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at this season, and at this hour, both park and mansion had a forlorn look. The weather still continued foggy, with drizzling showers, and though the trees were not yet entirely stripped of their foliage, their glories had altogether departed. The turf was damp and plashy, and in some places partook so much of the character of a swamp, that the horsemen were obliged to alter their course.
But all obstacles were eventually overcome, and in ten minutes after their entrance into the park, they were within gun-shot of the mansion. There were no symptoms of defence apparent, but the drawbridge being raised, it was Catesby's opinion, notwithstanding appearances, that their arrival was expected. He was further confirmed in this idea when, sounding a trumpet, and calling to the porter to let down the drawbridge, no answer was returned.
The entrance to the mansion was through a lofty and machiolated gateway, strengthened at each side by an embattled turret. Perceiving a man at one of the loopholes, Catesby discharged his petronel at him, and it was evident from the cry that followed that the person was wounded. An instant afterwards, calivers were thrust through the other loopholes, and several shots fired upon the rebels, while some dozen armed men appeared upon the summit of the tower, and likewise commenced firing.
Perceiving Topcliffe among the latter, and enraged at the sight, Catesby discharged another petronel at him, but without effect. He then called to some of his men to break down the door of an adjoining barn, and to place it in the moat. The order was instantly obeyed, and the door afloat in the fosse, and springing upon it, he impelled himself with a pike towards the opposite bank. Several shots were fired at him, and though more than one struck the door, he crossed the moat uninjured. So suddenly was this daring passage effected, that before any of the defenders of the mansion could prevent him, Catesby had severed the links of the chain fastening the rawbridge, and it fell clattering down.
With a loud shout, his companions then crossed it. But they had still a difficulty to encounter. The gates, which were of great strength, and covered with plates of iron, were barred. But a ladder having been found in the barn, it was brought forward, and Catesby, mounting it sword in hand, drove back all who opposed, and got upon the wall. He was followed by Sir Everard Digby, Percy, and several others, and driving the royalists before them, they made their way down a flight of stone steps, and proceeding to the gateway, threw it open, and admitted the others. All this was the work of a few minutes.
Committing the ransacking of the mansion to Digby and Percy, and commanding a dozen men to follow him, Catesby entered a small arched doorway, and ascended a winding stone staircase in search of Topcliffe. His progress was opposed by the soldiers, but
beating aside all opposition, he gained the roof. Topcliffe, however, was gone. Anticipating the result of the attack, he had let himself drop from the summit of the tower to the walls, and descending by the ladder, had made good his retreat.
Disarming the soldiers, Catesby then descended to the court-yard, where in a short time a large store of arms, consisting of corselets, demi-lances, pikes, calivers, and two falconets, were brought forth. These, together with a cask of powder, were placed in the baggage-waggon. Meanwhile, the larder and cellar had been explored, and provision of all kinds, together with a barrel of mead, and another of strong ale, being found, they were distributed among the
While this took place, Catesby searched the mansion, and, partly by threats, partly by persuasion, induced about twenty persons to join them. This unlooked-for success so encouraged the conspirators that their drooping spirits began to revive. Catesby appeared as much elated as the others, but at heart he was full of misgiving.
Soon afterwards, the rebel party quitted Hewel Grange, taking with them every weapon they could find. The forced recruits were placed in the midst of the band, so that escape was impracticable.
AVOIDING the high road, and traversing an unfrequented part of the country, the conspirators shaped their course towards Stourbridge. As they reached Forfield Green, they perceived a large party descending the hilly ground near Bromsgrove, and evidently in pursuit of them. An immediate halt was ordered, and taking possession of a farm-house, they prepared themselves for defence.
