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Title: The Star-Chamber, Volume 2
       An Historical Romance
Author: W. Harrison Ainsworth



IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.


LEIPZIG

BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

1854.




CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.

CHAPTER

     I. Poison
    II. Counter-Poison
   III. Showing that "our pleasant vices are made the whips to scourge us."
    IV. How the forged Confession was produced
     V. A visit to Sir Giles Mompesson's habitation near the fleet
    VI. Of the Wager between the Conde de Gondomar and the Marquis
        of Buckingham
   VII. A Cloud in the Horizon
  VIII. Whitehall
    IX. Prince Charles
     X. The old Palace-Yard of Westminster
    XI. The Tilt-Yard
   XII. The Tilting-Match
  XIII. The Felon Knight
   XIV. The private Cabinet of Sir Giles Mompesson
    XV. Clement Lanyere's Story
   XVI. Sir Jocelyn's rupture with de Gondomar
  XVII. Disgrace
 XVIII. How Sir Jocelyn's cause was espoused by the 'prentices
   XIX. A Noble Revenge
    XX. A Place of Refuge
   XXI. The Arrest
  XXII. The Old Fleet Prison
 XXIII. How Sir Jocelyn was brought to the Fleet
  XXIV. The Abduction
   XXV. The "Stone Coffin."
  XXVI. A Secret Friend
 XXVII. Showing how judgment was given by King James in the Star-Chamber
        in the great cause of the Countess of Exeter against Sir Thomas
        and Lady Lake
XXVIII. The two warrants
  XXIX. The Silver Coffer
   XXX. How the Marriage was interrupted
  XXXI. Accusations
 XXXII. Judgment

CONCLUDING CHAPTER.--Retribution




CHAPTER I.

Poison.


The execution of Lady Lake's criminal and vindictive project would not
have been long deferred, after the defeat she had sustained from Lord
Roos, but for her husband's determined opposition. This may appear
surprising in a man so completely under his wife's governance as was Sir
Thomas; but the more he reflected upon the possible consequences of the
scheme, the more averse to it he became; and finding all arguments
unavailing to dissuade his lady from her purpose, he at last summoned up
resolution enough positively to interdict it.

But the project was only deferred, and not abandoned. The forged
confession was kept in readiness by Lady Lake for production on the
first favourable opportunity.

Not less disinclined to the measure than her father was Lady Roos,
though the contrary had been represented to Sir Thomas by his lady; but
accustomed to yield blind obedience to her mother's wishes, she had been
easily worked upon to acquiesce in the scheme, especially as the
fabricated confession did not appear to hurt her husband, for whom
(though she did not dare to exhibit it) she maintained a deep and
unchanging affection. So utterly heart-broken was she by the prolonged
and painful struggle she had undergone, that she was now almost
indifferent to its issue.

For some time her health had given way under the severe shocks she had
endured; but all at once more dangerous symptoms began to manifest
themselves, and she became so greatly indisposed that she could not
leave her room. Extremely distressing in its effects, the attack
resembled fever. Inextinguishable thirst tormented her; burning pains;
throbbing in the temples; and violent fluttering of the heart. No
alleviation of her sufferings could be obtained from the remedies
administered by Luke Hatton, who was in constant attendance upon her;
nor will this be wondered at, since we are in the secret of his dark
doings. On the contrary, the fever increased in intensity; and at the
end of four days of unremitting agony,--witnessed with cynical
indifference by the causer of the mischief,--it was evident that her
case was desperate.

From the first Lady Lake had been greatly alarmed, for with all her
faults she was an affectionate mother, though she had a strange way of
showing her affection; and she was unremitting in her attentions to the
sufferer, scarcely ever quitting her bedside. After a few days, however,
thus spent in nursing her daughter, she herself succumbed to a like
malady. The same devouring internal fire scorched her up, and raged
within her veins; the same unappeasable thirst tormented her; and unable
longer to fulfil her task, she confided it to Sarah Swarton, and
withdrew to another chamber, communicating by a side door, masked by
drapery, with that of Lady Roos.

Devoted to her mistress, Sarah Swarton would have sacrificed her life to
restore her to health; and she cared not though the fever might be
infectious. The gentleness and resignation of the ill-fated lady, which
failed to move Luke Hatton, melted her to tears; and it was with
infinite grief that she saw her, day by day, sinking slowly but surely
into the grave. To Lady Roos, the presence of Sarah Swarton was an
inexpressible comfort. The handmaiden was far superior to her station,
with a pleasing countenance, and prepossessing manner, and possessed of
the soft voice so soothing to the ear of pain. But the chief comfort
derived by Lady Roos from the society of Sarah Swarton, was the power of
unbosoming herself to her respecting her husband, and of pouring her
sorrows into a sympathising ear. Lord Roos had never been near his wife
since her seizure--nor, that she could learn, had made any inquiries
about her; but notwithstanding his heartless conduct, her great desire
was to behold him once more before she died, and to breathe some last
words into his ear; and she urged the wish so strongly upon her
confidante, that the latter promised, if possible, to procure its
accomplishment.

A week had now nearly elapsed--the fatal term appointed by Luke
Hatton--and it could be no longer doubted that, if the last
gratification sought by Lady Roos were to be afforded her, it must not
be delayed.

The poor sufferer was wasted to a skeleton; her cheeks hollow; eyes sunk
in deep cavities, though the orbs were unnaturally bright; and her frame
so debilitated, that she could scarcely raise herself from the pillow.

Sarah Swarton accordingly resolved to set out upon her errand; but
before doing so, she sought an interview with Lady Lake, for the purpose
of revealing certain fearful suspicions she had begun to entertain of
Luke Hatton. She would have done this before, but there was almost
insuperable difficulty in obtaining a few words in private of her
ladyship. The apothecary was continually passing from room to room,
hovering nigh the couches of his patients, as if afraid of leaving them
for a moment, and he seemed to regard Sarah herself with distrust. But
he had now gone forth, and she resolved to take advantage of his absence
to make her communication.




CHAPTER II.

Counter-Poison.


The physical tortures endured by Lady Lake were exceeded by her mental
anguish. While the poison raged within her veins, the desire of
vengeance inflamed her breast; and her fear was lest she should expire
without gratifying it. Bitterly did she now upbraid herself for having
delayed her vindictive project. More than once she consulted Luke Hatton
as he stood beside her couch, with the habitual sneer upon his lips,
watching the progress of his own infernal work, as to the possibility of
renovating her strength, if only for an hour, in order that she might
strike the blow. But he shook his head, and bade her wait. Wait,
however, she would not, and she became at length so impatient, that he
agreed to make the experiment, telling her he would prepare a draught
which should stimulate her into new life for a short time, but he would
not answer for the after consequences. This was enough. She eagerly
grasped at the offer. Revenge must be had, cost what it would. And it
was to prepare the potion which was to effect her brief cure that Luke
Hatton had quitted her chamber, and left the coast clear for Sarah
Swarton.

Startled by the abrupt entrance and looks of the handmaiden, Lady Lake
anxiously inquired if all was well with her daughter.

"As well as it, seems ever likely to be with her, my lady," replied
Sarah Swarton. "She is somewhat easier now. But has your ladyship
courage to listen to what I have to tell you?"

"Have I ever shown want of courage, Sarah, that you should put such a
question?" rejoined Lady Lake, sharply.

"But this is something frightful, my lady."

"Then do not hesitate to disclose it."

"Has your ladyship never thought it a strange illness by which you and
my Lady Roos have been seized?" said Sarah, coming close up to her, and
speaking in a low, hurried tone, as if afraid of being overheard, or
interrupted.

"Why should I think it strange, Sarah?" returned Lady Lake, regarding
her fixedly. "It is a dreadful and infectious fever which I have taken
from my daughter; and that is the reason why Sir Thomas, and all others,
except Luke Hatton and yourself, are forbidden to come near us. What we
should have done without you, Sarah, I know not, for Luke Hatton tells
me the rest of the household shun us as they would a pestilence. I trust
you will escape the disorder, and if I am spared your devotion shall be
adequately requited. As to Luke Hatton, he seems to have no fear of it."

"He has no reason to be afraid," replied Sarah, significantly. "This is
no fever, my lady."

"How!" cried Lady Lake. "Would you set up your ignorance against the
skill and science of Luke Hatton? Or do you mean to insinuate--"

"I insinuate nothing, my lady," interrupted Sarah; "but I beseech you to
bear with fortitude the disclosure I am about to make to you. In a word,
my lady, I am as certain as I am of standing here, that poison has been
administered both to you and to my Lady Roos."

At this terrible communication, a mortal sickness came over Lady Lake.
Thick damps gathered upon her brow, and she fixed her haggard eyes upon
Sarah.

"Poisoned!" she muttered; "poisoned! If so, there is but one person who
can have done it--but one--except yourself, Sarah!"

"If I had committed the crime, should I have come hither to warn you, my
lady?" rejoined Sarah.

"Then it must be Luke Hatton."

"Ay," replied Sarah, looking round anxiously. "It is he. When he did not
think I noticed him, I chanced to see him pour a few drops from a phial
into the drink he prepares for your ladyship and my Lady Roos; and my
suspicions being aroused by his manner as much as by the circumstance, I
watched him narrowly, and found that this proceeding was repeated with
every draught; with this difference merely, that the dose was increased
in strength by one additional drop; the potion administered to your
ladyship being some degrees less powerful than that given to my dear
lady, and no doubt being intended to be slower in its effects. That it
was poison, I am certain, since I have tested it upon myself, by sipping
a small quantity of the liquid; and I had reason to repent my rashness,
for I soon perceived I had the same symptoms of illness as those which
distress your ladyship."

"Why did you not caution me sooner, Sarah?" said Lady Lake,
horror-stricken by this narration.

"I could not do so, my lady," she replied. "It was only yesterday that I
arrived at a positive certainty in the matter, and after my imprudence
in tasting the drink, I was very ill--indeed I am scarcely well yet;
and, to tell truth, I was afraid of Luke Hatton, as I am sure he would
make away with me, without a moment's hesitation, if he fancied I had
discovered his secret. Oh, I hope he will not come back and find me
here."

"Who can have prompted him to the deed?" muttered Lady Lake. "But why
ask, since I know my enemies, and therefore know his employers! Not a
moment must be lost, Sarah. Let Sir Thomas Lake be summoned to me
immediately. If he be at Theobalds, at Greenwich, or Windsor, let
messengers be sent after him, praying him to use all possible dispatch
in coming to me. I cannot yet decide what I will do, but it shall be
something terrible. Oh, that I could once more confront the guilty pair!
And I will do it--I will do it! Revenge will give me strength."

"I cannot undertake to bring the Countess hither, my lady," said Sarah.
"But I may now venture to inform you that I am charged with a message
from my dear lady to her cruel husband, with which I am persuaded he
will comply, and come to her."

"Lure him hither, and speedily, by any means you can, Sarah," rejoined
Lady Lake. "Before you go, help to raise me from my couch, and place me
in that chair. It is well," she cried, as her wishes were complied with.
"I do not feel so feeble as I expected. I was sure revenge would give me
strength. Now give me my black velvet robe, and my coif. Even in this
extremity I would only appear as beseems me. And hark ye, Sarah, open
that drawer, and take out the weapon you will find within it. Do as I
bid you quickly, wench. I may need it."

"Here it is, my lady," replied Sarah, taking out a dagger, and giving it
to Lady Lake, who immediately concealed it in the folds of her robe.

"Now go," pursued the lady; "I am fully prepared. Let not a moment be
lost in what you have to do. Do not give any alarm. But bid two of the
trustiest of the household hold themselves in readiness without, and if
I strike upon the bell to rush in upon the instant. Or if Luke Hatton
should come forth, let him be detained. You understand?"

"Perfectly, my lady," replied Sarah, "and I make no doubt they will
obey. I am sure it has only been Luke Hatton who, by his false
representations, has kept them away, and I will remove the impression he
has produced."

"Do not explain more than is needful at present," said Lady Lake. "We
know not precisely how this plot may have been laid, and must take its
authors by surprise. You were once more intimate than I liked with that
Spanish knave, Diego. Breathe not a word to him, or all will be repeated
to his master."

"Rest assured I will be careful, my lady. I have seen nothing whatever
of Diego of late, and care not if I never behold him again. But what is
to happen to my dear lady?"

"Leave her to me," replied Lady Lake. "I hope yet to be able to save
her. Ha! here comes the villain. Away with you, Sarah, and see that my
orders are obeyed."

The handmaiden did not require the command to be repeated, but hastily
quitted the room, casting a terrified look at the apothecary, who
entered it at the same moment.

Luke Hatton appeared greatly surprised on finding Lady Lake risen from
her couch, and could not help exclaiming, as he quickly advanced towards
her--"You up, my lady! This is very imprudent, and may defeat my plans."

"No doubt you think so," rejoined Lady Lake; "but knowing you would
oppose my inclination, I got Sarah to lift me from the couch, and tire
me during your absence. Have you prepared the mixture?"

"I have, my lady," he replied, producing a small phial.

"Give it me," she cried, taking it from him.

After examining the pale yellow fluid it contained for a moment, she
took out the glass stopper, and, smelling at it, perceived it to be a
very subtle and volatile spirit.

"Is this poison?" she demanded, fixing her eyes keenly upon Luke Hatton.

"On the contrary, my lady," he replied, without expressing any
astonishment at the question, "it would be an antidote to almost any
poison. It is the rarest cordial that can be prepared, and the secret of
its composition is only known to myself. When I said your ladyship would
incur great risk in taking it, I meant that the reaction from so
powerful a stimulant would be highly dangerous. But you declared you
did not heed the consequences."

"Nor do I," she rejoined. "Yet I would see it tasted."

"Your mind shall be made easy on that score in a moment, my lady," said
Luke Hatton.

And taking a small wine-glass that stood by, he rinsed it with water and
carefully wiped it; after which he poured a few drops of the liquid into
it and swallowed them.

During this proceeding Lady Lake's gaze never quitted him for a second.
Apparently satisfied with the test, she bade him return the phial to
her.

"You had better let me pour it out for you, my lady," he replied,
cleansing the glass as before. "The quantity must be exactly observed.
Twenty drops, and no more."

"My hand is as steady as your own, and I can count the drops as
accurately," she rejoined, taking the phial from him. "Twenty, you say?"

"Twenty, my lady," rejoined Hatton, evidently displeased; "but perhaps
you had better confine yourself to fifteen, or even ten. 'T will be
safer."

"You think the larger dose might give me too much strength--ha! What say
you to fifty, or a hundred?"

"It must not be, my lady--it must not be. You will destroy yourself. It
is my duty to prevent you. I must insist upon your giving me back the
phial, unless you will consent to obey my orders."

"But I tell you, man, I will have a hundred drops of the cordial," she
cried pertinaciously.

"And I say you shall not, my lady," he rejoined, unable in his anger to
maintain the semblance of respect he had hitherto preserved, and
endeavouring to obtain forcible possession of the phial.

But she was too quick for him. And as he stretched out his hand for the
purpose, the dagger gleamed before his eyes.

"Back, miscreant!" she cried; "your over-eagerness has betrayed you. I
now fully believe what I have hitherto doubted, that this is a
counter-poison, and that I may safely use it. It is time to unmask you,
and to let you know that your villanies are discovered. I am aware of
the malignant practices you have resorted to, and that my daughter and
myself would have been destroyed by your poisonous preparations. But I
now feel some security in the antidote I have obtained; and if I do
perish I have the satisfaction of knowing that I shall not die
unavenged, but that certain punishment awaits you and your employers."

On this she poured out half the contents of the phial into the glass,
saying as she drank it, "I reserve the other half for Lady Roos."

Luke Hatton, who appeared thunder-stricken, made no further effort to
prevent her, but turned to fly. Lady Lake, however, upon whom the
restorative effect of the cordial was almost magical, ordered him to
stay, telling him if he went forth he would be arrested, on hearing
which he sullenly obeyed her.

"You have not deceived me as to the efficacy of the potion," said the
lady; "it has given me new life, and with returning vigour I can view
all things as I viewed them heretofore. Now mark what I have to say,
villain. You have placed me and my daughter in fearful jeopardy; but it
is in your power to make reparation for the injury; and as I hold you to
be a mere instrument in the matter, I am willing to spare the life you
have forfeited, on condition of your making a full confession in writing
of your attempt, to be 'used by me against your employers. Are you
willing to do this, or shall I strike upon the bell, and have you bound
hand and foot, and conveyed to the Gatehouse?"

"I will write that I was employed by the Countess of Exeter to poison
you and my Lady Roos," replied Luke Hatton, stubbornly; "but I will do
nothing more."

"That will suffice," replied Lady Lake, after a moment's reflection.

"And when I have done it, I shall be free to go?" he asked.

"You shall be free to go," she replied.

There were writing materials on an adjoining table, and, without
another word, Luke Hatton sat down, and with great expedition drew up a
statement which he signed, and handed to Lady Lake; asking if that was
what she required?

A smile lighted up her ghastly features as she perused it.

"It will do," she said. "And now answer me one question, and you are
free. Will this cordial have the same effect on my daughter as on me?"

"Precisely the same. It will cure her. But you must proceed more
cautiously. Were she to take the quantity you have taken, it would kill
her. Am I now at liberty to depart?"

"You are," replied Lady Lake.

So saying, she struck the bell, and immediately afterwards the door was
opened; not, however, by the attendants, but by Sir Thomas Lake.

As the Secretary of State perceived that the apothecary avoided him, and
would have passed forth quickly, he sternly and authoritatively
commanded him to stay, exclaiming, "You stir not hence, till you have
accounted to me for my daughter, who, I understand, is dying from your
pernicious treatment. What ho, there! Keep strict watch without; and
suffer not this man to pass forth!"




CHAPTER III.

Showing that "our pleasant vices are made the whips to scourge us."


We must now request the reader to visit the noble mansion in the Strand,
erected by Thomas Cecil, then Earl of Exeter, and bearing-his name; in a
chamber of which Lord Roos and the Countess of Exeter will be found
alone together--alone for the last time.

Very different was the deportment of the guilty pair towards each other
from what it used to be. The glances they exchanged were no longer those
of passionate love, but of undissembled hatred. Bitter reproaches had
been uttered on one side, angry menaces on the other. Ever since the
fatal order had been wrested from the Countess, her peace of mind had
been entirely destroyed, and she had become a prey to all the horrors of
remorse. Perceiving the change in her sentiments towards him, Lord Roos
strove, by the arts which had hitherto proved so successful, to win back
the place he had lost in her affections; but failing in doing so, and
irritated by her reproaches, and still more by her coldness, he gave
vent to his displeasure in terms that speedily produced a decided
quarrel between them; and though reconciled in appearance, they never
again were to each other what they had been.

As this was to be their final meeting, they had agreed not to embitter
it with unavailing reproaches and recriminations. Lord Roos acquainted
the Countess that he had decided upon travelling into Italy and Spain,
and remaining abroad for a lengthened period; and the announcement of
his intention was received by her without an objection. Perhaps he hoped
that when put to this trial she might relent. If so, he was
disappointed. She even urged him not to delay his departure, and
concluded her speech with these words--

"Something tells me we shall meet no more in this world. But we are
certain to meet hereafter at the Judgment Seat. How shall we regard each
other then?"

"Trouble me not with the question," rejoined Lord Roos gloomily; "I have
not come here to listen to sermons, and will brook no more reproaches."

"I do not mean to reproach you, William," she returned meekly; "but the
thought of our dire offence rises perpetually before me. Would we could
undo what we have done!"

"I tell you it is too late," rejoined Lord Roos harshly.

At this moment Diego suddenly presented himself, and apologizing for the
abruptness of his entrance, accounted for it by saying that Sarah
Swarton besought a word with his Lordship. She brought a message, he
added, from Lady Roos, who was much worse, and not finding his Lordship
at his own residence had ventured to follow him to Exeter House to
deliver it.

"I will come to her anon," said Lord Roos carelessly.

"No, no; admit her at once, Diego," cried the Countess; "I would hear
what she has to say." And the next moment Sarah Swarton being ushered
into the room, she rushed up to her and eagerly demanded, "How fares it
with your lady? Is there any hope for her?"

"None whatever," replied Sarah, shaking her head sadly. "She is past all
chance of recovery."

"Then Heaven pardon me!" ejaculated the Countess, clasping her hands
together, and falling upon her knees.

Sarah Swarton gazed at her in astonishment; while Lord Roos, rushing
towards her, commanded her to rise.

"Take heed what you say and do, Countess," he whispered. "You will
excite this woman's suspicions."

"Why should your ladyship implore Heaven's pardon because my poor dear
lady is near her end?" inquired Sarah.

"I sue for it because I have caused her much affliction," replied the
Countess.

"Your message, Sarah--your message?" interposed Lord Roos. "What have
you to say to me?"

"My lady desires to see you once more before she expires, my lord,"
replied Sarah. "She would take leave of you; and--and--she has something
to impart to you. You will not refuse her last request?"

"He will not--he will not, I am sure," cried the Countess, seeing him
look irresolute.

"I did not expect to be seconded by you, my lady," observed Sarah, in
increasing surprise.

"Would that I, too, might see her and obtain her forgiveness!" exclaimed
the Countess, without heeding the remark.

"An idle wish, and not to be indulged," said Lord Roos.

A sudden idea appeared to strike Sarah, and she cried, "Your ladyship's
desire may possibly be gratified. My poor lady desires to part in peace
with all the world, even with those who have injured her. I will
communicate your wishes to her, and it may be she will consent to see
you."

"You shall have a reward well worthy of the service if you accomplish
it," said the Countess. "Hasten to her with all speed, my Lord, and I
will follow in my litter, ready to attend Sarah's summons."

"I like not the plan," rejoined Lord Roos. "You are wrong to go. Why
need you see her?"

"Why?" she answered, regarding him fixedly. "Because it may be some
little consolation to me afterwards."

"Then go alone," said Lord Roos savagely. "I will not accompany you."

"I do not ask you to accompany me, but to precede me," she replied.
"Now, mark me, my Lord," she added in a low, firm tone, "and be assured
I do not advance more than I will perform. If you refuse your wife's
dying request, I will go back with Sarah and confess all to her."

Lord Roos looked as if he could have annihilated her, and muttered a
terrible imprecation on her head.

"Threaten me--ay, and execute your threats hereafter if you will,"
continued the Countess in the same low decided tone, "but go you _shall_
now."

Her manner was so irresistible that Lord Roos was compelled to obey, and
he quitted the room without a word more, followed by Diego and Sarah
Swarton, the latter of whom signed to the Countess that she might depend
upon the fulfilment of her wishes.

They had not been gone many minutes before Lady Exeter entered her
litter, and wholly unattended by page or serving-man, except those in
charge of the conveyance, caused herself to be conveyed to Sir Thomas
Lake's lodgings in Whitehall.




CHAPTER IV.

How the forged Confession was produced.


Summoning up all his firmness for the interview with his lady, Lord Roos
entered her chamber, attended by Sarah Swarton, and beheld her propped
up by pillows, bearing evident marks in her countenance of the severe
sufferings she had endured. She was emaciated in frame, and almost livid
in complexion; hollow-cheeked and hollow-eyed; but still with a look of
unaltered affection for him.

Having fulfilled her mission, Sarah left them alone together.

He took the thin fingers extended towards him, and pressed them to his
lips, but scarcely dared to raise his eyes towards his wife, so much was
he shocked by her appearance. It was with difficulty she gave utterance
to the words she addressed to him.

"I thank you for coming to me, my Lord," she said; "but you will not
regret your kindness. We are quite alone, are we not? My eyes are so dim
that I cannot distinguish any object at the other end of the room--but I
can see you plainly enough, my dear Lord."

"We are alone, Elizabeth," replied Lord Roos, in a voice of some
emotion, after glancing around.

"Then I may speak freely," she continued. "What I predicted has
occurred. You did not do well, my dear Lord, to take that phial from me
and place it in other hands. Nay, start not! I know I am poisoned: I
have known it from the first. But I have made no effort to save myself,
for I was aware it was your will I should die."

"O, Elizabeth!" murmured her husband.

"I was aware of it," she repeated; "and as I have never voluntarily
disobeyed you, I would not now thwart your purpose, even though I myself
must be the sacrifice. It was to tell you this that I have sent for you.
It was to forgive--to bless you."

And as she spoke she threw her arms round his neck, and he felt his
cheek wet with her tears.

"This is more than I can bear," cried Lord Roos, in a voice suffocated
by emotion. "I thought I had firmness for anything; but it deserts me
entirely now. You are an angel of goodness, Elizabeth; as I am a demon
of darkness. I do not deserve your forgiveness."

"You will deserve it, if you will comply with the request I am about to
make to you," she rejoined, looking at him beseechingly.

"Whatever it be it shall be granted, if in my power," he rejoined
earnestly. "I would redeem your life, if I could, at the price of my
own. You have exorcised the evil spirit from me, Elizabeth."

"Then I shall die happy," she replied, with a smile of ineffable
delight.

"But the request! What is it you would have me perform?" he asked.

"I would have you spare my mother," she replied. "I know she has been
dealt with in the same way as myself; but I also know there is yet time
to save her."

"It shall be done," said Lord Roos, emphatically. "Where is she?"

"In the adjoining chamber."

"Is Luke Hatton in attendance upon her?"

"In constant attendance," she rejoined. "That man has obeyed you well,
my Lord. But take heed of him: he is a dangerous weapon, and may injure
the hand that employs him. Strike gently upon that bell. He will attend
the summons."

Lord Roos complied; when, to his astonishment and dismay, the curtains
shrouding the entrance to the adjoining room were drawn aside, and Lady
Lake stalked from behind them. Never before had she surveyed her
son-in-law with such a glance of triumph as she threw upon him now.

"You were mistaken you see, Elizabeth," said Lord Roos to his lady.
"Your mother needs no aid. She is perfectly well."

"Ay, well enough to confound you and all your wicked purposes, my Lord,"
cried Lady Lake. "You have not accomplished my destruction, as you
perceive; nor shall you accomplish your wife's destruction, though you
have well-nigh succeeded. Let it chafe you to madness to learn that I
possess an antidote, which I have myself approved, and which will kill
the poison circling in her veins, and give her new life."

"An antidote!" exclaimed Lord Roos. "So far from galling me to madness,
the intelligence fills me with delight beyond expression. Give it me,
Madam, that I may administer it at once; and heaven grant its results
may be such as you predict!"

"Administered by you, my Lord, it would be poison," said Lady Lake,
bitterly. "But you may stand by and witness its beneficial effects. They
will be instantaneous."

"As you will, Madam, so you do not delay the application," cried Lord
Roos.

"Drink of this, my child," said Lady Lake, after she had poured some
drops of the cordial into a glass.

"I will take it from no hand but my husband's," murmured Lady Roos.

"How?" exclaimed her mother, frowning.

"Give it me, I say, Madam," cried Lord Roos. "Is this a time for
hesitation, when you see her life hangs upon a thread, which you
yourself may sever?"

And taking the glass from her, he held it to his wife's lips; tenderly
supporting her while she swallowed its contents.

It was not long before the effects of the cordial were manifest. The
deathly hue of the skin changed to a more healthful colour, and the
pulsations of the heart became stronger and more equal; and though the
debility could not be so speedily repaired, it was apparent that the
work of restoration had commenced, and might be completed if the same
treatment were pursued.

"Now I owe my life to you, my dear Lord," said Lady Roos, regarding her
husband with grateful fondness.

"To him!" exclaimed her mother. "You owe him nothing but a heavy debt of
vengeance, which we will endeavour to pay, and with interest. But keep
calm, my child, and do not trouble yourself; whatever may occur. Your
speedy restoration will depend much on that."

"You do not adopt the means to make me calm, mother," replied Lady Roos.

But Lady Lake was too much bent upon the immediate and full
gratification of her long-deferred vengeance to heed her. Clapping her
hands together, the signal was answered by Sir Thomas Lake, who came
forth from the adjoining room with Luke Hatton. At the same time, and as
if it had been so contrived that all the guilty parties should be
confronted together, the outer door of the chamber was opened, and the
Countess of Exeter was ushered in by Sarah Swarton.

On seeing in whose presence she stood, the Countess would have
precipitately retreated; but it was too late. The door was closed by
Sarah.

"Soh! my turn is come at last," cried Lady Lake, gazing from one to the
other with a smile of gratified vengeance. "I hold you all in my toils.
You, my Lord," addressing her son-in-law, "have treated a wife, who has
ever shown you the most devoted affection, with neglect and cruelty,
and, not content with such barbarous treatment, have conspired against
her life, and against my life."

"Take heed how you bring any charge against him, mother," cried Lady
Roos, raising herself in her couch. "Take heed, I say. Let your
vengeance fall upon her head," pointing to the Countess--"but not upon
him."

"I am willing to make atonement for the wrongs I have done you, Lady
Roos," said the Countess, "and have come hither to say so, and to
implore your forgiveness."

"You fancied she was dying," rejoined Lady Lake--"dying from the effects
of the poison administered to her and to me by Luke Hatton, according to
your order; but you are mistaken, Countess. We have found an antidote,
and shall yet live to requite you."

"It is more satisfaction to me to be told this, Madam, than it would be
to find that Luke Hatton had succeeded in his design, which I would have
prevented if I could," said Lady Exeter.

"You will gain little credit for that assertion, Countess," remarked
Sir Thomas Lake, "since it is contradicted by an order which I hold in
my hand, signed by yourself, and given to the miscreant in question."

"O Heavens!" ejaculated the Countess.

"Do you deny this signature?" asked Sir Thomas, showing her the paper.

Lady Exeter made no answer.

"Learn further to your confusion, Countess," pursued Lady Lake, "that
the wretch, Luke Hatton, has made a full confession of his offence,
wherein he declares that he was incited by you, and by you alone, on the
offer of a large reward, to put my daughter and myself to death by slow
poison."

"By me alone!--incited by me!" cried Lady Exeter; "why, I opposed him.
It is impossible he can have confessed thus. Hast thou done so,
villain?"

"I have," replied Luke Hatton, sullenly.

"Then thou hast avouched a lie--a lie that will damn thee," said Lady
Exeter. "Lord Roos knows it to be false, and can exculpate me. Speak, my
Lord, I charge you, and say how it occurred."

But the young nobleman remained silent.

"Not a word--not a word in my favour," the Countess exclaimed, in a
voice of anguish. "Nay, then I am indeed lost!"

"You are lost past redemption," cried Lady Lake with an outburst of
fierce exultation, and a look as if she would have trampled her beneath
her feet. "You have forfeited honour, station, life. Guilty of
disloyalty to your proud and noble husband, you have sought to remove by
violent deaths those who stood between you and your lover. Happily your
dreadful purpose has been defeated; but this avowal of your criminality
with Lord Roos, signed by yourself and witnessed by his lordship and his
Spanish servant,--this shall be laid within an hour before the Earl of
Exeter."

"My brain turns round. I am bewildered with all these frightful
accusations," exclaimed the Countess distractedly. "I have made no
confession,--have signed none."

"Methought you said I had witnessed it, Madam?" cried Lord Roos, almost
as much bewildered as Lady Exeter.

"Will you deny your own handwriting, my Lord?" rejoined Lady Lake; "or
will the Countess? Behold the confession, subscribed by the one, and
witnessed by the other."

"It is a forgery!" shrieked the Countess. "You have charged me with
witchcraft; but you practise it yourself."

"If I did not know it to be false, I could have sworn the hand was
yours, Countess," cried Lord Roos; "and my own signature is equally
skilfully simulated."

"False or not," cried Lady Lake, "it shall be laid before Lord Exeter as
I have said--with all the details--ay, and before the King."

"Before the King!" repeated Lord Roos, as he drew near Lady Exeter, and
whispered in her ear--"Countess, our sole safety is in immediate flight.
Circumstances are so strong against us, that we shall never be able to
disprove this forgery."

"Then save yourself in the way you propose, my Lord," she rejoined, with
scorn. "For me, I shall remain, and brave it out."

The young nobleman made a movement towards the door.

"You cannot go forth without my order, my Lord," cried Sir Thomas Lake.
"It is guarded."

"Perdition!" exclaimed Lord Roos.

Again Lady Lake looked from one to the other with a smile of triumph.
But it was presently checked by a look from her daughter, who made a
sign to her to approach her.

"What would you, my child?--more of the cordial?" demanded Lady Lake.

"No, mother," she replied, in a tone so low as to be inaudible to the
others. "Nor will I suffer another drop to pass my lips unless my
husband be allowed to depart without molestation."

"Would you interfere with my vengeance?" said Lady Lake.

"Ay, mother, I will interfere with it effectually unless you comply,"
rejoined Lady Roos, firmly. "I will acquaint the Countess with the true
nature of that confession. As it is, she has awakened by her conduct
some feelings of pity in my breast."

"You will ruin all by your weakness," said Lady Lake.

"Let Lord Roos go free, and let there be a truce between you and the
Countess for three days, and I am content."

"I do not like to give such a promise," said Lady Lake. "It will be hard
to keep it."

"It may be harder to lose all your vengeance," rejoined Lady Roos, in a
tone that showed she would not be opposed.

Compelled to succumb, Lady Lake moved towards Sir Thomas, and a few
words having passed between them in private, the Secretary of State thus
addressed his noble son-in-law--

"My Lord," he said in a grave tone, "at the instance of my daughter,
though much against my own inclination, and that of my wife, I will no
longer oppose your departure. I understand you are about to travel, and
I therefore recommend you to set forth without delay, for if you be
found in London, or in England, after three days, during which time, at
the desire also of our daughter--and equally against our own wishes--we
consent to keep truce with my lady of Exeter; if, I say, you are found
after that time, I will not answer for the consequences to yourself.
Thus warned, my Lord, you are at liberty to depart."

"I will take advantage of your offer, Sir Thomas, and attend to your
hint," replied Lord Roos. And turning upon his heel, he marched towards
the door, whither he was accompanied by Sir Thomas Lake, who called to
the attendants outside to let him go free.

"Not one word of farewell to me! not one look!" exclaimed his wife,
sinking back upon the pillow.

"Nor for me--and I shall see him no more," murmured the Countess,
compressing her beautiful lips. "But it is better thus."

While this was passing, Luke Hatton had contrived to approach the
Countess, and now said in a low tone--"If your ladyship will trust to
me, and make it worth my while, I will deliver you from the peril in
which you are placed by this confession. Shall I come to Exeter House
to-night?"

She consented.

"At what hour?"

"At midnight," she returned. "I loathe thee, yet have no alternative but
to trust thee. Am I free to depart likewise?" she added aloud to Sir
Thomas.

"The door is open for you, Countess," rejoined the Secretary of State,
with mock ceremoniousness. "After three days, you understand, war is
renewed between us."

"War to the death," subjoined Lady Lake.

"Be it so," replied the Countess. "I shall not desert my post."

And assuming the dignified deportment for which she was remarkable, she
went forth with a slow and majestic step.

Luke Hatton would have followed her, but Sir Thomas detained him.

"Am I a prisoner?" he said, uneasily, and glancing at Lady Lake. "Her
ladyship promised me instant liberation."

"And the promise shall be fulfilled as soon as I am satisfied my
daughter is out of danger," returned Sir Thomas.

"I am easy, then," said the apothecary. "I will answer for her speedy
recovery."




CHAPTER V.

A visit to Sir Giles Mompesson's habitation near the fleet.


Allowing an interval of three or four months to elapse between the
events last recorded, and those about to be narrated, we shall now
conduct the reader to a large, gloomy habitation near Fleet Bridge. At
first view, this structure, with its stone walls, corner turrets,
ponderous door, and barred windows, might be taken as part and parcel of
the ancient prison existing in this locality. Such, however, was not the
fact. The little river Fleet, whose muddy current was at that time open
to view, flowed between the two buildings; and the grim and frowning
mansion we propose to describe stood on the western bank, exactly
opposite the gateway of the prison.

Now, as no one had a stronger interest in the Fleet Prison than the
owner of that gloomy house, inasmuch as he had lodged more persons
within it than any one ever did before him, it would almost seem that he
had selected his abode for the purpose of watching over the safe custody
of the numerous victims of his rapacity and tyranny. This was the
general surmise; and, it must be owned, there was ample warranty for it
in his conduct.

A loop-hole in the turret at the north-east angle of the house
commanded the courts of the prison, and here Sir Giles Mompesson would
frequently station himself to note what was going forward within the
jail, and examine the looks and deportment of those kept by him in
durance. Many a glance of hatred and defiance was thrown from these
sombre courts at the narrow aperture at which he was known to place
himself; but such regards only excited Sir Giles's derision: many an
imploring gesture was made to him; but these entreaties for compassion
were equally disregarded. Being a particular friend of the Warden of the
Fleet, and the jailers obeying him as they would have done their
principal, he entered the prison when he pleased, and visited any ward
he chose, at any hour of day or night; and though the unfortunate
prisoners complained of the annoyance,--and especially those to whom his
presence was obnoxious,--no redress could be obtained. He always
appeared when least expected, and seemed to take a malicious pleasure in
troubling those most anxious to avoid him.

Nor was Sir Giles the only visitant to the prison. Clement Lanyere was
as frequently to be seen within its courts and wards as his master, and
a similar understanding appeared to exist between him and the jailers.
Hence, he was nearly as much an object of dread and dislike as Sir Giles
himself, and few saw the masked and shrouded figure of the spy approach
them without misgiving.

From the strange and unwarrantable influence exercised by Sir Giles and
the promoter in the prison, they came at length to be considered as part
of it; and matters were as frequently referred to them by the
subordinate officers as to the warden. It was even supposed by some of
the prisoners that a secret means of communication must exist between
Sir Giles's habitation and the jail; but as both he and Lanyere
possessed keys of the wicket, such a contrivance was obviously
unnecessary, and would have been dangerous, as it must have been found
out at some time by those interested in the discovery.

It has been shown, however, that, in one way or other, Sir Giles had
nearly as much to do with the management of the Fleet Prison as those to
whom its governance was ostensibly committed, and that he could, if he
thought proper, aggravate the sufferings of its unfortunate occupants
without incurring any responsibility for his treatment of them. He
looked upon the Star-Chamber and the Fleet as the means by which he
could plunder society and stifle the cry of the oppressed; and it was
his business to see that both machines were kept in good order, and
worked well.

But to return to his habitation. Its internal appearance corresponded
with its forbidding exterior. The apartments were large, but cold and
comfortless, and, with two or three exceptions, scantily furnished.
Sumptuously decorated, these exceptional rooms presented a striking
contrast to the rest of the house; but they were never opened, except on
the occasion of some grand entertainment--a circumstance of rare
occurrence. There was a large hall of entrance, where Sir Giles's
myrmidons were wont to assemble, with a great table in the midst of it,
on which no victuals were ever placed--at least at the extortioner's
expense--and a great fire-place, where no fire ever burnt. From this a
broad stone staircase mounted to the upper part of the house, and
communicated by means of dusky corridors and narrow passages with the
various apartments. A turnpike staircase connected the turret to which
Sir Giles used to resort to reconnoitre the Fleet Prison, with the lower
part of the habitation, and similar corkscrew stairs existed in the
other angles of the structure. When stationed at the loophole, little
recked Sir Giles of the mighty cathedral that frowned upon him like the
offended eye of heaven. His gaze was seldom raised towards Saint Paul's,
or if it were, he had no perception of the beauty or majesty of the
ancient cathedral. The object of interest was immediately below him. The
sternest realities of life were what he dealt with. He had no taste for
the sublime or the beautiful.

Sir Giles had just paid an inquisitorial visit, such as we have
described, to the prison, and was returning homewards over Fleet Bridge,
when he encountered Sir Francis Mitchell, who was coming in quest of
him, and they proceeded to his habitation together. Nothing beyond a
slight greeting passed between them in the street, for Sir Giles was
ever jealous of his slightest word being overheard; but he could see
from his partner's manner that something had occurred to annoy and
irritate him greatly. Sir Giles was in no respect changed since the
reader last beheld him. Habited in the same suit of sables, he still
wore the same mantle, and the same plumed hat, and had the same long
rapier by his side. His deportment, too, was as commanding as before,
and his aspect as stern and menacing.

