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AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.
BY W. HARRISON AINSWORTH, ESQ.
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK.
BOOK THE SECOND.
STARTLED, but not dismayed-for he was a man of great courage, -by the sudden address and appearance of Guy Fawkes, Lord Mounteagle instantly sprang to his feet, and drawing his sword, put himself into a posture of defence.
'You have betrayed me,' he cried, seizing Tresham with his left hand; but if I fall, you shall fall with me.'
'You have betrayed yourself, my lord,' rejoined Guy Fawkes; 'or rather, Heaven has placed you in our hands as an instrument for the liberation of Viviana Radcliffe. You must take an oath of secrecy a binding oath,-such as, being a good Catholic, you cannot break, not to divulge what has come to your knowledge. Nay, you must join me and my confederates, or you quit not this spot with life.'
'I refuse your terms,' replied Mounteagle, resolutely, 'I will never conspire against the monarch to whom I have sworn allegiance. I will not join you. I will not aid you in procuring Viviana Radcliffe's release. Nor will I take the oath you propose. On the contrary, I arrest you as a traitor, and I command you, Tresham, in the King's name, to assist me in his capture.'
But suddenly extricating himself from the grasp imposed upon him, and placing Guy Fawkes between him and the Earl, Tresham rejoined,—
'It is time to throw off the mask, my good lord and brother. I can render you no assistance. I am sworn to this league, and must support it. Unless you assent to the conditions proposed, and which for your own sake I would counsel you to do, I must, despite our near relationship, take part against you, even,' he added, significantly, if your destruction should be resolved upon.'
'I will sell my life dearly, as you shall find,' replied Mounteagle. 'And, but for the sake of my dear lady, your sister, I would stab you where you stand.'
'Your lordship will find resistance in vain,' replied Guy Fawkes, keeping his eye steadily fixed upon him. We seek not your life, but your co-operation. You are a prisoner.'
'A prisoner!' echoed Mounteagle, derisively. 'You have not secured me yet.'
And as he spoke, he rushed towards the door, but his departure was checked by Bates, who presented himself at the entrance of the passage with a drawn sword in his hand. At the same moment, Catesby and Keyes issued from the closet, while Garnet and the other conspirators likewise emerged from their hiding-places. Hearing the noise behind him, Lord Mounteagle turned, and beholding the group, uttered an exclamation of surprise and rage.
'I am fairly entrapped,' he said, sheathing his sword, and advancing towards them. Fool that I was, to venture hither!'
'These regrets are too late, my lord,' replied Catesby. 'You came hither of your own accord. But, being here, nothing, except compliance with our demands, can insure your departure.'
'Yes, one thing else,' thought Mounteagle,- cunning. It shall go hard if I cannot outwit you. Tresham will act with me. I know his treacherous nature too well to doubt which way he will incline. Interest, as well as relationship, binds him to me. He will acquaint me with their plans. I need not, therefore, compromise myself by joining them. If I take the oath of secrecy, it will suffice-and I will find means of eluding the obligation. I may thus make my own bargain with Salisbury. But I must proceed cautiously. Too sudden a compliance might awaken their suspicions.'
'My lord,' said Catesby, who had watched his countenance nar. rowly, and distrusted its expression, we must have no double-dealing. Any attempt to play us false will prove fatal to you.'
'I have not yet consented to your terms, Mr. Catesby,' replied Mounteagle, and I demand a few moments' reflection before I do
'What say you, gentlemen ?' said Catesby. 'Do you agree to his lordship's request?'
There was a general answer in the affirmative.
'I would also confer for a moment alone with my brother Tresham,' said Mounteagle.
'That cannot be, my lord,' rejoined Garnet, peremptorily. And take heed you meditate no treachery towards us, or you will destroy yourself here and hereafter.'
'I have no desire to speak with him, father,' observed Tresham. 'Let him declare what he has to say before you all.'
Mounteagle looked hard at him, but he made no remark.
In my opinion, we ought not to trust him,' observed Keyes. 'It is plain he is decidedly opposed to us. And if the oath is proposed to him, he may take it with some mental reservation.'
'I will guard against that,' replied Garnet.
If I take the oath, I will keep it, father,' rejoined Mounteagle. 'But I have not yet decided.'
You must do so, then, quickly, my lord,' returned Catesby.
'You shall have five minutes for reflection. But first, you must deliver up your sword.'
The Earl started.
