed slowly Gloomy was the aspect of the City in The clatter of steeds might now and every quarter ; and yet, if other parts then be heard, or the clashing of the heavy seemed dreary and mournful, how sad and swords against the hauberks of the soldiers deserted was the aspect of the Eastcheap! in the courtyard below. The smithy was closed, no cheerful sound The day passed on slowly and wearily, saluted the ear, sorrow sat on every coun- yet the solitude of the prisoner remained tenance, the cheery clang of the hammer unbroken, and the sun went down in all its hushed, for Nick must die a shameful glorious splendour, tinging with its golden death.
glow the dark clouds of evening, as it grew
on apace, and cast deep shadows in the The hall was illuminated by a body of chamber.
hackbutt men carrying flambeaux, which And now the night set in, and the chimes lighted up the strange and rude carvings of from the old churches sounded like funeral the building in their fitful glare. knells, and the heavy tread of the troopers, The trial commenced, but all the objects as they marched before the building, came in the hall appeared to reel before the view harsh and grating to the listener's ear. At of Quartermain as the indictment was read. length the bright and wavering glare of The witnesses were then called. First, torches illuminated the courtyard, and played Nicholas Denis, who proved the delivery of and flickered on the steel cuirass and helms a paper to the prisoner by one of the rioters of the soldiers. Six men, in butchers' frocks, then under sentence of death. The paper were then led out by a strong guard. When was then read, and Denis proceeded to states the crowd beheld these men, they wildly how every particular there set down had! yelled with execration, and, amidst the ter- been fulfilled by the actions of Quarterrible roar of many voices, the door of the main. Next came the priest of Cardinal prisoner’s chamber was thrown open, and Wolsey, who had discovered the paper, and he was summoned to attend.
who also produced the writing which had Following his guide through a small pas- occasioned the visit to Southwark. This sage, they halted before an oaken door, at ran as follows: which appeared two officers of the court. “One whom you assisted in the late rioler After a short conversation, the prisoner was lays now at the point of death. Before his desired to proceed, and, passing beneath the spirit shall be called from hence, he seeketh arched doorway, he stood before his judges. to disclose a matter of importance. If you ::
Guildhall, in the olden time, was not so very have any anxiety to hear the recital, follow elaborately finished, and therefore, although the bearer with speed.” not destroyed by the Great Fire, was adorned “Who was this sick man ? ** inquired one at the rebuilding of the City with many rich of the judges. and exquisite carvings, causing the imposing “The man," returned Quartermain, “was effect which at this period it presents. It a poor idiot, named Aubrey.** then, however, could boast those huge giants, “Let him be sent for,” continued the Gog and Magog,* although, at that time, inquirer. “We would hear this matter of. rudely carved in wood, very fierce and bar- importance.” barous guardians of the good old city. The A messenger was accordingly despatched, original Guildhall stood in Aldermanbury- but soon returned, declaring that no sick built by Edward the Confessor. The struc- man could be found. ture in King-street was erected in 1411.
Nicholas Denis was recalled, and ques: The door by which Quartermain entered tioned concerning whom he found in com. led out upon a platform, railed around, and pany with Quartermain. He accordingly guarded by soldiers. The whole body of stated that Sherring was that person, and the hall was densely crowded by the citi
as he had not entered the chamber, he, of zens, some of whom had climbed the pillars course, had not seen the idiot. This was supporting the groined roof, and in this all he knew. perilous position awaited the result of the “ 'Tis enough," said the judge who Bad investigation. At the eastern extremity before spoken. “ Ambrose Quartermain, another platform was erected, on which what defence would you make? You've appeared the judges, knights, and gentle heard the whole of the evidence.” men engaged in the proceeding, and a • My lords,” Quartermain answered, small portion of this, being divided from the witnesses rought forth against me the rest, was allotted to the witnesses. are correct in what they state regarding
facts, yet greatly mistaken in the conse* These figures seemed designed as types of municipal power. Many such are found in the
quences they would adduce from them. It Judgment Halls of Germany:
is, therefore, my intention to appeal for
justice to the King, and willingly will I derly? Those tears, too; what could they submit to his decision."
'Twas the father had found his And now the judges retired, but soon long-lost, mourned-for son : found now but returned, and silence reigned throughout to be lost again. Yet it gave pleasure to the court. Yet, although the greatest that old man's heart to see him once again, anxiety was manifested by the concourse, even if it were so near the grave. the prisoner remained firm as the verdict of “Guilty" was returned, and sentence
CHAPTER XXI. of death passed.
But then a loud, wild, and piercing shriek rent the air, and a female form lay upon the In a small chamber situated in the western ground, as though the spark of life had fled. wing of the old Palace of Plasaunce sat 'Twas Alice Keble, and by her side there Catharine, Queen of England. The sum. knelt the priest, Fitz Aldwine, and the mer's sun shone brightly in upon her fair alderman, her father.
and graceful form, whilst the busy note of
preparation resounded through the ancient At length the last night before the time building. appointed for execution arrived. Quarter- People hurried to and fro through all main had been grievously disappointed in the various passages, and halls, and trumhis expectation of appealing to the King, for pets sound merrily, and tabards beat, the orders of the Cardinal prevented any and clashing steel, and rustling silks, all communication with the Court, and the lay pleasantly blended, and smiths and carpenmust, therefore, take its course. He must ters were busily employed erecting gorgeous die within twelve short hours! On the battle- platforms and pavilions. Wooden clouds, field he faced the grim adversary without with brazen stars, and double-gilt suns, and dread; but to patiently await his approach, silvered moon, and tigers fierce, with optics to be dragged to the place of execution, and glazed and jaws distended. But hark ! legally murdered as a criminal before a what step is that upon the oaken stair ? It brutal multitude, was more than he could cannot be that of a stalwart yeoman. No, bear. Thoughts of the past, the present, it's too soft, too light for that. No, it must and the future crowded on his mind, and be a woman's, perchance a waiting-maid's. Reason trembled on her throne.
