Page images
[graphic][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]








ABOUT Six o'clock in the morning the conspirators reached Leamington Priors, at that time an inconsiderable village, and having ridden nearly twenty miles over heavy and miry roads, for a good deal of rain had fallen in the night, they stood in need of some refreshment. Accordingly, they entered the first farm-yard they came to, and proceeding to the cow-houses and sheepfolds, turned out the animals within them, and fastening up their own steeds in their places, set before them whatever provender they could find. Those, and they were by far the greater number, who could not find better accommodation, fed their horses in the yard, which was strewn with trusses of hay, and great heaps of corn. The whole scene formed a curious picture. Here was one party driving away the sheep and cattle which were bleating and lowing-there, another rifling a henroost, and slaughtering its cackling inmates. On this hand, by the direction of Catesby, two stout horses were being harnessed with ropes to a cart, which he intended to use as a baggage.waggon; on that, Sir Everard Digby was interposing his authority to prevent the destruction of a fine porker.

Their horses fed, the next care of the conspirators was to obtain something for themselves, and ordering the master of the house, who was terrified almost out of his senses, to open his doors, they entered the dwelling, aud causing a fire to be lighted in the chief room, began to boil a large kettle of broth upon it, and to cook other provisions. Finding a good store of eatables in the larder, rations were served out to the band. Two casks of strong ale were likewise broached, and their contents distributed; and a small keg of strong waters being also discovered, it was disposed of in the same


This, however, was the extent of the mischief done. All the conspirators, but chiefly Catesby and Sir Everard Digby, dispersed themselves amongst the band, and checked any disposition to plunder. The only articles taken away from the house were a couple of old rusty swords and a caliver. Catesby proposed to the farmer to join the expedition. But having now regained his courage, the

[blocks in formation]

sturdy churl obstinately refused to stir a foot with them, and even ventured to utter a wish that the enterprise might fail.

'I am a good Protestant, and a faithful subject of King James, and will never abet Popery and treason,' he said.

This bold sally would have been answered by a bullet from one of the troopers if Catesby had not interfered.

'You shall do as you please, friend,' he said, in a conciliatory tone. We will not compel any man to act against his conscience, and we claim the same right ourselves. Will you join us, good fellows?' he added, to two farming men, who were standing near their


'Must I confess to a priest?' asked one of them.

'Certainly not,' replied Catesby. You shall have no constraint whatever put upon you. All I require is obedience to my commands in the field.'

Then I am with you,' replied the fellow.

'Thou'rt a traitor and rebel, Sam Morrell,' cried the other hind, ' and wilt come to a traitor's end. I will never fight against King James. And if I must take up arms, it shall be against his enemies, and in defence of our religion. No priests-no papistry for me.' 'Well said, Hugh,' cried his master; we'll die in that cause if need be.'


Catesby turned angrily away, and giving the word to his men to prepare to set forth, in a few minutes all were in the saddle; but on inquiring for the new recruit, Sam Morrell, it was found he had disappeared. The cart was laden with arms, ammunition, and a few sacks of corn, and the line being formed, they commenced their march.

The morning was dark and misty, and all looked dull and dispiriting. The conspirators, however, were full of confidence, and their men, exhilarated and refreshed by their meal, appeared anxious for an opportunity of distinguishing themselves. Arrived within half a church of St. Nicho

mile of Warwick, whence the lofty spire of the las, the tower of Saint Mary's, and the ancient gates of this beautiful old town could just be discerned through the mist, a short consultation was held by the rebel leaders as to the expediency of attacking the castle, and carrying off the horses with which they had learnt its stables were filled.

Deciding upon making the attempt, their resolution was communicated to their followers, and received with loud acclamations. Catesby then put himself at the head of the band, and they all rode forward at a brisk pace. Crossing the bridge over the Avon, whence the castle burst upon them in all its grandeur and beauty, Catesby dashed forward to an embattled gate commanding the approach to the structure, and knocking furiously against it, a wicket was opened

« PreviousContinue »