Page images
PDF
EPUB

'Not so,' replied the lieutenant; and if you persist in this stubborn demeanour, the severest measures will be adopted towards you. Your sole chance of avoiding the torture is in making af ull confession.'

'I do not desire to avoid the torture,' replied Fawkes. It will wrest nothing from me.'

'So all think till they have experienced it,' replied the lieutenant: 'but greater fortitude than yours has given way before our engines.'

Fawkes smiled disdainfully, but made no answer.

The lieutenant then gave directions that he should be placed within a small cell adjoining the larger chamber, and that two of the guard should remain constantly beside him, to prevent him from doing himself any violence.

'You need have no fear,' observed Fawkes. 'I shall not destroy my chance of martyrdom.'

At this juncture, a messenger arrived, bearing a despatch from the Earl of Salisbury. The lieutenant broke the seal, and after hurriedly perusing it, drew his sword, and desiring the guard to station themselves outside the door, approached Fawkes.

'Notwithstanding the enormity of your offence,' he observed, 'I find his Majesty will graciously spare your life, provided you will reveal the names of all your associates, and disclose every particular connected with the plot.'

Guy Fawkes appeared lost in reflection, and the lieutenant, conceiving he had made an impression upon him, repeated the offer.

How am I to be assured of this?' asked the prisoner. 'My promise must suffice,' rejoined Waad. ''It will not suffice to me,' returned Fawkes. don signed by the King.'

'I must have a par

'You shall have it on one condition,' replied Waad. 'You are evidently troubled with few scruples. It is the Earl of Salisbury's conviction that the heads of many important Catholic families are connected with this plot. If they should prove to be so,-or, to be plain, if you will accuse certain persons whom I will specify, you shall have the pardon you require.'

[ocr errors]

'Is this the purport of the Earl of Salisbury's despatch ?' asked Guy Fawkes.

The lieutenant nodded.

C

'Let me look at it,' continued Fawkes. You may be practising upon me.'

'Your own perfidious nature makes you suspicious of treachery in others,' cried the lieutenant-' Will this satisfy you.'

And he held the letter towards Guy Fawkes, who instantly snatched it from his grasp.

'What ho!' he shouted, in a loud voice, 'what ho!' and the guards instantly rushed into the room. 'You shall learn why you were sent away. Sir William Waad has offered me my life on the

part of the Earl of Salisbury, provided I will accuse certain innocent parties-innocent, except that they are Catholics-of being leagued with me in my design. Read this letter, and see whether I speak not the truth.'

And he threw it among them. But no one stirred, except a war. der, who, picking it up, delivered it to the lieutenant.

'You will now understand whom you have to deal with,' pursued Fawkes.

'I do,' replied Waad; but were you as unyielding as the walls of this prison, I would shake your obduracy.'

'I pray you not to delay the experiment,' said Fawkes.

'Have a little patience,' retorted Waad. I will not baulk your humour, depend upon it.'

With this he departed, and repairing to his lodgings, wrote a hasty despatch to the Earl, detailing all that had passed, and requesting a warrant for the torture, as he was apprehensive if the prisoner expired under the severe application that would be necessary to force the truth from him, he might be called to account. Two hours afterwards, the messenger returned with the warrant. It was in the handwriting of the King, and contained a list of interrogations to be put to the prisoner, concluding by directing him 'to use the gentler torture first, et sic per gradus ad ima tenditur. And so God speed you in your good work!'

Thus armed, and fearless of the consequences, the lieutenant summoned Jasper Ipgreve.

'We have a very refractory prisoner to deal with,' he said, as the jailor appeared. But I have just received the royal authority to put him through all the degrees of torture if he continues obstinate. How shall we begin?'

'With the Scavenger's Daughter and the Little Ease, if it please you, honourable sir,' replied Ipgreve. If these fail, we can try the gauntlets and the rack; and lastly, the dungeon among the rats, and the hot stone.'

'A good progression,' said the lieutenant, smiling. I will now repair to the torture chamber. Let the prisoner be brought there without delay. He is in the Beauchamp Tower.'

Ipgreve bowed, and departed, while the lieutenant, calling to an attendant to bring a torch, proceeded along a narrow passage com. municating with the Bell Tower. Opening a secret door within it, he descended a flight of stone steps, and traversing a number of intricate passages, at length stopped before a strong door, which he pushed aside, and entered the chamber he had mentioned to Ipgreve. This dismal apartment has already been described. It was that in which Viviana's constancy was so fearfully approved. Two officials in the peculiar garb of the place-a sable livery-were occupied in polishing the various steel implements. Besides these, there was the chirurgeon, who was seated at a side table reading by the light of a brazen

lamp. He instantly arose on seeing the lieutenant, and began with the other officials to make preparations for the prisoner's arrival. The two latter concealed their features by drawing a large black capoch, or hood, attached to their gowns, over them, and this disguise added materially to their lugubrious appearance. One of them took down a broad iron hoop, opening in the centre with a hinge, and held it in readiness. Their preparations were scarcely completed when heavy footsteps announced the approach of Fawkes and his attendants. Jasper Ipgreve ushered them into the chamber, and fastened the door behind them. All the subsequent proceedings were conducted with the utmost deliberation, and were therefore doubly impressive. No undue haste occurred, and the officials, who might have been mistaken for phantoms or evil spirits, spoke only in whispers. Guy Fawkes watched their movements with unaltered composure. At length, Jasper Ipgreve signified to the lieutenant that all was ready.

"

The opportunity you desired of having your courage put to the test is now arrived,' said the latter to the prisoner.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

What am I to do?' was the reply.

Remove your doublet, and prostrate yourself,' subjoined Ip

greve.

Guy Fawkes obeyed, and when in this posture began audibly to recite a prayer to the Virgin.