Sir Francis, however, had not escaped the consequences naturally to be
expected from the punishment inflicted upon him by the apprentices,
being so rheumatic that he could scarcely walk, while a violent cough,
with which he was occasionally seized, and which took its date from the
disastrous day referred to, and had never left him since, threatened to
shake his feeble frame in pieces; this, added to the exasperation under
which he was evidently labouring, was almost too much for him. Three
months seemed to have placed as many years upon his head; or, at all
events, to have taken a vast deal out of his constitution. But,
notwithstanding his increased infirmities, and utter unfitness for the
part he attempted to play, he still affected a youthful air, and still
aped all the extravagances and absurdities in dress and manner of the
gayest and youngest court coxcomb. He was still attired in silks and
satins of the gaudiest hues, still carefully trimmed as to hair and
beard, still redolent of perfumes.

Not without exhibiting considerable impatience, Sir Giles was obliged to
regulate his pace by the slow and tottering steps of his companion, and
was more than once brought to a halt as the lungs of the latter were
convulsively torn by his cough, but at last they reached the house, and
entered the great hall, where the myrmidons were assembled--all of whom
rose on their appearance, and saluted them. There was Captain Bludder,
with his braggart air, attended by some half-dozen Alsatian bullies;
Lupo Vulp, with his crafty looks; and the tipstaves--all, in short, were
present, excepting Clement Lanyere, and Sir Giles knew how to account
for his absence. To the inquiries of Captain Bludder and his associates,
whether they were likely to be required on any business that day, Sir
Giles gave a doubtful answer, and placing some pieces of money in the
Alsatian's hand, bade him repair, with his followers, to the "Rose
Tavern," in Hanging Sword Court, and crush a flask or two of wine, and
then return for orders--an injunction with which the captain willingly
complied. To the tipstaves Sir Giles made no observation, and bidding
Lupo Vulp hold himself in readiness for a summons, he passed on with his
partner to an inner apartment. On Sir Francis gaining it, he sank into
a chair, and was again seized with a fit of coughing that threatened him
with annihilation. When it ceased, he made an effort to commence the
conversation, and Sir Giles, who had been pacing to and fro impatiently
within the chamber, stopped to listen to him.

"You will wonder what business has brought me hither to-day, Sir Giles,"
he said; "and I will keep you no longer in suspense. I have been
insulted, Sir Giles--grievously insulted."

"By whom?" demanded the extortioner.

"By Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey," replied Sir Francis, shaking with passion.
"I have received a degrading insult from him to-day, which ought to be
washed out with his blood."

"What hath he done to you?" inquired the other.

"I will tell you, Sir Giles. I chanced to see him in the court-yard of
the palace of Whitehall, and there being several gallants nigh at hand,
who I thought would take my part--ough! ough! what a plaguey cough I
have gotten, to be sure; but 't is all owing to those cursed
'prentices--a murrain seize 'em! Your patience, sweet Sir Giles, I am
coming to the point--ough! ough! there it takes me again. Well, as I was
saying, thinking the gallants with whom I was conversing would back me,
and perceiving Mounchensey approach us, I thought I might venture"--

"Venture!" repeated Sir Giles, scornfully. "Let not such a disgraceful
word pass your lips."

"I mean, I thought I might take occasion to affront him. Whereupon I
cocked my hat fiercely, as I have seen you and Captain Bludder do, Sir
Giles."

"Couple me not with the Alsatian, I pray of you, Sir Francis," observed
the extortioner, sharply.

"Your pardon, Sir Giles--your pardon! But as I was saying, I regarded
him with a scowl, and tapped the hilt of my sword. And what think you
the ruffianly fellow did? I almost blush at the bare relation of it.
Firstly, he plucked off my hat, telling me I ought to stand bareheaded
in the presence of gentlemen. Next, he tweaked my nose, and as I turned
round to avoid him, he applied his foot--yes, his foot--to the back of
my trunk-hose; and well was it that the hose were stoutly wadded and
quilted. Fire and fury! Sir Giles, I cannot brook the indignity. And
what was worse, the shameless gallants, who ought to have lent me aid,
were ready to split their sides with laughter, and declared I had only
gotten my due. When I could find utterance for very choler, I told the
villain you would requite him, and he answered he would serve you in the
same fashion, whenever you crossed his path."

"Ha! said he so?" cried Sir Giles, half drawing his sword, while his
eyes flashed fire. "We shall see whether he will make good his words.
Yet no! Revenge must not be accomplished in that way. I have already
told you I am willing to let him pursue his present career undisturbed
for a time, in order to make his fall the greater. I hold him in my
hand, and can crush him when I please."

"Then do not defer your purpose, Sir Giles," said Sir Francis; "or I
must take my own means of setting myself right with him. I cannot
consent to sit down calmly under the provocation I have endured."

"And what will be the momentary gratification afforded by his death--if
such you meditate," returned Sir Giles, "in comparison with hurling him
down from the point he has gained, stripping him of all his honours, and
of such wealth as he may have acquired, and plunging him into the Fleet
Prison, where he will die by inches, and where you yourself may feast
your eyes on his slow agonies? That is true revenge; and you are but a
novice in the art of vengeance if you think your plan equal to mine. It
is for this--and this only--that I have spared him so long. I have
suffered him to puff himself up with pride and insolence, till he is
ready to burst. But his day of reckoning is at hand, and then he shall
pay off the long arrears he owes us."

"Well, Sir Giles, I am willing to leave the matter with you," said Sir
Francis; "but it is hard to be publicly insulted, and have injurious
epithets applied to you, and not obtain immediate redress."

"I grant you it is so," rejoined Sir Giles; "but you well know you are
no match for him at the sword."

"If I am not, others are--Clement Lanyere, for instance," cried Sir
Francis. "He has more than once arranged a quarrel for me."

"And were it an ordinary case, I would advise that the arrangement of
this quarrel should be left to Lanyere," said Sir Giles; "or I myself
would undertake it for you. But that were only half revenge. No; the
work must be done completely; and the triumph you will gain in the end
will amply compensate you for the delay."

"Be it so, then," replied Sir Francis. "But before I quit the subject, I
may remark, that one thing perplexes me in the sudden rise of this
upstart, and that is that he encounters no opposition from Buckingham.
Even the King, I am told, has expressed his surprise that the jealous
Marquis should view one who may turn out a rival with so much apparent
complacency."

"It is because Buckingham has no fear of him," replied Sir Giles. "He
knows he has but to say the word, and the puppet brought forward by De
Gondomar--for it is by him that Mounchensey is supported--will be
instantly removed; but as he also knows, that another would be set up,
he is content to let him occupy the place for a time."

"Certes, if Mounchensey had more knowledge of the world he would
distrust him," said Sir Francis, "because in my opinion Buckingham
overacts his part, and shows him too much attention. He invites him, as
I am given to understand, to all his masques, banquets, and revels at
York House, and even condescends to flatter him. Such conduct would
awaken suspicion in any one save the object of it."

"I have told you Buckingham's motive, and therefore his conduct will no
longer surprise you. Have you heard of the wager between De Gondomar and
the Marquis, in consequence of which a trial of skill is to be made in
the Tilt-yard to-morrow? Mounchensey is to run against Buckingham, and I
leave you to guess what the result will be. I myself am to be among the
jousters."

"You!" exclaimed Sir Francis.

"Even I," replied Sir Giles, with a smile of gratified vanity. "Now,
mark me, Sir Francis. I have a surprise for you. It is not enough for me
to hurl this aspiring youth from his proud position, and cover him with
disgrace--it is not enough to immure him in the Fleet; but I will
deprive him of his choicest treasure--of the object of his devoted
affections."

"Ay, indeed!" exclaimed Sir Francis.

"By my directions Clement Lanyere has kept constant watch over him, and
has discovered that the young man's heart is fixed upon a maiden of
great beauty, named Aveline Calveley, daughter of the crazy Puritan who
threatened the King's life some three or four months ago at Theobalds."

"I mind me of the circumstance," observed Sir Francis.

"This maiden lives in great seclusion with an elderly dame, but I have
found out her retreat. I have said that Sir Jocelyn is enamoured of her,
and she is by no means insensible to his passion. But a bar exists to
their happiness. Almost with his last breath, a promise was extorted
from his daughter by Hugh Calveley, that if her hand should be claimed
within a year by one to whom he had engaged her, but with whose name
even she was wholly unacquainted, she would unhesitatingly give it to
him."

"And will the claim be made?"

"It will."

"And think you she will fulfil her promise?"

"I am sure of it. A dying father's commands are sacred with one like
her."

"Have you seen her, Sir Giles? Is she so very beautiful as represented?"

"I have not yet seen her; but she will be here anon. And you can then
judge for yourself."

"She here!" exclaimed Sir Francis. "By what magic will you bring her
hither?"

"By a spell that cannot fail in effect," replied Sir Giles, with a grim
smile. "I have summoned her in her father's name. I have sent for her
to tell her that her hand will be claimed."

"By whom?" inquired Sir Francis.

"That is my secret," replied Sir Giles.

At this juncture there was a tap at the door, and Sir Giles, telling the
person without to enter, it was opened by Clement Lanyere, wrapped in
his long mantle, and with his countenance hidden by his mask.

"They are here," he said.

"The damsel and the elderly female?" cried Sir Giles.

And receiving a response in the affirmative from the promoter, he bade
him usher them in at once.

The next moment Aveline, attended by a decent-looking woman, somewhat
stricken in years, entered the room. They were followed by Clement
Lanyere. The maiden was attired in deep mourning, and though looking
very pale, her surpassing beauty produced a strong impression upon Sir
Francis Mitchell, who instantly arose on seeing her, and made her a
profound, and, as he considered, courtly salutation.

Without bestowing any attention on him, Aveline addressed herself to Sir
Giles, whose look filled her with terror.

"Why have you sent for me, Sir?" she demanded.

"I have sent for you, Aveline Calveley, to remind you of the promise
made by you to your dying father," he rejoined.

"Ah!" she exclaimed; "then my forebodings of ill are realized."

"I know you consider that promise binding," pursued Sir Giles; "and it
is only necessary for me to announce to you that, in a week from this
time, your hand will be claimed in marriage."

"Alas! alas!" she cried, in accents of despair. "But who will claim
it?--and how can the claim be substantiated?" she added, recovering
herself in some degree.

"You will learn at the time I have appointed," replied Sir Giles. "And
now, having given you notice to prepare for the fulfilment of an
engagement solemnly contracted by your father, and as solemnly agreed to
by yourself, I will no longer detain you."

Aveline gazed at him with wonder and terror, and would have sought for
some further explanation; but perceiving from the inflexible expression
of his countenance that any appeal would be useless, she quitted the
room with her companion.

"I would give half I possess to make that maiden mine," cried Sir
Francis, intoxicated with admiration of her beauty.

"Humph!" exclaimed Sir Giles. "More difficult matters have been
accomplished. Half your possessions, say you? She is not worth so much.
Assign to me your share of the Mounchensey estates and she shall be
yours."

"I will do it, Sir Giles--I will do it," cried the old usurer, eagerly;
"but you must prove to me first that you can make good your words."

"Pshaw! Have I ever deceived you, man? But rest easy. You shall be fully
satisfied."

"Then call in Lupo Vulp, and let him prepare the assignment at once,"
cried Sir Francis. "I shall have a rare prize; and shall effectually
revenge myself on this detested Mounchensey."




CHAPTER VI.

Of the Wager between the Conde de Gondomar and the Marquis of
Buckingham.


At a banquet given at Whitehall, attended by all the principal lords and
ladies of the court, a wager was laid between the Conde de Gondomar and
the Marquis of Buckingham, the decision of which was referred to the
King.

The circumstance occurred in this way. The discourse happened to turn
upon jousting, and the magnificent favourite, who was held unrivalled in
all martial exercises and chivalrous sports, and who, confident in his
own skill, vauntingly declared that he had never met his match in the
tilt-yard; whereupon the Spanish Ambassador, willing to lower his pride,
immediately rejoined, that he could, upon the instant, produce a better
man-at-arms than he; and so certain was he of being able to make good
his words, that he was willing to stake a thousand doubloons to a
hundred on the issue of a trial.

To this Buckingham haughtily replied, that he at once accepted the
Ambassador's challenge; but in regard to the terms of the wager, they
must be somewhat modified, as he could not accept them as proposed; but
he was willing to hazard on the result of the encounter all the gems,
with which at the moment his habiliments were covered, against the
single diamond clasp worn by De Gondomar; and if the offer suited his
Excellency, he had nothing to do but appoint the day, and bring forward
the man.

De Gondomar replied, that nothing could please him better than the
Marquis's modification of the wager, and the proposal was quite
consistent with the acknowledged magnificence of his Lordship's notions;
yet he begged to make one further alteration, which was, that in the
event of the knight he should nominate being adjudged by his Majesty to
be the best jouster, the rich prize might be delivered to him.

Buckingham assented, and the terms of the wager being now fully settled,
it only remained to fix the day for the trial, and this was referred to
the King, who appointed the following Thursday--thus allowing, as the
banquet took place on a Friday, nearly a week for preparation.

James, also, good-naturedly complied with the Ambassador's request, and
agreed to act as judge on the occasion; and he laughingly remarked to
Buckingham--"Ye are demented, Steenie, to risk a' those precious stanes
with which ye are bedecked on the skill with which ye can yield a frail
lance. We may say unto you now in the words of the poet--

  'Pendebant ter ti gemmata monilia collo;'

but wha shall say frae whose round throat those gemmed collars and
glittering ouches will hang a week hence, if ye be worsted? Think of
that, my dear dog."

"Your Majesty need be under no apprehension," replied Buckingham. "I
shall win and wear his Excellency's diamond clasp. And now, perhaps, the
Count will make us acquainted with the name and title of my puissant
adversary, on whose address he so much relies. Our relative chances of
success will then be more apparent. If, however, any motives for secrecy
exist, I will not press the inquiry, but leave the disclosure to a more
convenient season."

"_Nunc est narrandi tempus_," rejoined the King. "No time like the
present. We are anxious to ken wha the hero may be."

"I will not keep your Majesty a moment in suspense," said De Gondomar.
"The young knight whom I design to select as the Marquis's opponent, and
whom I am sure will feel grateful for having such means of honourable
distinction afforded him, is present at the banquet."

"Here!" exclaimed James, looking round. "To whom do you refer, Count? It
cannot be Sir Gilbert Gerrard, or Sir Henry Rich; for--without saying
aught in disparagement of their prowess--neither of them is a match for
Buckingham! Ah! save us! We hae it. Ye mean Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey."

And as the Ambassador acknowledged that his Majesty was right, all eyes
were turned towards the young knight, who, though as much surprised as
any one else, could not help feeling greatly elated.

"Aweel, Count," said James, evidently pleased, "ye might hae made a waur
choice--that we are free to confess. We begin to tremble for your braw
jewels, Steenie."

"They are safer than I expected," replied Buckingham, disdainfully. But
though he thus laughed it off, it was evident he was displeased, and he
muttered to his confidential friend, Lord Mordaunt,--"I see through it
all: this is a concerted scheme to bring this aspiring galliard forward;
but he shall receive a lesson for his presumption he shall not easily
forget, while, at the same time, those who make use of him for their own
purposes shall be taught the risk they incur in daring to oppose me. The
present opportunity shall not be neglected."

Having formed this resolution, Buckingham, to all appearance, entirely
recovered his gaiety, and pressed the King to give importance to the
trial by allowing it to take place in the royal tilt-yard at Whitehall,
and to extend the number of jousters to fourteen--seven on one side, and
seven on the other. The request was readily granted by the monarch, who
appeared to take a stronger interest in the match than Buckingham
altogether liked, and confirmed him in his determination of ridding
himself for ever of the obstacle in his path presented by Mounchensey.
The number of jousters being agreed upon, it was next decided that the
party with whom Buckingham was to range should be headed by the Duke of
Lennox; while Mounchensey's party was to be under the command of Prince
Charles; and though the disposition was too flattering to his adversary
to be altogether agreeable to the haughty favourite, he could not raise
any reasonable objection to it, and was therefore obliged to submit with
the best grace he could.

The two parties were then distributed in the following order by the
King:--On the side of the Duke of Lennox, besides Buckingham himself,
were the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke, and the Lords Clifford and
Mordaunt; and while the King was hesitating as to the seventh, Sir Giles
Mompesson was suggested by the Marquis, and James, willing to oblige his
favourite, adopted the proposition. On the side of Prince Charles were
ranked the Marquis of Hamilton, the Earls of Montgomery, Rutland, and
Dorset, Lord Walden, and, of course, Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey. These
preliminaries being fully adjusted, other topics were started, and the
carouse, which had been in some degree interrupted, was renewed, and
continued, with the entertainments that succeeded it, till past
midnight.

Not a little elated by the high compliment paid to his prowess by the
Spanish Ambassador, and burning to break a lance with Buckingham, Sir
Jocelyn resolved to distinguish himself at the trial. Good luck, of
late, had invariably attended him. Within the last few weeks, he had
been appointed one of the Gentlemen of his Majesty's Bed-chamber; and
this was looked upon as the stepping-stone to some more exalted post.
Supported by the influence of De Gondomar, and upheld by his own
personal merits, which by this time, in spite of all hostility towards
him, had begun to be appreciated; with the King himself most favourably
inclined towards him, and Prince Charles amicably disposed; with many of
the courtiers proffering him service, who were anxious to throw off
their forced allegiance to the overweening favourite, and substitute
another in his stead: with all these advantages, it is not to be
wondered at, that in a short space of time he should have established a
firm footing on that smooth and treacherous surface, the pavement of a
palace, and have already become an object of envy and jealousy to many,
and of admiration to a few.

Possessing the faculty of adapting himself to circumstances, Sir Jocelyn
conducted himself with rare discretion; and while avoiding giving
offence, never suffered a liberty to be taken with himself; and having
on the onset established a character for courage, he was little
afterwards molested. It was creditable to him, that in a court where
morality was at so low an ebb as that of James I., he should have
remained uncorrupted; and that not all the allurements of the numerous
beauties by whom he was surrounded, and who exerted their blandishments
to ensnare him, could tempt him for a moment's disloyalty to the object
of his affections. It was creditable, that at the frequent orgies he was
compelled to attend, where sobriety was derided, and revelry pushed to
its furthest limits, he was never on any occasion carried beyond the
bounds of discretion. It was still more creditable to him, that in such
venal and corrupt days he maintained his integrity perfectly unsullied.
Thus severely tested, the true worth of his character was proved, and he
came from the ordeal without a blemish.

The many excellent qualities that distinguished the newly-made knight
and gentleman of the bed-chamber, combined with his remarkable personal
advantages and conciliatory manner, considerably improved by the polish
he had recently acquired, drew, as we have intimated, the attention of
the second personage in the kingdom towards him. Struck by his manner,
and by the sentiments he expressed, Prince Charles took frequent
opportunities of conversing with him, and might have conceived a regard
for him but for the jealous interference of Buckingham, who, unable to
brook a rival either with the King or Prince, secretly endeavoured to
set both against him. Such, however, was Sir Jocelyn's consistency of
character, such his solidity of judgment and firmness, and such the
respect he inspired, that he seemed likely to triumph over all the
insidious snares planned for him. Things were in this state when the
trial of skill in jousting was proposed by De Gondomar. The wily
Ambassador might have--and probably had--some secret motive in making
the proposal; but whatever it was, it was unknown to his _protégé_.




CHAPTER VII.

A Cloud in the Horizon.


But it must not be imagined that Sir Jocelyn's whole time was passed in
attendance on the court. Not a day flew by that he did not pay a visit
to Aveline. She had taken a little cottage, where she dwelt in perfect
seclusion, with one female attendant, old Dame Sherborne,--the same who
had accompanied her on her compulsory visit to Sir Giles Mompesson,--and
her father's faithful old servant, Anthony Rocke. To this retreat,
situated in the then rural neighbourhood adjoining Holborn, Sir Jocelyn,
as we have said, daily repaired, and the moments so spent were the most
delicious of his life. The feelings of regard entertained for him from
the first by Aveline, had by this time ripened into love; yet, mindful
of her solemn promise to her father, she checked her growing affection
as much as lay in her power, and would not, at first, permit any words
of tenderness to be uttered by him. As weeks, however, and even months,
ran on, and no one appeared to claim her hand, she began to indulge the
hope that the year of probation would expire without molestation, and
insensibly, and almost before she was aware of it, Sir Jocelyn had
become complete master of her heart. In these interviews, he told her
all that occurred to him at court--acquainted her of his hopes of
aggrandisement--and induced her to listen to his expectations of a
brilliant future, to be shared by them together.

The severe shock Aveline had sustained in the death of her father had
gradually worn away, and, if not free from occasional depression, she
was still enabled to take a more cheerful view of things. Never had she
seen Sir Jocelyn so full of ardour as on the day after the banquet, when
he came to communicate the intelligence of the jousts, and that he was
selected to essay his skill against that of Buckingham. The news,
however, did not produce upon her the effect he expected. Not only she
could not share his delight, but she was seized with anticipations of
coming ill, in connection with this event, for which she could not
account. Nor could all that Jocelyn said remove her misgivings; and, in
consequence, their meeting was sadder than usual.

On the next day, these forebodings of impending calamity were most
unexpectedly realised. A mysterious personage, wrapped in a long black
cloak, and wearing a mask, entered her dwelling without standing upon
the ceremony of tapping at the door. His presence occasioned her much
alarm, and it was not diminished when he told her, in a stern, and
peremptory tone, that she must accompany him to Sir Giles Mompesson's
habitation. Refusing to give any explanation of the cause of this
strange summons, he said she would do well to comply with it,--that,
indeed, resistance would be idle as Sir Giles was prepared to enforce
his orders; and that he himself would he responsible for her safety.
Compelled to be satisfied with these assurances, Aveline yielded to the
apparent necessity of the case, and set forth with him, attended by Dame
Sherbourne. With what passed during her interview with the extortioner
the reader is already acquainted. She had anticipated something
dreadful; but the reality almost exceeded her anticipations. So
overpowered was she by the painful intelligence, that it was with
difficulty she reached home, and the rest of the day was occupied with
anxious reflection. Evening as usual brought her lover. She met him at
the door, where he tied his horse, and they entered the little dwelling
together. The shades of night were coming on apace, and in consequence
of the gloom he did not remark the traces of distress on her
countenance, but went on with the theme uppermost in his mind.

"I know you have ever avoided shows and triumphs," he said; "but I wish
I could induce you to make an exception in favour of this tilting-match,
and consent to be present at it. The thought that you were looking on
would nerve my arm, and make me certain of success."

"Even if I would, I cannot comply with your request," she replied, in
an agitated tone. "Prepare yourself, Jocelyn. I have bad news for you."

He started; and the vision of delight, in which he had been indulging,
vanished at once.

"The worst news you could have to tell me, would be that the claim had
been made," he observed. "I trust it is not that?"

"It is better to know the worst at once. I have received undoubted
information that the claim _will_ be made."

A cry of anguish escaped Sir Jocelyn, as if a severe blow had been dealt
him--and he could scarcely articulate the inquiry, "By whom?"

"That I know not," she rejoined. "But the ill tidings have been
communicated to me by Sir Giles Mompesson."

"Sir Giles Mompesson!" exclaimed Sir Jocelyn, scarcely able to credit
what he heard. "Your father would never have surrendered you to him. It
is impossible he could have made any compact with such a villain."

"I do not say that he did; and if he had done so, I would die a thousand
deaths, and incur all the penalties attached to the sin of disobedience,
rather than fulfil it. Sir Giles is merely the mouth-piece of another,
who will not disclose himself till he appears to exact fulfilment of the
fatal pledge."

"But, be it whomsoever it may, the claim never can be granted," cried
Sir Jocelyn, in a voice of agony. "You will not consent to be bound by
such a contract. You will not thus sacrifice yourself. It is out of all
reason. Your father's promise cannot bind you. He had no right to
destroy his child. Will you listen to my council, Aveline?" he
continued, vehemently. "You have received this warning, and though it is
not likely to have been given with any very friendly design, still you
may take advantage of it, and avoid by flight the danger to which you
are exposed."

"Impossible," she answered. "I could not reconcile such a course to my
conscience, or to my reverence for my father's memory."

"There is still another course open to you," he pursued, "if you choose
to adopt it; and that is, to take a stop which shall make the fulfilment
of this promise impossible."

"I understand you," she replied; "but that is equally out of the
question. Often and often have I thought over this matter, and with much
uneasiness; but I cannot relieve myself of the obligation imposed upon
me."

"O Aveline!" cried Sir Jocelyn. "If you allow yourself, by any fancied
scruples, to be forced into a marriage repugnant to your feelings, you
will condemn both yourself and me to misery."

"I know it--I feel it; and yet there is no escape," she cried, "Were I
to act on your suggestions, and fly from this threatened danger, or
remove it altogether by a marriage with you--were I to disobey my
father, I should never know a moment's peace."

There was a brief pause, interrupted only by her sobs. At length Sir
Jocelyn exclaimed quickly,

"Perhaps, we may be unnecessarily alarming ourselves, and this may only
be a trick of Sir Giles Mompesson. He may have heard of the promise you
have made to your father, and may try to frighten you. But whoever is
put forward must substantiate his claim."

As those words were uttered, there was a slight noise in the apartment,
and looking up, they beheld the dusky figure of Clement Lanyere, masked
and cloaked, as was his wont, standing beside them.

"You here?" cried Sir Jocelyn, in astonishment.

"Ay," replied the promoter; "I am come to tell you that this is no idle
fear,--that the claim _will_ be made, and _will_ be substantiated."

"Ah!" exclaimed Aveline, in a tone of anguish.

"You will not seek to evade it, I know, young mistress," replied the
promoter; "and therefore, as you have truly said, there is no escape."

"Only let me know the claimant's name," cried Sir Jocelyn, "and I will
engage he shall never fulfill his design."

"O no; this must not be--you must not resort to violence," said
Aveline. "I will never consent to owe my deliverance to such means."

"You shall have all the information you require after the jousts on
Thursday," said Lanyere; "and let the thought strengthen your arm in the
strife, for if you fail, Aveline Calveley will have no protector in the
hour of need."

With this, he departed as suddenly and mysteriously as he had come.




CHAPTER VIII.

Whitehall.


The Tilt-yard at Whitehall, where the jousting was appointed to take
place, was situated on the westerly side of the large area in front of
the old Banqueting House (destroyed by fire soon after the date of this
history, and replaced by the stately structure planned by Inigo Jones,
still existing), and formed part of a long range of buildings
appertaining to the palace, and running parallel with it in a northerly
direction from Westminster, devoted to purposes of exercise and
recreation, and including the Tennis-court, the Bowling-alley, the
Manage, and the Cock-pit.

A succession of brick walls, of various heights, and surmounted by roofs
of various forms and sizes, marked the position of these buildings, in
reference to Saint James's Park, which they skirted on the side next to
King Street. They were mainly, if not entirely erected, in 1532 by Henry
VIII., when, after his acquisition from Wolsey, by forfeiture, of
Whitehall, he obtained by exchange from the Abbot and Convent of
Westminister all their uninclosed land contiguous to his newly-acquired
palace, and immediately fenced it round, and converted it into a park.

To a monarch so fond of robust sports and manly exercises of all kinds
as our bluff Harry, a tilt-yard was indispensable; and he erected one on
a grand scale, and made it a place of constant resort. Causing a space
of one hundred and fifty yards in length and fifty in width to be
inclosed and encircled by lofty walls, he fixed against the inner side
large scaffolds, containing two tiers of seats, partitioned from each
other like boxes in a theatre, for the accommodation of spectators. At
the southern extremity of the inclosure he reared a magnificent gallery,
which he set apart for his consort and the ladies in attendance upon
her. This was decorated with velvet, and hung with curtains of cloth of
gold. On grand occasions, when all the court was present, the whole of
the seats on the scaffolds, previously described, were filled with
bright-eyed beauties, whose looks and plaudits stimulated to deeds of
high emprise the knights, who styled themselves their "servants," and
besought "favours" from them in the shape of a scarf, a veil, a sleeve,
a bracelet, a ringlet, or a knot of ribands. At such times Henry himself
would enter the lists; and, in his earlier days, and before he became
too unwieldy for active exertion, no ruder antagonist with the lance or
sword could be found than he. Men indeed, existed in his days, very
different in hardihood of frame and personal strength from the silken
sybarites, enervated by constant riot and dissipation, who aped the
deeds of arms of their grandfathers in the time of James the First.

But the tilt-yard was by no means neglected by Elizabeth. This
lion-hearted queen encouraged a taste for chivalrous displays, and took
almost as much delight in such exhibitions as her stalwart sire. During
her long reign no festivity was thought complete unless jousting was
performed. The name of the gallant Sir Philip Sidney need only be
mentioned, to show that she possessed at least one perfect "mirror of
chivalry" amongst her courtiers; but her chief favourites, Essex and
Leicester, were both distinguished for knightly prowess. Many a lance
was splintered by them in her honour. When the French Embassy arrived in
London to treat of a marriage between Elizabeth and the Duc d'Anjou, and
when a grand temporary banqueting-house, three hundred and thirty feet
long, and covered with canvas, was improvised for the occasion, a
magnificent tournament was given in the tilt-yard in honour of the
distinguished visitors. Old Holinshed tells us, that--"the gallery or
place at the end of the tilt-yard, adjoining to her Majesty's house at
Whitehall, where, as her person should be placed, was called, and not
without cause, the Castle or Fortress of Perfect Beauty, for as much as
her highness should be there included." And he also gives a curious
description of the framework used by the besiegers of the fortress.
"They had provided," he says, "a frame of wood, which was covered with
canvas, and painted outwardly in such excellent order, as if it had been
very natural earth or mould, and carried the name of a rolling-trench,
which went on wheels which way soever the persons within did drive it.
Upon the top thereof were placed two cannons of wood, so passing well
coloured, as they seemed to be, indeed, two fair field pieces of
ordnance; and by them were placed two men for gunners, clothed in
crimson sarcenet, with their baskets of earth for defence of their
bodies by them. And also there stood on the top of the trench an
ensign-bearer, in the same suit with the gunners, displaying his ensign,
and within the said trench was cunningly conveyed divers kinds of most
excellent music against the Castle of Beauty. These things thus all in
readiness, the challengers approached, and came down the stable toward
the tilt-yard." The challengers were the Earl of Arundel, Lord Windsor,
Sir Philip Sidney, and Sir Fulke Greville; and the defenders were very
numerous, and amongst them was the doughty Sir Harry Lee, who, as the
"unknown knight," broke "six staves right valiantly." All the speeches
made by the challengers and defenders are reported by Holinshed, who
thus winds up his description of the first day's triumph:--"These
speeches being ended, both they and the rest marched about the
tilt-yard, and so going back to the nether end thereof, prepared
themselves to run, every one in his turn, each defendant six courses
against the former challengers, who performed their parts so valiantly
on both sides, that their prowess hath demerited perpetual memory, and
worthily won honour, both to themselves and their native country, as
fame hath the same reported." And of the second day he thus
writes:--"Then went they to the tourney, where they did very nobly, as
the shivering of the swords might very well testify; and after that to
the barriers, where they lashed it out lustily, and fought courageously,
as if the Greeks and Trojans had dealt their deadly dole. No party was
spared, no estate excepted, but each knight endeavoured to win the
golden fleece, that expected either fame or the favour of his mistress,
which sport continued all the same day." These pageantries were of
frequent occurrence, and the pages of the picturesque old chronicler
above-cited abound with descriptions of them. Yet, in spite of the
efforts of Elizabeth to maintain its splendour undiminished, the star of
chivalry was rapidly declining, to disappear for ever in the reign of
her successor.

The glitter of burnished steel, the clash of arms, the rude encounter,
and all other circumstances attendant upon the arena of martial sport,
that had given so much delight to his predecessors, afforded little
pleasure to James; as how should they, to a prince whose constitutional
timidity was so great that he shuddered at the sight of a drawn sword,
and abhorred the mimic representations of warfare! Neither were the
rigorous principles of honour on which chivalry was based, nor the
obligations they imposed, better suited to him. Too faithless by nature
to adopt the laws of a Court of Honour, he derided the institution as
obsolete. Nevertheless, as trials of skill and strength in the tilt-yard
were still in fashion, he was compelled, though against his inclination,
to witness them, and in some degree to promote them. The day of his
accession to the throne--the 24th March--was always celebrated by
tilting and running at the ring, and similar displays were invariably
made in honour of any important visitor to the court.

Even in this reign something of a revival of the ancient ardour for
knightly pastimes took place during the brief career of Prince Henry,
who, if he had lived to fulfil the promise of his youth, would have
occupied a glorious page in his country's annals, and have saved it, in
all probability, from its subsequent convulsions and intestine strife.
Inuring himself betimes to the weight of armour, this young prince
became exceedingly expert in the use of all weapons--could toss the
pike, couch the lance, and wield the sword, the battle-axe, or the mace,
better than any one of his years. The tilt-yard and the tennis-court
were his constant places of resort, and he was ever engaged in robust
exercises--too much so, indeed, for a somewhat feeble constitution.
Prince Henry indulged the dream of winning back Calais from France, and
would no doubt have attempted the achievement if he had lived.

Of a more reflective cast of mind than his elder brother, and with
tastes less martial, Prince Charles still sedulously cultivated all the
accomplishments, proper to a cavalier. A perfect horseman, and well
skilled in all the practices of the tilt-yard--he was a model of
courtesy and grace; but he had not Prince Henry's feverish and consuming
passion for martial sports, nor did he, like him, make their pursuit the
sole business of life. Still, the pure flame of chivalry burnt within
his breast, and he fully recognised its high and ennobling principles,
and accepted the obligations they imposed. And in this respect, as in
most others, he differed essentially from his august father.

The tilt-yard, and the various buildings adjoining it, already
enumerated, were approached by two fine gates, likewise erected by Henry
VIII., one of which, of extraordinary beauty, denominated the Cock-pit
Gate, was designed by the celebrated painter, Hans Holbein. From an
authority we learn that it was "built of square stone, with small
squares of flint boulder, very neatly set; and that it had also
battlements, and four lofty towers, the whole being enriched with
bustos, roses, and portcullises." The other gate, scarcely less
beautiful, and styled the Westminster Gate, was adorned with statues and
medallions, and the badges of the royal house of Tudor carved in stone.

Viewed from the summit of one of the tall turrets of the Holbein Gate,
the appearance of the palace of Whitehall, at the period of our history,
was exceedingly picturesque and striking--perhaps more so than at any
previous or subsequent epoch, since the various structures of which it
was composed were just old enough to have acquired a time-honoured
character, while they were still in tolerable preservation.

Let us glance at it, then, from this point, and first turn towards the
great Banqueting House, which presents to us a noble and lengthened
façade, and contains within a magnificent and lofty hall, occupying
nearly its full extent, besides several other apartments of regal size
and splendour. In this building, in former days, with a retinue as
princely as that of the King himself, Wolsey so often and so sumptuously
entertained his royal master, that he at last provoked his anger by his
ostentation, and was bereft of his superb abode. Satisfied with our
examination of the Banqueting House, we will suffer our gaze to fall
upon the broad court beyond it, and upon the numerous irregular but
picturesque and beautiful structures by which that court--quadrangle it
cannot be called, for no uniformity is observed in the disposition of
the buildings--is surrounded. Here the eye is attracted by a confused
mass of roofs, some flat, turreted and embattled, some pointed, with
fantastical gables and stacks of tall chimneys--others with cupolas and
tall clock-towers--others with crocketed pinnacles, and almost all with
large gilt vanes. A large palace is a city in miniature; and so is it
with Whitehall. It has two other courts besides the one we are
surveying; equally crowded round with buildings, equally wanting in
uniformity, but equally picturesque. On the east it extends to Scotland
Yard, and on the west to the open space in front of Westminster Hall.
The state apartments face the river, and their large windows look upon
the stream.

Quitting the exalted position we have hitherto assumed, and viewing
Whitehall from some bark on the Thames, we shall find that it has a
stern and sombre look, being castellated, in part, with towers like
those over Traitor's Gate, commanding the stairs that approach it from
the river. The Privy Gardens are beautifully laid out in broad terrace
walks, with dainty parterres, each having a statue in the midst, while
there is a fountain in the centre of the inclosure. In addition to the
gardens, and separated from them by an avenue of tall trees, is a
spacious bowling-green. Again changing our position, we discover, on the
south of the gardens, and connected with the state apartments, a long
ambulatory, called the Stone Gallery. Then returning to our first post
of observation, and taking a bird's-eye view of the whole, after
examining it in detail, as before mentioned, we come to the conclusion,
that, though irregular in the extreme, and with no pretension whatever
to plan in its arrangement, the Palace of Whitehall is eminently
picturesque, and imposing from its vast extent. If taken in connection
with Westminster Hall, the Parliament House, and the ancient Abbey--with
the two towering gateways, on one of which we, ourselves, are
perched--with the various structures appertaining to it, and skirting
Saint James's Park, and with the noble gothic cross at Charing, we are
fain to acknowledge, that it constitutes a very striking picture.




CHAPTER IX.

Prince Charles.


There is now great stir within the palace, and its principal court is
full of horsemen, some of them apparelled in steel, and with their
steeds covered with rich trappings, and all attended by pages and yeomen
in resplendent liveries. Besides these, there are trumpeters in crimson
cassocks, mounted on goodly horses, and having their clarions adorned
with silken pennons, on which the royal arms are broidered. Then there
are kettle-drummers and other musicians, likewise richly arrayed and
well mounted, and the various pages, grooms, and officers belonging to
the Prince of Wales, standing around his charger, which is caparisoned
with white and gold.

Distinguishable even amidst this brilliant and knightly throng is Sir
Jocelyn Mounchensey. Mounted upon a fiery Spanish barb, presented to him
by the Conde de Gondomar, he is fully equipped for the jousts. The
trappings of his steed are black and white velvet, edged with silver,
and the plumes upon his helmet are of the same colours, mingled. He is
conversing with the Spanish Ambassador, who, like all the rest, is
superbly attired, though not in armour, and is followed by a crowd of
lacqueys in jerkins and hose of black satin, guarded with silver.

An unusual degree of bustle proclaims the approach of some personage of
extraordinary importance.

This is soon made known to be the Marquis of Buckingham. His arrival is
announced by loud flourishes from the six mounted trumpeters by whom he
is preceded. Their horses are caparisoned with orange-coloured taffeta,
while they themselves are habited in gaberdines of the same stuff. After
the trumpeters come four gentlemen ushers, and four pages, mounted on
his spare horses, and habited in orange-coloured doublets and hose, with
yellow plumes in their caps. To them succeed the grooms in mandilions,
or loose sleeveless jackets, leading the Marquis's charger, which is to
run in the lists--a beautiful dark bay jennet--trapped with green
velvet, sewn with pearls, and pounced with gold. Next comes Buckingham
himself, in a magnificent suit of armour, engraved and damaskeened with
gold, with an aigret of orange feathers nodding on his casque. Thus
apparelled, it is impossible to imagine a nobler or more chivalrous
figure than he presents. Though completely cased in steel, his
magnificent person seems to have lost none of its freedom of movement,
and he bears himself with as much grace and ease as if clad in his
customary habiliments of silk and velvet. For the moment he rides a
sorrel horse, whose spirit is too great to allow him to be safely
depended upon in the lists, but who now serves by his fire and
impetuosity to display to advantage his rider's perfect management.
Buckingham is followed by thirty yeomen, apparelled like the pages, and
twenty gentlemen in short cloaks and Venetian hose. He acknowledges the
presence of his antagonist and the Spanish Ambassador, with a courteous
salutation addressed to each, and then riding forward, takes up a
position beside the Duke of Lennox, who, mounted and fully equipped, and
having his five companions-at-arms with him, is awaiting the coming
forth of Prince Charles.