Seeing these preparations, their pursuers, who proved to be Sir Richard Walsh, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, Sir John Foliot, three gentlemen, named Ketelbye, Salwaye, and Conyers, attended by a large posse of men, all tolerably well armed, drew up at some distance from the farm, and appeared to be consulting on the prudence of making an attack. Topcliffe was with them; and Catesby, who reconnoitred their proceedings from a window of the dwelling, inferred from his gestures that he was against the assault. And so it proved. The royalist party remained where they were, and as one or two of their number were occasionally sent away, Catesby judged, and correctly, that they expected some reinforcement.
Not willing to wait for this, he determined to continue his march, and, accordingly, forming his men into a close line, and bringing up the rear himself, they again set forward. Sir Richard Walsh and his
party followed them, and whenever they were in a difficult part of the road, harassed them with a sudden attack. In this way several stragglers were cut off, and a few prisoners made. So exasperated did Catesby become by these annoyances that, though desirous to push forward as fast as possible, he halted at he entrance of a common, and prepared for an engagement. But his purpose was defeated, for the royalist party took another course, nor did he see anything
more of them for some time.
In about an hour the rebels arrived at the banks of the river Stour, not far from the little village of Churchill, and here, just as they were preparing to ford the stream, the Sheriff and his followers again made their appearance. By this time, also, the forces of their opponents were considerably augmented, and as more than a third of their own party were engaged in crossing the stream, which was greatly swollen by the recent rains, and extremely dangerous, their position was one of no slight peril.
Nothing daunted, however, Catesby instantly drew up his men on the bank, and, after a short skirmish, drove away the enemy, and afterwards contrived to cross the river without much loss. He found, however, that the baggage-cart had got immersed in the stream, and it was feared that the powder would be damaged. They remained on the opposite bank for some time; but, as their enemies did not attempt to follow them, they took the way to Holbeach, a large and strongly built mansion belonging, as has been already stated, to Stephen Littleton. Here they arrived without further molestation, and their first business was to put it into a complete state of defence.
After a long and anxious consultation, Sir Everard Digby quitted them, undertaking to return on the following day with succours. Stephen Littleton also disappeared on the same evening. His flight produced a strong impression on Catesby, and he besought the others not to abandon the good cause, but to stand by it, as he himself meant to do, to the last. They all earnestly assured him that they would do so, except Robert Winter, who sat apart, and took no share in their discourse.
Catesby then examined the arms and powder that had been plunged in the water in crossing the Stour, and found that the latter had been so much wetted as to be nearly useless. A sufficient stock of powder being of the utmost consequence to them, he caused all the contents of the barrel not dissolved by the water to be poured into a large platter, and proceeded to dry it before a fire which had been kindled in the hall. A bag of powder, which had likewise been slightly wetted, was also placed at what was considered a safe distance from the fire.
'Heaven grant this may prove more destructive to our enemies
than the combustibles we placed in the mine beneath the Parliament House,' observed Percy.
'Heaven grant so, indeed!' rejoined Catesby, with a moody smile. They would call it retribution, were we to perish by the same means which we designed for others.'
'Jest not on so serious a matter, Catesby,' observed Robert Winter. For my own part, I dread the sight of powder, and shall walk forth till you have dried this, and put it away.'
'You are not going to leave us like Stephen Littleton?' rejoined Catesby, suspiciously.
'I will go with him,' said Christopher Wright; 'so you need be under no apprehension.'
Accordingly, he quitted the hall with Robert Winter, and they proceeded to the court-yard, and were conversing together on the dismal prospects of the party, when a tremendous explosion took place. The roof of the building seemed rent in twain, and amidst a shower of tiles, plaster, bricks, and broken wood falling around, the bag of powder dropped untouched at their feet.
Mother of mercy!' exclaimed Christopher Wright, picking it up. 'Here is a providential occurrence. Had this exploded, we must all have been destroyed.'
'Let us see what has happened,' cried Robert Winter.