(

'Be silent,' cried the lieutenant, or a gag shall be thrust into your mouth.'

Kneeling upon the prisoner's shoulders, and passing the hoop under his legs, Ipgreve then succeeded, with the help of his assistants, who added their weight to his own, in fastening the hoop with an iron button. This done, they left the prisoner, with his limbs and body so tightly compressed together, that he was scarcely able to breathe. In this state he was allowed to remain for an hour and a half. The chirurgeon then found on examination, that the blood had burst profusely from his mouth and nostrils, and in a slighter degree from the extremities of his hands and feet.

'He must be released,' he observed in an undertone to the lieutenant. Further continuance might be fatal.'

Accordingly, the hoop was removed, and it was at this moment that the prisoner underwent the severest trial. Despite his efforts to control himself, a sharp convulsion passed across his frame, and the restoration of impeded circulation and respiration occasioned him the most acute agony.

The chirurgeon bathed his temples with vinegar, and his limbs being chafed by the officials, he was placed on a bench.

'My warrant directs me to begin with the "gentler tortures," and to proceed by degress to extremities,' observed the lieutenant, sig.

nificantly. You have now had a taste of the milder sort, and may form some conjecture what the worst are like. Do you still continue contumacious?'

'I am in the same mind as before,' replied Fawkes, in a hoarse but firm voice.

'Take him to the Little Ease, and let him pass the night there,' said the lieutenant. To-morrow, I will continue the investigation." Fawkes was then led out by Ipgreve and the officials, and conveyed along a narrow passage, until arriving at a low door, in which there was an iron grating, it was opened, and disclosed a narrow cell about four feet high, one and a few inches wide, and two deep. Into this narrow receptacle, which seemed wholly inadequate to contain a tall and strongly-built man like himself, the prisoner was with some difficulty thrust, and the door locked upon him.

In this miserable plight, with his head bent upon his breast,the cell being so contrived that its wretched inmate could neither sit, nor recline at full length within it,-Guy Fawkes prayed long and fervently, and no longer troubled by the uneasy feelings which had for some time haunted him, he felt happier in his present forlorn condition than he had been when anticipating the full success of his project.

'At least,' he thought, 'I shall now win myself a crown of martyrdom, and whatever my present sufferings may be, they will be speedily effaced by the happiness I shall enjoy hereafter.'

Overcome, at length, by weariness and exhaustion, he fell into a sort of doze, it could scarcely be called sleep-and while in this state, fancied he was visited by Saint Winifred, who, approaching the door of the cell, touched it, and it instantly opened. She then placed her hand upon his limbs, and the pain he had hitherto felt in them subsided.

6 Your troubles will soon be over,' murmured the saint, and you will be at rest. Do not hesitate to confess. Your silence will neither serve your companions, nor yourself.'

With these words the vision disappeared, and Guy Fawkes awoke. Whether it was the effect of imagination, or that his robust constitution had in reality shaken off the effects of the torture, it is impossible to say, but it is certain that he felt his strength restored to him, and attributing his recovery entirely to the marvellous interposition of the saint, he addressed a prayer of gratitude to her. While thus occupied, he heard-for it was so dark he could distinguish nothing-a sweet low voice at the grating of the cell, and imagining it was the same benign presence as before, paused and listened.

'Do you hear me?' asked the voice.

'I do,' replied Fawkes. Is it the blessed Winifred who again vouchsafes to address me?'

Alas, no replied the voice, it is one of mortal mould. I am Ruth Ipgreve, the jailor's daughter. You may remember that I expressed some sympathy in your behalf at your landing at Traitor's Gate to-day, for which I incurred my father's displeasure. But you will be quite sure I am a friend, when I tell you I assisted Viviana Radcliffe to escape.'

'Ha!' exclaimed Guy Fawkes, in a tone of great emotion.

'I was in some degree in her confidence,' pursued Ruth; and if I am not mistaken, you are the object of her warmest regard.'

The prisoner could not repress a groan.

'You are Guy Fawkes,' pursued Ruth. Nay, you need have no fear of me. I have risked my life for Viviana, and would risk it for you.'

[ocr errors]

'I will disguise nothing from you,' replied Fawkes. 'I am he you have named. As the husband of Viviana,-for such I am,-I feel the deepest gratitude to you for the service you rendered her. She bitterly reproached herself with having placed you in so much danger. How did you escape?'

'I was screened by my parents,' replied Ruth. 'It was given out by them that Viviana escaped through the window of her prison, and I was thus preserved from punishment. Where is she now?' In safety, I trust,' replied Fawkes. Alas! I shall never behold her again.'

"

'Do not despair,' returned Ruth. I will try to effect your liberation; and though I have but slender hope of accomplishing it, still there is a chance.'

'I do not desire it,' returned Fawkes. 'I am content to perish. All I lived for is at an end.'

This shall not deter me from trying to save you,' replied Ruth; ' and I still trust there is happiness in store for you with Viviana. Amid all your sufferings, rest certain there is one who will ever watch over you. I dare not remain here longer, for fear of a surprise. Farewell!'

She then departed, and it afforded Guy Fawkes some solace to ponder on the interview during the rest of the night.

On the following morning, Jasper Ipgreve appeared, and placed before him a loaf of the coarsest bread, and a jug of dirty water. His scanty meal ended, he left him, but returned in two hours afterwards with a party of halberdiers, and desiring him to follow him, led the way to the torture-chamber. Sir William Waad was there when he arrived, and demanding in a stern tone whether he still continued obstinate, and receiving no answer, ordered him to be placed in the gauntlets. Upon this, he was suspended from a beam by his hands, and endured five hours of the most excruciating agony,—his fingers being so crushed and lacerated that he could not move them.

He was then taken down, and still refusing to confess, was con

« PreviousContinue »