The Duke of Lennox is very sumptuously arrayed in armour, partly blue,
and partly gilt and graven, and his charger is caparisoned with cloth of
gold, embroidered with pearls. Besides this he has four spare horses,
led by his pages, in housings equally gorgeous and costly. These pages
have cassock coats, and Venetian hose, of cloth of silver, laid with
gold lace, and caps with gold bands and white feathers, and white
buskins. His rétinue consists of forty gentlemen and yeomen, and four
trumpeters. His companions-at-arms are all splendidly accoutred, and
mounted on richly-caparisoned chargers. The most noticeable figure
amongst them, however, is that of Sir Giles Mompesson; and he attracts
attention from the circumstance of his armour being entirely sable, his
steed jet black, and his housings, plumes, and all his equipments of the
same sombre hue.

At this juncture, a page, in the Prince's livery of white and gold,
approaches Sir Jocelyn, and informs him that his highness desires to
speak with him before they proceed to the tilt-yard. On receiving the
summons the young knight immediately quits De Gondomar, and, following
the page to the doorway leading to the state apartments, dismounts at
the steps, leaving his steed in charge of his youthful companion.

On entering the vestibule he finds a large party assembled, comprising
some of the fairest dames of court, and several noble gallants, who
intend taking no other part than that of spectators in the approaching
tilting-match. Most of them are known to Sir Jocelyn, and they eagerly
crowd round him, fearing something may have occurred to interfere with
the proceedings of the day. The young knight allays their apprehensions,
and after experiencing the kindling influence always produced by the
smiles of the fair, begins to ascend the great staircase, and has nearly
reached the door at its head, communicating with the Stone Gallery, when
it is thrown open by an usher, and Prince Charles comes forth.

The noble countenance of Prince Charles is stamped with the same
gravity, and slightly touched with the same melancholy, which
distinguished his features through life, but which naturally deepened as
misfortune fell upon him. But as those dark days cannot now be
discerned, and, as all seems brilliant around him, and full of brightest
promise, this prophetic melancholy is thought to lend interest to his
handsome features. He is attired in a suit of black armour of exquisite
workmanship, lacking only the helmet, which is carried by a page--as are
the _volante pièce_, the _mentonnière_, and the _grande-garde_, intended
to be worn in the field. On seeing Sir Jocelyn, he pauses, and signs to
his attendants to stand back.

"I have sent for you, Sir Jocelyn," he said, "to ascertain whether it is
true that Sir Giles Mompesson is amongst the Duke of Lennox's party."

"It is perfectly true, your highness," replied Sir Jocelyn; "he is now
in the court-yard."

A shade of displeasure crossed the Prince's noble countenance, and his
brow darkened.

"I am sorry to hear it; and but that I should grievously offend the
King, my father, I would forbid him to take part in the jousts," he
cried. "Sir Giles deserves to be degraded from knighthood, rather than
enjoy any of its honourable privileges."

"Entertaining these sentiments, if your highness will make them known to
the King, he will doubtless order Sir Giles's immediate withdrawal from
the lists," said Sir Jocelyn. "Most assuredly he is unworthy to enter
them."

"Not so," rejoined the Prince. "I have already represented the matter
to his Majesty, and trusted my remonstrances would be attended to. But I
find they have proved ineffectual. Buckingham, it appears, has more
weight than I have. Yet this notorious extortioner's insolence and
presumption ought not to pass unpunished."

"They shall not, your highness," replied Sir Jocelyn. "I will so deal
with him that I will warrant he will never dare show himself within the
precincts of the palace again."

"Do nothing rashly," said the Prince. "You must not disguise from
yourself that you may displease the King, and provoke Buckingham's
animosity."

"I cannot help it," returned Sir Jocelyn. "I will insult him, if he
crosses my path."

"I cannot blame you," said the Prince. "In your position I should do the
same; and I am only restrained by the injunctions laid upon me by the
King, from commanding his instant departure. But I must proceed towards
the tilt-yard. We shall meet again anon."

With this he descended the staircase; and as soon as his train of
gentlemen-ushers and pages had passed on, Sir Jocelyn followed, and
making his way through the still-crowded vestibule, gained the door, and
vaulted on the back of his steed.




CHAPTER X.

The old Palace-Yard of Westminster.


The throng outside the gates of Whitehall felt their breasts dilate, and
their pulses dance, as they listened to the flourishes of the trumpets
and cornets, the thundering bruit of the kettle-drums, and other martial
music that proclaimed the setting forth of the steel-clad champions who
were presently to figure in the lists.

It was, in sooth, a goodly sight to see the long and brilliant
procession formed by the fourteen knights, each so gallantly mounted, so
splendidly accoutred, and accompanied by such a host of gentlemen
ushers, pages, yeomen, and grooms, some on horseback, and some on foot;
and the eye of the looker-on was never wearied of noticing the diversity
of their habiliments,--some of the knights having cuirasses and helmets,
polished as silver, and reflecting the sun's rays as from a
mirror,--some, russet-coloured armour,--some, blue harness,--some,
fluted,--some, corslets damaskeened with gold, and richly
ornamented,--others, black and lacquered breastplates, as was the case
with the harness of Prince Charles,--and one, a dead black coat of mail,
in the instance of Sir Giles Mompesson. The arms of each were slightly
varied, either in make or ornament. A few wore sashes across their
breastplates, and several had knots of ribands tied above the coronals
of their lances, which were borne by their esquires.

In order to give the vast crowd assembled in the neighbourhood of
Whitehall, an opportunity of witnessing as much as possible of the
chivalrous spectacle, it was arranged by Prince Charles that the line of
the procession should first take its course through the Holbein Grate,
and then, keeping near the wall of the Privy Garden, should pass beneath
the King's Gate and draw up for a short time in the Old Palace-yard near
Westminster-hall, where a great concourse was assembled, amidst which a
space was kept clear by parties of halberdiers and yeomen of the guard.

The procession was headed by the Prince, and the stately step of his
milk-white charger well beseemed his own majestic deportment. When the
long train of gentlemen-ushers and pages accompanying him had moved on,
so as to leave the course clear for the next comer and his followers, a
young knight presented himself, who, more than any other in the
procession, attracted the attention of the spectators. This youthful
knight's visor was raised so as to disclose his features, and these were
so comely, that, combined with his finely-proportioned figure, perfectly
displayed by his armour, he offered an _ensemble_ of manly attractions
almost irresistible to female eyes. Nor did the grace and skill which
he exhibited in the management of his steed commend him less highly to
sterner judges, who did not fail to discover that his limbs, though
light, were in the highest degree vigorous and athletic, and they
prognosticated most favourably of his chances of success in the jousts.

When it became known that this _preux chevalier_ was Sir Jocelyn
Mounchensey, the chosen antagonist of Buckingham, still greater
attention was bestowed upon him; and as his good looks and gallant
bearing operated strongly, as we have stated, in his favour, many a good
wish and lusty cheer were uttered for him.

The effect of all this excitement among the crowd on behalf of
Mounchensey was to render Buckingham's reception by the same persons
comparatively cold; and the cheers given for the magnificent favourite
and his princely retinue were so few and so wanting in spirit, that he
who was wholly unaccustomed to such neglect, and who had been jealously
listening to the cheers attending Mounchensey's progress, was highly
offended, and could scarcely conceal his displeasure. But if he was
indignant at his own reception, he was exasperated at the treatment
experienced by his ally.

Close behind him rode a knight in black armour, with a sable panache on
his helm. Stalwart limbs and a manly bearing had this knight, and he
bestrode his powerful charger like one well accustomed to the saddle;
but though no one could gainsay his skill as a horseman, or his possible
prowess as a man-at-arms, most thought he had no title to be there, and
gave unmistakable evidence of their conviction by groans and hootings.

This black knight was Sir Giles Mompesson, and very grim and menacing
was his aspect.

Ample accommodation for the knightly company and their attendants, as
well as for the multitudes congregated to behold them was afforded by
the broad area in front of Westminster Hall; nevertheless, as those in
the rear could not see as well as those in front, every chance elevation
offering a better view was eagerly seized upon. All the accessible
points of Westminster Hall--its carved porch and windows--were invaded.
So were the gates of the Old Palace hard by--so were the buttresses of
the Abbey; and men were perched, like grotesque ornaments, on crocketed
pinnacles and stone water-spouts. The tall and curiously-painted clock
tower, resembling an Italian campanile, which then faced the portals of
Westminster Hall, was covered with spectators. But the position most
coveted, and esteemed the best, was the fountain at that time standing
in the midst of the old palace-yard. This structure, which was of great
antiquity and beauty, with a pointed summit supported by tall slender
shafts, and a large basin beneath, formed a sort of pivot, round which
the procession turned as it arrived upon the ground, and consequently
formed the best point of view of all; and those were esteemed highly
fortunate who managed to obtain a place upon it.

Amongst these lucky individuals were three of the reader's
acquaintances, and we think he will scarce fail to recognise the
saucy-faced apprentice with the cudgel under his arm, and the
fair-haired, blue-eyed, country-looking maiden at his side, as well as
the hale old rustic by whom they were attended. All three were delighted
with their position, and Dick Taverner took full credit to himself for
his cleverness in procuring it for them. As to pretty Gillian, nothing
could please her better, for she could not only see all that was going
forward, but everybody could see her--even Prince Charles himself; and
she flattered herself that she attraeted no little attention. And now
that the whole of the procession had come up, the picture was certainly
magnificent, and well worth contemplation. Everything was favourable to
the enjoyment of the spectacle. The day was bright and beautiful, and a
sparkling sunshine lighted up the splendid accoutrements of the knights,
the gorgeous caparisons of their steeds, and the rich habiliments of
their attendants; while a gentle breeze stirred the plumes upon the
helmets, and fluttered the bandrols on their lances. The effect was
heightened by enlivening strains of minstrelsy, and the fanfares of the
trumpeters. The utmost enthusiasm was awakened among the spectators,
and their acclamations were loud and long.

At this juncture, Dick Taverner, who had been shouting as lustily as the
rest, tossing his cap in the air, and catching it dexterously as it
fell, held his breath and clapped his bonnet on his head, for an object
met his eye which fixed his attention. It was the sombre figure of a
knight accoutred in black armour, who was pressing his steed through the
throng in the direction of the fountain. His beaver was up, and the
sinister countenance was not unknown to the apprentice.

"Saints defend us!" he ejaculated. "Is it possible that can be Sir Giles
Mompesson? What doth he here amidst this noble company? The villainous
extortioner cannot surely be permitted to enter the lists."

"Hold your peace, friend, if you are wise," muttered a deep voice behind
him.

"No, I will not be silent," rejoined the apprentice, without looking
round at his cautioner, but keeping his eye fixed upon Sir Giles. "I
will tell the felon knight my mind. I am not afraid of him. Harkye, my
masters," he called, in a loud voice, to those around him. "Do you know
who that black raven before you is? If not, I will tell you. He would
peck out your eyes if he could, and devour you and your substance, as he
has done that of many others. That bird of ill omen is Sir Giles
Mompesson."

"Impossible!" cried a bystander, indignantly. "Yet, now I look again,
'tis certainly he."

"As certain as that we are standing here," said the apprentice; "and if
you want further proof, behold, he is closing his visor. He thinks to
hide himself from our notice; but the trick shall not avail him. A groan
for the knavish extortioner, my masters--a deep groan for Sir Giles
Mompesson!"

Thus enjoined, a great hooting was made by the bystanders, and Sir
Giles's name was coupled with epithets that could not be very agreeable
to his ear.

"You were best let him alone, fool," cried the deep voice behind Dick.
"You will only bring yourself into trouble."

But the apprentice was not to be thus advised; and could not even be
restrained by the entreaties of Gillian, who was sadly apprehensive that
some mischief would befall him. So conspicuous did he make himself in
the disturbance, that at last Sir Giles rode towards him, and singling
him out, seized him with his gauntleted hand, and dragged him from the
edge of the fountain. Dick struggled manfully to get free, but he was in
a grasp of iron, and all his efforts at releasing himself were
ineffectual. He called on those near him to rescue him, but they shrank
from the attempt. Poor Gillian was dreadfully alarmed. She thought her
lover was about to be sacrificed to Sir Giles's resentment on the spot;
and, falling on her knees, she piteously besought him to spare his life.

"For shame, Gillian," cried Dick; "do not demean yourself thus. The
caitiff knight dares not harm me for his life; and if he should maltreat
me, I shall be well avenged by my patron, Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey. I
would my voice might reach him--I should not long be kept here. To the
rescue! Sir Jocelyn! to the rescue!" And he shouted forth the young
knight's name at the top of his voice.

"Who calls me?" demanded Mounchensey, pressing through the throng in the
direction of the outcries.

"I, your humble follower, Dick Taverner," roared the apprentice; "I am
in the clutches of the devil, and I pray you release me."

"Ha! what is this?" cried Sir Jocelyn. "Set him free, at once, Sir
Giles, I command you."

"What, if I refuse?" rejoined the other.

"Then I will instantly enforce compliance," thundered Mounchensey.

"If I release him it is because I must defend myself and punish your
insolence," cried Sir Giles. And as he spoke, he thrust back the
apprentice with such force that he would have fallen to the ground if he
had not dropped into the arms of his kneeling mistress.

"Now, Sir Jocelyn," continued Sir Giles, fiercely; "you shall answer for
this interference"--

"Hold!" interposed the authoritative voice of Prince Charles; "we must
have no unseemly brawls here. To your places at once in the procession,
Sir Knights. We are about to set forward to the tilt-yard."

With this, he gave the word to move on, and all further sound of
disturbance was drowned by the trampling of steeds and the bruit of the
kettle-drums, cornets, and trumpets.

Nowise disheartened by what had occurred, Dick Taverner would have
followed with the stream, and carried his mistress and her grandsire
along with him; but the former had been so much terrified by what had
occurred, that dreading lest her lover's imprudence should get him into
further scrapes, she positively refused to proceed any further.

"I have seen quite enough," she cried; "and if you have any love for me,
Dick, you will take me away, and not expose yourself to further risk. If
you are indeed bent on going on, I shall return with my grandsire."

"He will do well to follow your advice, young mistress," said the deep
voice which had previously sounded in Dick's ears; "if he had taken
mine, he would not have voluntarily thrust himself into the fangs of the
tiger, from which it is well for him that he has escaped with a whole
skin."

As this was said, Dick and his mistress turned towards the speaker, and
beheld a tall man, masked, and muffled in a black cloak.

"Heaven shield us! 'tis the Enemy!" exclaimed Gillian, trembling.

"Not so, fair damsel," replied the disguised personage; "I am not the
arch-enemy of man, neither am I enemy of yours, nor of Dick Taverner.
Your froward lover neglected my previous caution, but I will give him
another, in the hope that you may induce him to profit by it. Let him
keep out of the reach of Sir Giles Mompesson's emissaries, or his
wedding-day will be longer in coming than you both hope for. Nay, it may
not come at all."

With these words, the man in the mask mingled with the crowd, and almost
instantly disappeared, leaving the young couple, especially Gillian, in
much consternation. So earnest was the maiden for instant departure,
that Dick was obliged to comply; and as the whole of the thoroughfares
about Whitehall were impassable, they proceeded to the river side, and
took boat for London Bridge, at a hostel near which old Greenford had
put up his horse.




CHAPTER XI.

The Tilt-Yard.


Meanwhile, the procession was pursuing its slow course towards the
tilt-yard. It returned by the route it had taken in coming; but it now
kept on the north side of King Street, which thoroughfare was divided in
the midst by a railing, and deeply sanded.

Here, as in the area before Westminster-hall, not a wall, not a window,
not a roof, but had its occupants. The towers of the two great gates
were thronged--so were the roofs of the tennis-court and the manége, and
the summit of the cock-pit; the latter, indeed, was a capital position
inasmuch as it not only afforded an excellent view of the procession,
but commanded the interior of the tilt-yard. No wonder, therefore, that
great efforts should be made to obtain a place upon it, nor is it
surprising that our old friend, Madame Bonaventure, who had by no means
lost her influence among the court gallants, though she lacked, the
support of Lord Roos, owing to the absence of that young nobleman upon
his travels,--it is not surprising, we say, that she should be among the
favoured individuals who had secured a position there. Undoubtedly, she
would have preferred a seat amongst the court dames in the galleries of
the tilt-yard, but as this was unattainable, she was obliged to be
content; and, indeed, she had no reason to complain, for she saw quite
as much as those inside, and was more at her ease.

From this exalted position, while listening to the inspiriting clangour
of the trumpets, the clattering of arms, and the trampling and neighing
of steeds, Madame Bonaventure could scrutinize the deportment of each
knight as he issued from the lofty arch of the Holbein Gate, and rode
slowly past her. She had ample time to count the number of his
attendants before he disappeared from her view. As Sir Jocelyn
Mounchensey approached, with his visor raised, and his countenance
radiant with smiles at the cheers he had received, she recognised in him
her former guest, and participating in the general enthusiasm,
prevailing for the young knight, she leaned over the parapet, and
addressed to him a greeting so hearty that it procured for her a
courteous salutation in return. Enchanted with this, she followed with
her eyes the graceful figure of Sir Jocelyn till it was lost to view--to
re-appear a moment after in the tilt-yard.

Turning in this direction,--for all her interest was now centred in the
young knight,--Madame Bonaventure allowed her gaze to pass over the
entrance of the lists, and she goon espied him she sought, in conference
with Prince Charles, and some other knights of his party. Near them was
stationed Garter King-at-arms, apparelled in his tabard, and mounted on
a horse covered with housings of cloth of gold. Glancing round the
inclosure she perceived that all the foremost seats in the galleries and
scaffolds set apart for the principal court dames were already filled,
and she was quite dazzled with the galaxy of female loveliness presented
to her gaze. Behind the court dames were a host of fluttering gallants
in rich apparel, laughing and jesting with them on the probable issue of
the contest they had come to witness.

She then looked round the arena. Stout barriers of wood were drawn
across it, with openings at either end for the passage of the knights.
At these openings were placed all the various officers of the tilt-yard,
whose attendance was not required outside, including eight mounted
trumpeters, four at one end of the field, and four at the other,
together with a host of yeomen belonging to Prince Charles, in liveries
of white, with leaves of gold, and black caps, with wreaths and bands of
gold, and black and white plumes.

At the western extremity of the inclosure stood the royal gallery,
richly decorated for the occasion with velvet and cloth of gold, and
having the royal arms emblazoned in front. Above it floated the royal
standard. Supported by strong oaken posts, and entered by a staircase at
the side, this gallery was open below, and the space thus left was
sufficiently large to accommodate a dozen or more mounted knights,
while thick curtains could be let down at the sides to screen them from
observation, if required. Here it was intended that the Prince of Wales
and his six companions-at-arms should assemble, and wait till summoned
forth from it by the marshals of the field. There was a similar place of
assemblage for the Duke of Lennox and his knights at the opposite end of
the tilt-yard; and at both spots there were farriers, armourers, and
grooms in attendance, to render assistance, if needful.

On the right of the field stood an elevated platform, covered with a
canopy, and approached by a flight of steps. It was reserved for the
marshals and judges, and facing it was the post affixed to the barriers,
from which the ring, the grand prize of the day, was suspended, at a
height exactly within reach of a lance. Like the streets without, the
whole arena was deeply sanded.

This was what Madame Bonaventure beheld from the roof of the cock-pit,
and a very pretty sight she thought it.

All things, it will be seen, were in readiness, in the tilt yard,--and
the arrival of the King seemed to be impatiently expected--not only by
the knights who were eager to display their prowess, but by the court
dames and the gallants with them, as well as by all the officials
scattered about in different parts of the field, and enlivening it by
their variegated costumes.

Suddenly loud acclamations resounding from all sides of the tilt-yard,
accompanied by flourishes of trumpets, proclaimed the entrance of the
royal laggard to the gallery. James took his place in the raised seat
assigned to him, and after conferring for a few moments with the Conde
de Gondomar, who formed part of the brilliant throng of nobles and
ambassadors in attendance, he signified to Sir John Finett that the
jousting might commence, and the royal pleasure was instantly made known
to the marshals of the field.

The first course was run by Prince Charles, who acquitted himself with
infinite grace and skill, but failed in carrying off the ring; and
similar ill luck befell the Duke of Lennox. The Marquis of Hamilton was
the next to run, and he met with no better success; and the fourth essay
was made by Buckingham. His career was executed with all the consummate
address for which the favourite was remarkable, and it appeared certain
that he would carry off the prize; but in lowering his lance he did not
make sufficient allowance for the wind, and this caused it slightly to
swerve, and though he touched the ring, he did not bear it away. The
course, however, was considered a good one by the judges, and much
applauded; but the Marquis was greatly mortified by his failure.

It now came to Sir Jocelyn's turn, and his breast beat high with
ardour, as he prepared to start on his career. Keeping his back to the
ring till the moment of setting forward, he made a demi-volte to the
right, and then gracefully raising his lance, as his steed started on
its career, he continued to hold it aloft until he began to near the
object of his aim, when he gently and firmly allowed the point to
decline over the right ear of his horse, and adjusted it in a line with
the ring. His aim proved so unerring that he carried off the prize, amid
universal applause.




CHAPTER XII.

The Tilting Match.


After all the other competitors for the prize had essayed a career
within the arena, Sir Jocelyn's was held to be the best course run. The
ring was again carried off both by the Earl of Pembroke and Lord
Mordaunt; but in the opinion of the marshals of the field, neither of
those noblemen displayed so much grace and skill as Mounchensey: and the
decision was confirmed by the King.

The applauses which rang through the tilt-yard, on the announcement that
our handsome young knight had gained the first course, increased the
bitterness of Buckingham's feelings towards him; and he expressed his
regrets in a low tone to Sir Giles Mompesson that the combat about to
take place was not _à l'outrance_ instead of being _à plaisance_.

Sir Giles smiled grimly in reply.

Some little time elapsed, during which preparations were made for the
tilting-match, and great excitement pervaded the assemblage. The King
laughingly inquired of the Spanish ambassador if he still felt secure of
winning his wager, and was answered by De Gondomar that he had never had
the slightest misgiving on the subject, but he was now better satisfied
than ever that the result of the coming struggle would justify his
expectations. In the ladies' gallery an unusual degree of interest was
manifested in what was going forward; and many a wish was audibly
expressed by many a fair dame in Mounchensey's favour.

At length, the trumpets sounded, and the cries of the heralds were
heard, cheering on the combatants, as they prepared to dash furiously
against each other, bidding them do their devoir bravely, since bright
eyes looked down upon them. These stimulants to valorous display were
scarcely needed, for the champions were eager to prove their prowess.
Issuing one by one, from beneath their respective scaffolds, and curbing
the impatience of their steeds till they received from the marshals
permission to start, they rushed from their posts with lightning
swiftness to meet with a crashing shock midway. Various successes
attended the different combatants, but on the whole the advantage lay
clearly on the side of the Duke of Lennox, none of whose party had
sustained any material discomfiture; while on the side of Prince
Charles, the Earls of Montgomery and Rutland had been unhorsed. The
interest of the spectators was kept in breathless suspense to the last,
it being arranged that the tilting-match should close with the conflict
between Buckingham and Mounchensey.

Thus, when the trumpets sounded for the seventh and last time, and the
two knights stationed themselves opposite each other, every eye was
intently fixed upon them. Apparently, no two antagonists could be better
or more equally matched than they were; and throughout the whole field
it would have been in vain to search for another pair equally gifted by
nature, both being models of manly beauty of feature and symmetry of
frame. Indeed they might have been cast in the same mould, so nearly
alike were they in shape and size; and if their armour had been similar,
and their steeds corresponding in colour, they would have been
undistinguishable, when apart. Buckingham in some respects presented the
nobler figure of the two, owing to his flowing plumes, his embossed and
inlaid armour, and the magnificent housings of his charger--but he was
fully rivalled by the grace and chivalrous air of his antagonist.

As the Marquis, confident in his address, disdained the use of the
_passe-guarde_ and the _mentonnière_, Mounchensey abandoned those
defences, though they were used by all the other knights, and placed his
reliance in the strength of his breast-plate and gorget, and in the
force of his right arm.

When summoned forth by the trumpets, the two champions executed
demi-voltes with curvets, and then stood stock-still at either end of
the barriers. Each then selected a lance from the bundle offered them by
the esquires, and their choice of a weapon made, they carefully
fastened down their visors, which up to this moment had been raised.

Seeing them in readiness, the heralds gave the signal for the encounter.
Starting against each other like thunder-bolts, they met in mid-career.
The shock was tremendous, and many a cry sprang from female lips, while
bursts of applause arose from the hardier spectators.

Both lances were shivered, but the results of the strokes dealt on
either side were widely different. Mounchensey maintained his seat
firmly in the saddle, though his steed had been forced back upon its
haunches by his opponent's blow, who had touched his gorget; and riding
on with all the ease, vigour, and grace, our young knight had previously
exhibited, he threw down the truncheon of his lance, and opened his
gauntlet to show that his hand was wholly uninjured.

Very differently had it fared with Buckingham, whose defeat was
unquestionable. Unhorsed and unhelmeted, he was rolled in the dust; and
as he sprang to his feet, had the mortification of hearing the deafening
cheers that greeted his adversary's triumph. Eager to hide his
confusion, he vaulted upon the back of his steed, which was brought to
him by an esquire, the animal's flanks still quivering and reeking from
the terrible shock it had undergone, and dashed beneath the scaffold he
had so lately quitted--his pride severely humbled.

While the crest-fallen favourite thus retired to recover himself, Sir
Jocelyn rode slowly towards the royal gallery. Having now raised his
visor, his features were fully revealed to view, and perhaps were never
seen to such advantage as at this proud and happy moment. His emotions
were indeed enviable--but one thing was wanting to complete his
satisfaction--the presence of her, before whom, of all others, he was
most eager to distinguish himself. What mattered it that scarves and
kerchiefs were waved to him by some of the fairest dames in the land?
What mattered it that his name was called aloud, and that gloves and
knots of ribands fell at his feet, as he rode past the ladies' gallery?
His heart was untouched by smile or glance, and he paused not to pick up
one of the favours showered upon him.

But what means this sudden change in his demeanour? Why does he start
and stop, and look inquiringly towards the back of the gallery? Whom
does he discern amongst that bevy of beauties? Can it be Aveline? And if
so, how comes she there?

As he pauses, all eyes are fixed upon her towards whom his gaze is
directed. There is no difficulty in detecting the object of his regards,
for her attire is simpler than that of all the glittering dames around
her, and of a sadder hue. Her confusion also betrays her. She would not
be seen by him she came to see. She would muffle up her features, but it
is too late; and she is not only fully exposed to his view, but to that
of a hundred other curious eyes. Though many a high-born damsel marvels
at the young knight's insensibility to her own superior attractions,
none can deny that the unknown maiden is exquisitely beautiful, and
demands are eagerly made as to who she may be. No one can answer--and no
clue is given by her companion, for the elderly dame by whom she is
attended, and who resembles a duenna, is likewise unknown to all.

As soon as Sir Jocelyn recovers his surprise, he requests a favour from
the lady of his love, and she cannot refuse him--for immediately all the
dames in front of the gallery move aside, to let her advance.

With her pale cheeks crimsoned with blushes, and her dark eyes flashing
with mingled emotions of shame and pleasure, Aveline steps forward--and
having no other favour to bestow upon her knight, she gives him her
kerchief, which he presses to his lips, and then with a graceful
salutation moves forward on his course. This is no time for
explanation--and he must be content with his happiness, without
inquiring how it has been procured for him.

The incident, however, has been generally noticed, and causes a good
deal of speculation and talk amongst the female portion of the
assemblage. There is one individual, however, of the opposite sex, who
witnesses it with sentiments different from those by which most other
observers are affected. This is Sir Giles Mompesson. He, it appears, has
not been unaware of Aveline's presence at the jousts, though he did not
anticipate its revelation in this manner to Sir Jocelyn; and a bitter
smile crosses his lips, as he watches the brief interview between the
pair. He cares not what transports they indulge in now--nor what hopes
they form for the future. He promises himself that he will effectually
mar their bliss!




CHAPTER XIII.

The Felon Knight.


A few more bounds of his steed brought Sir Jocelyn to the royal gallery,
where he dismounted, and leaving his steed in charge of an esquire,
ascended the stairs in company with the marshals of the field, and
presently found himself in the presence of the King. James received him
very graciously. On the right of the monarch stood the Conde de
Gondomar, who smiled on his _protégé_ as he approached, and glanced at a
silver coffer full of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, amethysts, and other
precious stones, borne by an attendant in the gorgeous livery of the
Marquis of Buckingham.

"We greet ye as victor, Sir Jocelyn," said James, as the young knight
made a profound obeisance to him; "and it rejoices us to say ye hae
demeaned yourself honourably and fairly in the field. How say ye, Sirs?"
he added to the marshals and others. "Shall not the prize of the day be
adjudged to Sir Jocelyn?"

"It must be so, of right, your Majesty," replied the foremost of them.
"A better course at the ring could not be run than Sir Jocelyn hath
performed, nor could greater 'vantage be gained in the jousts than he
hath obtained over the Marquis of Buckingham. All has been done by him
in accordance with the rules of honour, and without fraud or
supercherie.

"Enough, gentlemen," said James. "Count, ye hae won your wager; and as
to you, Sir Jocelyn, ye hae proved yourself a very mirror of
chivalry--_exemplar antiquoe fortitudinis et magnanimitatis_--on the
pattern of Bayard, the knight without fear and without reproach, and the
like of whom we scarce expected to see in these latter days. You are
right weel entitled to the prize ye hae gained, and which his Excellency
so honourably assigns to you."

"With your Majesty's permission, I will add the diamond clasp which I
staked against the Marquess's casket of gems," said De Gondomar, "and
will beseech Sir Jocelyn to wear it as a testimony on my part of his
merit as a cavalier. It is scarcely too much to say for him, after his
recent brilliant achievements, that he takes rank amongst the foremost
of the distinguished knights encircling your Majesty's throne."

"He takes rank as the first and best," cried James, emphatically; "since
he hath overcome Buckingham, who till this day hath held the chief place
among our chivalry."

"Your Majesty overwhelms me by your commendations," replied Sir Jocelyn;
"and I can only say, in reply, that my best energies shall be devoted to
your service, whenever and howsoever called upon. As to your
Excellency's gift," he added to De Gondomar, who had unfastened the
glittering clasp and presented it to him, "I shall ever guard it, as a
devotee in your own sunny land of Spain would the most precious relic."

The coffer containing the gems was then, upon a sign from the King,
delivered to Sir Jocelyn, who, as he received it from the attendant,
took a string of pearls from it and gave them to the marshal, requesting
they might be offered as _largesse_ to the heralds; and the officer
promised that the request should be complied with. Having bestowed a
similar boon upon each of the marshals, Mounchensey requested that the
coffer might be placed in charge of his esquire--and his directions were
complied with.

"Is all concluded?" demanded the King.

"The contest for the prize is necessarily decided," replied the marshal;
"but there yet remains the combat with the sword on horseback, if it
pleases Sir Jocelyn to engage in it."

"What saith our young knight?" demanded the King. "Is he willing to risk
the laurels he hath so fairly won on another, and it may be more
dangerous encounter? What he hath already done may fairly entitle him to
decline further hazard, if he be so minded."

"I should ill deserve your Majesty's high commendations if I hesitated
for a moment," replied Mounchensey; "but so far from feeling
disinclination to the combat, I should regret if this opportunity for
further distinction were denied me. With your Majesty's gracious
permission, I will pray the marshals of the field to let it be
proclaimed by the heralds and pursuivants-at-arms that I challenge any
true knight to do battle with me with the sword, and on horseback."

"Ye will fight with a blunted blade, Sir Jocelyn," cried the King. "We
maun hae nae risk of life. Our dear dog, Steenie, hath had his bonnie
craig well-nigh broken, and we will hae nae mair mischief done."

"The laws of the tilt-yard, with which Sir Jocelyn is doubtless well
acquainted," observed the marshal, "require that the edge of the sword
shall be dull, as your Majesty hath stated, and that no blow shall be
dealt with the point of the weapon. These conditions must be strictly
observed."

"They shall be," replied Sir Jocelyn; "and I pray you now to do your
devoir, and make the proclamation."

On this the marshal and his followers departed; and Sir Jocelyn, bowing
reverently to the King, took his way after them, and descending the
stairs, leaped on the back of his charger.

Soon after this, and while a sword, blunted in the manner prescribed,
was girded round his waist by his esquire, the trumpets were sounded,
and the challenge proclaimed by the marshal. It was immediately
responded to by a blast from the opposite end of the arena, and a
herald, stationed at this point, called out in a loud voice that the
challenge was accepted. Again the excitement rose high among the
spectators; again all eyes were directed towards Sir Jocelyn; and again
many ardent aspirations were uttered by his numerous fair admirers for
his success,--though none so fervent as that breathed by Aveline. Sir
Jocelyn cast one glance towards that part of the ladies' gallery where
he knew her to be placed, and then prepared for his last essay.

As yet, he knew not who was to be his antagonist; but when a knight in
sable armour, and with a sable plume upon his helm, rode from beneath
the scaffold, he discovered, to his great indignation, that it was Sir
Giles Mompesson. After a moment's reflection, he resolved upon a course
of action. When the signal for the combat was given by the marshal, and
Sir Giles, sword in hand, dashed into the arena, Mounchensey rode
towards him, but, without drawing his sword, and raising himself in the
saddle, commanded him in a thundering voice to retire.

The impetuosity of Sir Giles's career carried him past his antagonist,
but he now wheeled round, and regarded Mounchensey fiercely from
beneath the bars of his helmet.

"Retire, said you?" he exclaimed; "not unless you acknowledge yourself
defeated. In my turn, I bid you go back to the point you started from,
and commence the combat in due form, or I shall hold you vanquished, and
compel you to abase your crest."

"Hear me," cried Sir Jocelyn, "and let it be heard by all. I challenged
any _true_ knight to the combat, but you answer not to the description.
I proclaim you publicly in this place as a false and felon knight, and
declare you utterly unworthy of my sword. Back to your starting-place,
and if the heralds do their duty, they will hack off your spurs, and
drive you with shame from the lists."

"And think you I will tamely brook this insult?" roared Sir Giles; "draw
your sword at once, and let it be a mortal combat between us."

"Never," replied Sir Jocelyn, disdainfully. "I will not stoop to the
level of your infamy."

"Then stoop to earth," cried Sir Giles, aiming a terrible blow at him
with his sword.

If the stroke had taken effect as intended, it would probably have made
good Mompesson's threat, but Sir Jocelyn was too wary and too agile even
for his powerful assailant. Before the sword could descend, he seized
his adversary's wrist, and in another instant possessed himself of the
blade. This he accomplished without injury, as the sword was blunted.
Still maintaining his grasp of the weapon, he raised himself in his
stirrups to give additional force to the blow, and with the pummel of
the sword, struck Sir Giles a blow upon the brainpan with such violence,
that he dropped from the saddle as if shot.

During this strange scene, not a word had been uttered by the
spectators, who looked on with the greatest curiosity, wondering how it
would end. As Sir Giles fell from his horse, and lay stretched in
perfect insensibility on the ground, a tremendous shout was raised, and
Sir Jocelyn was as much applauded as if he had performed an
extraordinary feat--so universally was the extortioner detested.

Nor was there any sympathy manifested, when a few moments afterwards Sir
Giles was raised from the ground by the pursuivants, and his helmet
being removed, exhibited a countenance livid as death, with a stream of
blood coursing slowly down the temples. Many would have been
well-pleased if he had been killed outright, but the chirurgeon in
attendance pronounced that he was only stunned by the blow.




CHAPTER XIV.

The private Cabinet of Sir Giles Mompesson.


A small room, and rendered yet smaller by the numerous chests and strong
boxes encroaching upon its narrow limits. In some cases these boxes are
piled, one upon another, till they touch the ceiling. All of them look
stout enough, yet many are further strengthened by iron hoops and
broad-headed nails, and secured by huge padlocks. The door is cased with
iron, within and without, and has a ponderous lock, of which the master
of the room always keeps the key, and never trusts it out of his own
hand.

This small chamber is the private cabinet of Sir Giles Mompesson.

No one is permitted to enter it without him. Though his myrmidons are
fully aware of its existence, and can give a shrewd guess at its
contents, only two of them have set foot within it. The two thus
privileged are Clement Lanyere and Lupo Vulp. Neither the promoter nor
the scrivener are much in the habit of talking over their master's
affairs, even with their comrades, and are almost as habitually reserved
as he is himself; still, from the few words let fall by them from time
to time, the myrmidons have picked up a tolerable notion of the private
cabinet, of its hidden cupboards in the walls, its drawers with secret
springs; its sliding planks with hollows beneath them; its chests full
of treasure, or what is the same thing as treasure, bonds,
mortgage-deeds, and other securities; and its carefully concealed hoards
of plate, jewels, and other valuables. Some of the least scrupulous
among them--such as Staring, Hugh, Cutting Dick, and old Tom
Wootton--have often discussed the possibility of secretly visiting it,
and making a perquisition of its stores; but they have been hitherto
restrained by their fears of their terrible and vindictive master.

On looking into the cabinet we find Sir Giles seated at a table, with a
large chest open beside him, from which he has taken for examination
sundry yellow parchments, with large seals attached to them. He is now
occupied with a deed, on one of the skins of which the plan of an
important estate is painted, and on this his attention becomes fixed.
His countenance is cadaverous, and its ghastly hue adds to its grimness
of expression. A band is tied round his head, and there is an expression
of pain in his face, and an air of languor and debility in his manner,
very different from what is usual with him. It is plain he has not yet
recovered from the effects of the crushing blow he received at the
jousts.

Opposite him sits his partner, Sir Francis Mitchell; and the silence
that has reigned between them for some minutes is first broken by the
old usurer.

"Well, Sir Giles," he inquires, "are you satisfied with your
examination of these deeds of the Mounchensey property? The estates have
been in the family, as you see, for upwards of two centuries--ever since
the reign of Henry IV., in fact--and you have a clear and undisputed
title to all the property depicted on that plan--to an old hall with a
large park around it, eight miles in circumference, and almost as well
stocked with deer as the royal chase of Theobald's; and you have a title
to other territorial domains extending from Mounchensey Place and Park
to the coast, a matter of twelve miles as the crow flies, Sir
Giles,--and including three manors and a score of little villages. Will
not these content you? Methinks they should. I' faith, my worthy
partner, when I come to reckon up all your possessions, your houses and
lands, and your different sources of revenue--the sums owing to you in
bond and mortgage--your monopolies and your patents--when I reckon up
all these, I say, and add thereunto the wealth hoarded in this cabinet,
which you have not placed out at usance--I do not hesitate to set you
down as one of the richest of my acquaintance. There be few whose
revenue is so large as yours, Sir Giles. 'Tis strange, though I have had
the same chance as yourself of making money, I have not a hundredth part
of your wealth."

"Not a whit strange," replied Sir Giles, laying down the deed and
regarding his partner somewhat contemptuously. "I waste not what I
acquire. I have passions as well as yourself, Sir Francis; but I keep
them under subjection. I drink not--I riot not--I shun all idle company.
I care not for outward show, or for the vanities of dress. I have only
one passion which I indulge,--Revenge. You are a slave to sensuality,
and pamper your lusts at any cost. Let a fair woman please your eye, and
she must be bought, be the price what it may. No court prodigal was ever
more licentious or extravagant than you are."

"Sir Giles! Sir Giles! I pray you, spare me. My enemies could not report
worse of me."

"Nay, your enemies would say that your extravagance is your sole merit,
and that therein you are better than I," rejoined Sir Giles, with a
sardonic laugh. "But I rejoice to think I am free from all such
weaknesses. The veriest enchantress could not tempt me. I am proof
against all female seductions. Think you the damsel lives who could
induce me to give for her half these broad lands in Norfolk--this
ancient hall, and its wide-spread domains? I trow not."

"Perchance I have given too much," cried the old usurer, eagerly; "if
so, it is not too late to amend our contract. Between us, there should
be fair dealing, Sir Giles."

"There is none other than fair dealing on my part," replied the
extortioner sternly; "and the terms of our agreement cannot be departed
from. What I have just said applies to your general mode of life; but
you have better reason for your conduct in this instance than is usual
with you, since you combine the gratification of revenge with the
indulgence of your other passions. You obtain a fair young bride, and at
the same time deprive the person whom you hate most of all others, of
the mistress of his affections. This is as it should be. Vengeance
cannot be too dearly purchased, and the more refined the vengeance, the
higher must necessarily be the price paid for it. In no way can you so
cruelly injure this detested Mounchensey, as by robbing him of his
mistress. And the blow dealt by you, shall be followed by others not
less severe on my part."

