Page images

gladly save the young Earl of Arundel. But we must sacrifice our private feelings for the general good.'

'We must,' acquiesced Fawkes.

[ocr errors]

'We shall not meet again till the night of the tenth of October,' said Catesby, when take care you are in readiness with the money.' Upon this, the conversation dropped, and soon afterwards Tresham departed.

When he found himself alone, he suffered his rage to find vent in words. Perdition seize them!' he cried, 'I shall now lose two thousand pounds, in addition to what I have already advanced; and, as Mounteagle will not have the disclosure made till the beginning of November, there is no way of avoiding payment. They would not fall into the snare I laid to throw the blame of the discovery, when it takes place, upon their own indiscretion. But I must devise some other plan. The warning shall proceed from an unknown quarter. A letter, written in a feigned hand, and giving some obscure intimation of danger, shall be delivered with an air of mystery to Mounteagle. This will serve as a plea for its divulgement to the Earl of Salisbury. Well, well, they shall have the money; but they shall pay me back in other coin.'

Early on the following day, Catesby and Fawkes proceeded to White Webbs. Garnet was greatly surprised to see them, and could not conceal his disappointment at the cause of their return. "This delay bodes no good,' he observed. Parliament has been so often prorogued, that I begin to think some suspicion is entertained of our design.'

'Make your mind easy, then,' replied Catesby. I have made due inquiries, and find the meeting is postponed to suit the King's convenience, who wishes to prolong his stay at Royston. He may probably have some secret motive for the delay, but I am sure it in no way concerns us.'

Everything being now fully arranged, the conspirators had only to wait patiently for the arrival of the expected fifth of November. Most of them decided upon passing the interval in the country. Am. brose Rookwood departed for Clopton, near Stratford-upon Avon, — a seat belonging to Lord Carew, where his family were staying. Keyes went to visit Lord Mordaunt at Turvey, in Bedfordshire; and Percy and the two Wrights set out for Gothurst, in Buckinghamshire, to desire Sir Everard Digby to postpone the grand hunting party which he was to hold at Dunsmore Heath, as an excuse for mustering a strong party of Catholics, to the beginning of November. The two Winters repaired to their family mansion, Huddington, in Worcestershire; while Fawkes and Catesby, together with the two priests, remained at White Webbs. The three latter held daily conferences together, but were seldom joined by Fawkes, who passed

his time in the adjoining forest, selecting its densest and most intricate parts for his rambles.

It was now the beginning of October, and as is generally the case in the early part of this month, the weather was fine, and the air pure and bracing. The forest could scarcely have been seen to greater advantage. The leaves had assumed their gorgeous autumnal tints, and the masses of timber, variegated in colour, presented an inexpressibly beautiful appearance. Guy Fawkes spent hours in the depths of the wood. His sole companions were the lordly stag and the timid hare, that occasionally started across his path. Since his return, he had sedulously avoided Viviana, and they had met only twice, and then no speech had passed between them. One day, when he had plunged even deeper than usual into the forest, and had seated himself on the stump of a decayed tree, with his eyes fixed on a small clear rivulet welling at his feet, he saw the reflection of a female figure in the water; and, filled with the idea of the vision of Saint Winifred, at first imagined he was about to receive another warning. But a voice that thrilled to his heart's core, soon undeceived him, and, turning, he beheld Viviana. She was habited in a riding-dress, and appeared prepared to set out upon a journey. 'So you have tracked me to my solitude,' he observed, in a tone of forced coldness. 'I thought I was secure from interruption


'You will forgive me, I am sure, when you know my errand,' she replied. It is to take an eternal farewell of you.'

[ocr errors]

'Indeed!' he exclaimed. Are you about to quit White Webbs?' 'I am,' she mournfully rejoined. I am about to set out with Father Oldcorne for Gothurst, where I shall remain till all is over.' 'I entirely approve your determination,' returned Fawkes, after a short pause.

'I knew you would do so, or I should have consulted you upon it,' she rejoined. 'And as you appear to avoid me, I would fain have departed without taking leave of you, but found it impossible to do so.'

'You well know my motive for avoiding you, Viviana,' rejoined Fawkes. We are no longer what we were to each other. A fear. ful struggle has taken place within me, though I have preserved an unmoved exterior, between passion and the sense of my high calling. I have told you I never loved before, and fancied my heart immovable as adamant. But I now find out my error. It is a prey to a raging and constant flame. I have shunned you,' he continued, with increased excitement, because the sight of you shakes my firmness, - because I feel it sinful to think of you in preference to holier ob. jects, and because, after I have quitted you, your image alone engrosses my thoughts. Here, in the depths of this wood, by the side of this brook, I can commune with my soul,-can abstract myself

[ocr errors]

from the world and the thoughts of the world-from you-yes, you, who are all the world to me now,-and prepare to meet my end.' 'Then you are resolved to die?' she cried.

'I shall abide the explosion, and nothing but a miracle can save me,' returned Fawkes.

'And think not it will be exerted in your behalf,' she replied. 'Heaven does not approve your design, and you will assuredly incur its vengeance by your criminal conduct.'

Viviana,' replied Guy Fawkes, rising, man cannot read my heart, but Heaven can; and the sincerity of my purpose will be recognized above. What I am about to do is for the regeneration of our holy religion; and if the welfare of that religion is dear to the Supreme Being, our cause must prosper. If the contrary, it deserves to fail, and will fail. I have ever told you that I care not what becomes of myself. I am now more than ever indifferent to life, or rather,' he added, in a sombre tone, I am anxious to die.' 'Your dreadful wish, I fear, will be accomplished,' replied Viviana, sadly. I have been constantly haunted by frightful apprehensions respecting you, and my dead father has appeared to me in my dreams. His spirit, if such it were, seemed to gaze upon me with a mournful look, and, as I thought, pronounced your name in piteous accents.'

