William Ainsworth.

Guy Fawkes: or, The Gunpowder Treason: An Historical Romance





As he descended Smithy Bank, and was about to cross the old bridge over the Irwell, he perceived a man riding before him, who seemed anxious to avoid him. Struck by this person's manner, he urged his horse into a quicker pace, and being better mounted of the two, soon overtook him, when to his surprise he found it was Martin Heydocke.

What are you doing here, sirrah? he demanded.

I have been sent by Mistress Viviana with a message to Mr. Humphrey Chetham, replied the young man, in great confusion.

Indeed! exclaimed Catesby, angrily. And how dared you convey a message to him, without consulting me on the subject?

I was not aware you were my master, replied Martin, sulkily. If I owe obedience to any one, it is to Mr. Chetham, whose servant I am. But if Mistress Viviana gives me a message to deliver, I will execute her commands, whoever may be pleased or displeased.

I did but jest, thou saucy knave, returned Catesby, who did not desire to offend him. Here is a piece of money for thee. Now, if it be no secret, what was Miss Radcliffe's message to thy master?

I know not what her letter contained, replied Martin; but his answer was, that he would come to the hall at midnight.

It is well I ascertained this, thought Catesby, and he added aloud, I understood your master had been arrested and imprisoned.

So he was, replied Martin; but he had interest enough with the Commissioners to procure his liberation.

Enough, replied Catesby; and striking spurs into his charger, he dashed off.

A quarter of an hour's hard riding brought him to the hall, and, on arriving there, he proceeded at once to the wounded man's chamber, where he found Viviana and Garnet.

Have you succeeded in your errand? cried the former, eagerly. Will Doctor Dee come, or has he sent the elixir?

He will bring it himself, replied Catesby.

Viviana uttered an exclamation of joy, and the sound appeared to reach the ears of the sufferer, for he stirred, and groaned faintly.

Doctor Dee desired me to tell you, continued Catesby, drawing Viviana aside, and speaking in a low tone, that your other request was granted.

Viviana looked surprised, and as if she did not clearly understand him.

Might he not refer to Humphrey Chetham? remarked Catesby, somewhat maliciously.

Ah! you have learnt from Martin Heydocke that I have written to him," returned Viviana, blushing deeply. What I was about to ask of Doctor Dee had no reference to Humphrey Chetham. It was to request permission to privately inter my father's remains in our family vault in the Collegiate Church. But how did he know I had any request to make?

That passes my comprehension, replied Catesby, unless he obtained his information from his familiar spirits.

Shortly after this, Dr. Dee and Kelley arrived at the hall. Catesby met them at the gate, and conducted them to the wounded man's chamber.

Coldly saluting Garnet, whom he eyed with suspicion, and bowing respectfully to Viviana, the Doctor slowly advanced to the bedside. He gazed for a short time at the wounded man, and folded his arms thoughtfully upon his breast. The eyes of the sufferer were closed, and his lips slightly apart, but no breath seemed to issue from them. His bronzed complexion had assumed the ghastly hue of death, and his strongly-marked features had become fixed and rigid. His black hair, stiffened and caked with blood, escaped from the bandages around his head, and hung in elf locks on the pillow. It was a piteous spectacle; and Doctor Dee appeared much moved by it.

The worst is over, he muttered: why recall the spirit to its wretched tenement?

If you can save him, reverend sir, do not hesitate, implored Viviana.

I am come hither for that purpose, replied Dee; but I must have no other witness to the experiment except yourself, and my attendant Kelley.

I do not desire to be present, reverend sir, replied Viviana; but I will retire into that closet, and pray that your remedy may prevail.

My prayers for the same end shall be offered in the adjoining room," observed Garnet; and taking Catesby's arm, who seemed spell-bound by curiosity, he dragged him away.

The door closed, and Viviana withdrew into the closet, where she knelt down before the crucifix. Doctor Dee seated himself on the bedside; and taking a gourd-shaped bottle, filled with a clear sparkling liquid, from beneath his robe, he raised it to his eyes with his left hand, while he placed his right on the wrist of the wounded man. In this attitude he continued for a few seconds, while Kelley, with his arms folded, likewise kept his gaze fixed on the phial. At the expiration of that time, Dee, who had apparently counted the pulsations of the sufferer, took out the glass stopper from the bottle, the contents of which diffused a pungent odour around; and wetting a small piece of linen with it, applied it to his temples. He then desired Kelley to raise his head, and poured a few drops down his throat. This done, he waited a few minutes, and repeated the application.

Look! he cried to Kelley. The elixir already begins to operate. His chest heaves. His limbs shiver. That flush upon the cheek, and that dampness upon the brow, denote that the animal heat is restored. A third draught will accomplish the cure.

I can already feel his heart palpitate, observed Kelley, placing his hand on the patient's breast.