"Ay, ay, Sir Giles, you have to wipe out the outrage he inflicted upon
you in the tilt-yard. As I am a true gentleman, that was worse than the
indignity I endured from him in the court-yard of the palace. It must be
confessed that the villain hath a powerful hand as well as a sharp
tongue, and follows up his bitter words by bold deeds. The stroke he
dealt you with his sword was like a blow from a sledge hammer, Sir
Giles. He felled you from your horse as a butcher felleth an ox; and, in
good truth, I at first thought the ox's fate had been yours, and that
you would never rise again. Your helmet was dinted in as if by a great
shot. And for twelve hours and upwards you were senseless and
speechless;--But thanks to my care and the skill of Luke Hatton the
apothecary who tended you, you have been brought round. After such
treatment, I cannot wonder that you are eager for revenge upon Sir
Jocelyn. How will you deal with him Sir Giles? How will you deal with
him?"

"I will hurl him from the proud position he now holds," replied the
other, "and immure him in the Fleet."

"While I revel in the bliss he panted to enjoy," cried the old usurer,
chuckling. "Take it altogether, 'tis the sweetest scheme we ever
planned, and the most promising, Sir Giles! But when am I to claim
Aveline? when shall I make her mine?"

"You shall claim her to-morrow, and wed her as soon after as you list."

"Nay, there shall be no delay on my part, Sir Giles. I am all
impatience. When such a dainty repast is spread out before me, I am not
likely to be a laggard. But now, to the all-important point on which the
whole affair hinges! How am I to assert my claim to her hand--how
enforce it when made? Explain that to me, Sir Giles, I beseech you."

"Readily," replied the extortioner. "But before doing so let me give you
a piece of information which will surprise you, and which will show you
that my tenure of this great Norfolk property is not quite so secure as
you suppose it. You are aware that Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey had a
younger brother, Osmond--"

"Who disappeared when very young, and died, it was concluded,"
interrupted Sir Francis, "for he was never heard of more. And it was
lucky for us he did so die, or he might have proved a serious obstacle
to our seizure of these estates, for I remember it being stated at the
time, by one of the judges, that had he been living, he might have
procured a reversal of the Star-Chamber sentence upon Sir Ferdinando in
his favour."

"Precisely so, and that judge's opinion was correct," said Sir Giles.
"Now listen to me, Sir Francis. It is quite true that Osmond Mounchensey
quitted his home when very young, owing to some family quarrel; but it
is not true that he died. On the contrary, I have recently ascertained,
beyond a doubt, that he is still alive. Hitherto, I have failed in
tracing him out, though I have got a clue to him; but he has enveloped
himself in so much mystery that he is difficult of detection. Yet I
trust to succeed ere long; and my great business will be to prevent his
re-appearance, which would be fraught with danger to us both. I have a
scheme on foot in reference to him which will answer more than one
purpose. You will learn it anon. And now, to give you the explanation
you require in respect to Aveline."

And he stamped upon the floor.

"You are not about to invoke a spirit of darkness to our councils?" said
Sir Francis, staring at him in astonishment and alarm.

"You will see," rejoined the extortioner with a grim smile.

After a brief pause, the door was almost noiselessly opened, and Clement
Lanyere entered the chamber.

"What has Lanyere to do with the matter?" cried Sir Francis,
suspiciously regarding the promoter, who was without his mask.

"You will hear," replied Sir Giles. "Be pleased to inform Sir Francis,
good Lanyere, how you come to be in a position to demand the hand of
fair Mistress Aveline Calveley?"

"He demand it! I understand you not, Sir Giles!" exclaimed the old
usurer.

"Let him speak, I pray you, Sir Francis," returned the other. "You will
the sooner learn what you desire to know."




CHAPTER XV.

Clement Lanyere's Story.


"My tale shall be briefly told," said Lanyere. "You are aware, Sir
Francis, that in the pursuit of my avocation I am often led into the
most dangerous quarters of the metropolis, and at hours when the peril
to any honest man is doubled. Adventures have not unfrequently occurred
to me when so circumstanced, and I have been indebted to my right hand
and my good sword for deliverance from many a desperate risk. Late one
night, I chanced to be in the neighbourhood of Whitefriars, in a place
called the Wilderness, when, hearing cries for help, accompanied by the
clash of steel, I rushed towards a narrow court, whence the clatter and
vociferations resounded, and perceived by the light of the moon, which
fortunately happened to be shining brightly at the time, one man engaged
with four others, who were evidently bent upon cutting his throat in
order to take his purse. He defended himself gallantly, but the odds
were too great, and he must have been speedily slain--for the villains
swore with great oaths they would murder him if he continued to resist
them--if I had not come to the rescue. I arrived just in time. They were
pressing him hard. I struck down the point of a rapier which was within
an inch of his breast--gave the swashbuckler who carried it a riposta he
did not expect, and sent him off bowling--and then addressed myself to
the others with such good effect, that in a brief space the stranger and
I were alone together. I had been slightly wounded in the fray; but I
thought nothing of it--a mere scratch. It seemed something more to the
gentleman I had preserved. He expressed great concern for me, and bound
his handkerchief round my arm. I was about to depart, but he detained me
to renew his professions of gratitude for the service I had rendered
him, and his earnest wish that he might be able to requite me. From his
discourse, and from the texts of Scripture he mixed up with it, I knew
him to be a Puritan; and I might have supposed him to be a preacher of
the Gospel, had he not carried a sword, and borne himself so manfully in
the encounter. However, he left me no doubt on the subject, for he told
me he was named Hugh Calveley, and that he had served in the wars with
more honour to himself than profit. He added, that if the knaves had
succeeded in their design, and robbed and slain him, they would have
deprived his daughter of her sole protector; and, indeed, of all means
of subsistence, since the little they had would be lost with him. On
hearing this, a thought struck me, and I said to him--'You have
expressed an earnest desire to requite the service I have just been
fortunate enough to render you, and as I am well assured your
professions are not idly made, I shall not hesitate to proffer a request
to you.' 'Ask what you will; if I have it to give, it shall be yours,'
he replied. 'You make that promise solemnly, and before heaven?' I said.
'I make it solemnly,' he replied. 'And to prove to you that I mean it to
be binding upon me, I will confirm it by an oath upon the Bible.' And as
he spoke he took the sacred volume from his doublet, and reverently
kissed it. Then I said to him--'Sir, you have told me you have a
daughter, but you have not told me whether she is marriageable or not?'
He started at the question, and answered somewhat sternly. 'My daughter
has arrived at womanhood. But wherefore the inquiry? Do you seek her
hand in marriage?' 'If I did so, would you refuse her to me?' A pause
ensued, during which I observed he was struggling with deep emotion, but
he replied at last, 'I could not do so after my solemn promise to you;
but I pray you not to make the demand.' I then said to him: 'Sir, you
cannot lay any restrictions upon me. I shall exact fulfilment of your
promise. Your daughter must be mine.' Again he seemed to be torn by
emotion, and to meditate a refusal; but after a while he suppressed his
feelings, and replied. 'My word is plighted. She shall be yours.--Ay,
though it cost me my life, she shall be yours.' He then inquired my name
and station, and I gave him a different name from that by which I am
known; in fact, I adopted one which chanced to be familiar to him, and
which instantly changed his feelings towards me into those of warmest
friendship. As you may well suppose, I did not think fit to reveal my
odious profession, and though I was unmasked, I contrived so to muffle
my hateful visage with my cloak, that it was in a great degree concealed
from him. After this, I told him that I had no intention of pressing my
demand immediately; that I would take my own means of seeing his
daughter without her being conscious of my presence; and that I would
not intrude upon her in any way without his sanction. I used some other
arguments, which seemed perfectly to satisfy him, and we separated, he
having previously acquainted me that he lived at Tottenham. Not many
days elapsed before I found an opportunity of viewing his daughter, and
I found her exquisitely beautiful. I had indeed gained a prize; and I
resolved that no entreaties on his part, or on hers, should induce me to
abandon my claim. I took care not to be seen by her, being sensible that
any impression I might make would be prejudicial to me; and I
subsequently learnt from her father that he had not disclosed to her the
promise he had been rash enough to make to me. I had an interview with
him--the third and last that ever took place between us--on the morning
of the day on which he made an attempt upon the life of the King. I rode
over to Tottenham, and arrived there before daybreak. My coming was
expected, and he himself admitted me by a private door into his garden,
and thence into the house. I perceived that his mind was much disturbed,
and he told me he had passed the whole night in prayer. Without
acquainting me with his desperate design, I gathered from what he said,
that he meditated some fearful act, and that he considered his own life
in great jeopardy. If he fell, and he anticipated he should fall, he
committed his daughter to my care; and he gave me a written injunction,
wherein, as you will find, his blessing is bestowed upon her for
obedience to him, and his curse laid upon her in the event of a breach
of duty; commanding her, by all her hopes of happiness hereafter, to
fulfil the solemn promise he had made me--provided I should claim her
hand within a twelvemonth of his death. The unfortunate man, as you
know, died within two days of that interview, having, as I have since
ascertained, reiterated the same solemn charge, and in terms equally
impressive, to his daughter."

"A strange story truly," observed Sir Francis, who had listened
attentively to the relation; "but though Aveline may consent to be bound
by her father's promise to you, I see not how Lean enforce the claim."

"Hugh Calveley, when dying, disclosed no name to his daughter," said Sir
Giles. "There is no name mentioned in the paper confided by him to
Lanyere; and, possessed of that authority, you will represent the party
entitled to make the claim, and can act as Lanyere would have acted."

"She will not resist the demand," said the promoter. "That I can avouch,
for I overheard her declare as much to Sir Jocelyn."

"If such be the case, I am content," cried the old usurer. "Give me the
authority," he added to Lanyere.

"I have it with me, Sir Francis," rejoined the promoter; "but Sir Giles
will explain to you that there is something to be done before I can
yield it to you."

"What does he require?" asked the old usurer, glancing uneasily at his
partner.

"Merely all these title-deeds of the Mounchensey estates in exchange for
that paper," replied Sir Giles.

"Not merely the deeds," said Lanyere; "but an assignment on your part,
Sir Giles, and on yours, Sir Francis, of all your joint interest in
those estates. I must have them absolutely secured to me; and stand
precisely as you stand towards them."

"You shall have all you require," replied Mompesson.

"Amazement!" exclaimed Sir Francis. "Can you really mean to relinquish
this noble property to him, Sir Giles? I thought I was assigning my
share to you, and little dreamed that the whole estates would be made
over in this way."

"I have told you, Sir Francis," rejoined the other, "that
vengeance--ample, refined vengeance--cannot be too dearly purchased; and
you will now perceive that I am willing to pay as extravagantly as
yourself for the gratification of a whim. On no other terms than these
would Lanyere consent to part with the authority he possesses, which
while it will ensure you the hand of Aveline, will ensure me the keenest
revenge upon Sir Jocelyn. I have therefore acceded to his terms. Thou
hast got a rare bargain, Lanyere; and when the crack-brained Puritan
gave thee that paper, he little knew the boon he bestowed upon thee."

"The exchange would, indeed, seem to be in my favour, Sir Giles," he
said; "but you may believe me when I say, that though I gain these large
estates, I would rather have had the damsel."

"Well, let the business be completed," said Sir Giles; "and that it may
be so with all dispatch, do you, Lanyere, summon Lupo Vulp to us. You
will find him in his chamber, and bid him bring with him the deed of
assignment to you of the Mounchensey estates which he has already
prepared, and which only requires my signature and that of Sir Francis."

"I obey you, Sir Giles," replied Lanyere, departing on the errand.

As soon as they were alone, the old usurer observed to his partner--"I
am lost in astonishment at what you are about to do, Sir Giles. That I
should make a sacrifice for a dainty damsel, whose charms are doubled
because she should belong to an enemy, is not surprising; but that you
should give up so easily a property you have so long coveted--I confess
I cannot understand it."

A strange smile crossed the extortioner's countenance.

"And do you really think I would give it up thus, Sir Francis?" he said.

"But if we sign that deed--'tis his. How are you to get it back again?"

"Ask me not _how_--I have no time for explanation. Recollect what I told
you of Osmond Mounchensey, and the possibility of his re-appearance."

"I will not seek to penetrate your scheme, Sir Giles," observed the old
usurer; "but I would have you beware of Lanyere. He is cunning and
determined."

"He will scarcely prove a match for me, I think," observed the
extortioner--"but here he comes."

And as he spoke, the promoter again entered the chamber, followed by
Lupo Vulp, with a parchment under his arm.

"Give me the deed, good Lupo," said Sir Giles, taking it from him. "It
must be first executed by me--there!--and now your signature, Sir
Francis," he added, passing the instrument to him. "Now thou shalt
witness it, Lupo. 'Tis well!--'tis well!" he cried, snatching it back
again, as soon as the scrivener had finished the attestation. "All is
done in due form. This deed makes you Lord of Mounchensey, Lanyere." And
he handed it to him.

"And this makes Sir Francis Mitchell ruler of the destiny of Aveline
Calveley," rejoined Lanyere, giving a paper to the old usurer.

"This chest and its contents are yours also, Lanyere," pursued Sir
Giles, putting in the deeds, and locking it. "Will it please you to take
the key. From this moment we cease to be master and servant, and become
equals and friends!"

"Equals, it may be, Sir Giles!" cried Lanyere, drawing himself up to his
full height, and speaking with great haughtiness; "but never friends."

"Ha! what are we, then?" demanded the extortioner, fiercely. "Am I
mistaken in you? Take heed. You are yet in my power."

"Not so, Sir Giles. I have nothing to apprehend from you now," replied
Lanyere; "but you have much to fear from me."

So saying, and placing the parchment within his doublet, he hastily
quitted the chamber.

"Perdition! have I been outwitted?" cried Sir Giles. "But he shall not
escape me." And rushing after him, he called from the head of the great
staircase--"What, ho! Captain Bludder!--and ye, Tom Wootton and Cutting
Dick--let not Lanyere go forth. Stay him and take from him the deed
which he hath placed in his doublet. Cut him down, or stab him if he
resists."

But, though efforts were made to obey Sir Giles's commands, the promoter
effected his retreat.




CHAPTER XVI.

Sir Jocelyn's rupture with de Gondomar.


Far and wide echoed the report of Sir Jocelyn's brilliant achievements
at the jousts; and wherever he went, he was hailed as vanquisher of the
hitherto-unconquered Buckingham. He bore his honours meekly, yet he did
not escape calumny; for at a court, as everywhere else, distinguished
success is certain to awaken a spirit of envy and detraction. These
paltry feelings, however, were entirely confined to the disappointed of
his own sex. By fairer and more impartial judges, who had witnessed his
exploits, he was spoken of in terms of unmingled admiration; and at the
grand revel at Whitehall that followed the jousts, many a soft glance
told him how tenderly the gentle heart, whose feelings it betrayed, was
inclined towards him. Faithful, loyal, and chivalrous, our young knight
was as much proof against these lures, as against the ruder attacks of
his armed opponents in the lists; and his constancy to the lady of his
love remained entirely unshaken. Far rather would he have been with
Aveline, in her humble dwelling, than in those superb festal halls,
surrounded by all that was noble and beautiful--all that was dangerous
and delusive. Far rather would he have received one smile from her, one
kindly look, than all the blandishments showered upon him by these
enchantresses.

Fain would he have avoided the banquet--but as the hero of the day, he
was compelled to attend it. Indeed, he had to enact a principal part at
the revel; and so well did he play it that compliments were lavished
upon him, enough to have turned an ordinary head. Not from any desire
for ostentatious display, but because Prince Charles had signified to
him his wishes on the subject, he was arrayed in all the pearls and
ornaments he had won from Buckingham; and more than one subtle courtier,
anxious to stand well with him, flatteringly declared that they became
him infinitely better than the Marquis. Others, less favourably
disposed, remarked that his gem-bedecked doublet was like the garment of
Nessus, and would cause its wearer's destruction; and if they could have
read Buckingham's secret thoughts, when he beheld his rival so adorned,
they would have felt that the observation was not unwarranted. But,
though fully determined upon revenge, Buckingham allowed neither look
nor word to betray his purpose. On the contrary, he displayed more than
his usual affability to Mounchensey, laughed at his own ill-luck, and
even went so far as to say that Sir Giles Mompesson had been rightly
served; adding, that he blamed himself for including him in his party,
and was glad Sir Jocelyn had handled him so rudely.

Though our young knight might well doubt Buckingham's sincerity; he
replied to all his courtly speeches in similar terms, and the greatest
cordiality appeared to subsist between them. Enchanted with this show of
friendship, the King endeavoured to promote it by keeping them near him
throughout the evening, leading them to converse together, and fawning
upon them, as was his way with those he highly favoured. All this could
not fail to be satisfactory to Mounchensey; but he was far more pleased
with the notice of Prince Charles, who treated him with marked
consideration.

Next morning, in compliance with an invitation to that effect he had
received at the revel, Sir Jocelyn repaired to Ely House, in Holborn,
the residence of the Spanish Ambassador, and was at once admitted to his
presence.

They were alone, and after a few preliminary observations upon the
events of the previous day, De Gondomar remarked--"I think I have
already afforded you abundant proof of my friendly feeling towards you,
Sir Jocelyn. But I will not stop with what I have done. My power of
serving you is greater than you may imagine it to be. I can lead you yet
higher--and put you in a firmer position. In a word, I can place you on
a level with Buckingham,--perchance above him,--if your ambition soars
so high."

Mounchensey endeavoured to express his deep sense of gratitude to the
ambassador, and regretted his small means of requiting the numerous and
important favours he had received from him.

"I will tell you what to do," said De Gondomar. "You can procure me
certain information which I desire to obtain. By my instrumentality you
have, in some degree, already obtained the King's confidence, and ere
long are sure to become the depositary of many important state secrets.
These you shall communicate to me. And you must also use your best
endeavours to win Prince Charles over to the Church of Rome."

"Is this proposal seriously made to me, Count?" demanded Mounchensey,
looking at him with astonishment, mingled with displeasure.

"Unquestionably it is serious--perfectly serious," replied De Gondomar.
"I ask you only to serve me as a certain young nobleman of your
acquaintance served me before he was compelled to fly from England to
avoid the consequences of a quarrel with his wife's family. Your
opportunities will be greater than his, and therefore your service will
be more valuable."

"I regret that such disloyalty should be laid to the charge of any
English noble," said Sir Jocelyn sternly. "But think not, because Lord
Roos played the spy and traitor, as your Excellency insinuates he did,
that I will be guilty of like baseness. Up to this moment I have felt
nothing but gratitude to you for the favours you have heaped upon me;
but the feeling is changed to resentment when I understand they are to
be purchased at the price of my honour. I cannot accede to your wishes,
Count. You must seek out some other tool. I can be none in your hands."

"If this be real, and not affected indignation, Sir Jocelyn," said De
Gondomar coldly, "it would seem that I have been altogether mistaken in
you, and that I have been helping you up the ladder only to be kicked
aside when you have gained a secure footing. But you have not reached
the last step yet, and never will, unless I find you more reasonable.
And allow me to ask you, if you are as scrupulous as you profess to be,
how you came to bring a token to me from a hired spy--a token intended
to let me know you were willing to undertake any secret service I might
choose to confide to you? Have you changed your mind since then? or
rather, do you not fancy yourself out of danger, and able to dispense
with my assistance?"

"I have ever been of the same opinion, Count; have ever been influenced
by the same feelings of loyalty and devotion to my sovereign, and of
detestation of all treasonable practices. Had I been aware of the import
of the ring I showed your Excellency on our first meeting, I would have
hacked off my finger rather than have displayed it. Neither did I know
the character of the man who confided it to me; though I ought to have
distrusted him. He has played us both false, and for what end I cannot
divine."

"I will solve the riddle for you, Sir: he thought to serve you," said De
Gondomar; "and he has done so, and most effectually, though you are now
unwilling to admit it. I have good reason to complain of him--you have
none."

"I have more reason for complaint than your Excellency," rejoined
Mounchensey. "He has placed me in a most painful and perplexing
position."

"There you are right, Sir," said De Gondomar. "No matter how arrived at,
you are in a position from which you cannot extricate yourself with
honour. However disinclined you may be to act in concert with me, you
have no other alternative. If I withdraw my support from you, your fall
is inevitable. Think not I talk lightly. You are surrounded by enemies,
though you discern them not. Buckingham's magnanimous conduct at the
revel last night was feigned to mask his purposes towards you. He has
not forgiven his defeat, and means to avenge it. You fancy yourself on
the high road to preferment; but you are on the verge of disgrace and
ruin. I alone can save you. Choose, then, between compliance with my
wishes, coupled with present protection and future advancement, and the
consequences certain to attend your refusal. Choose, I say, between my
friendship and my enmity."

"My answer shall be as prompt and decisive as your proposal, Count,"
replied Sir Jocelyn. "I at once reject a friendship fettered with such
conditions. And that I do not resent the affront put upon me in your
dishonourable proposal, must be set down to the obligations you have
imposed upon me, and which tie up my hands. But we are now quits; and if
any further indignity be offered me, it will not be so lightly borne."

"_Perdone, vuestra merced_!--we are not quits," cried De Gondomar
quickly. "The account between us is far from settled; nor will I rest
content till you have paid me in full. But we had better break off this
interview," he added, more calmly, "since no good is like to result from
it. It is useless to reason with you; but you are wantonly throwing away
a fairer opportunity than falls to the lot of most men, and will see
your folly when too late."

"In taking my leave of your Excellency, as there are no terms henceforth
to be observed between us, except those of hostility, I deem it right to
state, that though I shall make no especial reference to yourself, I
shall hold it my duty to acquaint his Majesty with the system of
_espionage_ introduced into the palace; and, above all, I shall take
care to guard the Prince against the insidious snares laid for him."

"It is a pity so faithful a councillor as yourself should not be
listened to," rejoined De Gondomar. "Yet, when I shut the doors of the
palace against you--as I will do--you will find it difficult to obtain a
hearing either from Prince or King. In spite of all your efforts to the
contrary, I shall learn any state secrets I desire to know, and I have
great hopes of winning over Charles Stuart to the faith for which his
lovely and martyred ancestress died. One more word at parting, Sir
Jocelyn. You will remember, when we first met, you were in danger from
the Star-Chamber. It would be useless now to say how I saved you from
the punishment your rashness had incurred--how, while aiding you with
the King, I kept aloof your enemies, Mompesson and Mitchell, who were
prepared to attach your person for contempt of that terrible court, and
would have done so, if I had not prevented them. The warrant for your
arrest still exists, and can be employed at any moment; so you will
consider how long you can count upon your freedom, now that you have no
strong arm to protect you."

"I have my own arm to trust to," rejoined Sir Jocelyn, resolutely, "and
have no apprehensions."

_"Vaya usted con dios!"_ said the Spaniard, bowing him out; "or I should
rather say," he added to himself, "_Vaya mucho en mala hora_!"




CHAPTER XVII.

Disgrace.


Sir Jocelyn was not without great uneasiness at the result of his
interview with De Gondomar. Had it been possible, he would have avoided
a rupture with so influential a personage--an event to be dreaded at any
time, but especially so at a juncture like the present, when dangers
menaced him on all sides, and the only question appeared to be, from
what side the first blow would come. His chief anxiety, however, was for
Aveline, whose position was one of such strange and imminent peril,
against which he knew not how to guard her. He was still left in the
same state of uncertainty as to who would be the claimant of her hand;
for the mysterious personage in the mask had not appeared again,
according to his promise, after the jousts. This suspense was terrible,
and Sir Jocelyn found it so difficult of endurance, that he would have
preferred the actual presence of the calamity by which he was
threatened. His fears were, that the claim he so much dreaded would be
made by Sir Giles Mompesson in person, and in that case he had
determined forcibly to resist him. And this supposition might account
for the delay--since he knew that Sir Giles was suffering severely from
the effects of the blow he had dealt him in the tilt-yard.

De Gondomar's were not idle threats, as Sir Jocelyn soon found. On the
next day, as he entered the palace, he was informed by the Lord
Chamberlain that he was deprived of his office of Gentleman of the
Bed-Chamber; and when he demanded the reason of his sudden dismissal,
the Duke of Lennox, with a shrug of the shoulders, declared he was
unable to afford him any information. But what the Duke refused was
afforded by De Gondomar, who at that moment entered the corridor, in
company with Buckingham and some other nobles, on his way to the
presence-chamber. On seeing his late _protégé_, the ambassador halted
for a moment, and with a smile of triumph said--"You owe your dismissal
to me, Sir Jocelyn. I have made some few circumstances concerning you
that had just come to my ears known to his Majesty; and as he does not
choose to have spies about his person, he has released you from all
further attendance upon him."

"In a word, he has forbidden your attendance again at the palace," added
Buckingham, who had paused likewise, with an insulting laugh.

"I must to the King, your Grace," cried Sir Jocelyn to the Lord
Chamberlain. "I will explain the falsehood of this charge to his
Majesty, and show him who is the spy and traitor he has to fear."

"You cannot pass, Sir Jocelyn," said the Duke of Lennox, placing
himself in his way, while two halberdiers advanced to bar his passage
with their partizans. "I say not a word as to the cause of your
disgrace; but I may tell you, that his Majesty is greatly offended with
you, and that it would be highly imprudent to approach him in his
present frame of mind, even were it permitted you to do so--which it is
not. As I have said, you are deprived of your office, and enjoined to
absent yourself from the palace, till it shall be his Majesty's pleasure
to recall you."

"And that is not likely to be soon the case--eh, Count?" observed
Buckingham, with a laugh.

"Not very likely indeed, Marquis," said the ambassador. "I much regret
that I have been the means of introducing so unworthy a person to his
Majesty; but I have made all the amends in my power."

"Must I tamely endure all these insults and calumnies, your Grace?"
cried Sir Jocelyn furiously.

"If you will be guided by me, you will retire," rejoined the Duke of
Lennox; "or the provocation you will receive may induce you to do some
desperate act which may render your position worse, and put your
restoration to the King's favour entirely out of the question."

While Sir Jocelyn was debating whether he should comply with the Duke's
advice, the door of the presence-chamber was thrown open; and James,
coming forth from it, marched slowly along the corridor.

Our young knight now fondly hoped that the King might deign to look
upon him, and so enable him to plead his cause; and perhaps the Lord
Chamberlain himself entertained similar expectations, for he did not
insist upon Sir Jocelyn's withdrawal, but allowed him to remain within
the corridor, though he was kept aloof by the halberdiers. But both were
disappointed. James, no doubt, designedly, bestowed his most gracious
marks of condescension on Buckingham and De Gondomar, and lingered for a
few minutes to laugh and talk with them. After this, as he was passing
Sir Jocelyn, he pretended to notice him for the first time, and
observed, in a tone of reproof to the Lord Chamberlain, "What doth the
spy here, my Lord Duke? I thought you had our orders concerning him. See
they are better obeyed in future." And, when the young knight would have
spoken, he interrupted him by an imperious gesture, crying out, "Not a
word, Sir!--not a word! We will hear naught mair frae ye. We hae heard
ower meikle already." And he passed on.

Thus was Mounchensey's disgrace accomplished by his enemies.




CHAPTER XVIII.

How Sir Jocelyn's cause was espoused by the 'prentices.


Stung almost to madness by the sense of intolerable wrong, our young
knight quitted Whitehall, never, as he imagined at the moment, to enter
the palace again. Yet he was not humiliated by his disgrace, because he
felt it to be wholly unmerited. His enemies had triumphed over him; but
he would not have heeded the defeat, provided he could efface the foul
stigma cast upon his reputation, and rebut the false charge brought
against him by De Gondomar.

With a heart overflowing with rage and bitterness, and with a thousand
wild projects passing through his brain, Sir Jocelyn took a boat at
Whitehall stairs, and ordered the watermen to row down the river,
without assigning any paticular place of landing. After awhile, he
succeeded, to a certain extent, in controlling his angry emotions; and
as the watermen rested on their oars for a moment, to inquire his
destination, he looked round, and perceiving he was just opposite the
Three Cranes in the Vintry, he desired to be put ashore there.

No better retreat wherein to recover his composure seemed to offer
itself than Madame Bonaventure's comfortable house of entertainment;
and thither, therefore, he proceeded, and at his request was shown into
a private room overlooking the river. Scarcely was he installed within
it, than the buxom hostess, who had caught sight of him as he mounted
the stairs, entered, and in her blandest accents, and with her most
bewitching smiles, begged to know his commands; declaring that all that
her house possessed was at his service.

She was running on thus, but perceiving the young knight to be much
disturbed, she instantly changed her tone, and expressed such genuine
concern for him, that he could not fail to be moved by it. Without
making her an entire confidante, Sir Jocelyn told her enough of what had
occurred to make her comprehend his position; and highly indignant she
was at the treatment he had experienced. She did her best to console
him; and so far succeeded, that he was prevailed upon to partake of some
delicacies which she caused Cyprien to set before him, together with a
flask of the best vintage in her cellar; and the discussion of these
good things, coupled with the hostess's assiduities, certainly operated
as a balm upon his wounded feelings.

The repast over, the good-natured dame thought it best to leave him to
himself; and drawing his chair to the open window, he began to ruminate
upon the many strange events that had happened to him since he first
beheld that fair prospect almost from the same place; and he was
indulging in this retrospect, when his own name, pronounced in tones
familiar to him, caught his ear, and looking forth, he perceived Dick
Taverner, seated on a bench in front of the house, drinking in company
with some half dozen other apprentices, his boon companions.

The conversation of these roysterers was held in so loud a key that it
could not fail to reach his ears; and he soon ascertained that his own
dismissal from court was the theme of their discourse, and that they
rightly attributed it--doubtless owing to information derived from their
hostess--to the instrumentality of De Gondomar. It was evidently Dick
Taverner's design to rouse the indignation of his companions; and he had
little difficulty in accomplishing his purpose, as they were all
composed of very inflammable material, and prone to take fire on the
slightest application of the match. Dick denounced the plotting and
perfidious Spaniard as a traitor to the King and a subverter of the
Protestant faith; and counselled vengeance upon him.

Finding Dick's suggestions eagerly caught up by his companions, and that
the number of his listeners was momently increasing, while all were
becoming excited by what the orator uttered, Sir Jocelyn, apprehensive
that mischief might ensue, thought it right to interfere, and
accordingly, leaning forward from the casement, he made himself known
to the group below.

On seeing him, and learning who he was, the 'prentices began to shout
and declaim vehemently against the Spanish ambassador; and instigated by
Dick Taverner, who refused to listen either to the entreaties or
commands of the young knight, the whole party seized their cudgels, and
dispersing themselves in different directions, vociferated as they
went--"Clubs! clubs!"

It was now as vain to arrest them as it would have been to stop the
course of a conflagration; and Sir Jocelyn was deploring the damage
which must necessarily be done to his cause by these injudicious
friends, when Dick Taverner, with a look of exultation, and brandishing
his cudgel, burst into the room, crying--"We have heard all from Madame
Bonaventure. We have heard of De Gondomar's perfidy, and his Majesty's
injustice. We will set you right. The bold London 'prentices have taken
your cause in hand, and will avenge you. They will hang the treacherous
Spaniard, and burn his house."

"Hark ye, my good friend, Dick Taverner," said Sir Jocelyn, "this must
not be. Because I have been unjustly treated, and may perchance find it
difficult, if not impossible, to obtain redress, it does not follow that
you and your fellow 'prentices are to violate the law. These riotous
proceedings will prejudice my cause rather than aid it; and if you have
any regard for me you will use your influence with your comrades to
check them ere mischief ensue."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Dick. "The matter has gone too far to be stopped
now. You might as well attempt to turn back a mill-dam that has burst
its bounds, as the headstrong London 'prentices when they have taken up
their cudgels. Go through with the business they will. This is not the
only quarrel we have with De Gondomar. We hate him for his insolence and
arrogance, which have been often displayed towards us; We hate him
because he is the sworn enemy of our religion, and would subvert it if
he could. As regards myself, I have my own particular reasons for hating
him. Do not you meddle with the affair, but leave its arrangement to
us."

"But I _must_ interfere," cried Sir Jocelyn; "if you act thus, in spite
of all my remonstrances. I must regard you in the light of enemies
rather than friends, and shall lend my help to quell the disturbance you
will occasion. Be ruled by me, good Dickon, and desist from it. Call in
your comrades, who are raging about like savage dogs broken loose."

"If they be dogs," rejoined Dick, with a laugh, "the Spanish ambassador
is likely enough to become acquainted with their teeth. But I might
whistle loudly enough to them before the staunch hounds would come back
to me; and, in good sooth, I have no inclination to obey your commands
in his instance, Sir Jocelyn."

So saying, and fearing he might be detained altogether if he waited
longer, he darted out of the room, and presently afterwards was heard
shouting along the wharf with the loudest of his riotous companions--"No
Papists! No Spanish spies! Clubs!--clubs!"

Sir Jocelyn saw that a storm was roused which it would be very difficult
to allay; but an effort must be made to do so, even if he were compelled
to act against his friends; and he was about to follow the apprentice
into the street, when he was prevented by the sudden entrance of a tall
personage, wrapped in a black cloak, and masked, whom he at once
recognised as the individual who had given him the token to De Gondomar.

"I am glad to have found you, Sir Jocelyn," said this personage. "I have
been on the look-out for you to give you a warning. Avoid any place you
have been in the habit of frequenting; and, above all, go not near
Aveline's dwelling. The officers of the Star-Chamber are on the watch
for you; and if found, your arrest is certain."

"I can place little reliance on aught you tell me, Sir," rejoined Sir
Jocelyn, "after the trick you played me in causing me to deliver that
ring to the Conde de Gondomar. Nothing you can say shall hinder me from
going forth as I am accustomed to do; and it is my purpose to proceed
ere long to the dwelling you specially caution me to avoid."

"You will repent your rashness, young Sir," said the other; "but I pray
you not to go forth till you have heard certain disclosures which I have
to make to you, and which I am well assured will induce you to alter
your opinion of me."

"I can put no faith in the statements of a hireling, base enough to play
the spy for an enemy of his country," rejoined Sir Jocelyn, scornfully.
"Stand aside, Sir. Your employer, De Gondomar, is in danger from these
hot-headed apprentices; and if you owe him any gratitude for past
favours, you may find occasion for its display now."

"What! are you about to take part with your enemy and against your
friends? These apprentices are about to redress your wrongs--in a
lawless manner it is true--but the circumstances justify their conduct."

"No circumstances can justify outrage, and violation of the law," said
Sir Jocelyn; "and if injury be attempted against De Gondomar, I must
defend him."

"This is mere madness," cried the other. "Stay and hear what I have to
say to you. It imports you much to know it."

"Not now," replied Sir Jocelyn, pushing past him. "On some other
occasion."

"You are throwing life and liberty away, Sir Jocelyn, and to no
purpose," cried the other. "He heeds me not," he added, in a tone of
deep disappointment. "Imprudent that he is! he will thwart all the plans
I have formed for his benefit, and at the very moment they have arrived
at maturity. I must follow and protect him."

And he too rushed down the stairs, and made all the haste he could
across the Vintry wharf after Sir Jocelyn, who was hurrying up a narrow
thoroughfare communicating with Thames Street.

Here a numerous body of 'prentices were already collected, holding a
consultation as to their plan of attack. After listening to a brief but
stirring harangue from Dick Taverner, who got upon a horse-block for the
purpose of addressing them, and recommended them to proceed to Ely
House, in Holborn, the residence of the offending Ambassador, and there
await his return from Whitehall; they approved of his proposal, and
unanimously electing Dick as their leader, set forth on their
expedition, gathering strength as they went along.

By the time they reached Blackfriars they numbered many hundreds. Little
or no interruption was offered them on their route; and the slight
hindrance they encountered from a detachment of the city-watch was
speedily overborne. Skirting Bridewell, they traversed Shoe Lane, and
ascending Holborn Hill, found themselves in the vicinity of Ely House,
where they came to a halt, and arranged their forces.




CHAPTER XIX.

A Noble Revenge.


Nothing could be pleasanter than the situation of the Spanish
ambassador's residence, surrounded as it was by noble gardens; but its
beauties seemed now likely to be devastated by the blind fury of the
apprentices. Much mischief would indeed have been done in a very short
time if it had not been for their leader. He authoritatively commanded
them to refrain from the work of demolition till they had settled
accounts with the ambassador himself, who might be expected each moment,
as they had ascertained that he was on his way home from the palace. The
information they had received proved to be correct; and ere many minutes
elapsed, a magnificent litter, borne by eight stout varlets, and
attended by several gentlemen and pages, in the well-known liveries of
De Gondomar, was seen to pass through Holborn Bars and advance towards
them.

Very soon, however, the bearers of the litter halted, surprised and
alarmed at the sight of the crowd investing Ely House; but De Gondomar,
who had no apprehension, commanded them to proceed, and they reluctantly
obeyed. The 'prentices allowed the litter to come on till they could
surround it, when they set up a loud shout, making it evident that
mischief was intended.

On this the gentlemen and pages in attendance upon the ambassador drew
their swords and put themselves into a posture of defence, endeavouring
to keep off the crowd. But their resistance was of little avail. The
'prentices' clubs quickly shivered their weapons, and drove them back.

When he became aware of the jeopardy in which he stood, De Gondomar,
anxious to gain time, in the hope that assistance might arrive, demanded
of the leader of the furious-looking crew who had drawn aside the
curtains of his litter, and ordered him in insolent tones to come forth,
why they molested him. The individual appealed to replied that, having
heard of his infamous usage of Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey, and of the false
accusation he had brought against him to the King, they were determined
to inflict upon his Excellency the punishment due to public and
notorious slanderers.

"And by what right do you constitute yourselves my judges?" cried De
Gondomar. "Take heed what you do--you may bring yourselves within reach
of a halter."

"You hear what he says, brother 'prentices?" cried Dick Taverner. "He
threatens to hang us, and no doubt if he could carry out his schemes,
and bring back the Pope's authority, he would burn us in Smithfield, as
they did the holy martyrs in Mary's days. He has charged a true and
loyal subject of his Majesty with being a spy. In return we tell _him_
he is the worst of spies--a spy employed by the Pope; and we will teach
him the danger of his employment."

"Hands off, base varlets!" exclaimed De Gondomar, endeavouring to shake
himself free from the rude grasp imposed upon him.

But, in spite of his resistance, he was dragged from the litter, while a
shower of blows from the 'prentices cudgels fell upon his shoulders; and
it is probable he would have experienced much severer treatment, if
indeed he had escaped with life, if at this moment Sir Jocelyn
Mounchensey, sword in hand and followed by Clement Lanyere, had not
burst through the throng.

"Ha! as I suspected," cried De Gondomar. "You, Mounchensey, are the
author and instigator of this outrage, and are come to see that your
tools do their work properly."

"It is false," cried Dick Taverner. "Your Excellency judges of others by
yourself. Sir Jocelyn would have checked us if he could."

"I cannot be expected to believe such an assertion as this," cried De
Gondomar incredulously.

"Let my actions speak for me," cried Mounchensey. "Friends," he called
out, "it is undoubtedly true that I have good ground of complaint
against the Conde de Gondomar--that he has deeply injured me--and that I
will compel him to make me reparation in due season--but I cannot permit
outrage to be offered him; and if aught further be attempted, my arm
will be raised in his defence."

"How! can this be possible!" exclaimed De Gondomar in surprise.

"Why, we are fighting Sir Jocelyn's battles, and he turns round upon
us!" cried a burly 'prentice, while loud murmurs arose from the others,
and the cudgels were again brandished menacingly.

"Leave him to us, Sir Jocelyn," said Dick Taverner.

"Ay, he had better not interfere, of he will come in for his share of
the blows," roared several voices.

"I care not what befals me," shouted Mounchensey. "You shall not injure
a hair of his Excellency's head while I stand by."

And as he spoke he warded off several blows aimed at the ambassador.

"I am with you, Sir Jocelyn," said Clement Lanyere, clearing a space
around them with his long rapier, but avoiding, so far as possible,
doing injury to the 'prentices.