It's too retiring for that. Yet, listen; the How quick the hours seemed to pass to doors are now thrown open, and a gentle. the watchful prisoner in the dismal cell! man usher appears, and with a low obei. No sound was heard to break the stillness sance craves an audience for a person who of the night, no human voice to cheer the waits without. Now he motions to some man who lay awaiting death. And time one to proceed. Hark! that light footstep flew by, shortening the hours of existence. sounds again, coming on towards the cham. One, two, three, four, five short hours, and ber, and then a graceful figure enters. The now but seven remain. Hark! the chimes usher closes the door, calls to a yeoman to sound again. Now but six hours remain, keep guard without, descends the stair, and and day now begins to dawn, and already passes into the courtyard. there is a stir within the tower walls.
And the preparation for the coming mask The door of the cell was now thrown went merrily on. Musicians in grotesque open. What could it mean? Surely the habits hurried to and fro, and blew prepahour of death had not arrived.
ratory fanfares on shawms and trumpets. “ A visitor,” said the gaoler, and a figure And knights, Druids, Gogs, Magogs, Jupi. entered, wrapped in priestly vestments. ters, Hopes, dragons, Jews, Neptunes, Yet what should make that ray of joy on Floras, Bacchuses, Junos, sylphs, Robin the wan face of the prisoner ? What should Hoods, Friar Tucks, preparing for the pamake him rush so eagerly forward ? and geant, crowded the courtyard, and the merry what should make them embrace so ten- hum of voices made a right pleasant scene.
Amidst the strange concourse stood one “But know you the crime with which he before whom all bowed, and fell back to is charged ?” give him way. His dress consisted of a "Indeed, he is pure from such blackplain riding suit, and yet his majestic air hearted perfidy,” the priest cried, wringing bespoke him to be of royal descent. It was his hands with agony.
“ Grant him but the King, Henry Tudor.
time to establish his innocence." Whilst the King gazed upon the mum. “I cannot,” quoth the King. “Yet, stay ; mers, a priest, tall and finely formed, if within six days he can substantiate thy stepped hastily forward. He was clad in words, and fully prove his innocence, ’tis sacerdotal vestments, and, unheedful of the enough ; but, if he faileth, the law must busy throng, fell on his knees before the take its course." King.
With these words he turned away, and Mercy, dread sovereign, mercy!” he entered the palace to the Queen's apartcried, wringing his hands with agony. ments, and there, kneeling at the feet of
“ What mean these words?” quoth Henry. Catharine, he beheld fair Alice Keble supSpeak; declare whom thou would’st piead plicating for the life of Quartermain. for?” but the priest only cried the more for mercy, and again the King demanded the Half-an-hour subsequently, a stranger, cause of his petition.
masked, entered a small chamber where a “My son! my son!” cried the priest. scrivener was employed. “Oh, save him! Oh, save him! Indeed, “ Thou art busy, Master Clerk,” the indeed, he's innocent."
“ What art thou engaged “What strange enigma is this?” quoth upon ?” Henry, interrupting him.
“ Tell me thy
“A free pardon for one Ambrose Quarname and that of him for whom you | termain. An old priest and fair demoiselle plead.”
have been here, and this is the consequence.” “My name is Cholmondley,” replied the “Good,” quoth the stranger, and he depriest. “My title that of Wansted.” parted. Yet, lifting his mask as he went
“How now!” cried the King. “The out, he disclosed the features of Sir Michael noble whose name thou claimest hath long de la Pole. since passed away.” “Listen to my prayer, my lord. I am
CHAPTER XXII. brother to the murdered noble.” “But thy son ?”
FROM the halls of Plasaunce to the cells of Thirty years since my child was stolen Newgate. from me, yet have I this morn discovered In the cell of the condemned in the his existence. His name, or rather that prison of Newgate, about the hour of noon, which he now bears, is Ambrose Quarter- sat two persons, the first John Lincoln, the main. Many letters hath he written to broker, the second a Carmelite friar. your highness.”
“ And what,” quoth the friar—" what “Can this be so ?” quoth the King. new and hidden crime is this that lays so Quartermain hath served me well. Yet heavy on thy conscience ? Fear not to ease the proofs of his iniquity and detestable thy bosom by confession. Thy condemnatreason were fully proved. I cannot save tion is now sealed, so that the revelation of him. Would it were possible!”
a new crime cannot affect thee. The law “Oh, save him!” cried the priest. “If will, by thy death, surely be appeased. you have one spark of pity in your heart, Fear not then to confess." save him from the cruel fate intended him. “ Fear! Twenty, nay, thirty years, this For thirty long and weary years I have seen hidden crime hath weighed upon my soul; him not until this day, and now found but and though I would fain reveal it, some to be lost again. Oh, spare him! spare strong secret agency compels me to remain him!”