'These forebodings chime with my own,' muttered Fawkes, repressing a shudder; 'but nothing shall shake me. It will inflict a bitter pang upon me to part with you, Viviana-the bitterest I can ever feel, and I shall be glad when it is over.'


'I echo your own wish,' she returned, and deeply lament that we ever met. But the fate that brought us together must for ever unite us.'

'What mean you?' he inquired, gazing fixedly at her.

'There is one sad consolation which you can afford me, and which you owe me for the deep and lasting misery I shall endure on your account,' replied Viviana ;-'a consolation that will enable me to bear your loss with fortitude, and to devote myself wholly to heaven.'

'Whatever I can do that will not interfere with my purpose, you may command,' he rejoined.

'What I have to propose will not interfere with it,' she answered. 'Now, hear me, and put the sole construction I deserve on my conduct. Father Garnet is at a short distance from us, behind those trees, waiting my summons. I have informed him of my design,

and he approves of it. It is to unite us in marriage-solemnly unite us-that though I may never live with you as a wife, I may mourn you as a widow. Do you consent?'

Guy Fawkes returned an affirmative, in a voice broken by emotion.

'The moment the ceremony is over,' pursued Viviana, 'I shall start with Father Oldcorne for Gothurst. We shall never meet again in this world.'

'Unless I succeed?' said Fawkes.

'You will not succeed,' replied Viviana. 'If I thought so, I should not take this step. I look upon it as an espousal with the dead.'

So saying, she hurried away, and disappearing beneath the covert, returned in a few seconds with Garnet.

'I have a strange duty to perform for you, my son,' said Garnet to Fawkes, who remained motionless and stupified; but I am right willing to perform it, because I think it will lead to your future happiness with the fair creature who has bestowed her affections on you.'

'Do not speculate on the future, father,' cried Viviana. 'You know why I asked you to perform the ceremony. You know, also, that I have made preparations for instant departure; and that I indulge no hope of seeing Guy Fawkes again.'

All this I know, dear daughter,' returned Garnet; but, in spite of your anticipations of ill, I still hope that your union may prove auspicious.'

'I take you to witness, father,' said Viviana, 'that in bestowing my hand upon Guy Fawkes, I bestow at the same time all my possessions upon him. He is free to use them as he thinks proper,— even in the furtherance of his design against the state, which, though I cannot approve it, seems good to him.'

'This must not be,' cried Fawkes.

'It shall be,' rejoined Viviana. 'Proceed with the ceremony, father.'

[ocr errors]

'Let her have her own way, my son,' observed Garnet in a low tone. Under any circumstances, her estates must now be neces sarily yours.'

He then took a breviary from his vest, and placing them near each other, began to read aloud the marriage service appointed by the Romish Church. And there, in that secluded spot, and under such extraordinary circumstances, with no other witnesses than the ancient trees around them, and the brook rippling at their feet, were Guy Fawkes and Viviana united. The ceremony over, Guy Fawkes pressed his bride to his breast, and imprinted a kiss upon her lips.' 'I have broken my faith to heaven, to which I was first espoused,' he cried.

'No,' she returned; you will now return to your first and holiest choice. Think of me only as I shall think of you,—as of

the dead.'

With this, the party slowly and silently returned to the house, where they found a couple of steeds, with luggage strapped to the saddles, at the door.

Father Oldcorne was already mounted, and in a few minutes Viviana was by his side. Before her departure, she bade Guy Fawkes a tender farewell, and at this trying juncture her firmness nearly deserted her. But rousing herself, she sprang upon her horse, and urging the animal into a quick pace, and followed by Oldcorne, she speedily disappeared from view. Guy Fawkes watched her out of sight, and shunning the regards of Catesby, who formed one of the group, struck into the forest, and was not seen again till the following day.

The tenth of October having arrived, Guy Fawkes and Catesby repaired to the place of rendezvous. But the night passed, and Tresham did not appear. Catesby was angry and disappointed, and could not conceal his apprehensions of treachery. Fawkes took a different view of the matter, and thought it not improbable that their confederate's absence might be occasioned by the difficulty he found in complying with their demands; and this opinion was confirmed the next morning by the arrival of a letter from Tresham, stating that he had been utterly unable to effect the sales he contemplated, and could not, therefore, procure the money till the end of the month.

'I will immediately go down to Rushton,' said Catesby, and if I find him disposed to palter with us, I will call him to instant account. But Garnet informs me that Viviana has bestowed all her wealth upon you. Are you willing to devote it to the good cause?'

'No!' replied Fawkes, in a tone so decisive that his companion felt it would be useless to urge the matter further. 'I give my life to the cause-that must suffice.'

The subject was never renewed. At night, Catesby, having procured a powerful steed, set out upon his journey to Northamptonshire, while Fawkes returned to White Webbs.

About a fortnight passed unmarked by any event of importance. Despatches were received from Catesby, stating that he had received the money from Tresham, and had expended it in procuring horses and arms. He also added, that he had raised numerous recruits on various pretences. This letter was dated from Ashby St. Leger's, the seat of his mother, Lady Catesby; but he expressed his intention of proceeding to Coughton Hall, near Alcester, in Warwickshire, the residence of Mr. Thomas Throckmorton, (a wealthy Catholic gentleman,) whither Sir Everard Digby had removed with his family, to be in readiness for the grand hunting party to be held on the fifth of November on Dunsmore Heath. Here he expected to be joined by the two Wrights, the Winters, Rookwood, Keyes, and the rest of the conspirators, and undertook to bring them all up to White Webbs on Saturday the twenty-sixth of October.

By this time Guy Fawkes had, in a great degree, recovered his equanimity, and, left alone with Garnet, held long and frequent re

« PreviousContinue »