At this critical juncture, and when it seemed likely that, owing to his
chivalrous interference, Sir Jocelyn would share the ambassador's fate,
he being fairly resolved, as he showed, to defend him with his life, a
cry was raised that a body of the royal guards were approaching; and as
the trampling of horse, accompanied by the clatter of swords, left no
doubt of the fact, and as, moreover, the bold 'prentices felt no
disposition to encounter regular soldiery, they instantly abandoned
their prey and took to their beels, the chief part of them leaping the
hedge which then grew along the north side of Holborn, and scouring off
through the fields in every direction. Some half dozen were made
prisoners by the guard; and amongst these, we regret to state, was the
leader of the riotous assembly, Dick Taverner.

"Thou art likely to make acquaintance with the pillory and the cart's
tail, if not with the hangman, friend," said the soldier who secured
him, with a laugh.

"So I begin to fear," replied Dick. "Alack! and well-a-day! what will
become of Gillian!"

"An that be thy mistress's name, friend, you should have thought of her
before you engaged in this disturbance. You are likely now to part
company with her for ever."

While Dick lamented the predicament in which he had placed himself, the
Conde de Gondomar, freed from all apprehension, turned towards his
deliverer, and proffering him his hand, said--"You have nobly revenged
yourself, Sir Jocelyn. I trust we may be friends once more. I will make
you ample reparation for the wrong I have done you."

But the young knight, folding his arms upon his breast, sternly
replied--"When reparation is made, Count, I may accept your hand, but
not till then."

"At least enter my house," urged the ambassador, "where you will be
protected from arrest."

"Do not hesitate, Sir Jocelyn," subjoined Lanyere. "You are in great
peril."

But the young knight haughtily refused.

"I will not owe an asylum to you, Count," he said, "till my name be
cleared from reproach." And, with a proud salutation, he departed.

The Spanish ambassador shrugged his shoulders, and looked after him with
mingled admiration and contempt. He then turned to the promoter, and
said, "Come in with me, Lanyere. I have somewhat to say to you."

"I must pray your Excellency to excuse me just now," replied the other.
"I have business on hand."

And bowing with nearly as much haughtiness as Sir Jocelyn, he followed
in the course taken by the young knight.




CHAPTER XX.

A Place of Refuge.


After quitting De Gondomar, as before related, Sir Jocelyn hurried along
Holborn with the intention of proceeding to Aveline's cottage, which was
at no great distance from Ely House, though in a secluded situation,
withdrawn from the road; and he was just about to strike into the narrow
lane leading to it, when he was arrested by the voice of Clement
Lanyere, who had followed him, unobserved.

"Stay, Sir Jocelyn, I beg of you," cried the promoter, coming quickly up
to him; "you are rushing on certain destruction. You must not go nigh
that cottage to-day; no, nor for several days to come. Foes are lying in
ambush round it; and the only spectacle you will afford her you love
will be that of your arrest."

There was an earnestness in the speaker's manner that could not fail to
carry conviction of his sincerity to the breast of his hearer.

"By my soul, I speak the truth," said Lanyere, perceiving the impression
he had made, "as you will find if you go many steps further. Place
yourself in my hands, and I will save you."

"What motive can you have for acting thus?" demanded Sir Jocelyn. "What
interest do you take in me?"

"Do not question me now: you shall have full explanation hereafter. Be
satisfied I am a friend,--perchance your best friend. Come with me, and
I will take you to a place of safety."

"But what is to happen to Aveline?" cried the young knight, in deep
anxiety.

"I will endeavour to watch over her," replied the promoter; "and I trust
no harm will befall her. At all events, you will deprive yourself of the
power of rendering her any protection, if you are rash enough to go
forward now."

Struck by the force of these remarks, our young knight felt he had no
alternative but to submit to circumstances, and he accordingly agreed to
accept the aid proffered him by his mysterious friend. But it was not
without feelings of intense anguish that he turned away from the path
leading to the little secluded cottage containing all he held dear, and
followed his conductor, who seemed resolved to allow him no time for
further hesitation, but proceeding at a rapid pace towards the west till
he reached Broad Saint Giles's--then a rural village--and entered a
small tavern, bearing the sign of "The Rose and Crown," the landlord of
which appeared to have an understanding with the promoter, for at a sign
from him, he immediately ushered his guests into a chamber up-stairs,
and without saying a word, left them alone together.

"Here you will be secure and undisturbed," said Lanyere; "and all your
wants will be cared for by my trusty ally, Barnabas Boteler; but, for
your own sake, you must consent to remain a close prisoner, till I bring
you word that you may go forth with safety. I must now leave you, having
much to do, and must defer the explanations I design to give you to a
more convenient season. Be not uneasy if you should not see me for a few
days, as circumstances may prevent my coming to you. When I next appear,
I trust it may be to bring you good tidings. Till then, farewell."

And without waiting for any reply from Sir Jocelyn, he hastily departed.

Left alone, our young knight did the best he could to reconcile himself
to the strange situation in which he was placed. He was naturally full
of anxiety, both on his own account, and on that of Aveline; yet, on
calm reflection, he felt satisfied he had acted for the best, and that,
in accepting the protection of the mysterious individual who seemed bent
upon directing his fortunes, he had followed the dictates of prudence.
Barnabas Boteler attended him in person, and suffered no one else to
come near him; but though the worthy host seemed anxious to anticipate
his wants in every particular, his manner was reserved, and, in Sir
Jocelyn's opinion, he had something of the look of a jailor, and this
notion was strengthened when he found himself locked in his room.
Probably this was only done as a precautionary measure by the host; and
as the window was at no great height from the ground, and he could
descend from it when he chose, he gave himself no great concern about
the matter.

In this way three days passed by without anything occurring to break the
monotony of his wearisome confinement,--not even a visit from Clement
Lanyere. To Sir Jocelyn's inquiries concerning him, the host professed
utter inability to give a precise answer, but said that he might arrive
at any moment. As he did not appear, however, on the fourth day, Sir
Jocelyn's patience got quite worn out, and his uneasiness respecting
Aveline having become insupportable, he determined, at all hazards, on
visiting her cottage. Without acquainting the host with his intention,
or asking to have the door unfastened, he opened the window which looked
into a garden at the back of the house, and sprang from it. His furtive
departure did not appear to be noticed, and he soon gained the road, and
took the direction of Aveline's dwelling.




CHAPTER XXI.

The Arrest.


As he approached the cottage a heavy presentiment of ill seized Sir
Jocelyn. The place seemed to have lost its customary smiling air. No
fair countenance beamed upon him from the casement; no light footsteps
were heard hastening to the door; no one opened it to give him welcome.
Could Aveline have fled'?--or had some dire misfortune happened to her.
Suspense was worse than certainty of ill: and after a moment's
hesitation, he raised the latch, and with trembling footsteps crossed
the threshold.

She was gone--he could no longer doubt it. The disordered appearance of
the chamber in which he found himself, with its furniture scattered
about, seemed to tell of a struggle, and a forcible abduction.
Nevertheless, though expecting no answer, he called forth her name in
accents of wildest despair. She came not to his cries--neither she nor
her companion, Dame Sherborne, nor her faithful attendant old Anthony
Rocke. All were gone. The house was indeed desolate.

Still clinging to hope, he flew up-stairs, but could find no traces
there of any of the inmates of the dwelling; and with a heart now
completely crushed, he descended to the chamber he had just quitted.
Here he found Clement Lanyere surveying the scene of confusion around
him with a stern and troubled look. Sir Jocelyn instantly rushed up to
him, and seizing him by the arm, fiercely demanded what had become of
Aveline?

"She is in the hands of Sir Francis Mitchell," replied the promoter,
shaking-him off; "and, for aught I know, may be wedded to him by this
time."

"Wedded!" almost shrieked the young man. "Impossible! she would never
consent--and he would not dare have recourse to violence."

"Though he might not, his partner, Sir Giles Mompesson, would have no
such scruples," returned the promoter. "But perhaps you are right, and
Aveline's determined resistance may intimidate them both so that they
may abandon their design. I hope so for your sake, and for hers
also--but I have my fears."

"You know more than you choose to avow, Sir," said Sir Jocelyn
sternly,--"and as you value your life, I command you to speak plainly,
and tell me what has happened, and where I shall find Aveline."

"So commanded by any other than yourself, Sir Jocelyn," rejoined the
promoter, "I would _not_ speak; but to you I say, as I have before
declared, that Aveline is undoubtedly in the power of Sir Francis
Mitchell, and that it will rest entirely with herself whether she
escapes him or not."

"And you have caused me to be detained while she has been carried off,"
exclaimed Sir Jocelyn, furiously. "Fool that I was to trust you! You are
in league with the villains."

"Think of me what you please, and say what you will--you shall not anger
me," rejoined the promoter. "I discovered your flight from the place of
refuge I had procured for you, and guessing where you had come, followed
you hither. Your danger is not past. Vainly will you seek Sir Francis
Mitchell. You will not find him,--but you _will_ find a serjeant-at-arms
with a Star-Chamber warrant for your arrest. To this you can offer no
resistance; and what will follow? I will tell you:--immediate
incarceration in the Fleet Prison. And when safely lodged there, how,
may I ask, are you to liberate Aveline?"

"I must trust to chance," replied Sir Jocelyn. "I can no longer place
any reliance upon you. Stand aside, and let me pass. I would not harm
you."

"You cannot injure one whose intentions are friendly to you as mine are.
Listen to me, and let what I have to say sink deeply into your breast.
Do anything rather than render yourself amenable to the accursed
tribunal I have named. Abandon mistress, friend, relative--all who are
near and dear to you--if they would bring you within its grasp."

"And do you venture to give me this shameful council? Do you think I
will attend to it?" cried Sir Jocelyn.

"I am sure you will, if you hear me out--and you _shall_ hear me," the
promoter exclaimed with so much authority that the young man, however
impatient, could not refuse attention, to him. "Look me in the face, Sir
Jocelyn! Regard me well! Behold these ineffaceable marks made by the
heated iron, and the sharpened knife! How came they there? From a
sentence of the Star-Chamber. And as my offence was the same as yours,
so your sentence will correspond with mine. Your punishment will be the
same as mine--branding and mutilation. Ha! I perceive I have touched you
now."

"What was your offence, unhappy man?" asked Sir Jocelyn, averting his
gaze from the hideous aspect which, now lighted up with mingled emotions
of rage and despair, had become absolutely appalling.

"The same as your own, as I have said," replied the other;--"a few hasty
words impugning the justice of this vindictive court. Better had I have
cut out my tongue than have given utterance to them. But my case more
nearly resembled yours than I have yet explained, for, like you, I had
incurred the displeasure of Sir Giles Mompesson, and was by him
delivered to these hellish tormentors. Acting under cover of the
Star-Chamber, and in pursuance of its iniquitous decrees, he nailed me
to the pillory, and so fast, that the ears through which the spikes were
driven were left behind. Think how you would like that, Sir Jocelyn?
Think what you would feel, if you stood there on that infamous post, a
spectacle to the base and shouting rabble, with a paper fastened to your
breast, setting forth your crimes, and acquainting all that you were a
Star-Chamber delinquent?"

"Enough, Sir," interrupted Sir Jocelyn.

"Ay, enough--more than enough," rejoined the other; "but I cannot spare
you the whole of the recital, however painful it may be to you. My own
sufferings will be yours, if you heed not. So I shall go on. In robbing
me of my ears, the executioner had only half done his work. He had still
further to deface the image of his Maker,--and he hesitated not in his
task. No savage in the wilds could have treated his deadliest enemy
worse than he treated me; and yet the vile concourse applauded him, and
not a word of pity escaped them. My sentence was fully carried out; my
features for ever disfigured; and the letters of shame indelibly stamped
upon my cheek. You may read them there now if you will look at me."

"You thrill me with horror," said Sir Jocelyn.

"Ay, mine is not a mirthful history, though that fiend in human form,
Sir Giles, hath often laughed at it," rejoined the promoter. "It might
make you shudder, and perchance move you to tears, if you could hear it
all; but for the present, I shall confine myself to such portions of it
as bear upon your own perilous position--and I therefore hold myself out
as a lesson to you. Again, I bid you look upon this ravaged countenance,
and say, if by any stretch of fancy you can persuade yourself it was
once as comely as your own. You find it difficult to believe my
words--yet such was the fact. Ay," he continued, in a tone of
profoundest melancholy, "I was once proud of the gifts nature had
vouchsafed me; too proud, alas! and I was punished for my vanity and
self-boasting. In those days I loved--and was beloved in return--by a
damsel beautiful as Aveline. After my horrible punishment, I beheld her
no more. Knowing she must regard me with aversion, I shunned her. I
desired not to be an object of pity. Bring this home to your own breast,
Sir Jocelyn, and think how direful would be your lot to be driven for
ever from her you love. Yet, such has been my case."

"I cannot bear the contemplation--it were madness," cried the young man.

There was a brief pause, after which Lanyere resumed his story.

"At the time of being cast into the Fleet Prison, my prospects were fair
enough. When I came forth I was utterly ruined. Existence was a burden
to me, and I should have ended my days by my own hand, if the insatiable
desire of vengeance had not bound me to the world. For this alone I
consented to live--to bear the agonies of blighted love--to endure the
scorn and taunts of all with whom I was brought into contact. Nay, I
attached myself to him who had so deeply wronged me, to ensure revenge
upon him. My great fear was, lest I should be robbed of this precious
morsel; and you may remember that I struck up your sword when it had
touched his breast. He must die by no other hand than mine."

"Your vengeance has been tardy," observed Sir Jocelyn.

"True," replied the other. "I have delayed it for several reasons, but
chiefly because I would have it complete. The work is begun, and its
final accomplishment will not be long postponed. I will not destroy him
till I have destroyed the superstructure on which he has built his
fortunes--till all has crumbled beneath him--and he is beggared and
dishonoured. I have begun the work, I say. Look here!" he cried, taking
a parchment from his doublet. "You would give much for this deed, Sir
Jocelyn. This makes me lord of a large property in Norfolk, with which
you are well acquainted."

"You cannot mean the Mounchensey estates?" cried Sir Jocelyn. "Yet now I
look at the instrument, it is so."

"I obtained this assignment by stratagem," said the promoter; "and I
have thereby deprived Sir Giles of the most valuable portion of his
spoils; and though; he thinks to win it back again, he will find himself
deceived. My measures are too well taken. This is the chief prop of the
fabric it has taken him so long to rear, and ere long I will shake it
wholly in pieces."

"But if you have become unlawfully possessed of this property, as would
appear to be the case by your own showing, you cannot hope to retain
it," said the young knight.

"Trust me, Sir Jocelyn, I shall prove a better title to it than Sir
Giles could exhibit," rejoined Lanyere; "but this is not a time for full
explanation. If I carry out my schemes, you will not be the last person
benefited by them."

"Again, I ask you, what possible interest you can feel in me?" demanded
the young knight with curiosity.

"Next to myself, you have been most injured by Sir Giles, and even more
than myself are you an object of dislike to him. These would suffice to
excite my sympathy towards you; but I have other and stronger reasons
for my friendly feeling towards you, which in due season you shall
know."

"All your proceedings are mysterious," observed Sir Jocelyn.

"They must needs be so from the circumstances in which I am placed. I am
compelled to veil them as I do my hateful features from the prying eyes
of men: but they will be made clear anon, and you will then understand
me and my motives better. Ha! what is this?" he suddenly exclaimed, as a
noise outside attracted his attention. "Fly! fly! there is danger."

But the warning was too late. Ere the young man, who stood irresolute,
could effect his retreat from the back of the cottage, the door was
thrown open, and a serjeant-at-arms, with three attendants in black
gowns and flat caps, and having black staves in their hands, entered the
room.

Sir Jocelyn had partly drawn his sword, but restored it to the scabbard
on a glance from Lanyere.

"Resistance must not be offered," said the latter, in a low tone. "You
will only make a bad matter worse."

The serjeant-at-arms, a tall, thin man, with a sinister aspect, advanced
towards the young knight, and touching him with his wand, said--"I
attach your person, Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey, in virtue of a warrant,
which I hold from the High Court of Star-Chamber."

"I yield myself your prisoner, Sir," replied Sir Jocelyn. "Whither am I
to be taken?"

"You will be taken before the Lords of the Council in the first
instance, and afterwards, in all probability, be consigned to the
custody of the wardens of his Majesty's gaol of the Fleet," replied the
serjeant-at-arms.

"I would fain know the nature of my offence?" said Sir Jocelyn.

"You will learn that when the interrogatories are put to you," replied
the official. "But I am told you have disparaged the dignity of the High
Court, and that is an offence ever severely punished. Your accuser is
Sir Giles Mompesson."

Having said thus much, the serjeant-at-arms turned to the promoter, and
inquired, "Are you not Clement Lanyere?"

"Why do you ask?" rejoined the other.

"Because if you are he, I must request you to accompany me to Sir Giles
Mompesson."

"Lanyere is my name," replied the other; "and if I decline to attend
you, as you request, it is from no disrespect to you, but from distaste
to the society into which you propose to bring me. Your warrant does not
extend to me?"

"It does not, Sir," replied the serjeant-at-arms. "Nevertheless--"

"Arrest him!" cried a voice at the back of the house,--and a window
being thrown open, the face of Sir Giles Mompesson appeared at
it--"Arrest him!" repeated the extortioner.

The serjeant-at-arms made a movement, as if of compliance; but Lanyere
bent towards him, and whispered a few words in his ear, on hearing which
the official respectfully retired.

"Why are not my injunctions obeyed, Sir?" demanded Sir Giles,
furiously, from the window.

"Because he has rendered me good reason why he may not be molested by
us--or by any one else," replied the officer, significantly.

Lanyere looked with a smile of triumph at the extortioner, and then
turning to Sir Jocelyn, who seemed half disposed to make an attack upon
his enemy, said in an under-tone, "Harm him not. Leave him to me."

After which he quitted the cottage.

Sir Giles then signed to the serjeant-at-arms to remove his prisoner,
and disappeared; and the attendants, in sable cloaks, closing round Sir
Jocelyn, the party went forth.




CHAPTER XXII.

The Old Fleet Prison.


Mention is made of a prison-house standing near the River Fleet as early
as the reign of Richard I.; and this was one of the oldest jails in
London, as its first wardens, whose names are on record, Nathaniel de
Leveland, and Robert his son, paid, in 1198, a fine of sixty marks for
its custody; affirming "that it had been their inheritance ever since
the Conquest, and praying that they might not be hindered therein by the
counter-fine of Osbert de Longchamp," to whom it had been granted by the
lion-hearted monarch.

The next warden of the Fleet, in the days of John, was Simon
Fitz-Robert, Archdeacon of Wells,--probably a near relative of Robert de
Leveland, as the wardship of the daughter of the said Robert, as well as
the custody of the jail, was also committed to him. The freehold of the
prison continued in the Leveland family for upwards of three centuries;
until, in the reign of Philip and Mary it was, sold to John Heath for
£2300--a large sum in those days, but not more than the value of the
property, which from the way it was managed produced a large revenue to
its possessor.

The joint wardens of the Fleet at the time of our history were Sir
Henry Lello and John Eldred; but their office was executed by deputy in
the person of Joachim Tunstall, by whom it was rented. As will naturally
be supposed, it was the object of every deputy-warden to make as much as
he could out of the unfortunate individuals committed to his charge; and
some idea of the infamous practices of those persons may be gathered,
from a petition presented to the Lords of the Council in 1586 by the
then prisoners of the Fleet. In this it is stated that the warden had
"let and set to farm the victualling and lodging of all the house and
prison of the Fleet to one John Harvey, and the other profits of the
said Fleet he had let to one Thomas Newport, the deputy there under the
warden; and these being very poor men, having neither land nor any trade
to live by, nor any certain wages of the said warden, and being also
greedy of gain, did live by bribing and extortion. That they did most
shamefully extort and exact from the prisoners, raising new customs,
fines, and payments, for their own advantage. That they cruelly used
them, shutting them up in close prisons when they found fault with their
wicked dealings; not suffering them to come and go as they ought to do;
with other abominable misdemeanours, which, without reformation, might
be the poor prisoners' utter undoing."

In consequence of this petition, a commission of inquiry into the
alleged abuses was appointed; but little good was effected by it, for
only seven years later further complaints were made against the warden,
charging him with "murders and other grave misdemeanours." Still no
redress was obtained; nor was it likely it would be, when the cries of
the victims of this abominable system of oppression were so easily
stifled. The most arbitrary measures were resorted to by the officers of
the prison, and carried out with perfect impunity. Their authority was
not to be disputed; and it has been shown how obedience was enforced.
Fines were inflicted and payment made compulsory, so that the wealthy
prisoner was soon reduced to beggary. Resistance to the will of the
jailers, and refusal to submit to their exactions, were severely
punished. Loaded with fetters, and almost deprived of food, the
miserable captive was locked up in a noisome subterranean dungeon; and,
if he continued obstinate, was left to rot there. When he expired, his
death was laid to the jail-fever. Rarely were these dark prison secrets
divulged, though frequently hinted at.

The moral condition of the prisoners was frightful. As the greater
portion of them consisted of vicious and disorderly characters, these
contaminated the whole mass, so that the place became a complete sink of
abomination. Drunkenness, smoking, dicing, card-playing, and every kind
of licence were permitted, or connived at; and the stronger prisoners
were allowed to plunder the weaker. Such was the state of things in the
Fleet Prison at the period of our history, when its misgovernment was
greater than it had ever previously been, and the condition of its
inmates incomparably worse.

During the rebellion of Wat Tyler, the greater part of the buildings
constituting the ancient prison were burnt down, and otherwise
destroyed; and, when rebuilt, the jail was strengthened and considerably
enlarged. Its walls were of stone, now grim and hoary with age; and on
the side next to the Fleet there was a large square structure,
resembling Traitor's Gate at the Tower, and forming the sole entrance to
the prison. To this gate state-offenders were brought by water after
committal by the Council of the Star-Chamber.

Nothing could be sterner or gloomier than the aspect of the prison on
this side--gray and frowning walls, with a few sombre buildings peeping
above them, and a black gateway, with a yawning arch, as if looking
ready to devour the unfortunate being who approached it. Passing through
a wicket, contrived in the ponderous door, a second gate was arrived at,
and this brought the captive to the porter's lodge, where he was
delivered up to the jailers, and assigned a room in one of the wards,
according to his means of paying for it. The best of these lodgings were
but indifferent; and the worst were abominable and noisome pits.

On entering the outer ward, a strange scene presented itself to the
view. Motley groups were scattered about--most of the persons composing
them being clad in threadbare doublets and tattered cloaks, and wearing
caps, from which the feathers and ornaments had long since disappeared;
but there were a few--probably new coiners--in somewhat better attire.
All these wore debtors. Recklessness and effrontery were displayed in
their countenances, and their discourse was full of ribaldry and
profanity. At one side of this ward there was a large kitchen, where
eating and drinking were constantly going forward at little tables, as
at a tavern or cookshop, and where commons were served out to the poorer
prisoners.

Near this was a large hall, which served as the refectory of the
prisoners for debt. It was furnished with side benches of oak, and had
two long tables of the same wood; but both benches and tables were in a
filthy state, and the floor was never cleansed. Indeed, every part of
the prison was foul enough to breed a pestilence; and the place was
seldom free from fever in consequence. The upper part of the refectory
was traversed by a long corridor, on either side of which were the
dormitories.

The arrangements of the inner ward were nearly similar, and differed
only from the outer, in so far that the accommodations were superior,
as they had need to be, considering the price asked for them; but even
here nothing like cleanliness could be found. In this ward was the
chapel. At a grated window in the gate stood the poor debtors rattling
their begging-boxes, and endeavouring by their cries to obtain alms from
the passers-by.

Below the warden's lodgings, which adjoined the gate, and which were now
occupied by the deputy, Joachim Tunstall, was a range of subterranean
dungeons, built below the level of the Fleet. Frequently flooded by the
river, these dungeons were exceedingly damp and unwholesome; and they
were reserved for such prisoners as had incurred the censure of the
inexorable Court of Star-Chamber. It was in one of the deepest and most
dismal of these cells that the unfortunate Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey
breathed his last.

Allusion has been previously made to the influence exercised within the
Fleet by Sir Giles Mompesson. Both the wardens were his friends, and
ever ready to serve him; their deputy was his creature, and subservient
to his will in all things; while the jailers and their assistants took
his orders, whatever they might be, as if from a master. Thus he was
enabled to tyrannize over the objects of his displeasure, who could
never be secure from his malice.

By the modes of torture he adopted through his agents, he could break
the most stubborn spirit, and subdue the strongest. It was matter of
savage satisfaction to him to witness the sufferings of his victims; and
he never ceased from persecution till he had obtained whatever he
desired. The barbarities carried out in pursuance of the atrocious
sentences of the Court of Star-Chamber were to him pleasant spectacles;
and the bleeding and mutilated wretches, whom his accusations had
conducted to the pillory, when brought back to their dungeons, could not
escape his hateful presence--worse to them, from his fiendish derision
of their agonies, than that of the executioner.




CHAPTER XXIII.

How Sir Jocelyn was brought to the Fleet.


After his arrest by the serjeant-at-arms, Sir Jocelyn was taken, in the
first instance, to the Star-Chamber, where some of the Lords of the
Council were sitting at the time, and examined respecting the "libellous
language and false scandal" he had used in reference to the proceedings
of that high and honourable court. The young knight did not attempt to
deny the truth of the charge brought against him, neither did he express
contrition, or sue for forgiveness; but though he demanded to be
confronted with his accusers, the request was refused him; and he was
told they would appear in due time. Several interrogatories were then
addressed to him, which he answered in a manner calculated, in the
judgment of his hearers, to aggravate the original offence. After this,
he was required to subscribe the minutes of his confession, as it was
styled; and a warant for his committal to the Fleet Prison, and close
confinement within it, was made out.

Consigned once more to the custody of the serjeant-at-arms, he was
placed on board a barge, of ill-omened appearance, being covered with
black cloth, like a Venetian gondola, and kept for offenders against
the Star-Chamber. In this he was rowed down the Thames, and up the
Fleet, to the entrance of the prison. The progress of the well-known
sable barge up the narrow river having been noted by the passengers
along its banks, as well as by those crossing Fleet Bridge, some
curiosity was felt to ascertain whom it contained; and a crowd collected
in front of the prison gate to witness the disembarkation.

When the young knight's title, and the nature of his offence, which
latter did not appear so enormous in their eyes as in those of the Lords
of the Council, became known to the bystanders, much sympathy was
expressed for him; and it might have found a manifestation in more than
words, but for the guard, who kept back the throng.

At this juncture, Sir Jocelyn heard his own name pronounced in familiar
tones, and looking round for the speaker, perceived a person placed in a
tub close beside him. The individual who occupied this singular and
degrading position was the ill-starred Dick Taverner, who, it appeared,
had made an attempt to escape from prison on the third day after he had
been brought thither, and was punished, according to the custom of the
place, by being bound hand and foot, set within a tub, and exposed to
public gaze and derision.

"Alas! Sir Jocelyn!" ejaculated the apprentice, "but for you I should
not have been here. I undertook a thankless office, and have been
rightly served for my folly. We have both found our way to the Fleet,
but I much doubt if either of us will find his way out of it. As for me,
I liked the appearance of the place, and the society it seems to
furnish, so little, that I resolved to make a clearance of it at once;
and accordingly I managed to scramble up yonder lofty wall, in the hope
of effecting my deliverance, without asking for a licence to go abroad
from the warden; but, unfortunately, in dropping down from so great a
height I sprained my ankle, and fell again into the hands of the
Philistines--and here I am, like the Cynic philosopher in his tub."

Sir Jocelyn would have addressed a few words of consolation to the poor
fellow, but at this moment the wicket was opened, and he was pushed
through it by the attendants of the serjeant-at-arms, who were
apprehensive of the crowd. The small aperture that had given him
admittance to the prison was instantly closed, and all chance of rescue
cut off.

The prisoner being thus effectually secured, the officials felt more
easy; and smiling at each other, they proceeded deliberately to the
porter's lodge, at the entrance of which stood a huge, powerfully-built,
ill-favoured man, evidently chosen for the post of porter from his
personal strength and the savageness of his disposition.

With a growl like that of a mastiff, to the black broad muzzle of which
animal his own features bore a remarkable resemblance, the porter
greeted the new comers, and ushered them into an apartment built of
stone, octagonal in shape, with a vaulted roof, narrow windows like
loopholes, and a great stone fireplace. Its walls, which resembled those
of an ancient guardroom, were appropriately enough garnished with
fetters; mixed up with which, as if to inspire greater terror among the
beholders, were an executioner's heavy whip, with many knotted thongs,
several knives, with strange blades, the purpose of which was obvious
enough, and branding-irons.

As Sir Jocelyn was brought into the lodge by his guards, an elderly man,
with a bald head and gray beard and moustaches, and possessing, in spite
of his years, a most repulsive physiognomy, advanced to meet him. His
doublet and hose were of murrey-colour; and his inflamed visage,
blood-shot eyes, fiery nose, and blotchy forehead, were in keeping with
the hue of his apparel. This was Joachim Tunstall, Deputy Warden of the
Fleet.

Behind him were some half-dozen jailers, attired in garments of
dark-brown frieze, and each having a large bunch of keys at his girdle.
All of them were stout, hard-featured men, and bore upon their
countenances the stamp of their vocation.

The warrant for Sir Jocelyn's committal to the Fleet was delivered by
the serjeant-at-arms to the deputy-warden; and the latter having duly
perused it, was conferring with one of the jailers as to where the
prisoner should be conducted, when a side-door was suddenly opened, and
Sir Giles Mompesson issuing from it, tapped the deputy-warden on the
shoulder.

"You need not consider where the prisoner is to be lodged, Master
Tunstall," he said, looking fixedly at Mounchensey all the while. "The
dungeon he is to occupy is the darkest, the deepest and the dampest in
the Fleet. It is that in which his father died. You know it well,
Grimbald," he added, to one of the burliest of the jailers. "Take him
thither at once, and I will go with you to see him safely bestowed.

"Pass on, Sir," he continued, with a smile of fiendish satisfaction, as
Mounchensey was led forth by the jailer.




Chapter XXIV.

The Abduction.


Night had come on, and Aveline was anxiously expecting the arrival of
her lover, when a loud knocking was heard at the door of the cottage;
and before the summons could be answered by Anthony Rocke, two persons
entered, and pushing past the old serving-man, who demanded their
business, and vainly endeavoured to oppose their progress, forced their
way into the presence of his mistress. Dame Sherborne was in an inner
room, but, alarmed by the noise, she flew to the aid of her charge, and
reached her at the same moment with the intruders. Her lamp threw its
light full upon their countenances; and when she found who they were,
she screamed and nearly let it fall, appearing to stand much more in
need of support than Aveline herself.

The foremost of the two was Sir Giles Mompesson, and his usually stern
and sinister features had acquired a yet more inauspicious cast, from
the deathlike paleness that bespread them, as well as from the fillet
bound round his injured brow. The other was an antiquated coxcomb, aping
the airs and graces of a youthful gallant, attired in silks and velvets
fashioned in the newest French mode, and exhaling a mingled perfume of
civet, musk, and ambergris; and in him Aveline recognised the amorous
old dotard, who had stared at her so offensively during the visit she
had been forced to make to the extortioner.

Sir Francis's deportment was not a whit less impertinent or
objectionable now than heretofore. After making a profound salutation to
Aveline, which he thought was executed in the most courtly style, and
with consummate grace, he observed in a loud whisper to his partner,
"'Fore heaven! a matchless creature! a divinity! Introduce me in due
form, Sir Giles."

"Suffer me to make known to you Sir Francis Mitchell, fair mistress,"
said Mompesson. "He is so ravished by your charms that he can neither
eat, drink, nor sleep; and he professes to me, his friend and partner,
that he must die outright, unless you take pity on him. Is it not so,
Sir Francis? Nay, plead your own cause, man. You will do it better than
I, who am little accustomed to tune my voice to the ear of beauty."

During this speech, the old usurer conducted himself in a manner that,
under other circumstances, must have moved Aveline's mirth; but it now
only excited her disgust and indignation. Sighing, groaning placing his
hand upon his heart, languishingly regarding her, and turning up his
eyes till the whites alone were visible, he ended by throwing himself at
her feet, seizing her hand, and attempting to cover it with kisses.

"Deign to listen to me, peerless and adorable damsel!" he cried in the
most impassioned accents he could command, though he wheezed terribly
all the while, and was ever and anon interrupted by a fit of coughing.
"Incline your ear to me, I beseech you. Sir Giles has in no respect
exaggerated my sad condition. Ever since I beheld you I have been able
to do nothing else than--ough! ough!--dwell upon your surpassing
attractions. Day and night your lovely image has been constantly before
me. You have driven sleep from my eyelids, and rest from my--(ough!
ough!)--frame. Your lustrous eyes have lighted up such a fire in my
breast as can never be extinguished, unless--(ough! ough! ough!)--plague
take this cough! I owe it to you, fair mistress of my heart, as well as
my other torments. But as I was about to say, the raging flame you have
kindled in my breast will utterly consume me, unless--(ough! ough!
ough!)"

Here he was well-nigh choked, and Sir Giles had to come to his
assistance.

"What my worthy friend and partner would declare, if his cough permitted
him, fair Mistress Aveline," urged the extortioner, "is that he places
his life and fortune at your disposal. His desires are all centred in
you, and it rests with you to make him the happiest or most miserable of
mankind. Speak I not your sentiments, Sir Francis?"

"In every particular, good Sir Giles," replied the other, as soon as he
could recover utterance. "And now, most adorable damsel, what say you in
answer? You are too gentle, I am sure, to condemn your slave to endless
tortures. Nay, motion me not to rise. I have that to say will disarm
your frowns, and turn them into smiles of approval and assent. (O, this
accursed rheumatism!" he muttered to himself, "I shall never be able to
get up unaided!) I love you, incomparable creature--love you to
distraction; and as your beauty has inflicted such desperate wounds upon
my heart, so I am sure your gentleness will not fail to cure them.
Devotion like mine must meet its reward. Your answer, divinest creature!
and let it be favourable to my hopes, I conjure you!"

"I have no other answer to give," replied Aveline, coldly, and with an
offended look, "except such as any maiden, thus unwarrantably and
unseasonably importuned, would make. Your addresses are utterly
distasteful to me, and I pray you to desist them. If you have any real
wish to oblige me, you will at once free me from your presence."

"Your hand, Sir Giles--your hand!" cried the old usurer, raising
himself to his feet with difficulty, "So, you are not to be moved by my
sufferings--by my prayers, cruel and proud beauty?" he continued,
regarding her with a mortified and spiteful look. "You are
inflexible--eh?"

"Utterly so," she replied.

"Anthony Rocke!" cried Dame Sherborne, "show the gentlemen to the
door--and bolt it upon them," she added, in a lower tone.

"Not so fast, Madam--not so fast!" exclaimed Sir Francis. "We will not
trouble old Anthony just yet. Though his fair young mistress is
indisposed to listen to the pleadings of love, it follows not she will
be equally insensible to the controlling power of her father's delegated
authority. Her hand must be mine, either freely, or by compulsion. Let
her know on what grounds I claim it, Sir Giles."

"Your claim cannot be resisted, Sir Francis," rejoined the other; "and
if you had followed my counsel, you would not have condescended to play
the abject wooer, but have adopted the manlier course, and demanded her
hand as your right."

"Nay, Sir Giles, you cannot wonder at me, knowing how infatuated I am by
this rare and admirable creature. I was unwilling to assert my rights
till all other means of obtaining her hand had failed. But now I have no
alternative."

"Whence is your authority derived?" inquired Aveline, trembling as she
put the question.

"From your dead father," said Sir Giles, sternly. "His last solemn
injunctions to you were, that you should wed the man to whom he had
promised you; provided your hand were claimed by him within a year after
his death. With equal solemnity you bound yourself to fulfil his wishes.
The person to whom you were thus sacredly contracted is Sir Francis
Mitchell; and now, in your father's name, and by your father's
authority, he demands fulfilment of the solemn pledge."

"O, this is wholly impossible!--I will not believe it!" almost shrieked
Aveline, throwing herself into Dame Sherborne's arms.

"It is some wicked device to ensnare you, I am convinced," said the old
lady, clasping her to her breast. "But we defy them, as we do the Prince
of Darkness, and all his iniquities. Avoid thee, thou wicked old
sinner!--thou worse than the benighted heathen! Get hence! I say,
Sathanas!" she ejaculated to Sir Francis.

"Ay, I am well assured it is all a fabrication," said Anthony Rocke. "My
master had too much consideration and tenderness for his daughter to
promise her to a wretched old huncks like this, with one foot in the
grave already. Besides, I knew he held both him and Sir Giles Mompesson
in utter abomination and contempt. The thing is, therefore, not only
improbable, but altogether impossible."

"Hold thy peace, sirrah!" cried Sir Francis, foaming with rage, "or I
will cut thy scurril tongue out of thy throat. Huncks, indeed! As I am a
true gentleman, if thou wert of my own degree, thou shouldst answer for
the opprobrious expression."

"What proof have you that my father entered into any such engagement
with you?" inquired Aveline, turning to Sir Francis. "Your bare
assertion will scarcely satisfy me."

"Neither will it satisfy me," remarked Anthony. "Let him produce his
proofs."

"You are acquainted with your father's handwriting, I presume, fair
maiden?" rejoined Sir Francis. "And it may be that your insolent and
incredulous serving-man is also acquainted with it. Look at this
document, and declare whether it be not, as I assert, traced in Hugh
Calveley's characters. Look at it, I say, thou unbelieving hound," he
added, to Anthony, "and contradict me if thou canst."

"It is my master's writing, I am compelled to admit," replied the old
serving-man, with a groan.

"Are you prepared to render obedience to your father's behests, maiden?"
demanded Sir Giles, menacingly.

"O, give me counsel! What shall I say to them?" cried Aveline,
appealing to Dame Sherborne. "Would that Sir Jocelyn were here!"

"It is in vain to expect his coming," rejoined Sir Giles, with a bitter
laugh. "We have taken good care to keep him out of the way."

"There is no help then!" said Aveline, despairingly. "I must submit."

"We triumph," whispered Sir Giles to his partner.

"Talk not of submission, my dear young lady," implored Anthony Rocke.
"Resist them to the last. I will shed my best blood in your defence. If
my master did give them that paper he must have been out of his senses,
and you need not, therefore, regard it as other than the act of a
madman."

"Peace, shallow-pated fool!" cried Sir Giles. "And do you, fair
mistress, attend to me, and you shall learn under what circumstances
that contract was made, and how it becomes binding upon you. Deeply
indebted to Sir Francis, your father had only one means of discharging
his obligations. He did hesitate to avail himself of it. He promised you
to his creditor, and obtained his own release. Will you dishonour his
memory by a refusal?"

"O, if this tale be true, I have no escape from misery!" exclaimed
Aveline. "And it wears the semblance of probability."

"I take upon me to declare it to be false," cried Anthony Rocke.

"Another such insolent speech shall cost thee thy life, sirrah!" cried
Sir Giles, fiercely.

"Read over the paper again, my dear young lady," said Dame Sherborne.
"You may, perhaps, find something in it not yet discovered, which may
help you to a better understanding of your father's wishes."

"Ay, read it!--read it!" cried the old usurer, giving her the paper.
"You will perceive in what energetic terms your father enjoins
compliance on your part with his commands; and what awful denunciations
he attaches to your disobedience. Read it, I say, and fancy he is
speaking to you from the grave in these terms--'Take this man for thy
husband, O my daughter, and take my blessing with him. Reject him, and
my curse shall alight upon thy head.'"

But Aveline was too much engrossed to heed him. Suddenly her eye caught
something she had not previously noticed, and she exclaimed,--"I have
detected the stratagem. I knew this authority could never be committed
to you."

"What mean you, fair mistress?" cried Sir Francis, surprised and
alarmed. "My name may not appear upon the face of the document; but,
nevertheless, I am the person referred to by it."

"The document itself disproves your assertion," cried Aveline, with
exultation.