'We mean you no treachery, my lord,' observed Keyes, and expect to be dealt with, with equal fairness.'
Surrendering his sword to Catesby, Mounteagle then walked to the farther end of the room, and leaning against the wall, with his back to the conspirators, appeared buried in thought.
'Take Tresham aside,' whispered Catesby to Wright. I do not wish him to overhear our conference. Watch him narrowly, and see that no signal passes between him and Lord Mounteagle.' Wright obeyed; and the others gathering closely together, began to converse in a low tone.
'It will not do to put him to death,' observed Garnet. 'From what he stated to Tresham, it appears that his servant was aware of his coming hither. If he disappears, therefore, search will be immediately made, and all will be discovered. We must either instantly secure ourselves by flight, and give up the enterprise, or trust him.' 'You are right, father,' replied Rookwood. The danger is imminent.'
We are safe at present,' observed Percy, and may escape to France or Flanders before information can be given against us. Nay, we may carry off Mounteagle with us, for that matter. But I am loth to trust him.'
'So am I,' rejoined Catesby. I do not like his looks.' 'There is no help,' said Fawkes We must trust him, or give up the enterprise. He may materially aid us, and has himself asserted that he can procure Viviana's liberation from the Tower.'
'Pshaw' exclaimed Catesby, impatiently. What has that to do with the all-important question we are now considering?'
'Much,' returned Fawkes. 'And I will not move further in the matter, unless that point is insisted on.'
'You have become strangely interested in Viviana of late,' observed Catesby, sarcastically. 'Could I suspect you of so light a passion, I should say you loved her.'
A deep flush dyed Fawkes's swarthy cheeks, but he answered in a voice of constrained calmness,
'I do love her, as a daughter.'
'Humph!' exclaimed the other, drily. 'Catesby,' rejoined Fawkes, sternly,
'you know me well-too well, to suppose I would resort to any paltry subterfuge. I am But I counsel you not to
willing to let what you have said pass.
jest thus in future.'
'Jest?' exclaimed Catesby. 'I was never more serious in my life.'
'Then you do me wrong,' retorted Fawkes, fiercely and you will repeat the insinuation at your peril.'
My sons-my sons,' interposed Garnet, what means this sudden-this needless quarrel, at a moment when we require the utmost calmness to meet the danger that assails us? Guy Fawkes is right. Viviana must be saved. If we desert her, our cause will never pros per. But let us proceed step by step, and first decide upon what is to be done with Lord Mounteagle.'
'I am filled with perplexity,' replied Catesby.
Then I will decide for you,' replied Percy. Our project must be abandoned.'
'Never,' replied Fawkes, energetically. Fly, and secure your own safety. I will stay and accomplish it alone.'
A brave resolution!' exclaimed Catesby, tendering him his hand, which the other cordially grasped. 'I will stand by you to
No-we have advanced too far to retreat.' 'Additional caution will be needful,' observed Keyes. not make it a condition with Lord Mounteagle to retire, till the blow is struck, to his mansion at Hoxton ?'
'That would be of no avail,' replied Garnet. him wholly, or not at all.'
'Let us propose
'There I agree with you, father,' said Percy. the oath of secrecy to him, and detain him here, until we have found some secure retreat, utterly unknown to him, or to Tresham, whence we can correspond with our friends. A few days will show whether he has betrayed us or not. We need not visit this place again till the moment for action arrives.'
'You need not visit it again at all,' rejoined Fawkes. thing is prepared, and I will undertake to fire the train. for what is to follow the explosion, and leave the management of that to me.'
"We must trust
'I cannot consent to such a course, my son,' said Garnet. whole risk will thus be yours.'
The whole glory will be mine, also, father,' rejoined Fawkes, enthusiastically. I pray you, let me have my own way.'
'Well, be it as you will, my son,' returned Garnet, with affected reluctance. 'I will not oppose the hand of Heaven, which clearly points you out as the chief agent in this mighty enterprise. In reference to what Percy has said about a retreat till Lord Mounteagle's trust-worthiness can be ascertained,' he added to Catesby, 'I have just bethought me of a large retired house on the borders of Enfield Chace, called White Webbs. It has been recently taken by Mrs. Brooksby, and her sister, Ann Vaux, and will afford us a safe asylum.'
'An excellent plan, father,' cried Catesby. is willing to undertake the risk, we will leave his charge, and go there at once.'
Since Guy Fawkes Lord Mounteagle in