Heaven be praised! ejaculated Viviana, who had suspended her devotions to listen.

Hold him tightly, cried Dee to his assistant, while I administer the last draught. He may injure himself by his struggles.

Kelley obeyed, and twined his arms tightly round the wounded man. And fortunate it was that the precaution was taken, for the elixir was no sooner poured down his throat than his chest began to labour violently, his eyes opened, and, raising himself bolt-upright, he struggled violently to break from the hold imposed upon him. This he would have effected, if Dee had not likewise lent his aid to prevent him.

This is, indeed, a wonderful sight! cried Viviana, who had quitted the closet, and now gazed on, in awe and astonishment. I can never be sufficiently thankful to you, reverend sir.

Give thanks to Him to whom alone they are due, replied Dee. Summon your friends. They may now resume their posts. My task is accomplished.

Catesby and Garnet being called into the room, could scarcely credit their senses when they beheld Guy Fawkes, who by this time had ceased struggling, reclining on Kelley's shoulder, and, except a certain wildness in the eye and cadaverousness of hue, looking as he was wont to do.

CHAPTER XVI.
THE COLLEGIATE CHURCH AT MANCHESTER

Bidding Kelley remain with Guy Fawkes, Doctor Dee signified to Viviana that he had a few words to say to her in private before his departure, and leading the way to an adjoining room, informed her that he was aware of her desire to have her father's remains interred in the Collegiate Church, and that, so far from opposing her inclinations, he would willingly accede to them, only recommending as a measure of prudence that the ceremonial should be performed at night, and with as much secrecy as possible. Viviana thanked him in a voice of much emotion for his kindness, and entirely acquiesced in his suggestion of caution. At the same time, she could not help expressing her surprise that her thoughts should be known to him. Though, indeed, she added, after the wonderful exhibition I have just witnessed of your power, I can scarcely suppose that any limits are to be placed to it.

Few things are hidden from me, replied Dee, with a gratified smile; even the lighter matters of the heart, in which I might be supposed to take little interest, do not altogether elude my observation. In reference to this, you will not, I am sure be offended with me, Viviana, if I tell you I have noticed with some concern the attachment that has arisen between you and Humphrey Chetham.

Viviana uttered an exclamation of surprise, and a deep blush suffused her pallid cheeks.

I am assuming the privilege of an old man with you, Viviana, continued Dee, in a graver tone, and I may add, of an old friend, for your lamented mother was one of my dearest and best friends, as you perchance called to mind, when you sent me to-day, by Mr. Catesby, the token I gave her years ago. You have done unwisely in inviting Humphrey Chetham to come hither to-night.

How so? she faltered.

Because, if he keeps his appointment, fatal consequences may ensue," answered Dee. Your message has reached the ears of one from whom, most of all, you should have concealed it.

Mr. Catesby has heard of it, I know, replied Viviana. But you do not apprehend any danger from him?

He is Chetham's mortal foe, rejoined Dee, and will slay him, if he finds an opportunity.

You alarm me, she cried. I will speak to Mr. Catesby on the subject, and entreat him, as he values my regard, to offer no molestation to his fancied rival.

Fancied rival! echoed Dee, raising his brows contemptuously. Do you seek to persuade me that you do not love Humphrey Chetham?

Assuredly not, replied Viviana. I freely acknowledge my attachment to him. It is as strong as my aversion to Mr. Catesby. But the latter is aware that the suit of his rival is as hopeless as his own.

Explain yourself, I pray you? said Dee.

My destiny is the cloister, and this he well knows, she rejoined. As soon as my worldly affairs can be arranged, I shall retire to the English nunnery at Brussels, where I shall vow myself to Heaven.

Such is your present intention, replied Dee. But you will never quit your own country.

What shall hinder me? asked Viviana, uneasily.

Many things, returned Dee. Amongst others, this meeting with your lover.

Call him not by that name, I beseech you, reverend sir, she rejoined. Humphrey Chetham will never be other to me than a friend.

It may be, answered Dee. But your destiny is not the cloister.

For what am I reserved, then? demanded Viviana, trembling.

All I dare tell you, he returned, all it is needful for you to know, is, that your future career is mixed up with that of Guy Fawkes. But do not concern yourself about what is to come. The present is sufficient to claim your attention.

True, replied Viviana; and my first object shall be to despatch a messenger to Humphrey Chetham to prevent him from coming hither.

Trouble yourself no further on that score, returned Dee. I will convey the message to him. As regards the funeral, it must take place without delay. I will be at the south porch of the church with the keys at midnight, and Robert Burnell, the sexton, and another assistant on whom I can depend, shall be in attendance. Though it is contrary to my religious opinions and feelings to allow a Romish priest to perform the service, I will not interfere with Father Garnet. I owe your mother a deep debt of gratitude, and will pay it to her husband and her child.