"How so?" demanded Sir Giles, uneasily.

"Why, see you not that he to whom my father designed to give my hand was
named Osmond Mounchensey?"

"Osmond Mounchensey!" exclaimed Sir Giles, starting.

"This is pure invention!" cried Sir Francis. "There is no such name on
the paper--no name at all, in short--nor could there be any, for reasons
I will presently explain."

"Let your own eyes convince you to the contrary," she rejoined,
extending the paper to him and revealing to his astounded gaze and to
that of his partner, who looked petrified with surprise, the name
plainly written as she had described it.

"How came it there?" cried Sir Giles, as soon as he could command
himself.

"I cannot say," replied Sir Francis. "I only know it was not there when
I--that is, when I received it. It must be Clement Lanyere's handiwork,"
he added in a whisper.

"I see not how that can be," replied the other, in a like low tone. "The
alteration must have been made since it has been in your possession. It
could not have escaped my observation."

"Nor mine," cried Sir Francis. "'T is passing strange!"

"Your infamous project is defeated," cried Aveline. "Let the rightful
claimant appear, and it will be time enough to consider what I will
do.--But I can hold no further discourse with you, and command your
instant departure."

"And think you we mean to return empty-handed, fair mistress?" said Sir
Giles, resuming all his wonted audacity. "Be not deceived. By fair means
or foul you shall be the bride of Sir Francis Mitchell. I have sworn it,
and I will keep my oath!"

"As I am a true gentleman, it will infinitely distress me to resort to
extremities, fair mistress," said the old usurer, "and I still trust you
will listen to reason. If I have put in practice a little harmless
stratagem, what matters it? All is fair in love. And if you knew all,
you would be aware that I have already paid so dearly for you that I
cannot afford to lose you. Cost what it will, you must be mine."

"Never!" exclaimed Aveline, resolutely.

"You will soon alter your tone, when you find how little power of
refusal is left you, fair mistress," said Sir Giles. "A litter is
waiting for you without. Will it please you to enter it?"

"Not unless by force--and you dare to offer me violence," she replied.

"I advise you not to put our forbearance to the test," said Sir Giles.

"I should be grieved to impose any restraint upon you," subjoined Sir
Francis; "and I trust you will not compel me to act against my
inclinations. Let me lead you to the litter."

As he advanced towards her, Aveline drew quickly back, and Dame
Sherborne uttered a loud scream; but her cries brought no other help
than could be afforded by old Anthony Rocke, who, planting himself
before his young mistress, menaced Sir Francis to retire.

But this state of things was only of brief duration. It speedily
appeared that the two extortioners had abundant assistance at hand to
carry out their infamous design. A whistle was sounded by Sir Giles; and
at the call the cottage door was burst open by some half dozen of the
myrmidons, headed by Captain Bludder.

Any resistance that the old serving-man could offer was speedily
overcome. Knocked down by a pike, he was gagged and pinioned, and
carried out of the house. The cries of Aveline and the elderly dame were
stifled by scarves tied over their heads; and both being in a fainting
condition from fright, they were borne to the litter which was standing
at the door, and being shut up within it, were conveyed as quickly as
might be to Sir Giles Mompesson's mansion, near the Fleet. Thither,
also, was old Anthony Rocke taken, closely guarded on the way by two of
the myrmidons.




Chapter XXV.

The "Stone Coffin."


A dreadful dungeon! the last and profoundest of the range of
subterranean cells already described as built below the level of the
river Fleet: a relict, in fact, of the ancient prison which had escaped
the fury of Wat Tyler and his followers, when the rest of the structure
was destroyed by them. Not inaptly was the dungeon styled the "Stone
Coffin." Those immured within it seldom lived long.

A chill like that of death smote Sir Jocelyn, as he halted before the
door of this horrible place. Preceded by Grimbald the jailer, with a
lamp in one hand and a bunch of large keys in the other, and closely
followed by the deputy-warden and Sir Giles Mompesson, our young knight
had traversed an underground corridor with cells on one side of it, and
then, descending a flight of stone steps, had reached a still lower pit,
in which the dismal receptacle was situated. Here he remained up to the
ankles in mud and water, while Grimbald unlocked the ponderous door, and
with a grin revealed the interior of the cavernous recess.

Nothing more dank and noisome could be imagined than the dungeon.
Dripping stone-walls, a truckle-bed with a mouldy straw-mattrass,
rotting litter scattered about, a floor glistening and slippery with
ooze, and a deep pool of water, like that outside, at the further
end,--these constituted the materials of the frightful picture presented
to the gaze. No wonder Sir Jocelyn should recoil, and refuse to enter
the cell.

"You don't seem to like your lodgings, worshipful Sir," said Grimbald,
still grinning, as he held up the lamp; "but you will soon get used to
the place, and you will not lack company--rats, I mean: they come from
the Fleet in swarms. Look! a score of 'em are making off
yonder--swimming to their holes. But they will come back again with some
of their comrades, when you are left alone, and without a light. Unlike
other vermin, the rats of the Fleet are extraordinarily sociable--ho!
ho!"

And, chuckling at his own jest, Grimbald turned to Sir Giles Mompesson,
who, with Joachim Tunstall, was standing at the summit of the steps, as
if unwilling to venture into the damp region below, and observed--"The
worshipful gentleman does not like the appearance of his quarters, it
seems, Sir Giles; but we cannot give him better,--and, though the cell
might be somewhat more comfortable if it were drier, and perhaps more
wholesome, yet it is uncommonly quiet, and double the size of any other
in the Fleet. I never could understand why it should be called the
'Stone Coffin'--but so it is. Some prisoners have imagined they would
get their death with cold from a single night passed within it--but
that's a mistaken notion altogether."

"You have proof to the contrary in Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey, father of
the present prisoner," said Sir Giles, in a derisive tone. "He occupied
that cell for more than six months. Did he not, good Grimbald? You had
charge of him, and ought to know?"

"One hundred and sixty days exactly, counting from the date of his
arrival to the hour of his death, was Sir Ferdinando an inmate of the
'Stone Coffin,'" said the jailer, slowly and sententiously; "and he
appeared to enjoy his health quite as well as could be expected--at all
events, he did so at first. I do not think it was quite so damp in his
days--but there couldn't be much difference. In any case, the worthy
knight made no complaints; perhaps because he thought there would be no
use in making 'em. Ah! worshipful Sir," he added to Sir Jocelyn, in a
tone of affected sympathy which only made his mockery more offensive,
"your father was a goodly man, of quite as noble a presence as yourself,
though rather stouter and broader in the shoulders, when he first came
here; but he was sadly broken down at the last--quite a skeleton. You
would hardly have known him."

"He lost the use of his limbs, if I remember right, Grimbald?" remarked
Sir Giles, willing to prolong the scene, which appeared to afford him
infinite amusement.

"Entirely lost the use of 'em," replied the jailer. "But what of that?
He didn't require to take exercise. A friend was permitted to visit him,
and that was more grace than the Council usually allows to such
offenders."

"It was far more than an offender like Sir Ferdinando deserved," said
Sir Giles; "and, if I had known it, he should have had no such
indulgence. Star-Chamber delinquents cannot expect to be treated like
ordinary prisoners. If they do, they will be undeceived when brought
here--eh, Master Tunstall?"

"Most true, Sir Giles, most true!" replied the deputy-warden.
"Star-Chamber prisoners will get little indulgence from me, I warrant
them."

"Unless they bribe you well--eh, Master Joachim?" whispered Sir Giles,
merrily.

"Rest easy on that score, Sir Giles. I am incorruptible, unless you
allow it," rejoined the other, obsequiously.

"My poor father!" ejaculated Sir Jocelyn. "And thou wert condemned
without a crime to a death of lingering agony within this horrible cell!
The bare idea of it is madness. But Heaven, though its judgments be
slow, will yet avenge thee upon thy murderers!"

"Take heed what you say, prisoner," observed Grimbald, changing his
manner, and speaking with great harshness. "Every word you utter against
the decrees of the Star-Chamber, will be reported to the Council, and
will be brought up against you; so you had best be cautious. Tour father
was _not_ murdered. He was immured in this cell in pursuance of a
sentence of the High Court, and he died before his term of captivity had
expired, that is all."

"O, the days and nights of anguish and despair he must have endured
during that long captivity!" exclaimed Sir Jocelyn, before whose gaze a
vision of his dying father seemed to pass, filling him with unutterable
horror.

"Days and nights which will henceforth be your own," roared Sir Giles;
"and you will then comprehend the nature of your father's feelings. But
he escaped what you will _not_ escape--exposure on the pillory, branding
on the cheek, loss of ears, slitting of the nose, and it may be,
scourging. The goodly appearance you have inherited from your sire will
not be long left when the tormentor takes you in hand. Ha! ha!"

"One censured by the Star-Chamber must wear a paper on his breast at the
pillory. You must not forget that mark of infamy, Sir Giles," said the
deputy-warden, chuckling.

"No, no; I forget it not," laughed the extortioner. "How ingeniously
devised are our Star-Chamber punishments, Master Joachim, and how well
they meet the offences. Infamous libellers and slanderers of the State,
like Sir Jocelyn, are ever punished in one way; but new crimes require
new manner of punishment. You recollect the case of Traske, who
practised Judaism, and forbade the use of swine's flesh, and who was
sentenced to be fed upon nothing but pork during his confinement."

"I recollect it perfectly," cried Tunstall, "a just judgment. The wretch
abhorred the food, and would have starved himself rather than take it;
but we forced the greasy morsels down his throat. Ha! ha! You are merry,
Sir Giles, very merry; I have not seen you so gleesome this many a
day--scarcely since the time when Clement Lanyere underwent his
sentence."

"Ah! the accursed traitor!" exclaimed Sir Giles, with an explosion of
rage. "Would he had to go through it again! If I catch him, he
shall--and I am sure to lay hands upon him soon. But to our present
prisoner. You will treat him in all respects as his father was treated,
Master Joachim--but no one must come nigh him."

"No one shall approach him save with an order from the Council, Sir
Giles," replied the other.

"Not even then," said the extortioner decisively. "My orders alone must
be attended to!"

"Hum!" ejaculated the deputy-warden, somewhat perplexed. "Well, I will
follow out your instructions as strictly as I can, Sir Giles. I suppose
you have nothing more to say to the prisoner, and Grimbald may as well
lock him up."

And, receiving a nod of assent from the other, he called to the jailer
to finish his task.

But Sir Jocelyn resolutely refused to enter the cell, and demanded a
room in one of the upper wards.

"You shall have no other chamber than this," said Sir Giles, in a
peremptory tone.

"I did not address myself to you, Sir, but to the deputy-warden,"
rejoined Sir Jocelyn. "Master Joachim Tunstall, you well know I am not
sentenced by the Star-Chamber, or any other court, to confinement within
this cell. I will not enter it; and I order you, at your peril, to
provide me with a better chamber. This is wholly unfit for occupation."

"Do not argue the point, Grimbald, but force him into the cell," roared
the extortioner.

"Fair and softly, Sir Giles, fair and softly," replied the jailer. "Now,
prisoner, you hear what is said--are you prepared to obey?"

And he was about to lay hands rudely upon Sir Jocelyn, when the latter,
pushing him aside, ran nimbly up the steps, and seizing Sir Giles by the
throat, dragged him downward.

Notwithstanding the resistance of the extortioner, whose efforts at
liberation were seconded by Grimbald, our young knight succeeded in
forcing his enemy into the dungeon, and hurled him to the further end of
it. During the struggle, Sir Jocelyn had managed to possess himself of
the other's sword, and he now pointed it at his breast.

"You have constituted yourself my jailer," he cried, "and by the soul of
him who perished in this loathsome cell, by your instrumentality, I will
send you instantly to account for your crimes on High, unless you
promise to assign me a different chamber!"

"I promise it," replied Sir Giles. "You shall have the best in the
Fleet. Let me go forth, and you shall choose one for yourself."

"I will not trust you, false villain," cried Sir Jocelyn. "Give orders
to the deputy-warden, and if he pledges his word they shall be obeyed, I
will take it. Otherwise you die."

"Bid Master Tunstall come to me, Grimbald," gasped the extortioner.

"I am here, Sir Giles, I am here," replied the deputy-warden, cautiously
entering the cell. "What would you have me do?"

"Free me from this restraint," cried Sir Giles, struggling to regain his
feet.

Sir Jocelyn shortened his sword in order to give him a mortal thrust,
but his purpose was prevented by Grimbald. With his heavy bunch of keys
the jailer struck the young knight upon the head, and stretched him
insensible upon the ground.




CHAPTER XXVI.

A Secret Friend.


When Sir Jocelyn again became conscious, he found he had been
transported to a different cell, which, in comparison with the "Stone
Coffin," was clean and comfortable. The walls were of stone, and the
pallet on which he was laid was of straw, but the place was dry, and
free from the noisome effluvium pervading the lower dungeon. The
consideration shown him originated in the conviction on the part of the
deputy-warden, that the young man must die if left in his wounded state
in that unwholesome vault, and so the removal took place, in spite of
the objections raised to it by Sir Giles Mompesson, who would have
willingly let him perish. But Master Tunstall dreaded an inquiry, as the
prisoner had not yet been sentenced by the Council.

After glancing round his cell, and endeavouring recal the events that
had conducted him to it, Sir Jocelyn tried to raise himself, but found
his limbs so stiff that he could not accomplish his object, and he sank
back with a groan. At this moment the door opened, and Grimbald,
accompanied by a repulsive-looking personage, with a face like a
grinning mask, advanced towards the pallet.

"This is the wounded man, Master Luke Hatton," said the jailer; "you
will exert your best skill to cure him; and you must use dispatch, in
case he should be summoned before the Council."

"The Council must come to him if they desire to interrogate him now,"
replied Luke Hatton; adding, after he had examined the injuries received
by the young knight, "He is badly hurt, but not so severely as I
expected. I will undertake to set him upon his legs in three days. I did
as much for Sir Giles Mompesson, and he was wounded in the same manner."

"Why, this is the young knight who struck down Sir Giles at the jousts,"
said Grimbald. "Strange! you should have two mortal enemies to deal
with."

"Is this Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey?" inquired Luke Hatton, with apparent
curiosity. "You did not tell me so before."

"Perhaps I ought not to have told you so now," returned the other. "But
do you take any interest in him?"

"Not much," replied the apothecary; "but I have heard his name often
mentioned of late. You need not be uneasy about this young man being
summoned before the Star-Chamber. The great case of the Countess of
Exeter against Lady Lake comes on before the King and the Lords of the
Council to-morrow or next day, and it will occupy all their attention.
They will have no time for aught else."

"What think you will be the judgment in that case?" inquired Grimbald.

"I have my own opinion," returned the apothecary, with a significant
smile; "but I care not to reveal it. I am a witness in the case myself,
and something may depend on my evidence. You asked me just now whether I
took any interest in this young man. I will tell you what surprised me
to find him here. Sir Francis Mitchell has taken it into his head to rob
him of his intended bride."

"Ah! indeed!" exclaimed the jailer, with a laugh. "The old dotard does
not mean to marry her?"

"By my troth but he does--and the wedding is to be a grand one. I will
tell you more about it anon."

At this moment Sir Jocelyn, who had hitherto remained with his eyes
closed, uttered a cry of anguish, and again vainly endeavoured to raise
himself.

"Aveline married to Sir Francis?" he cried. "Said you she was to be
forced into a union with that hoary miscreant? It must be prevented."

"I see not how it can be, Sir Jocelyn," replied Luke Hatton, "since she
is in the power of Sir Giles Mompesson. Besides which, the 'hoary
miscreant,' as you style him, will take means to ensure her
acquiescence."

"Means! what means?" demanded Sir Jocelyn, writhing in agony.

"A love-potion," replied Luke Hatton, calmly, "I am about to prepare a
philter for her, and will answer for its effect. She will be the old
knight's, and without opposition."

"Infernal villain! and that I should be lying here, unable to give her
aid!"

And overcome by the intensity of his emotion, as well as by acute bodily
suffering, Sir Jocelyn relapsed into insensibility.

He was not, however, suffered to remain long in this state. Stimulants
applied by Luke Hatton soon restored him to consciousness. The first
object his gaze fell upon was the apothecary, and he was about to vent
his fury upon him in words, when the latter, cautiously raising his
finger to his lips, said in a whisper--"I am a friend. Grimbald is only
at the door, and a single exclamation on your part will betray me." He
then leaned down, and bringing his lips almost close to the young
knight's ear, whispered--"What I said before the jailer was correct. I
have been applied to by Sir Francis for a philter to be administered to
Mistress Aveline, and I have promised it to him; but I am secretly in
the service of Clement Lanyere, and will defeat the old usurer's
villainous designs."

Sir Jocelyn could not repress a cry of delight, and Grimbald entered the
cell.




CHAPTER XXVII.

Showing how judgment was given by King James in the Star-Chamber, in the
great cause of the Countess of Exeter against Sir Thomas and Lady Lake.


Five days had King James and the whole of the Privy Council been sitting
within the Star-Chamber; and the great cause that had occupied them
during the whole of that time was drawing to an end--little remaining
for his Majesty to do in it, except to pronounce sentence.

The cause to which James and his Councillors had lent a hearing so long
and patient, was no other than that of the Countess of Exeter against
Sir Thomas Lake and his Lady. Throughout it, whether prompted or not as
to the course he pursued, the Monarch displayed great sagacity and
penetration. Prior to the trial, and when the preliminary statements had
alone been laid before him, he determined personally to investigate the
matter, and without acquainting any one with his design, while out
hunting, he rode over to the Earl of Exeter's residence at
Wimbledon--the place, it will be recollected, where the forged
confession was alleged to have been signed by the Countess--and
proceeded to examine the particular chamber indicated by Lady Lake and
Sarah Swarton as the scene of the transaction. He was accompanied by
Buckingham, and some other lords high in his favour. On examination it
was found that the chamber was of such size, and the lower part of it,
where Sarah was reported to have been concealed, was so distant from the
large bay window, that any conversation held there must have been
inaudible to her; as was proved, upon experiment, by the King and his
attendants. But the crowning circumstance was the discovery made by
James himself--for his courtiers were too discreet to claim any share in
it--that the hangings did not reach within two feet of the floor, and
consequently could not have screened a secret witness from view; while
it was further ascertained that the arras had been entirely undisturbed
for several years. On making this discovery, James rubbed his hands with
great glee, and exclaimed--"Aha! my Lady Lake and her handmaiden may
forswear themselves if they choose--but they will not convince me. Oaths
cannot confound my sight."

This asseveration he repeated during the trial, at which he proffered
his own testimony in favour of the plaintiff; and indeed it was evident
from the first, however much he might seek to disguise it, that he was
strongly biassed towards the Countess. Not content, however, with the
discovery he had made at Wimbledon, James had secretly despatched a
serjeant-at-arms to Rome, where Lord Roos had taken up his residence
after leaving England, and obtained from him and from his confidential
servant Diego, a statement incriminating Lady Lake, and denouncing the
confession as a wicked forgery. Luke Hatton, moreover, who had gone
over, as already intimated, to the side of the Countess, and who took
care to hide his own complicity in the dark affair, and to give a very
different colour to his conduct from what really belonged to it--Luke
Hatton, we say, became a most important witness against the Lakes, and
it was said to be owing to his crafty insinuations that the King
conceived the idea of visiting Wimbledon as before-mentioned.

Notwithstanding all this, there were many irreconcileable
contradictions, and the notoriously bad character of Lord Roos, his
cruel treatment of his wife, and his passionate devotion to the
Countess, led many to suspect that, after all, he and Lady Exeter were
the guilty parties they were represented. Moreover, by such as had any
knowledge of the man, Luke Hatton was not esteemed a credible witness;
and it was generally thought that his testimony ought not to be received
by the King, or accepted only with the greatest caution.

But the opinions favourable to Lady Lake and her husband underwent an
entire change in the early part of the trial, when, to the surprise of
all, and to the inexpressible dismay of her parents, Lady Roos, who had
been included in the process by the Countess, made a confession, wherein
she admitted that the document produced by her mother against Lady
Exeter, was fabricated, and that all the circumstances said to be
connected with it at the time of its supposed signature, were groundless
and imaginary. The unfortunate lady's motive for making this revelation
was the desire of screening her husband; and so infatuated was she by
her love of him, that she allowed herself to be persuaded--by the artful
suggestions, it was whispered, of Luke Hatton--that this would be the
means of accomplishing their reconciliation, and that she would be
rewarded for her devotion by his returning regard. If such was her
belief, she was doomed to disappointment. She never beheld him again.
Lord Roos died abroad soon after the trial took place; nor did his
ill-fated lady long survive him.

Thus, it will be seen, all circumstances were adverse to the Lakes. But
in spite of the difficulties surrounding her, and the weight of
evidence, true or false, brought against her, no concession could be
obtained from Lady Lake, and she stoutly protested her innocence, and
retaliated in most forcible terms upon her accusers. She gave a flat
contradiction to her daughter, and poured terrible maledictions on her
head, ceasing them not until silenced by command of the King. The
fearful charges brought by her ladyship against Luke Hatton produced
some effect, and were listened to; but, as they could only be
substantiated by herself and Sarah Swarton, they fell to the ground;
since here again Lady Roos refused to be a witness against her husband.

Unwilling to admit his wife's criminality, though urged by the King to
do so in order to save himself, Sir Thomas Lake was unable to make a
successful defence; and he seemed so much bowed down by affliction and
perplexity, that sympathy was generally felt for him. Indeed, his
dignified deportment and reserve gave him some claim to consideration.

In this way was the trial brought to a close, after three days'
duration.

Now, let a glance be cast round the room wherein the lords of the
Council were deliberating upon their judgment.

It was the Star-Chamber.

Situated on the south-eastern side of Westminster Hall, near the river,
this famous room,--wherein the secret councils of the kingdom were then
held, and had been held during many previous reigns,--was more
remarkable for the beauty of its ceiling than for size or splendour.
That ceiling was of oak, richly carved and gilt, and disposed in
squares, in the midst of which were roses, portculises, pomegranates,
and fleurs-de-lys. Over the door leading to the chamber was placed a
star, in allusion to its name, with the date 1602. Its walls were
covered with ancient tapestry, and it had many windows looking towards
the river, and filled with painted glass.

Though it would appear to be obvious enough, much doubt has been
entertained as to the derivation of the name of this celebrated Court.
"Some think it so called," writes the author of a learned treatise on
its jurisdiction, before cited, "of _Crimen Stellionatus_, because it
handleth such things and cases as are strange and unusual: some of
_Stallen_. I confess I am in that point a Platonist in opinion, that
_nomina naturâ fiunt potiùs quam vagâ impositone_. And so I doubt not
but _Camera-Stellata_ (for so I find it called in our ancient
Year-books) is most aptly named; not because the Star-Chamber, where the
Court is kept, is so adorned with stars gilded, as some would have
it--for surely the chamber is so adorned because it is the seal of that
Court, _et denominatio_, being _à praestantiori magis dignum trahit ad
se minus_; and it was so fitly called, because the stars have no light
but what is cast upon them from the sun by reflection, being his
representative body, and, as his Majesty was pleased to say when he sat
there in his royal person, representation must need cease when the
person is present. So in the presence of his great majesty, the which is
the sun of honour and glory, the shining of those stars is put out, they
not having any power to pronounce any sentence in this Court--for the
judgment is the King's only; but by way of advice they deliver their
opinions, which his wisdom alloweth or disalloweth, increaseth or
moderateth at his royal pleasure." This explanation, which seems rather
given for the purpose of paying a fulsome compliment to James, in whose
reign the treatise in question was written, is scarcely satisfactory;
and we have little doubt that the name originated in the circumstance of
the roof of the chamber being embellished with gilded stars. We are told
in Strype's Stowe, that the Star-Chamber was "so called, either by
derivation from the old English word _Steoran_, which signifieth to
steer or rule, as doth the pilot of a ship; because the King and Council
did sit here, as it were, at the _stern_, and did govern in the ship of
the Commonwealth. Some derive in from _Stellio_, which signifies that
starry and subtle beast so called. From which cometh the word
_stellionatus_, that signifieth _cosenage_; because that crime was
chiefly punishable in this Court by an extraordinary power, as it was in
the civil law. Or, because the roof of this Court was garnished with
gilded stars, as the room itself was starry, or full of windows and
lights. In which respect some of the Latin Records name it _Camera
Stellata;_ the French _Chambre des Ètoiles;_ and the English the Starred
Chamber." The derivation of the name, we repeat, seems to us
sufficiently simple and obvious; but as it has been matter of
controversy, we have thought it worth while to advert to the
circumstance.

To proceed. In a chair of state, elevated above the table round which
the Lords of the Council were gathered, and having a canopy over it, sat
the King, calmly watching them as they pursued their deliberations,--his
own mind being completely made up as to the sentence he should
pronounce--and ever and anon stealing a glance at Lady Lake and her
husband, who were seated behind a bar that crossed the room below the
Council-table. The defendants, or prisoners--for such in effect they
were--were under the guard of a pursuivant and a serjeant-at-arms. A
little behind them was Sarah Swarton; but, though faint and frightened,
and scarcely able to sustain herself, she was not allowed a seat. On a
raised bench at the side sat the beautiful Countess of Exeter, radiant
with smiles and triumph. She was receiving the congratulations of
several dames of high rank by whom she was accompanied. Amongst the
Judges of the Court were the Lord Chancellor, who sat immediately under
the King, with his mace and seal before him; the Lord Treasurer and the
Keeper of the Privy Seal; the President of the Council; the Judges; the
Archbishop of Canterbury, and eight bishops and other prelates; and all
the dukes, marquises, earls, and barons composing the Privy Council, to
the number of forty. Besides these, there were present Prince Charles,
three of the lieger ambassadors, and many other distinguished persons.
Though all had gone against her, Lady Lake's spirit was still
undiminished, and she eyed the Council imperiously; but her husband's
regards were fixed upon the ground, and his head rested upon his breast.

After some further time had been needlessly consumed by the Council in
stating their opinions to the King, he prepared to deliver judgment. On
this the defendants arose, and profound silence reigned throughout the
Court as James addressed them.

The sentence was to this effect:--A fine of upwards of £22,000 was
imposed upon Sir Thomas, with a further censure of imprisonment in the
Tower, during the King's pleasure. Lady Lake was to be imprisoned with
him. A public recognition of their offence, for reparation of the
Countess's injured honour, was to be made by them, in the most ample
manner His Majesty could devise. Sarah Swarton was adjudged to the
Fleet. "Thence," ran the sentence, "to be whipped at the cart's tail to
Westminster, and afterwards from the same place to Cheapside. At
Cheapside to be branded with F.A. (signifying _false accusation_), one
letter on either cheek. To do public penance in Saint Martin's Church.
To be detained in the Fleet till they do weary of her; and then to be
sent to Bridewell, there to spend and end her days."

When the poor handmaiden heard this severe sentence, she uttered a cry
of despair, and fell down on the floor in a swoon.

Thereupon the delinquents were removed; and as Lady Lake withdrew, a
look passed between her and the Countess, which, in spite of the
assurance of the latter, made her turn pale, and tremble.

In a very remarkable letter, subsequently addressed by Lady Lake to her
successful opponent in this great case, she said:--"I wish my submission
could make you an innocent woman, and wash you as white as a swan; but
it must be your own submission unto God, and many prayers, and tears,
and afflictions, which, seeing you have not outwardly, examine your
heart, and think on times past, and remember what I have written to you
heretofore. The same I do now again, for I yet nothing doubt, but that,
although the Lord Roos was sent away, and is dead, yet truth lives." The
truth, however, was never fully brought to light; and that justice which
the vindictive lady expected was denied her.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

The two warrants.


At the conclusion of the trial, James was observed to smile, and
Buckingham, who had drawn near the chair of state, ventured to inquire
what it was that entertained his Majesty.

"Our fancy has been tickled by a curious conceit," answered the King.
"We discern a singular similitude between the case we hae just heard,
and the transgression of our first parents."

"How so, your Majesty?" asked the favourite.

"As thus," replied James. "Sir Thomas Lake may be likened to our gude
Father Adam, wha fell into sin frae listening to the beguilements of
Eve--Mither Eve being represented by his dochter, my Lady Roos--and ye
will own that there cannot be a closer resemblance to the wily auld
serpent than we find in my Lady Lake."

"Excellent!" cried Buckingham, joining in the royal laughter; "but
before your Majesty quits that seat, I must entreat you to perform that
which I know you delight in--an act of justice."

"Anither act of justice, ye should say, my Lord," returned James in a
tone of slight rebuke; "seeing we hae just delivered a maist memorable
judgment in a case which has cost us five days of incessant labour and
anxious consideration. But what is it ye require at our hands? In whose
behalf are we to exercise our prerogative?"

"In that of Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey, my gracious Liege," replied
Buckingham, "who has been committed to the Fleet for contempt of this
high and honourable Court, and can only be released by your Majesty's
warrant. As I was myself present on the occasion, when the intemperate
expressions laid to his charge were used, I can affirm that he was
goaded on by his enemies to utter them; and that in his calmer moments
he must have regretted his rashness."

"Ye shall have the warrant, my Lord," said James, with a smile. "And it
does ye meikle credit to have made the request. The punishment Sir
Jocelyn has already endured is amply sufficient for the offence; and we
hae nae fears of its being repeated. A single visit to the Fleet is
eneuch for any man. But in respect to Sir Jocelyn, I am happy to say
that his Excellency the Conde de Gondomar has quite set him right in our
gude opinion; and has satisfactorily proved to us that the spy we
suspected him to be was anither person, wha shall be nameless. Ha! here
comes the Count himself," he exclaimed, as the Spanish Ambassador
approached. "Your Excellency will be glad to hear, after the handsome
manner you have spoken of him, that it is our intention to restore Sir
Jocelyn to the favour he previously enjoyed. My Lord of Buckingham is
to have a warrant for his release from the Fleet, and we shall trust to
see him soon at Court as heretofore."

"While your Majesty is in this gracious mood," said De Gondomar, bending
lowly, "suffer me to prefer a request respecting a person of very
inferior consequence to Sir Jocelyn--but one in whom I nevertheless take
an interest--and who is likewise a prisoner in the Fleet."

"And ye require a warrant for his liberation--ah, Count?"

"Your Majesty has said it," replied De Gondomar, again bending lowly.

"What is the nature of his offence?" demanded the King.

"A trifling outrage upon myself," returned the Ambassador;--"a mere
nothing, your Majesty."

"Ah! I know whom you mean. You refer to that rascally apprentice, Dick
Taverner," cried James. "Call ye his attack upon you a trifling
outrage--a mere nothing, Count. I call it a riot--almost a rebellion--to
assault an ambassador."

"Whatever it may be, I am content to overlook it," said De Gondomar;
"and, in sooth, the knaves had received some provocation."

"Aweel, since your Excellency is disposed to view it in that light,"
rejoined James--"since ye display such generosity towards your enemies,
far be it from us to oppose your wishes. The order for the 'prentice's
release shall be made out at the same time as Sir Jocelyn's. My Lord of
Buckingham will give orders to that effect to the Clerk of the Court,
and we will attach our sign manual to the warrants. And now--have ye not
done?" he continued, observing that Buckingham still lingered. "Have ye
any mair requests to prefer?"

"I had some request to make on the part of the Prince, my Liege,"
replied the Marquis; "but his Highness, I perceive, is about to speak to
you himself."

As he said this, Prince Charles, who had occupied a seat among the
Council, drew near, and stepping upon the elevation on which the chair
of state was placed, so as to bring himself on a level with his royal
father, made a long and apparently important communication to him in a
very low tone. James listened to what was said by his son with great
attention, and seemed much surprised and indignant at the circumstances,
whatever they were, related to him. Ever and anon, he could not repress
a great oath, and, but for the entreaties of Charles, would have given
vent to an explosion of choler, which must have betrayed the secret
reposed to his keeping. Calming himself, however, as well as he could,
he at length said, in a low tone--"We confide the matter to you, since
you desire it, for we are assured our dear son will act worthily and
well as our representative. Ye shall be clothed with our authority, and
have power to punish these heinous offenders as ye see fit. We will
confirm your judgments, whatever they be, and sae will our Preevy
Council."

"I must have power to pardon, as well as to punish, my gracious Liege,"
said Charles.

"Ye shall hae baith," answered the King; "but the distinction is
needless, since the ane is comprehended in the ither. Ye shall have our
ain seal, and act as if ye were King yersel'--as ye will be ane of these
days. Will that content ye?"

"Perfectly," replied Charles, gratefully kissing his royal father's
hand. And, descending from the platform, he proceeded to join Buckingham
and De Gondomar, with whom he held a brief whispered conference.

Meanwhile, the two warrants were made out, and received the royal
signature; after which James quitted the Court, and the Council broke
up.

The warrants having been delivered by the clerk to Buckingham, were
entrusted by the latter to Luke Hatton, who, it appeared, was waiting
for them in the outer gallery; and, after the latter had received some
directions respecting them from the Marquis, he hastened away.

As he passed through New Palace-yard, Luke Hatton encountered a tall
man muffled in a long black cloak. A few words were exchanged between
them, and, the information gained by the individual in the cloak seemed
perfectly satisfactory to him. So he went his way, while Luke Hatton
repaired to the Fleet Prison.

There he was at once admitted to the ward wherein Sir Jocelyn was
confined, and announced to him the glad tidings of his restoration to
freedom. By this time Sir Jocelyn was perfectly recovered from the
injuries he had received from the jailer, during his struggle with Sir
Giles Mompesson, so that there was no obstacle to his removal, and his
natural wish was to quit the prison at once; but such cogent reasons
were assigned by Luke Hatton for his remaining there for another day,
that he could not but acquiesce in them. Indeed, when all the
circumstances were explained to him, as they were, by the apothecary, he
could not but approve of the plan, which, it appeared, was about to be
acted upon in the next day for the punishment of his enemies; and it
then became evident why Sir Giles should not be made acquainted with his
release, which must be the case if the warrant were immediately acted
upon. Neither the deputy-warden nor the jailer--both of whom, as he
knew, were the extortioner's creatures--were to be informed of it till
the last moment. Certain disclosures respecting Clement Lanyere, which
were made by Luke Hatton to the young knight, affected him very deeply,
and plunged him for a long time in painful thought.

Quitting the cell of the more important prisoner, Luke Hatton proceeded
to that of the apprentice, whom he acquainted with his good fortune,
holding out to him certain prospects of future happiness, which drove
poor Dick nearly distracted. At the suggestion of his new friend, the
'prentice wrote a letter to Gillian Greenford, conjuring her, by the
love she bore him, and by their joint hopes of a speedy union,
implicitly to comply with the directions of the bearer of the
note--whatever they might be: and, armed with this, Luke Hatton quitted
the Meet, and, procuring a horse, rode off, at a rapid pace, to
Tottenham.




CHAPTER XXIX.

The Silver Coffer.


Within Sir Giles Mompesson's vast and gloomy mansion, it has been said
there were certain rooms which, from their size and splendour, formed a
striking contrast to the rest of the habitation. Never used,--except on
extraordinary occasions, when their owner gave a grand entertainment
with some ulterior object,--these apartments, notwithstanding their
magnificence, partook in some degree of the chilling and inhospitable
character of the house. Even when brilliantly lighted up, they wanted
warmth and comfort; and though the banquets given within them were
sumptuous and profuse, and the wine flowed without stint, the guests
went away dissatisfied, and railing against their ostentatious host.
Thus, though the stone walls were hung with rich tapestry, the dust had
gathered thickly upon its folds, while portions of the rugged masonry
were revealed to view. The furniture was massive, but cumbrous and
ill-assorted; and the gilded ceiling and Venetian mirrors, from want of
care, had become tarnished and dim.

Such as they were, however, these apartments were assigned to Aveline,
when she was forcibly brought to the extortioner's habitation, as
before narrated. Allowed to range within them at pleasure, she was kept
strictly within their limits. The doors were constantly guarded by one
or other of the myrmidons; and any communication with the external world
was impossible, because the windows were partially grated, and looked
into a court-yard. Beyond this, she was subjected to no restraint; and
her own attendants, Dame Sherborne and old Anthony Rocke, were suffered
to remain with her.

Had it not been for her exposure to the annoyance of frequent from Sir
Francis Mitchell, and her anxiety about Sir Jocelyn, Aveline would not
have found her confinement so intolerable. But the enamoured old usurer
persecuted her at all hours, and she could never be free from the
intrusion, since the doors could not be shut against him. Sometimes, he
came accompanied by his partner, though more frequently alone, but ever
with the same purpose,--namely, that of protesting the violence of his
passion, and seeking to soften her obduracy. As may be well supposed,
his pleadings, however urged, were wholly ineffectual, and excited no
other feelings, except those of detestation, in her bosom. Such a state
of things could not endure for ever; and her only hope was, that finding
all his efforts to move her fruitless, he would in time desist from
them. Not that she was without other fearful apprehensions, which were
shared by her attendants.

Nearly a fortnight had thus passed by, when, one day, during which she
had seen nothing of her tormentor, and was rejoicing at the
circumstance, the repast usually served at noon was brought in by a
fresh serving-man. Something in this person's manner, and in the meaning
glance he fixed upon her attracted her attention; otherwise, he was a
man of singularly unprepossessing appearance. She addressed a few words
to him, but he made no reply, and became suddenly as reserved as his
predecessor had been. This deportment, however, it presently appeared,
was only assumed. While placing a flask of wine on the table, the man
said in a low tone--"I am a friend of Sir Jocelyn. Constrain yourself,
or you will betray me. Sir Francis is watching us from an eyelet-hole in
the door. Drink of this," he added, pouring wine into a goblet.

"Is it medicated?" she asked in a whisper, regarding him anxiously.

"It is supposed to be so," he answered, with a scarcely perceptible
smile. "Drink, I say. If you do not, you will mar my project. 'Tis
well!" he added, as she raised the goblet to her lips. "A few words must
explain my design. Sir Francis will fancy you have swallowed a
love-potion. Take care not to undeceive him, for on that belief rests
your safety. When he presents himself, as he will do shortly, do not
repulse him as heretofore. Smile on him as kindly as you can; and though
the task of duping him may be difficult and distasteful to you, shrink
not from it. The necessity of the case justifies the deception. If he
presses his suit, no longer refuse him your hand."

"I cannot do it," murmured Aveline, with a shudder.

"You MUST," rejoined Luke Hatton--for it was he--"or incur worse
dangers. Provoked by your resistance, Sir Francis has lost all patience,
and is determined to accomplish his purpose. Knowing my skill as a
brewer of philters, he has applied to me, and I have promised him aid.
But have no fear. Though employed by him, I am devoted to you, and will
effect your deliverance--ay, and avenge you upon your persecutors at the
same time--if you follow my instructions exactly. Raise the goblet to
your lips again. Quaff its contents without apprehension--they are
perfectly harmless. Force smiles to your features--give tenderness to
your tones, and softness to your glances--and all will be won."

And with a grin, which, though intended to encourage her, somewhat
alarmed Aveline, he took up the flask of wine and departed.

As her singular adviser had predicted, it was not long before the old
usurer made his appearance, evidently full of eagerness to ascertain
whether any change had been wrought in her disposition towards him by
the wonder-working draught. Dissembling her aversion as well as she
could, and assuming looks very foreign to her feelings, she easily
succeeded in persuading him that the philter had taken effect, and that
all obstacles to his happiness were removed. Transported with rapture,
he fell upon his knees, and besought her to crown his felicity by
consenting to their union on the following day. Bewildered by various
emotions, yet still managing to play her part, she returned an answer,
which he construed into an affirmative; and now quite beside himself
with delight, the amorous old dotard left her.

The alteration in Aveline's manner and deportment towards her
persecutor, did not escape the notice of her attendants, and greatly
perplexed them. Dame Sherborne ventured to remonstrate with her, hoping
she could not be in earnest; and old Anthony Rocke bluntly told her he
would rather see her in her grave than the bride of such a hoary
reprobate as Sir Francis. Aware that her actions were watched, Aveline
thought it best to dissemble, even with her attendants; and they were
both convinced she was either bewitched or had lost her senses; and in
either case bitterly deplored her fate.