And, followed by Christopher Wright, he rushed towards the hall, and bursting open the door, beheld Catesby enveloped in a cloud of smoke, and pressing his hand to his face, which was scorched and blackened by the explosion. Rookwood was stretched on the floor in a state of insensibility, and it at first appeared that life was extinct. Percy was extinguishing the flames, which had caught his dress, and John Grant was similarly occupied.
Those are the very faces I beheld in my dream,' cried Robert Winter, gazing at them with affright. It was a true warning.'
Rushing up to Catesby, Christopher Wright clasped him in his arms, and extinguishing his flaming apparel, cried, Wretch that I am! that I should live to see this day!'
'Be not alarmed!' gasped Catesby. It is nothing-it was a mere
It is no accident, Catesby,' replied Robert Winter. 'Heaven is against us and our design.'
And he quitted the room, and left the house. Nor did he return to it.
I will pray for forgiveness!' cried Percy, whose vision was so much injured by the explosion that he could as yet see nothing. And dragging himself before an image of the Virgin, he prayed aloud, acknowledging that the act he had designed was so bloody that it called for the vengeance of Heaven, and expressing his sincere repentance.
'No more of this,' cried Catesby, staggering up to him, and snatching the image from him. It was a mere accident, I tell you. We are all alive, and shall yet succeed.'
On inquiry, Christopher Wright learnt that a blazing coal had shot out of the fire, and falling into the platter containing the powder, had occasioned the disastrous accident above described.
HOURS IN HINDOSTAN.
Men will often, until rendered sager,
EVERY one bets in India: betting is the life and soul of society. Ladies smoke rose-water hookahs, and bet gold mohurs; gentlemen puff strong chillums, and stake lacs of rupees: everything that comes on the table, everything that passes the window, becomes the subject of a wager; the number of almonds served up on a desert plate, or the probable sex of the next passer-by, may cause the transfer of thousands,-nay, hundreds of thousands; for in a country where none wear purses, money becomes a mere nominal commodity, only to be spoken of, rarely to be seen; the consequence naturally results, that it being quite as easy to talk of thousands as hundreds, and far more imposing to do so, lacs of rupees are sported till the unfortunate sporter, if not exceedingly knowing, lacks everything, and the rich idler becomes the tool of the knowing sharper, who makes gambling his profession, and as such, studies it during those hours devoted by the less clever man to amassing riches to pay his debts.
Charles Macauley (this was not bonâ fide his name, but I will call him so) was one of the former,—that is to say, a good fellow, who would bet on certainties, drug your wine, or play with you for what you liked, whenever he was certain of having the best of it.
James Gordon had long been a flat. While up the country, he had lost large sums of money to Colonel Macauley, but finding it more convenient, had come down to Calcutta to fill a lucrative post; had been two years in the capital of Bengal, and was not quite so raw as he once had been. Charles was unaware of this little fact, or perhaps he would not have followed him down with the kind intent of fleecing him; however, these surmises have nothing to do with this sketch.
Colonel Charles Macauley had not arrived two hours in Tank Square, ere he heard that his old friend Gordon was making money fast, that he was to give a very grand dinner-party the next day, and that the said dinner was to be served on some splendid new diningtables, imported from Europe by the luxurious civilian: this information seemed strangely to interest Charley. At eleven o'clock next morning, the gallant Colonel jumped into his palanquin, and away he jogged to Chowringee, to see his old friend.
'Sahib in Ghurmi hi?' The question replied to in the affirmative, Charley ascended the stairs amid the low salaams of the linen-wrapped kidmigars who lolled about the piazzas and passages. At last the great hall or banqueting-room was gained, and a very fine room it was. 'Gordon Sahib-make shabe-come directly,' said the confidential sedar of the great man.
'Bohut achar,' responded the visitor.
'Walky in here ?'
'Rather not. I'll wait here till your master has finished his toilette: you may go ;' and the Colonel began to hum an air with a degree of carelessness peculiar to well-bred people, very different from the vulgarity of Mrs. Trollope's Americans. The black servant va38