Nor must it be supposed that Aveline herself was without much secret
misgiving, however skilfully and courageously she might act her part.
The appearance of Luke Hatton, as we have more than once remarked, was
calculated to inspire distrust in all brought in contact with him; and
with no other proofs of his sincerity except such as were furnished by
the circumstances, she might well entertain suspicion of him. While
professing devotion, he might intend to betray her. In that event, if
driven to extremity, she resolved to liberate herself by the only means
that would then be left her.

In the evening, Luke Hatton paid her a second visit; and on this
occasion comported himself with as much caution as at first. He
applauded her conduct towards Sir Francis, whom he stated to be most
effectually duped, and counselled her to persevere in the same course;
adding, with his customary sardonic grin, that grand preparations were
making for the wedding-feast, but he thought the cook's labours likely
to be thrown away.

Next day, Aveline found all her counsellor had told her was correct.
Several of the rooms, hitherto thrown open to her--in especial the great
banquetting-chamber--were now closed; and it was evident from the sounds
that reached her ear--footsteps hurrying to and fro, loud impatient
voices, and noises occasioned by the removal of furniture, and the
placing of chairs and tables, together with the clatter of plates and
dishes--that preparations for a festival were going on actively within
them. Nothing could equal the consternation and distress exhibited by
Dame Sherborne and old Anthony Rocke; but, faithful to her scheme,
Aveline (however she desired it) did not relieve their anxiety.

At noon, Luke Hatton came again. He seemed in great glee; and informed
her that all was going on as well as could be desired. He counselled her
to make two requests of Sir Francis. First, that he should endow her
with ten thousand marks, to be delivered to her before the nuptials;
secondly, that she should be permitted to shroud her features and person
in a veil during the marriage ceremony. Without inquiring the meaning of
these requests, which, indeed, she partly conjectured, Aveline promised
ready compliance; and her adviser left her, but not till he had once
more proffered her the supposed philter, and caused her to place the cup
containing it to her lips.

Ere long, he was succeeded by Sir Francis, arrayed like a bridegroom, in
doublet and hose of white satin, thickly laid with silver lace, and a
short French mantle of sky-blue velvet, branched with silver flowers,
white roses in his shoes, and drooping white plumes, arranged _à
l'Espagnolle,_ in his hat. Besides this, he was trimmed, curled, oiled,
and would have got himself ground young again, had such a process been
practicable.

But though he could not effect this, he did the next thing to it, and
employed all the restoratives suggested by Luke Hatton. He bathed in
milk, breakfasted on snail-broth, and swallowed a strange potion
prepared for him by the apothecary, which the latter affirmed would make
a new man of him and renovate all his youthful ardour. It certainly had
produced an extraordinary effect; and when he presented himself before
Aveline, his gestures were so extravagant, and his looks so wild and
unpleasant, that it was with the utmost difficulty she repressed a
scream. His cheeks were flushed, as if with fever, and his eyes dilated
and burning with unnatural lustre. He spoke almost incoherently, tossing
his arms about, and performing the antics of a madman. The philter; it
was clear, had been given him, and he was now under its influence.

Amid all this strange frenzy, so alarming to Aveline, he dwelt upon
nothing but his inextinguishable passion, and never for a moment
withdrew his fevered gaze from her. He told her he would be her slave
for life, proud to wear her chains; and that she should be absolute
mistress of his house and all his possessions. On this she mustered up
resolution to prefer the requests she had been counselled to make; and
Sir Francis, who was in no mood to refuse her anything, at once acceded
to them. He laughed at the notion of the veil--said it was a delicate
fancy, and quite charmed him--but as to the ten thousand marks, they
were utterly unworthy of her acceptance, and she should have thrice the
amount delivered to her in a silver coffer before the ceremony. With
these, and a great many other professions, he released her from his
presence, which had become well-nigh insupportable.

After a while, a magnificent bridal-dress of white satin, richly trimmed
with lace, together with a thick white veil of the largest size,
calculated to envelope her whole person, were brought her by a young
damsel, who told her she was engaged to serve her as tire-woman; adding,
that "she hoped she would be able to satisfy her ladyship, as she had
already served the Countess of Exeter in that capacity."

"Why do you call me 'ladyship' child?" said Aveline, without looking at
her. "I have no right to any such title."

"But you soon will have," replied the young tire-woman; "as the bride of
Sir Francis, you must needs be my Lady Mitchell."

Checking the rejoinder that rose to her lips, Aveline cast her eyes, for
the first time, on the speaker; and then, to her great surprise,
perceived it to be her village acquaintance, Gillian Greenford. A
significant glance from the blue eyes of the pretty damsel impressed her
with the necessity of caution, and seemed to intimate that Gillian
herself was likewise in the plot. And so it presently appeared she was;
for when the damsel had an opportunity of talking quite in private to
her new mistress, she informed her of the real motive of her coming
there.

"I am engaged, by one who wishes you well, to take your place, sweet
Mistress Aveline, and to be married in your stead to Sir Francis
Mitchell," she said.

"And have you really consented to such an arrangement?" rejoined
Aveline. "Is it possible you can sacrifice yourself thus?"

"I am not to be sacrificed," returned the damsel quickly. "If it were
so, I would never have agreed to the scheme. But I am told I shall get a
fortune, and--"

"Oh, then the ten thousand marks are for you!" interrupted the other. "I
now see the meaning of that part of the plan. But what else do you hope
to accomplish?"

"The deliverance of my unfortunate lover, Dick Taverner, from the
Fleet," she answered.

"But how is your marrying this wicked old usurer to effect your object?"
inquired Aveline. "You may save me by the proposed stratagem; but you
will destroy your own happiness, and all your lover's hopes."

"No, no, I shall not," replied Gillian, hastily; "I can't tell how it's
to be managed, but I am quite sure no harm will happen to me, and that
Dick's restoration to liberty will be the reward of the service--if such
it may be called--that I am about to render you. He wrote to me so
himself."

"At least, tell me by whom you are engaged, and I can then judge of the
probability of the rest happening in the way you anticipate?"

"Do not question me further, sweet mistress," replied the damsel, "for I
am bound to secrecy. But thus much I may declare--I am the agent of one,
who, for some purposes of his own--be they what they may--is determined
to counteract all Sir Francis's vile machinations against you, as well
as those of his partner, Sir Giles Mompesson, against your lover, Sir
Jocelyn Mounchensey. Ah! you understand me now, I perceive, sweet
mistress! You have been guarded by this unseen but watchful friend,
during the whole of your confinement in this dreadful habitation; and he
has kept an equal watch over your lover in the Fleet."

"What! Is Sir Jocelyn a prisoner in the Fleet?" exclaimed Aveline. "I
knew it not!"

"He is; but the period of his deliverance approaches," replied Gillian.
"The secret friend I spoke of has bided his time, and the hour is at
hand when full measure of revenge will be dealt upon those two wicked
oppressors. He has long worked towards it; and I myself, am to be an
humble instrument towards the great end."

"You astonish me!" cried Aveline, greatly surprised at the change in the
damsel's manner as well as by what she said.

"Do not perplex yourself, fair mistress," pursued Gillian. "All will be
speedily made known to you. But now, no more time must be lost, and we
must each assume the character we have to enact. As I am to be the
bride, and you the tire-woman, you must condescend to aid me in putting
on these rich robes and then disguise yourself in my rustic attire. We
are both pretty nearly of a size, so there is little risk of detection
in that particular; and if you can but conceal your features for a short
while, on Sir Francis's entrance, the trick will never be discovered.
All the rest has been arranged; and I am a mere puppet in the hands of
others, to be played as they direct. Bless us! how beautiful this dress
is, to-be-sure!--what satin!--and what lace! The Countess of Exeter has
just such another. Have you heard that her ladyship has gained her cause
against those wicked Lakes, who conspired against her? But what am I
saying--when I know you cannot have heard of it! Well, then, it occupied
five days in the Star-Chamber; and Sir Thomas and his lady are sent to
the Tower, and Sarah Swarton to the Fleet. Poor creature! she is to be
whipped and branded, and to do penance in Saint Martin's church.
Dreadful! but I won't think of it. I wonder how this dress will become
me! How astounded Dick Taverner would be, if he could only see me in it!
Mayhap he will--there's no saying. And now, fair mistress, may I crave
your aid?"

While Gillian was thus running on, she had partially disrobed herself,
and very soon afterwards was decked out in the rich attire, the effect
of which upon her own person she was so desirous of ascertaining. When
her toilet was complete, she could not help running up to a mirror, and
on seeing the reflection of her well-formed figure now displayed to
unwonted advantage, she clapped her hands and cried out with girlish
delight.

Allowing her to gratify her feelings of vanity by the contemplation of
her pretty person for a few minutes, Aveline felt it necessary to recal
her to her situation, and her own transformation into the tire-woman was
speedily effected,--Gillian's dress fitting her exactly. The
light-hearted damsel was quite as much pleased with this change as with
the other--and vowed that Aveline looked far better in the rustic gown,
than she herself did in the silken attire.

But time pressed; and as Sir Francis might surprise them, they hastened
to complete their arrangements. Gillian's comely features, as well as
her sumptuous robe, had to be obscured by the envious veil; and as it
was thrown over her, she could not help heaving a sigh. Aveline then put
on the muffler which had been worn by the country damsel, and their
disguises were complete.

Not a minute too soon. At this juncture a tap was heard at a door
communicating with the adjoining apartment, and the voice of the old
usurer was heard inquiring whether his bride was ready. An answer in the
affirmative was given by Aveline, and, with a throbbing heart and
faltering steps, Gillian prepared to obey the summons.

The door was thrown open, and mustering up all her resolution, she
passed through it. Both Sir Francis and his partner were waiting to
receive her. The latter was richly attired, but had not changed the
sombre hue of his habiliments, even for the anticipated ceremonial,
being clad, as usual, in black. In this respect he offered marked
contrast to the gay apparel of the antiquated bridegroom, as well as by
the calmness of his deportment and the stern gravity of his looks.
Behind them stood Luke Hatton, bearing a heavy silver coffer, of antique
workmanship.

"What means this veil?" cried Sir Giles, gazing suspiciously at Gillian
as she emerged from the inner room, followed cautiously by Aveline, who
was wrapped in the muffler. "Why are the bride's features thus hidden?"

"A mere whim, Sir Giles--a pleasant fancy," replied the old usurer. "But
she must have her way. I mean to indulge her in everything."

"You are wrong," rejoined the extortioner. "Make her feel you will be
her master. Bid her take it off."

"On no account whatever, Sir Giles. I have only won her by submission,
and shall I spoil all at the last moment, by opposing her inclinations?
Of a truth not."

"Who is the maiden with her?" demanded Sir Giles, scrutinizing Aveline,
with a keen glance. "Why does she wear a muffler? Is that a whim,
likewise?"

"Perchance it is," replied Sir Francis; "but I have given no consent to
it. She is only the tire-woman."

"Come, mistress, unmuffle. Let us see your face," cried Sir Giles,
striding towards the terrified maiden, who thought discovery was now
inevitable.

But Luke Hatton interposed to save her.

"Prevent this rudeness," he whispered, plucking Sir Francis's cloak.
"Prevent it instantly. If her whim be thwarted, I will not answer for
the consequences."

"Desist, Sir Giles--desist, I pray you!" cried the old usurer, in alarm.
"It is my bride's wish that her attendant be not interfered with--and
mine too."

"Well, be it as you will," replied the extortioner, testily. "But I
would not permit the impertinence were I in your case. The bride must
raise her veil when she stands before the priest."

"She shall do as she pleases," replied Sir Francis, gallantly. "If she
desires to hide her blushes, I will not put any compulsion upon her to
disclose them. Come, fair mistress," he added, taking the trembling hand
of the veiled maiden, "the priest awaits us in the further chamber,
where the ceremony is to take place, and where several of the noble and
illustrious guests who have consented to grace our nuptials are already
assembled. Some of the most illustrious personages in the land will be
present--the Marquis of Buckingham, and perhaps Prince Charles himself.
His Excellency the Spanish Ambassador has promised to come. Let us on,
then. Yet, ere we proceed further, I have to request your acceptance of
that silver coffer. The thirty thousand marks within it constitute your
dowry."

As he spoke Luke Hatton advanced, and, holding the coffer towards the
veiled damsel, so that she could touch it, said--"Place your hand upon
this silver box, and take possession of it, fair mistress. I am a
witness that Sir Francis Mitchell has freely bestowed it, with its
contents, upon you. It will remain in my custody till you require me to
deliver it up to you."




CHAPTER XXX.

How the Marriage was interrupted.


After the presentation of the silver casket, as before described, the
whole of the bridal party, with the exception of Aveline, who contrived
to remain behind, passed on into the adjoining chamber, where the priest
was understood to be in waiting to perform the marriage ceremony.

Apprehensive of the consequences of the discovery which must inevitably
be soon made, Aveline would have flown back to her own room, but was
deterred, from the strange noises and confusion she heard within it.
Uncertain how to act, she at last resolved upon attempting an escape
from the house, and was hurrying forward, in the hope of gaining the
corridor unperceived, but the sound of voices outside again drove her
back; and, in this new dilemma, she had nothing left but to take refuge
behind the tapestry covering the walls, which being fortunately loose
and hanging upon the ground, effectually concealed her.

Scarcely was she screened from observation in this manner, when the door
was thrown open, and a crowd of young gallants--evidently, from their
bearing and the richness of their attire, of high rank--entered the
apartment. Without exposing herself, Aveline was enabled, through the
folds of the tapestry, to command a view of what was going forward. The
youthful nobles--for such they were--who had just come in, were laughing
loudly; and their jests were chiefly at the expense of the old usurer,
whose marriage they had been invited to attend.

After looking round for a moment, as if in search of some one to direct
them whither to go, the foremost of them clapped his hands, whereupon
the thick curtains which, in lieu of a door, guarded the entrance to the
other room, were drawn aside, and disclosed a group of persons collected
together within that chamber. In the midst of them were the bride and
bridegroom--the former still enveloped in her veil--together with the
priest and his assistant. At this sight, the band of youthful nobles set
up a shout of laughter, and rushed tumultuously forward, while the
curtains, dropping to their place, closed upon the scene.

Presently the outer door again opened, and this time to admit three
persons, all of whom were magnificently dressed, and apparently of yet
higher rank than those who had preceded them. As they were masked, their
features could not be discerned; but they were all distinguished by rare
personal grace. One of them, indeed, was remarkable for symmetry of
figure, and his finely-proportioned limbs were arrayed in habiliments
of the most splendid material, adorned with pearls and precious stones,
and richly embroidered. Yet he did not seem to hold the chief place
among them: that, by common consent, seemed accorded to a young man clad
in black velvet, who, by the majesty of his deportment and the gravity
of his manner, appeared to exercise a certain sway over his companions,
and to be treated by them, when he spoke, with marked respect. The third
individual was habited in a Spanish-cloak of murrey-velvet, lined with
cloth of silver, branched with murrey-flowers, and wore a chain of gold,
richly set with precious stones, round his neck, from which depended the
order of the Golden Fleece.

There was something in the presence of these three important personages
that gave Aveline a feeling of security, such as she had not experienced
since her forcible detention by the two extortioners, and she almost
felt inclined to throw herself at the feet of the one who appeared to be
the principal of them, and solicit his protection. But before she could
execute her half-formed design, the party had approached the entrance of
the nuptial chamber; and the curtain being raised for their admittance,
excluded them, the next moment, from her view.

All now appearing quiet, she again ventured from her hiding-place, and
speeded towards the door communicating with the gallery. But her
departure was unexpectedly interrupted by the sudden entrance of
another masked personage, tall in stature, and habited entirely in
black; and in him she could not fail to recognise the messenger employed
by Sir Giles Mompesson to bring her, in the first instance, to his
habitation. Circumstances had subsequently occurred to induce her to
change her opinion respecting this mysterious individual. Nevertheless,
his appearance at this juncture would have caused her to utter a cry of
terror, if she had not been reassured by the timely appearance of one
upon whom she had reliance, and who raised his finger to his lips in
token of silence. This was Luke Hatton, who, at the very moment that
Lanyere appeared, issued from the chamber where the marriage ceremony
was being performed.

"Be not alarmed, fair maiden," said Lanyere, in a low voice, "you are in
no danger; and all your troubles, I trust, are well-nigh ended. I
thought you were in the marriage-chamber. Give me your hand. You must
assist at the mock ceremonial taking place within there. I have no time
for explanations; and indeed they are needless, since all will be
speedily made clear to you. Divest yourself, I pray you, of this
muffler. It is part of my plan that your features should now be
revealed. You will understand why, anon."

With this, he led her quickly towards the entrance of the inner chamber;
and, pushing aside the curtain, advanced a few steps beyond it, still
holding her by the hand, and followed by Luke Hatton.

The apartment, which was of considerable size and splendidly furnished,
was full of wedding-guests, grouped around that portion of it which was
railed off for the accommodation of those more immediately connected
with the ceremonial, amongst whom, as a matter of course, was Sir Giles
Mompesson.

Somewhat apart from the others were the three important persons who had
arrived last; and the most exalted among them was seated on a raised
chair, contemplating the scene, while his companions stood near him.
They had now taken off their masks; and, even in that agitating moment
Aveline recognised in the trio the Marquis of Buckingham, the Conde de
Gondomar, and Prince Charles. All the rest of the company remained
standing; and some of the young nobles formed a small semicircle behind
the royal chair.

Lanyere's entrance with his fair companion could not have been better
timed. They arrived at the particular juncture when Sir Francis, having
presented the wedding-ring to the priest was in the act of receiving it
back from him, in order that it might be placed upon the finger of the
bride; and the noise made by the promoter, who still wore his vizard,
drew all eyes upon him, and upon the damsel by whom he was accompanied.

A smile of intelligence passed between Prince Charles and Buckingham;
and some remark was made by the latter, to which the Prince replied by a
gesture, seeming to intimate that the interruption was not altogether
unexpected by him. De Gondomar's looks also betrayed that he was
likewise in the secret.

Others of the company laughed as if in anticipation of a jest; but the
majority looked surprised--but none so much so as Sir Giles Mompesson.
As his eye fell upon the dark and ominous figure of Lanyere, and shifted
from him to Aveline, he appeared transported with rage; and dashing the
ring from the hand of the astonished bridegroom (who, having his back
toward the newcomers, was unaware of what was going forward),
exclaimed--"Proceed no further! We have been deceived! Look there!"

"Where? where?" cried Sir Francis. "What is the matter, Sir Giles? You
quite terrify me with your fierce looks. Help me to pick up the ring,
and let the ceremony go on."

"It is well for you that it is _not_ completed," replied Sir Giles,
almost black in the face with choler. "You know not whom you are about
to wed. But we will soon see. Off with your veil, minion! Off with it, I
say!"

"Sir Giles, I will not permit this liberty," cried the old usurer. "You
shall not touch her. Whom should it be but my own dear, delectable
Aveline?"

"Look round, I say, and credit your own eyes, since you doubt my
assertions!" roared Sir Giles.

"Ten thousand furies!" ejaculated Sir Francis, as he complied with the
injunction. "Why, there she is, in good truth, when I thought she was by
my side. Whom, then, have I been about to take to my bosom?"

"It matters not," replied Sir Giles. "She you desired to wed is yonder,
and must take the other's place. That is--but I forget," he added,
suddenly checking himself, and lowering his tone, "naught can be done,
except according to rule, in this presence. Your vanity must needs be
gratified by bringing together all this courtly company to witness your
marriage. And now they will only mock you."

"S'death! you are right, Sir Giles," rejoined the old usurer. "I am
become a mere laughing-stock to my guests. But at least I will see my
false bride's features. You hear what I say, Madam," he added to
Gillian--"let me behold your face without more ado."

As he uttered the command, the damsel threw off her veil, and stood
blushing, half-smiling and half-abashed, before the assemblage. Her
natural charms, heightened by her attire, and by the peculiar situation
in which she was placed, elicited general admiration.

"As I live, 'tis the pretty tirewoman from Tottenham, engaged by Luke
Hatton to attend on Aveline," cried Sir Francis; "but, 'fore Heaven, I
have gained by the exchange. I like her better than the other, and will
go through with the ceremony. Proceed, Sir Priest."

At this declaration there was a shout of laughter from the assemblage;
but the merriment was increased, when Do Gondomar, stepping up to the
bride, said, "I forbid the marriage. She belongs to me."

"But my claim is paramount to that of your Excellency," cried the old
usurer.

"I cannot admit it," rejoined the other. "Let the damsel decide for
herself."

"Then I will accept neither," said Gillian. "Dick Taverner is already
master of my heart, and no one but he shall have my hand. I have been
brought here to play a part, on the clear understanding that nothing
serious was to come of it."

"And nothing serious shall come of it, fair maiden," said Prince
Charles. "I promise that on my princely faith."

"Then, indeed, I am easy," replied Gillian, inclining herself
reverentially towards the royal speaker.

At this juncture, Sir Giles Mompesson, who had been hitherto restrained
by the presence of the royal guest from any violent measures, was
advancing with menacing looks towards Lanyere, when the attention of
Charles being directed to his movements by Buckingham, the Prince
instantly arose, and in a tone of authority not to be disputed, said--

"Not a step further, Sir Giles. I will take care that all needful
explanations be given."

"But your Highness cannot be aware that this is a heinous offender and
traitor," rejoined Sir Giles, pointing to Lanyere. "I was about to take
means to prevent his escape."

"He has no intention of escaping," rejoined Charles; "and I forbid any
one to leave this apartment without my permission."

"Will your Highness suffer me to relieve this fair creature from the
embarrassing position in which she is placed," said De Gondomar. "The
youth she has mentioned, and to whom she declares her affections are
given, was confined in the Fleet Prison for an attack on me; but, on my
representation of the matter to the King, your father, his Majesty's
gracious consent was immediately accorded for his liberation."

"I am aware of it, Count," replied Prince Charles.

"But your Highness may not be aware that the poor fellow is without,"
pursued the Ambassador. "Will it please you to allow him to be brought
in?"

The Prince assented, on which De Gondomar signed to Luke Hatton, who
seemed waiting for the order, and, disappearing for a moment, returned
with the apprentice.

Though evidently prepared for the scene that awaited him, and not
overburthened with modesty, Dick Taverner could not help exhibiting
considerable confusion; but the sight of his mistress somewhat restored
him, and he pressed towards her. Sir Francis, however, stepped between
them, exclaiming--"Get hence, base varlet--she is my wife."

"No such thing!" cried Gillian--"the ceremony has only been half
performed. I am _not_ married. I am yours--and yours only, dear, sweet
Dickon."

"You never shall be his--you are mine--" exclaimed the old usurer--"I
implore his Highness the Prince to let the marriage go forward."

"Nay, I shall not allow any compulsion to be placed on the damsel's
inclinations," replied Charles, unable to repress a smile. "She must
choose for herself."

"In that case, your Highness, my choice is soon made," replied Gillian,
taking her lover's hand.

"And honest Dickon need not be under any alarm at such part of the
marriage as has already taken place," observed De Gondomar. "It has been
a mock ceremonial throughout. This is no priest, but one of my Lord of
Buckingham's grooms employed for the occasion."

"Then I have been a dupe all this time!" cried Sir Francis furiously.
"O, purblind dolt that I am!"

But he met with no commiseration from the assemblage, who only laughed
at his rage and absurd grimaces.

"Kneel and thank his Highness for his goodness," said De Gondomar to the
young couple; "and then, if he will give you leave to do so, depart at
once. Stay not a moment longer than you can help it in this house, or in
the neighbourhood."

"Most assuredly I will not, your Excellency," returned Dick. "It is much
too near the Fleet to be agreeable to me. I have to offer my heartfelt
thanks to your Excellency for your kindly consideration of me, and I own
that I have scarcely deserved it at your hands."

"Render your thanks, as I have said, to his Highness, who is alone
entitled to them, good fellow," said the Ambassador. "Take Gillian home
to her grandsire--and wed her as soon as you can. She will need no
dowry," he added in a low tone--"for she is already provided with thirty
thousand marks."

"Honestly come by, I hope, your Excellency?" inquired Dick.

"Ay, ay--thou suspicious blockhead. Do as I have bidden thee, and get
hence. More remains to be done to which thou art a hindrance."

On this, the young couple prostrated themselves before Prince Charles,
who graciously gave his hand to Gillian to kiss, and then motioning them
to rise, they were allowed to quit the room.

Luke Hatton saw them safe out of the house, and very well it was he
accompanied them, for they had many obstacles to encounter. Before
quitting them, the apothecary delivered up the silver casket to Dick,
bidding him take good care of it, as it contained his intended wife's
dowry.

Meanwhile, Sir Giles Mompesson, who had with difficulty controlled his
impatience during the incidents previously described, advanced towards
Prince Charles, and with a profound reverence, said--"Will it please
your Highness to terminate this idle scene, which, though apparently
amusing to the company assembled, is by no means so entertaining to Sir
Francis and myself?"

"You shall have your wish, Sir," rejoined Charles in a stern tone and
with a freezing look, that seemed of ill augury to the extortioner--"It
is my intention to terminate the scene. Stand forth, Clement Lanyere and
let me hear what you have to declare in reference to this man."

Hereupon, the promoter, consigning Aveline to the care of a gentleman
who advanced towards her for the purpose, and respectfully took her
hand, stepped forward, and, removing his mask, confronted his enemy.




CHAPTER XXXI.

Accusations.


By this time a very different complexion had been imparted to the scene.
The interruption of the marriage ceremony, and the perplexities of the
old usurer, tricked out of his intended bride, and bereft even of her
substitute, had afforded abundant amusement to the company, who, so far
from feeling pity for the sufferer, seemed vastly to enjoy his
mortification and disappointment. But all laughter died away, and every
tongue became suddenly mute, as Prince Charles, assuming the severe look
and dignified deportment of a judge, commanded Clement Lanyere to stand
forward, and prefer the charges he had to make against Sir Giles
Mompesson.

All eyes were fixed upon the extortioner and his accuser; and though
etiquette prevented the company from advancing too near the royal seat,
a dense semicircle was formed in front of it, in the midst of which
stood the two principal actors in the drama about to take place,
together with the discomfited Sir Francis Mitchell.

Sir Giles Mompesson was not without great misgivings. He saw that his
case was already prejudged by the Prince; and the glance of inquiry
with which he had consulted his patron, the Marquis of Buckingham, and
which was answered by a cold, menacing regard, convinced him that little
support was to be expected in that quarter. Nevertheless, though he felt
himself in considerable jeopardy, he allowed no look or gesture
indicative of uneasiness to escape him; and the courage that had borne
him through many a trial still remained unshaken. Not so Sir Francis
Mitchell. He also perceived the perilous position in which he and his
partner were placed, and his abject manner showed how thoroughly he was
daunted. Look wherever he would, he found no sympathy: every one derided
his distress.

But far more than the two extortioners did their accuser command
attention. As he cast off his mask and displayed his appalling features,
a thrill of surprise and horror pervaded such of the assemblage as had
never seen them before. But the feeling was speedily lost in wonder.
Drawing himself up to his full height, so that his lofty figure towered
above those with whom he was confronted, he seemed to dart lightning
glances against them. Even Sir Giles could not bear his scathing looks,
and would have shielded himself from them if he could. Though fearful to
behold, Lanyere's countenance had a terrible purpose impressed upon it
which none could mistake. The effect produced by his appearance upon
the spectators was shared even by Prince Charles, and a few minutes
elapsed before the silence was broken. At length, the Prince again
spoke:--

"I sit here," he said, "as the representative of the Majesty of
England--clothed with the authority of my royal father, and prepared to
exercise it, as he would do were he present in person. But though this
seat is erected into a tribunal before which accusations against
wrong-doers can be brought, and sentence upon them pronounced; still,
whatever charges are now made, and against whomsoever they may be
preferred, those charges will have to be repeated to the Lords of the
Council of the Star-Chamber, before whom the accused will be taken; and
any judgment now given will have to be confirmed by that high and
honourable Court. Of late, the course of justice has been too often
baffled and turned aside by the craft and subtlety of certain powerful
and audacious offenders. Hence it has been the wish of the King's
Highness, in order that the laws may no longer be broken with impunity,
that certain preliminary inquiries and investigations should be made on
the spot itself, where it is alleged that the crimes and misdemeanours
have been committed; and, according to the evidence afforded, such
measures as may be deemed fitting taken against the wrong-doers. All
present have witnessed this mock ceremonial, and have laughed at its
conclusion, but mirth will be changed to indignation, when it is known
that the intended marriage was the result of a vile conspiracy on the
part of Sir Giles Mompesson and Sir Francis Mitchell, against a young,
virtuous, and unprotected maiden, whose beauty had inflamed the breast
of the elder, and it might have been expected from that circumstance,
the wiser of the two. Into the details of their infamous scheme, it will
not be necessary now to enter; and it may suffice to say, that the
devoted attachment of the damsel to another was wholly disregarded,
while the basest means were employed to induce her consent to a match so
abhorrent to her feelings, as must have been that with Sir Francis.
Failing in this, however, the two conspirators went yet further. They
forcibly carried off the maiden from her own dwelling, and detained her
against her will within this house, till by their arts they imagined
they had gained their point--and that a love-potion would accomplish all
for them, that their persuasions and fair promises were unable to
effect. But the damsel was guarded from all ill by an unseen friend--and
the weapons of the conspirators were turned against themselves. You have
witnessed how they have been duped, and, as no mischief has resulted
from this infamous endeavour, the mortification they have endured may be
taken as part punishment of the offence. Stand forward, fair Mistress
Aveline Calveley, and substantiate what I have just declared."

Thus adjured, the maiden approached within a few paces of the Prince,
and having made a lowly salutation, said,--

"All that your Highness has advanced concerning me is correct."

"Enough, fair mistress," rejoined Charles. "How say you, Sirs," he
continued, in a stern tone, to the two extortioners. "Do you confess
your guilt, and sue for pardon? If so, down on your knees before this
injured damsel, and implore her forgiveness!"

A prey to violent terror, the old usurer instantly adopted the
supplicatory posture recommended by the Prince; but Sir Giles refused
compliance.

"Having committed no offence, I sue for no pardon," he said, with his
wonted audacity. "I repel the charge with indignation; and, in my turn,
accuse Clement Lanyere and Luke Hatton of a conspiracy against me. This
damsel is but their tool, as I will show, if your Highness will deign to
give ear to me."

"It were mere waste of time to listen to idle fabrications," replied
Charles. "The evidence against you is complete, and my opinion upon it
is formed. But what saith the maiden herself? Is she willing that any
grace be shown her persecutors?"

"The redress I have already obtained at the hands of your Highness is
amply sufficient," replied Aveline. "Great as has been the misery these
two persons have occasioned me, and grievously as they have sought to
injure me, I seek no further satisfaction; but would implore your
Highness to pardon them. Their own thoughts will be punishment enough."

"Amply sufficient--for nothing can be more bitter," cried the old
usurer, while a scornful smile curled Sir Giles's lips.

"Spoken as I expected you would speak, fair maiden," said Charles; "and,
were there nothing else against them, I might listen to your kindly
intercessions. But other and darker disclosures have to be made; and
when you have heard all, even your compassionate breast may be steeled
against them. Retire for a moment; but do not leave the room. Your
presence may yet be needed."

And bowing graciously to Aveline, she withdrew under the care of the
gentleman who had brought her forward, but still remained a spectatress
of the scene.

"And now to proceed with the investigation," pursued Charles. "What have
you to allege against the two persons before you?" he added, to Clement
Lanyere.

"Were I to relate all their enormities, most gracious Prince," replied
the promoter, "the recital would be too painful for your hearing, and
that of this noble assemblage. But I will, in a word, declare that there
is no kind of outrage, oppression, and extortion of which they have not
been guilty. Their insatiable greediness has been fed by constant
plunder; and, alike cruel and rapacious, nothing but the ruin and
absolute destruction of their victims would content them. Merciless as
creditors, they have ground their unfortunate debtors to the dust. The
tears of the widow they have robbed of her husband and her means of
existence--the despair of the orphan, whose fair prospects they have
blighted--have failed to move them. Utterly unscrupulous as to the means
of obtaining possession of property, they have forged wills, deeds, and
other documents. Their ingenuity has been taxed to devise new means of
unjust gain; and, imposing upon the King's Majesty by false
representations, they have succeeded in obtaining his letters patent for
certain monopolies, which they have so shamefully abused, as to bring
his sovereign authority into discredit."

"Hold!" cried Sir Giles Mompesson. "To the first--vague and general
accusations brought against me and my co-patentee, by this branded
traitor, who, having been publicly punished for falsehood and libel,
cannot be received as a witness, I have deigned no answer, conceiving
such accusations cannot be for a moment entertained by you, most
gracious Prince. But to this specific charge, I give a flat denial; and
demand proof of it. I appeal to the most noble Marquis of Buckingham,
through whose interest Sir Francis Mitchell and myself obtained those
patents for the licences of inspection of inns and hostelries, as well
as for the manufacture of gold and silver lace, whether he has ever
heard aught to our disparagement in our conduct of them?"

"Do not appeal to me, Sir," replied Buckingham, coldly.

"Sir Giles has demanded proof of my charge, and I am prepared to produce
it," said Lanyere. "As to the vagueness of my accusations, your Highness
will judge of that when the full catalogue of the offences of these two
extortioners, with the damnatory proofs of them, shall be laid before
you. This memorial, signed by nearly the whole of the sufferers from
their exactions, perpetrated by means of the monopolies, will satisfy
your Highness of the truth of my statement--but I have also a witness to
call."

"A witness!--here!" muttered Sir Giles, uneasily. "This must be a
deeply-concerted scheme."

"Before you bring forward any one," said Charles, addressing Lanyere,
"Sir Giles must be set right on one point in which he is in error. Your
credibility is not to be disputed, and I accept your testimony against
him."

"Your Highness!" cried the extortioner.

"Peace, Sir! you shall be heard anon," said Charles. "Produce your
witness," he added to Lanyere.

At a sign from the promoter, Luke Hatton, who was standing near the
doorway, stepped behind the tapestry, and almost immediately reappearing
with Madame Bonaventure, led her towards the Prince, before whom she
prostrated herself.

"Arise, Madame," said Charles, graciously. "Your features are not
unfamiliar to me. Methinks you are the hostess of the French ordinary at
the tavern of the Three Cranes, in the Vintry."

"Tour Highness is in the right--I am Madame Bonaventure, at your
Highness's service," replied the hostess, enchanted at this recognition
on the part of the Prince. "My lord of Buckingham, I am well persuaded,
will condescend to speak to the merits and respectability of my
establishment."

"In sooth will I, good hostess," replied the Marquis. "I can give your
Bordeaux my heartiest commendation. 'Tis the best in London."

"Nay, I can speak to it myself--and to the good order of the house too;
having visited the tavern incognito," remarked the Prince, smiling.

"Is it possible!" exclaimed Madame Bonaventure, rapturously. "Have I
been so greatly honoured? Mon Dieu!--and not to be aware of it!"

"I must remind you of the cause of your appearance here, Madame
Bonaventure," said Lanyere.

"You are required to depose before his Highness as to the exactions you
suffered from Sir Giles and his partner."

"His Highness shall hear all from me," rejoined the hostess. "I should
have been reduced to beggary had I submitted to their extortionate
usage. I bore it as long as I could, but when absolute ruin stared me in
the face, I had recourse to a noble friend who helped me in my extremity
and delivered me by a, stratagem."

"It was a fraudulent scheme," cried Sir Giles;--"a fraud upon his
Majesty, as well as upon those who enjoyed the privileges conferred by
his letters patent."

"That I can contradict, Sir," said Buckingham, "since I myself was
present on the occasion, and stated in the hearing of the large company
then assembled,--several of whom are now before us,--that his Majesty
relinquished all share of the ruinous fine of three thousand marks
imposed by you and your co-patentee upon this good woman."

"And I trust you added, my Lord, that the King's Highness would never
knowingly consent to have his exchequer enriched by such shameful
means," said Charles, with a look of indignation. "These monopolies were
not granted by his Majesty for the wrongful profit of their holders;
and, since they have been turned to such iniquitous use, I will take
upon me to declare that they shall all be suppressed. Do you attempt to
deny," he continued to Sir Giles, "that this outrageous fine was
imposed?"

"It were useless to deny it," replied the extortioner, with a malicious
look at Buckingham; "but the noble Marquis has not always disapproved so
strongly of my proceedings. Nay, I can show that he himself has been
secretly a party to like transactions."

"Ah, villain!" exclaimed Buckingham,--"do you venture to calumniate your
protector? I shall leave you to the fate you so richly merit. Your foul
and false assertions cannot affect me; but they are not likely to
improve your case with his Highness, who, though aware of its impotency,
will perceive the extent of your malice. If you dared, I doubt not you
would likewise assert that his Majesty himself was cognisant of your
frauds and oppressions, and approved them."

"I do assert, and will maintain it--ay, and prove it, too--that the
King's Highness was aware how these monopolies were managed, and derived
a considerable revenue from them," said Sir Giles.

"You hear him, Prince," remarked Buckingham, with a disdainful smile.

"I would not have believed in such matchless effrontery had I not
witnessed it," replied Charles. "You may retire, Madame," he added to
the hostess, who, with a profound reverence, withdrew. "Have you aught
further to declare, or any other witnesses to produce?" he continued to
Lanyere.

"I have both, your Highness," replied the promoter.

"What more false accusations have you to bring against me?" demanded Sir
Giles, folding his arms upon his breast, and fixing his keen gaze upon
Lanyere.

"His Highness shall hear," replied the promoter. "I have a multitude of
cases which I could adduce in support of my charges--all of which will
be mentioned in due season--but I shall now content myself with one, and
from it the nature of the rest may be inferred. But let me premise that,
in the greater part of these cases, and in all the more important of
them, where grievous and irreparable wrong has been committed, the
engine employed by these crafty and dangerous men has been the
Star-Chamber."

"The Star-Chamber!" exclaimed Charles, bending his brows.

"Your Highness will now perceive the drift of this cunning knave's
argument," said Sir Giles. "Through me and my partner, all whose actions
will bear the strictest scrutiny, he would covertly attack that high and
honourable Court, whose dignity we have ever been most zealous to
maintain; and his motive for doing so is because he has incurred its
censure. When I have heard his precise charges, I will reply to
them--ay, one by one--if he will bring forward the multitude of cases he
affirms he can produce against me. But meanwhile I can fearlessly
declare my innocence of the wrong imputed to me. If I have been to blame
in those monopolies, I am not the only one in fault, as time will show.
Nay, there are greater culprits than I"--looking hard at Buckingham, who
regarded him disdainfully--"but I deny that I have done more than I can
fully justify. As regards other matters, and the way in which my wealth
has been acquired, I have acted only with caution, prudence, and
foresight. Is it my fault that there are so many persons who, from
various causes, will have money, no matter what they pay for it? If they
apply to me under such circumstances, and ruin ensues to them, am I to
blame? I lend monies as a usurer--all men know it. 'Tis my vocation, and
that of my partner; and my answer is his answer. We have done nothing
beyond the law; and the law, which has hitherto supported us, will
support us still. To affirm that we have employed the highest court of
the kingdom as an instrument of oppression and extortion is an assertion
too monstrous to obtain a moment's credit. The Star-Chamber is too
jealous of its honour not to resent the imputation; and such a charge
will not escape its censure."

"Nevertheless, at whatever risk, I repeat the accusation," rejoined
Lanyere; "and my words will not be forgotten by his Highness, and by all
others who hear them. I assert that Sir Giles Mompesson has subtly and
designedly perverted the practice of that high and honourable Court,
causing it to aid his schemes of rapacity and injustice, and using it as
a means of stifling the cries of his victims, and working out his
purposes of vengeance. Hitherto, he has succeeded in masking his designs
with so much skill that they have escaped detection; but when the
mischief he has done under the mask of justice, and the wrongs and
cruelties he has perpetrated in the name of the law shall be fully made
known, no punishment will be deemed commensurate to his crimes. It is
chiefly he and his partner who, by their evil doings, have brought the
Star-Chamber into disrepute, and made it a terror to all just men, who
have dreaded being caught within the toils woven around it by these
infamous wretches; and the Court will do well to purge itself of such
villanies, and make a terrible example of those who have so dishonoured
it."

"The Star-Chamber will never desert its faithful servants, and such we
have been," said Sir Giles.

"Say rather the serpents it has nourished in its bosom," rejoined
Lanyere. "But to my case. Years ago, a gentleman possessed of noble
estates in Norfolk, was unfortunate enough to have some dealings with
these two usurers, who thus becoming acquainted with his circumstances,
marked him for their prey. He borrowed a large sum of money from them.
The loan was not obtained for himself, but for a younger brother"--here
the voice of the promoter was choked with emotion, and a few moments
elapsed before he could proceed--"I have said that the money was
borrowed, not for himself, but for a younger brother, whose recklessness
and extravagance had plunged him deeply in debt. Would that his too
generous relative had left him to his fate, and allowed him to rot in a
dungeon! But he rescued him from it, only to take his place in the end.
From this sad epoch may all the unfortunate gentleman's calamities be
dated. Certain title-deeds and other instruments had to be deposited
with Sir Giles and his partner, as security for repayment of the sum
borrowed. They were never returned. On the contrary, under one plea or
another, all the deeds relating to the property were obtained from its
unsuspecting owner; and then a mortgage deed covering the whole estates
was forged by them."

"'Tis false!" exclaimed Sir Giles.

"Have I your Highness's gracious promise of pardon to all except the
principals in these great offences?" pursued Lanyere.

"As it may materially serve the ends of justice that such promise should
be given, I do not hesitate to comply with your request," replied
Charles.

"In that case I shall be able to confound the villains with a witness
whom they little expect to be produced against them," replied Lanyere.
"Let Lupo Vulp be called," he added.

The summons was responded to as before by Luke Hatton, and the next
moment the ill-favoured scrivener emerged from behind the tapestry, and
made his way through the assemblage, who recoiled with abhorrence from
him, towards the Prince.

"Who art thou?" demanded Charles.

"I am named Lupo Vulp, your Highness, and have for many years been a
money-scrivener in the employ of these two gentlemen," replied the
individual addressed.

"Thou knowest all their transactions?" said Charles.

"No man better," answered Lupo; "unless it be Clement Lanyere."

"You remember a certain deed of mortgage from Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey
to your two employers?" said Lanyere.

"I remember it perfectly," returned the scrivener, "as I should do,
seeing I prepared it myself."

During all this time Lupo Vulp had kept his eyes upon the ground, and
had never dared to raise them towards Sir Giles, though he felt that the
gaze of the latter was fixed upon him.

"Was Sir Ferdinando's signature attached to that deed?" demanded
Lanyere.

"Look at me, Lupo, ere thou answerest," cried Sir Giles. "Look at me
well--and take heed what thou say'st."

"Be not influenced by him," interposed Charles. "Look only at me, and
speak truly, as thou valuest thy safety. If thou hidest aught, or
falsifiest aught, the heaviest punishment awaits thee!"

"Hark ye, Lupo," said Sir Giles, in a low tone. "Be warned by me. Utter
a word to my detriment, and as surely as thou art suborned to injure me,
I will hang thee. I _can_ do so, as thou knowest!"

"Fear him not, Lupo," said Lanyere. "Thou hast his Highness's gracious
promise of pardon."

"If my life be but spared, most gracious Prince," said the scrivener,
falling on his knees, and clasping his hands together in supplication,
"I will reveal all I know touching the malpractices of these two
persons."

"Speak, then, without fear," said Charles.

"I repeat my question," said Lanyere, "and demand an explicit answer to
it. What was the nature of that deed?"

"It was a forgery," replied the scrivener. "Sir Ferdinando Mounchensey
had nothing whatever to do with it. His signature was imitated from
other deeds in the possession of my employers, and his seal was likewise
fabricated."

"What say you to this, Sir?" said Charles, to Sir Giles.

"I deny it, as I do all the rest," he replied. "'Tis a foul conspiracy
against me, as will appear in the end."

"This is only one amongst many such frauds committed by them, your
Highness," said the scrivener. "Since I have your gracious promise of
pardon, I will make a clean breast of it, and reveal all I know. Many
and many a fair estate has been wrongfully wrested from its owner in
this way--by forged deed or will. I will name all the parties to your
Highness."

"Hereafter, I will listen to thee," rejoined Charles, motioning him to
rise; "but I shall now confine myself to the case immediately before me.
Proceed, Sir," he added, to Lanyere.

"I have come to the saddest and darkest part of all," said the promoter.
"Your Highness has seen that a deed was forged to obtain possession of
the Mounchensey estates--and the fraudulent design was only too
successful. It was in vain Sir Ferdinando denied all knowledge of the
instrument--in vain he refused payment of the large sum demanded--his
estates were seized by the extortioners--and he was deprived of the
power of redemption. He commenced a suit against them in the
Star-Chamber, but here again he was baffled by the cunning and knavery
of Sir Giles, and having unwittingly incurred the censure of the Court,
he was cast into the Fleet Prison, where he perished miserably."

"A lamentable history," exclaimed Charles. "It is grievous to think
that justice cannot be done him."

"Justice may he done his son," said Buckingham, "who has been oppressed
in like manner with his father. Restitution may be made him of the
estates of which he has been plundered."

"It is well," said Sir Giles, glancing at Lanyere. "You will not enjoy
them."

"What means he?" inquired Charles.

"The estates were assigned to this treacherous knave, your Highness,"
said Sir Giles, pointing to Lanyere, "for a certain consideration, which
was never performed. But, while denying, as I do most energetically,
that any underhand means whatever were used by us to obtain possession
of those estates, and repeating my declaration that a most artful
conspiracy has been formed against us, I assert, as will appear on
investigation, that if I fail in sustaining my claim to the Mounchensey
estates, they cannot go to Sir Jocelyn."

"Wherefore not?" inquired Charles.

"Because Sir Ferdinando left them to his brother Osmond. I have
possession of his will."

"It may be a forgery," said Charles.

"Not so, your Highness," observed Lupo Vulp. "This statement is
correct."

"I have it with me now," cried Sir Giles, producing a document. "Will it
please your Highness to look at it?" he added, handing it to the
Prince. "You will see that the estates are wholly left to Osmond
Mounchensey. If, therefore, your Highness should seek to deprive me of
them, you must bestow them as they are herein bequeathed."

"Undoubtedly, if this instrument be valid," said Charles, looking at
Lanyere.

"I do not dispute it, your Highness," said the promoter.

"But there is no proof that Osmond Mounchensey is living, your
Highness," observed Lupo Vulp. "He has not been heard of for many
years--not, indeed, since the time when his debts were paid by Sir
Ferdinando. Though Sir Giles has used every exertion for the purpose, he
has never been able to discover any traces of him--and it is reasonable,
therefore, to suppose that he is no more."

"That is false," cried Sir Giles. "It is true I have long sought for him
in vain--but within these few days I have obtained some tidings of him,
which, if followed up, will assuredly lead to his detection. Nay more,
Lanyere himself must know that he is alive, since, from the intelligence
I have received, he must have been recently in company with him."

"Is this assertion correct?" said Charles, to the promoter.

"It is, your Highness," replied Lanyere; "but I had good reasons for
concealing the circumstances."

"Undoubtedly," cried Sir Giles; "because you had ascertained from the
traitor Lupo that this will existed, and feared a claim might be
advanced to the estates--but they will never be yours, or Sir Jocelyn's.
If not mine, they are Osmond Mounchensey's."

"He says right," remarked Charles.

"Then learn to your confusion, villain, that Osmond Mounchensey stands
before you!" cried the promoter, addressing Sir Giles. "Behold him in
me!"

"You Osmond Mounchensey!" exclaimed Sir Giles; eyeing him with an
astonishment which was shared by Sir Francis and by the greater part of
the spectators. To judge from their manner, however, Prince Charles,
together with Buckingham and De Gondomar, did not seem unprepared for
the announcement.

"Ay," rejoined Osmond to Sir Giles. "Look on me if you can. Never should
my name have been revealed to you, except at a moment when there should
have been no chance of its repetition, on your part, but for my
brother's will, of the existence of which I have only been lately aware,
and which has obliged me to avow myself. But for this, I would have
remained for ever in obscurity, and have perished as I have lived--the
despised Clement Lanyere. The name of Mounchensey should not have been
shamed in me. But if I am the reproach of that ancient and honourable
house--untarnished by any other member of it--I am also its avenger, and
will wipe out effectually the stains you have cast upon it. By your
machinations, villain, was my brother destroyed--by your machinations
has his son been imprisoned, and his life endangered--by your
machinations I myself was censured by the terrible Star-Chamber, and its
severest punishments inflicted upon me. You knew not whom you tortured;
and had you been aware of my real name, even this wrong might not have
contented you. But no matter. From the hour when the tormentor, by your
order, did his work upon me, I devoted myself to vengeance--slow, sure
vengeance. I resolved not to interfere with your career of villany till
you were full-blown in crime; and though I have had some difficulty in
holding back my hand, I have been patient. The hour at length has
arrived, and I hold you firmly in my grasp. I have crushed in pieces the
whole of the fabric you have been at such pains to rear. Your estates
and all your possessions will be forfeited to the Crown; and, if you
escape with life, you will bear the indelible marks of disgrace which
you have inflicted upon me!"

Overpowered by what he heard, Sir Giles threw himself at the feet of
Charles.

"Do not sue to me, Sir," replied the Prince, regarding him with stern
displeasure. "Enough for you to know that I have been in this
much-injured gentleman's secret. Let your nephew now be introduced,
Sir," he added, to Osmond Mounchensey.

"His nephew!" muttered Sir Giles, as he arose. "Nay, then, all is
indeed lost!"

"I have felt that for a long time," groaned Sir Francis.




CHAPTER XXXII.

Judgment.


On the intimation of the Prince's wishes, the tapestry was again raised
to admit Sir Jocelyn Mounchensey, who, stepping forward, made a profound
reverence to the Prince.

"I greet you well, Sir Jocelyn," said Charles, in the kindest and most
gracious tone, as the young knight advanced towards him. "As your
disgrace was public, so shall your restoration to the King's favour be
likewise public. Your return to Court will be a satisfaction to his
Majesty. Any imprudence of which you have been guilty will be entirely
overlooked. All graver faults imputed to you have been explained--so
that no unfavourable impressions against you remain upon my royal
father's mind--or on mine. Let me assure you that you have now no more
zealous friends than the Conde de Gondomar and the Marquis of
Buckingham."

"For any wrong I may have done Sir Jocelyn I am heartily sorry," said
Buckingham, frankly. "And he may rely on my present oiler of
friendship."

"And on mine, too," subjoined De Gondomar. "The services I have
rendered him must be set against any mischief I have subsequently done."

"You make me more than amends," said Sir Jocelyn, bowing to them, "and I
at once accept your proffered friendship."

"You are in the midst of friends and foes, Sir Jocelyn," said Prince
Charles, "and have before you a new-found relative; and not far distant
from you one, whom--unless I am greatly mistaken--has the strongest hold
upon your affections; but before you turn to her, or to any one, listen
to the sentence, which in the King's name I shall pronounce upon those
two offenders--a sentence which most assuredly will be ratified by his
Majesty in person, and by the Lords of the Council of the Star-Chamber,
before whom they will be brought. Hear me, then, ye wrong-doers. Ye
shall be despoiled of your unjustly-acquired possessions, which will be
escheated to the Crown. Where restitution is possible, it shall be
made."

"Restitution by the Crown!--a likely thing!" muttered Sir Giles.

"Moreover, ye shall pay for your misdeeds in person," pursued Charles.
"Degraded from the knighthood ye have dishonoured, and with all the
ceremonies of debasement, when ye have become Giles Mompesson and
Francis Mitchell, knaves, ye shall undergo precisely the same
ignominious punishment, with all its dreadful details, which ye caused
to be inflicted upon him you supposed to be Clement Lanyere. This being
done to you, and no part of the torture being on any plea omitted, ye
shall be brought back to the Fleet Prison, and be there incarcerated for
the residue of your lives."

Mompesson heard this sentence apparently unmoved, though his flashing
eye betrayed, in some degree, his secret emotion. Not so his partner.
Flinging himself on his knees before the Prince, he cried in piteous
tones--"I confess my manifold offences, and own that my sentence is
lenient in comparison with them. But I beseech your Highness to spare me
the mutilation and branding. All else I will patiently endure."

"He merits no compassion," said Buckingham, "and yet I would intercede
for him."

"And your intercession shall avail to the extent which he himself hath
mentioned--but no further," rejoined Charles.

"I solicit nothing--and I confess nothing," said Mompesson, in a tone of
defiance. "If I am ever brought to trial I shall know how to defend
myself. But I well know that will never be. I can make such revelations
concerning those in high places--ay, in the highest places," he added,
with a vindictive look at Buckingham, "that they will not dare to molest
me."

"The hound must be muzzled," said Buckingham, in a low tone, to the
Prince.

"He must," replied Charles. "Let the prisoners be removed. They are
committed to the Fleet Prison."

"Prisoners!" exclaimed Mompesson.

"Ay, prisoners," repeated Osmond Mounchensey, "_my_ prisoners. I have a
Star-Chamber warrant for your arrest. Behold it. Under this warrant his
Highness has committed you, and you will be taken hence to the Fleet,
where you, Giles Mompesson, shall occupy the cell you destined for my
nephew! Now, your sword."

"Take it," rejoined Mompesson, plucking the rapier from its sheath,
"take it in your heart. You, at least, shall not live to enjoy your
triumph."

But Osmond was too quick for him, and seizing his arm, ere he could deal
the meditated blow, with almost superhuman force, he wrested the sword
from him, and broke it beneath his feet.

At the same time, other personages appeared on the scene. These were the
Serjeant-at-arms and a party of halberdiers. Advancing slowly towards
the prisoners, the officer received the warrant from Osmond Mounchensey,
while the halberdiers closed round the two extortioners.

"Before the prisoner, Mompesson, is removed," said Charles, "see that he
delivers up to you his keys. Let an inventory be taken of all monies
within the house, and let the royal seal be placed upon all boxes and
caskets. All deeds and other documents must be carefully preserved to be
examined hereafter. And let strict search be made--for I have heard
there are many hidden depositories of treasure--especially within the
prisoner's secret cabinet."

"Take heed that the strictest examination be made," subjoined
Buckingham, "in accordance with his Highness's behests--for the knave
smiles, as if he thought his precautions were so well taken that the
searchers would be baffled."

"Fear nothing, my Lord Marquis," replied the Serjant-at-arms. "Now,
prisoner," he added, to Mompesson--"your keys!"

While the officer was thus employed, Luke Hatton stepped forward.

"Those keys will be of little use," he said, to the Prince. "Others have
been beforehand with your Highness."

"How, Sir--what others?" demanded Charles, bending his brows.

"The extortioner's lawless band of attendants--generally known as his
myrmidons, your Highness," replied Hatton. "Instinctively discerning, as
it would seem, that all was over with their master, they had determined
to quit his service, and without giving him any notice of their
intention. Not content with deserting him in the hour of danger, they
have robbed him as well--robbed him of the bulk of his treasure. They
have broken into his secret cabinet--and stripped it of all its
valuables that could be of use to them, and have not left one of his
hidden hoards unvisited."

"Hell's curses upon them!" exclaimed Mompesson, with irrepressible rage.
"May they all swing upon the gibbet!"

"The chief among them--a rascally Alsatian, known as Captain
Bludder--has been captured," pursued Luke Hatton. "And a large sum,
together with a rich casket of jewels, has been found upon him; and it
is to be hoped that the officers will succeed in finding the others.
Will your Highness interrogate Bludder?"

"Not now," replied Charles. "Let him be taken to the Fleet. But there
were other matters of more importance than the treasures--the deeds and
legal instruments. These, as being useless to the robbers, were probably
left untouched."

"They were so, your Highness," replied Luke Hatton.

"Would they had burned them!" ejaculated Mompesson. "Would all had been
destroyed!"

And he gave utterance to such wild exclamations of rage, accompanied by
such frenzied gestures, that the halberdiers seized him, and dragged him
out of the room. The old usurer was removed at the same time.

"And now," said Charles, rising from his chair, "one thing only remains
to be done ere I depart, and it will he pleasanter to me than aught that
has preceded it. I must again address myself to you, Sir Jocelyn
Mounchensey, ay, and to you, also, fair Mistress Aveline. I pray you to
come near me," he continued, with a gracious smile, to the damsel.

And, as she blushingly complied,--for she half divined his purpose,--he
said--"As I have already told you, Sir Jocelyn, your restoration to the
King's favour is complete, and your re-appearance at Court would be a
gratification to his Majesty, but, after the events which have occurred,
a brief retirement will, I conceive, be most agreeable to you, and I
would counsel a visit to the hall of your ancestors."

"Nothing could be more in accordance with my own wishes, most gracious
Prince, if my newly-found relative will accept me as his guest."

"Not as his guest, my good nephew" said Osmond. "You are sole lord of
Mounchensey. I have made over the mansion and all the estates to you.
They are yours, as by right they should be."

Sir Jocelyn's emotion was too great to allow him to express his
gratitude in words.

"A noble gift!" exclaimed Charles. "But you must not go there alone, Sir
Jocelyn. You must take a bride with you. This fair lady has well
approved her love for you--as you have the depth of your devotion to
her. Take her from my hands. Take her to jour heart; and may years of
fondest wedded happiness attend you both! When you re-appear at Court,
you will be all the more welcome if Lady Mounchensey be with you."

So saying, he placed Aveline's hand in that of her lover; and, with a
look of ineffable delight, they knelt to express their gratitude.

The Prince and the courtly train passed out--and, lastly, Sir Jocelyn
and the object of his affections. Vainly did he seek for his relative
and benefactor. Osmond Mounchensey had disappeared. But, just as the
young Knight and his fair companion were quitting the house, Luke
Hatton, followed by two porters, bearing a stout chest, approached them,
and said--

"Sir Jocelyn, you have seen the last of your uncle. He has charged me to
bid you an eternal adieu. You will never hear of him again, unless you
hear of his death. May no thoughts of him mar your happiness--or that of
her you love. This is what he bade me say to you. This chest contains
the title-deeds of your estates--and amongst them is a deed of gift from
him to you. They will be conveyed by these porters whithersoever you may
direct them. And now, having discharged mine office, I must take my
leave."

"Stay, Sir," cried Sir Jocelyn; "I would fain send a message to my
uncle."

"I cannot convey it," replied Luke Hatton. "You must rest content with
what I have told you. To you, and to all others, Osmond Mounchensey is
as the dead."

With this, he hastily retreated.

Three days after this, the loving pair were wedded; and the
ceremony--which was performed with strict privacy, in accordance with
the wishes of the bride--being concluded, they set out upon their
journey into Norfolk. Sir Jocelyn had noticed among the spectators of
the marriage rites, a tall personage wrapped in a sable cloak, whom he
suspected to be his uncle; but, as the individual was half hidden by a
pillar of the ancient fabric, and as he lost sight of him before he
could seek him out, he never could be quite sure of the fact.

Sir Jocelyn's arrival at the hall of his ancestors was the occasion of
great rejoicings; and, in spite of the temptations held out to him, many
years elapsed ere he and Lady Mounchensey revisited the scene of their
troubles in London.




CONCLUDING CHAPTER.

Retribution.


As will have been foreseen, the judgment pronounced by Prince Charles
upon Mompesson and his partner, was confirmed by the King and the Lords
of the Council, when the two offenders were brought be them in the
Star-Chamber. They were both degraded from the honour of knighthood; and
Mitchell, besides being so heavily fined that all his ill-gotten wealth
was wrested from him, had to endure the in of riding through the
streets--in a posture the reverse of the ordinary mode of
equitation--name with his face towards the horse's tail, two quart pots
tied round his neck, to show that he was punished I for his exactions
upon ale-house keepers and hostel-keepers, and a placard upon his
breast, detailing the nature of his offences. In this way,--hooted and
pelted by the rabble, who pursued him as he was led along, and who would
have inflicted serious injuries upon him, and perhaps despatched him
outright, had it not been for the escort by whom he was protected,--he
was taken in turn to all such taverns and houses of entertainment as
had suffered most from his scandalous system of oppression.

In the course of his progress, he was brought to the Three Cranes in the
Vintry, before which an immense concourse was assembled to witness the
spectacle. Though the exhibition made by the culprit, seated as he was
on a great ragged beast purposely selected for the occasion, was
sufficiently ludicrous and grotesque to excite the merriment of most of
the beholders, who greeted his arrival with shouts of derisive laughter;
still his woe-begone countenance, and miserable plight--for he was
covered with mud from head to foot--moved the compassion of the
good-natured Madame Bonaventure, as she gazed at him from one of the
upper windows of her hostel, and the feeling was increased as the
wretched old man threw a beseeching glance at her. She could stand the
sight no longer, and rushed from the window.

In the same room with her there were four persons, who had been
partaking of a plentiful repast, as was proved by the numerous dishes
and flasks of wine garnishing the table at which they had been seated,
and they, too, as well as the hostess, on hearing the noise outside the
tavern, had rushed to the windows to see what could cause so much
disturbance. As they were all well acquainted with the old usurer and
his mal-practices, the spectacle had a special interest to them as well
as to the hostess, and they were variously affected by it.

The party, we must state, consisted of Master Richard Taverner, as the
quondam apprentice was now styled, and his pretty wife, Gillian, who now
looked prettier than usual in her wedding attire--for the ceremony
uniting them in indissoluble bonds had only just been performed; old
Greenford, the grandsire of the bride; and Master John Wolfe, of the
Bible and Crown in Paul's Churchyard, bookseller, erstwhile Dick's
indulgent master, and now his partner, Master Taverner having very
prudently invested the contents of the silver coffer in the purchase of
a share in his employers business, with the laudable determination of
bestirring himself zealously in it ever after; and, as another
opportunity may not occur for mentioning the circumstance, we will add
that he kept to his resolution, and ultimately rose to high offices in
the city. Dick's appearance had already considerably improved. His
apparel was spruce and neat, but not showy, and well became him; while
his deportment, even under the blissful circumstances in which he was
placed, had a sobriety and decorum about it really surprising, and which
argued well for his future good conduct. He began as he meant to go on;
and it was plain that John Wolfe's advice had produced a salutary effect
upon him. Old Greenford looked the picture of happiness.

With Master Richard's predilections for the Three Cranes we are well
acquainted, and it will not, therefore, appear unnatural that he should
choose this, his favourite tavern, for his wedding-dinner. Madame
Bonaventure was delighted with the bride, and brought the blushes to her
fair cheeks by the warmth of her praises of her beauty; while she could
not sufficiently congratulate the bridegroom on his good luck in
obtaining such a treasure. The best in the house was set before
them--both viands and wine--and ample justice was done by all to the
good cheer. Cyprien, as usual, brought in the dishes, and filled the
flagons with the rare Bordeaux he had been directed by his mistress to
introduce; but Madame Bonaventure personally superintended the repast,
carving the meats, selecting the most delicate bits for Gillian's
especial consumption, and seasoning them yet more agreeably with her
lively sallies.

The dinner had come to a close, and they were just drinking the health
of the bonny and blushing bride, when the clamour on the quay proclaimed
the old usurer's arrival. As he was the furthest person from her
thoughts, and as she had not heard of the day appointed for his
punishment, Madame Bonaventure was totally unprepared for the spectacle
offered to her when she reached the window; and her retreat from it, as
we have related, was almost immediate.

To his shame be it spoken, Master Richard Taverner was greatly
entertained by the doleful appear of his old enemy, and could not help
exulting over his downfall and distress; but he was quickly checked by
his bride, who shared in the hostess's gentler and more compassionate
feelings. So much, indeed, was the gentle Gillian touched by the
delinquent's supplicating looks, that she yielded to the impulse that
prompted her to afford him some solace, and snatching up a flask of wine
and a flagon from the table, she rushed out of the room, followed by her
husband, who vainly endeavoured to stay her.

In a moment Gillian was out upon the quay; and the mounted guard
stationed round the prisoner, divining her purpose, kindly drew aside to
let her pass. Filling the goblet, she handed it to the old man, who
eagerly drained it, and breathed a blessing on her as he returned it.
Some of the bystanders said the blessing would turn to a curse--but it
was not so; and so well pleased was Dick with what his good wife had
done, that he clasped her to his heart before all the crowd.

This incident was so far of service to the prisoner, that it saved him
from further indignity at the moment. The mob ceased to jeer him, or to
hurl mud and missiles at him, and listened in silence to the public
crier as he read aloud his sentence. This done, the poor wretch and his
escort moved away to the Catherine Wheel, in the Steelyard, where a
less kindly reception awaited him.

In taking leave, as we must now do, of Master Richard Taverner and his
pretty wife, it gives us pleasure to say that they were as happy in
their wedded state as loving couples necessarily must be. We may add
that they lived long, and were blessed with numerous issue--so noumerous
indeed, that, as we have before intimated, Dick had to work hard all the
rest of his days.

In bidding adieu, also, to Madame Bonaventure, which we do with regret,
we have merely to state that she did not reign much longer over the
destinies of the Three Cranes, but resigned in favour of Cyprien, who,
as Monsieur Latour, was long and favourably known as the jovial and
liberal host of that renowned tavern. Various reasons were assigned for
Madame Bonaventure's retirement; but the truth was, that having made
money enough, she began to find the banks of the Thames too damp and
foggy for her, especially during the winter months; so the next time the
skipper entered the river, having previously made her arrangements, she
embarked on board his vessel, and returned to the sunny shores of the
Garonne.

Mompesson's sentence, though far more severe and opprobrious than that
of the elder extortioner, was thought too lenient, and most persons were
of opinion that, considering the enormity of his offences, his life
ought not to be spared. But they judged unadvisedly. Death by the axe,
or even by the rope, would have been infinitely preferred by the
criminal himself, to the lingering agonies he was destined to endure.
Moreover, there was retributive justice in the sentence, that doomed him
to undergo tortures similar to those he had so often inflicted on
others.

The pillory was erected at Charing Cross. A numerous escort was required
to protect him from the fury of the mob, who would otherwise have torn
him in pieces; but, though shielded in some degree from their active
vengeance, he could not shut his ears to their yells and execrations.
Infuriated thousands were collected in the open space around the
pillory, eager to glut their eyes upon the savage spectacle; and the
shout they set up on his appearance was so terrific, that even the
prisoner, undaunted as he had hitherto shown himself, was shaken by it,
and lost his firmness, though he recovered it in some degree as he
mounted the huge wooden machine, conspicuous at a distance above the
heads of the raging multitude. On the boards on which he had to stand,
there was another person besides the tormentor,--and the sight of him
evidently occasioned the criminal great disquietude. This person was
attired in black, with a broad-leaved hat pulled down over his brows.

"What doth this fellow here?" demanded Mompesson. "You do not need an
assistant."

"I know not that," replied the tormentor,--a big, brawny fellow,
habited in a leathern jerkin, with his arms bared to the
shoulder,--taking up his hammer and selecting a couple of sharp-pointed
nails; "but in any case he has an order from the Council of the
Star-Chamber to stand here. And now, prisoner," he continued roughly and
authoritatively,--"place your head in this hole, and your hands here."

Since resistance would have been vain, Mompesson did as he was bidden. A
heavy beam descended over his neck and wrists, and fastened him down
immovably; while, amid the exulting shouts of the spectators, his ears
were nailed to the wood. During one entire hour the ponderous machine
slowly revolved, so as to exhibit him to all the assemblage; and at the
end of that time the yet more barbarous part of the sentence, for which
the ferocious mob had been impatiently waiting, was carried out. The
keen knife and the branding-iron were called into play, and in the
bleeding and mutilated object before them, now stamped with indelible
infamy, none could have recognised the once haughty and handsome Sir
Giles Mompesson.

A third person, we have said, stood upon the pillory. He took no part in
aiding the tormentor in his task; but he watched all that was done with
atrocious satisfaction. Not a groan--not the quivering of a muscle
escaped him. He felt the edge of the knife to make sure it was sharp
enough for the purpose, and saw that the iron was sufficiently heated to
burn the characters of shame deeply in. When all was accomplished, he
seized Mompesson's arm, and, in a voice that seemed scarcely human,
cried,--"Now, I have paid thee back in part for the injuries thou hast
done me. Thou wilt never mock me more!"

"In part!" groaned Mompesson. "Is not thy vengeance fully satiated? What
more wouldst thou have?"

"What more?" echoed the other, with the laugh of a demon,--"for every
day of anguish thou gavest my brother in his dungeon in the Fleet I
would have a month--a year, I would not have thee perish too soon, and
therefore thou shalt be better cared for than he was. But thou shalt
never escape--never! and at the last I will be by thy side."

It would almost seem as if that moment were come, for, as the words were
uttered, Mompesson fainted from loss of blood and intensity of pain, and
in this state he was placed upon a hurdle tied to a horse's heels, and
conveyed back to the Fleet.

As threatened, he was doomed to long and solitary imprisonment, and the
only person, beside the jailer, admitted to his cell, was his
unrelenting foe. A steel mirror was hung up in his dungeon, so that he
might see to what extent his features had been disfigured.

In this way three years rolled by--years of uninterrupted happiness to
Sir Jocelyn and Lady Mounchensey, as well as to Master Richard Taverner
and his dame; but of increasing gloom to the captive in his solitary
cell in the Fleet. Of late, he had become so fierce and unmanageable
that he had to be chained to the wall. He sprang at his jailer and tried
to strangle him, and gnashed his teeth, and shook his fists in impotent
rage at Osmond Mounchensey. But again his mood changed, and he would
supplicate for mercy, crawling on the floor, and trying to kiss the feet
of his enemy, who spurned him from him. Then he fell sick, and refused
his food; and, as the sole means of preserving his life, he was removed
to an airier chamber. But as it speedily appeared, this was only a
device to enable him to escape from prison,--and it proved successful.
He was thought to be so ill that the jailer, fancying him incapable of
moving, became negligent, and when Osmond Mounchensey next appeared, the
prisoner had flown. How he had effected his escape no one could at first
explain; but it appeared, on inquiry, that he had been assisted by two
of his old myrmidons, Captain Bludder and Staring Hugh, both of whom
were prisoners at the time in the Fleet.

Osmond's rage knew no bounds. He vowed never to rest till he had traced
out the fugitive, and brought him back.

But he experienced more difficulty in the quest than he anticipated. No
one was better acquainted with the obscure quarters and hiding-places of
London than he; but in none of these retreats could he discover the
object of his search. The potentates of Whitefriars and the Mint would
not have dared to harbour such an offender as Mompesson, and would have
given him up at once if he had sought refuge in their territories. But
Osmond satisfied himself, by a perquisition of every house in those
sanctuaries, that he was not there. Nor had any one been seen like him.
The asylum for "masterless men," near Smart's Quay, and all the other
dens for thieves and criminals hiding from justice, in and about the
metropolis, were searched, but with the like ill result. Hitherto,
Mompesson had contrived entirely to baffle the vigilance of his foe.

At last, Osmond applied to Luke Hatton, thinking it possible his cunning
might suggest some plan for the capture of the fugitive. After listening
with the greatest attention to all related to him, the apothecary
pondered for awhile, and then said--"It is plain he has trusted no one
with his retreat, but I think I can find him. Come to me on the third
night from this, and you shall hear further. Meantime, you need not
relax your own search, though, if it be as I suspect, failure is sure to
attend you."

Obliged to be satisfied with this promise, Osmond departed. On the
third night, at a late hour, he returned. He did not, however, find Luke
Hatton. The apothecary, it appeared, had been absent from home during
the last three days, and the old woman who attended upon him was full of
uneasiness on his account. Her master, she said, had left a letter on
his table, and on investigation it proved to be for Osmond. In it the
writer directed him, in the event of his non-return before the time
appointed, to repair without delay, well armed, to the vaults beneath
Mompesson's old habitation near the Fleet, and to make strict search for
him throughout them. He also acquainted him with a secret entrance into
the house, contrived in the walls beneath the lofty north-eastern
turret. On reading this letter, Osmond at once understood his ally's
plan, together with its danger, and felt that, as he had not returned,
he had, in all probability, fallen a victim to his rashness. Telling the
old woman whither he was going, and that inquiries might be made there
for him on the morrow, if he did not re-appear with her master, he set
out at once for the place indicated.

We shall, however, precede him.

Ever since Mompesson had been taken to the Fleet, his habitation had
been deserted. The place was cursed. So much odium attached to it,--so
many fearful tales were told of it,--that no one would dwell there. At
the time of its owner's committal, it was stripped of all its contents,
and nothing was left but bare walls and uncovered floors. Even these,
from neglect and desertion, had become dilapidated, and a drearier and
more desolate place could not be imagined. Strict search had been made
by the officers of the Star-Chamber for concealed treasure, but little
was found, the bulk having been carried off, as before related, by the
myrmidons. Nevertheless, it was supposed there were other secret hoards,
if a clue to them could only be found. Mompesson had been interrogated
on the subject; but he only made answers calculated to excite the
cupidity of his hearers without satisfying them, and they fancied he was
deceiving them.

On the night in question, to all outward appearance, the house was
sombre and deserted as usual, and the city watch who passed it at
midnight, and paused before its rusty gates and its nailed-up door,
fancied all was secure. The moon was at the full, shining brightly on
the sombre stone walls of the mansion,--on its windows, and on the lofty
corner turret, whence Mompesson used so often to reconnoitre the
captives in the opposite prison; and, as certain of the guard looked up
at the turret, they laughed at its present emptiness. Yet they little
dreamed who was there at the time, regarding them from the narrow
loop-hole. After the pause of a few minutes they moved on, and the gleam
of their halberts was presently seen, as they crossed Fleet Bridge, and
marched towards Ludgate.

About two hours afterwards the watch re-appeared, and, while again
passing the house, the attention of their leader was attracted by an
unusual appearance in the masonry near the north-east angle, above which
the tall turret was situated. On closer examination, the irregularity in
the walls was found to be produced by a small secret door, which was
left partially open, as if it had been recently used. The suspicions of
the party being aroused by this singular circumstance (none of them
having been aware of the existence of such a door), they at once entered
the house, resolved to make strict search throughout it. In the first
instance, they scaled the turret, with which the secret outlet
communicated by a narrow winding staircase; and then, proceeding to the
interior of the habitation, pursued their investigations for some time
without success. Indeed, they were just about to depart, when a sound
resembling a deep groan seemed to arise from the cellars which they had
not visited. Hearing this, they immediately rushed down, and made an
extraordinary discovery.

To explain this, however, we must go back to the time when they first
passed the house. We then mentioned that there was a person in the
turret watching their movements. As they disappeared in the direction of
Ludgate, this individual quitted his post of observation, and,
descending the spiral staircase, threaded a long passage in the
darkness, like one familiar with the place, until he arrived at a
particular chamber, which he entered; and, without pausing, proceeded to
a little cabinet beyond it. The moonlight streaming through a grated
window, showed that this cabinet had been completely dismantled; stones
had been removed from the walls; and several of the boards composing the
floor, had been torn up and never replaced. The intruder did not pass
beyond the door, but, after gazing for a few minutes at the scene of
ruin, uttered an ejaculation of rage, and retired.

His steps might have been next heard descending the great stone
staircase. He paused not a moment within the entrance-hall, but made his
way along a side passage on the left, and down another flight of steps,
till he reached a subterranean chamber. Here all would have been
profound obscurity, had it not been for a lamp set on the ground, which
imperfectly illumined the place.

As the man took up the lamp and trimmed it, the light fell strongly upon
his features, and revealed all their hideousness. No visage, except that
of Osmond Mounchensey, could be more appalling than this person's, and
the mutilation was in both cases the same. It is needless to say it was
Mompesson. His habiliments were sordid; and his beard and hair, grizzled
by suffering rather than age, were wild and disordered. But he was armed
both with sword and dagger; and his limbs looked muscular and active as
ever.

Casting a glance towards the entrance of the vault as if to make quite
sure he was not observed--though he entertained little anxiety on that
score--Mompesson stepped towards a particular part of the wall, and
touching a spring, a secret door (not to be detected within the masonry
except on minute examination) flew open, and disclosed another and
smaller vault.

Here, it was at once evident, was concealed the treasure that had
escaped the clutches of the myrmidons and the officers of the
Star-Chamber. There was a large open chest at the further end, full of
corpulent money-bags, any one of which would have gladdened the heart of
a miser. On this chest Mompesson's gaze was so greedily fixed that he
did not notice the body of a man lying directly in his path, and
well-nigh stumbled over it. Uttering a bitter imprecation, he held down
the lamp, and beheld the countenance of Luke Hatton, now rigid in death,
but with the sardonic grin it had worn throughout life still impressed
upon it. There was a deep gash in the breast of the dead man, and blood
upon the floor.

"Accursed spy and traitor," cried Mompesson, as he took hold of the body
by the heels and dragged it to one corner--"thou wilt never betray me
more. What brought thee here I know not, unless it were to meet the
death thou hast merited at my hands. Would a like chance might bring
Osmond Mounchensey here--and alone--I would desire nothing more."

"Be thy wish gratified then!" cried a voice, which Mompesson could not
mistake.

Looking up, he beheld his enemy.

In an instant his hand was upon his sword, and the blade gleamed in the
lamp-light. Osmond had likewise plucked forth his rapier, and held a
poignard in his left hand. For a few moments they gazed at each other
with terrible looks, their breasts animated with an intensity of hatred
which only mortal foes, met under such circumstances, can feel. So
fiercely bloodthirsty were their looks that their disfigured features
seemed to have lost all traces of humanity.

"Yield thee, murtherous villain," cried Osmond at length. "I will drag
thee to the hangman."

"Call in thy fellows, and thou shalt see whether I will yield," rejoined
Mompesson, with a laugh of defiance.

"I have none at my back," rejoined Osmond; "I will force thee to follow
me alone!"

"Thou _art_ alone then!" roared Mompesson; "that is all I desired!"

And, without a word more, he commenced the attack. During the brief
colloquy just detailed, he had noticed that his enemy was doubly armed,
and before beginning the conflict he drew his own dagger, so that there
was no greater advantage on one side than the other.

Both were admirable swordsmen, and in strength they were nearly
matched; but the combat was conducted with a ferocity that almost set
skill at defiance.

After the exchange of a few desperate passes, they closed; and in the
terrific struggle that ensued the lamp was extinguished.

The profound darkness prevented them from seeing the frightful wounds
they inflicted on each other; but both knew they were severely hurt,
though each hoped he was not so much injured as his adversary.

Exhausted, at length, by loss of blood, and ready to drop, they released
each other by mutual consent; and, after making a few more feeble and
ineffectual thrusts, leaned upon their swords for support.

"Wilt thou yield now, villain?" demanded Osmond, in a hoarse voice. "Or
must I finish thee outright?"

"Finish me!" echoed Mompesson, in tones equally hoarse. "Strike another
blow against me if thou canst. But I well know thou art sped. When I
have recovered breath, I will make short work with thee."

"About it quickly, then," rejoined Osmond: "I am ready for thee. But thy
boast was idle. Thou art bleeding to death. Twice has my poignard
pierced thy breast."

"Thou wilt never use thy poignard again. Thy left arm is disabled,"
rejoined Mompesson--"besides, my sword passed through thee almost to the
hilt."

"It glanced from my doublet: I scarcely felt the scratch."

"'Twas a scratch deep enough to let thy life-blood out. But since thou
hast more to be spilt, have at thee again!"

"Where art thou?" cried Osmond, staggering towards him.

"Here!" rejoined Mompesson, avoiding the thrust made at him, and dealing
one in return that stretched his adversary lifeless at his feet.

In the exultation of the moment, he forgot his own desperate condition,
and, with a fierce, triumphant laugh, set his foot upon the body of his
prostrate foe.

But a mortal faintness seized him. He essayed to quit the vault--but it
was too late. His strength was utterly gone. With an irrepressible
groan, he fell to the ground, close beside his enemy.

There they lay, the dying and the dead, for more than an hour. At the
end of that time, they were discovered by the watch.

Mompesson yet breathed; and as the torch-light fell upon the scene of
horror, he slightly raised his head, and pointing to his slaughtered
adversary, with a ghastly smile, expired.



THE END.





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