Thanks! in her name, thanks! cried Viviana, in a voice suffocated by emotion.

And now, continued Dee, I would ask you one further question. My art has made me acquainted that a plot is hatching against the King and his Government by certain of the Catholic party. Are you favourable to the design?

I am not, replied Viviana, firmly. Nor can you regard it with more horror than myself.

I was sure of it, returned Dee. Nevertheless, I am glad to have my supposition confirmed from your own mouth.

With this, he moved towards the door, but Viviana arrested his departure.

Stay, reverend sir, she cried, with a look of great uneasiness; if you are in possession of this dread secret, the lives of my companions are in your power. You will not betray them. Or, if you deem it your duty to reveal the plot to those endangered by it, you will give its contrivers timely warning.

Fear nothing, rejoined Dee. I cannot, were I so disposed, interfere with the fixed purposes of fate. The things revealed by my familiar spirits never pass my lips. They are more sacred than the disclosures made to a priest of your faith at the confessional. The bloody enterprise on which these zealots are bent will fail. I have warned Fawkes; but my warning, though conveyed by the lips of the dead, and by other means equally terrible, was unavailing. I would warn Catesby and Garnet, but they would heed me not. Viviana Radcliffe, he continued, in a solemn voice, you questioned me just now about the future. Have you courage to make the same demand from your dead father? If so, I will compel his corpse to answer you.

Oh! no no, cried Viviana, horror-stricken; not for worlds would I commit so impious an act. Gladly as I would know what fate has in store for me, nothing should induce me to purchase the knowledge at so dreadful a price.

Farewell, then, rejoined Dee. At midnight, at the south porch of the Collegiate Church, I shall expect you.

So saying, he took his departure; and, on entering the gallery, he perceived Catesby hastily retreating.

Aha! he muttered. We have had a listener here. Well, no matter. What he has heard may prove serviceable to him.

He then returned to the chamber occupied by Guy Fawkes, and finding he had dropped into a deep and tranquil sleep, motioned Kelley, who was standing by the bedside watching his slumbers with folded arms, to follow him, and bowing gravely to Garnet quitted the hall.

As he crossed the court, on his way to the drawbridge, Catesby suddenly threw himself in his path, and laying his hand upon his sword, cried in a menacing voice, "Doctor Dee, neither you nor your companion shall quit the hall till you have solemnly sworn not to divulge aught pertaining to the plot, of which you have so mysteriously obtained information.

Is this my recompence for rescuing your comrade from the jaws of death, sir? replied Dee, sternly.

The necessity of the case must plead its excuse, rejoined Catesby. My own safety, and the safety of those leagued with me, require that I should be peremptory in my demand. Did I not owe you a large debt of gratitude for your resuscitation of Guy Fawkes, I would have insured your secrecy with your life. As it is, I will be content with your oath.

Fool! exclaimed Dee, stand aside, or I will compel you to do so.

Think not to terrify me by idle threats, returned Catesby. I willingly acknowledge your superior skill, as, indeed, I have good reason to do, in the science of medicine; but I have no faith in your magical tricks. A little reflection has shown me how the knowledge I at first thought so wonderful was acquired. You obtained it by means of Martin Heydocke, who, mounted on a swift steed, reached the College before me. He told you of the object of my visit, of Viviana's wish to have her father interred in the Collegiate Church, of her message to Humphrey Chetham. You were, therefore, fully prepared for my arrival, and at first, I must confess, completely imposed upon me. Nay, had I not overheard your conversation just now with Viviana, I might have remained your dupe still. But your allusion to Chetham's visit awakened my suspicions, and, on re-considering the matter, the whole trick flashed upon me.

What more? demanded Dee, his brow lowering, and his eyes sparkling with rage.

Thus much, returned Catesby. I have your secret, and you have mine. And though the latter is the more important, inasmuch as several lives hang upon it, whereas a conjuror's worthless reputation is alone dependent on the other, yet both must be kept. Swear, then, not to reveal the plot, and in my turn I will take any oath you choose to dictate not to disclose the jugglery I have detected.

I will make no terms with you, returned Dee; and if I do not reveal your damnable plot, it is not from consideration of you or your associates, but because the hour for its disclosure is not yet arrived. When full proof of your guilt can be obtained, then rest assured it will be made known, though not by me. Not one of your number shall escape not one.

Catesby again laid his hand upon his sword, and seemed from his looks to be meditating the destruction of the Doctor and his assistant. But they appeared wholly unconcerned at his glances.

What you have said concerning Martin Heydocke is false as false as your own foul and bloody scheme, pursued Dee. I have neither seen, nor spoken with him.

But your assistant, Edward Kelley, has, retorted Catesby, and that amounts to the same thing.

For the third and last time I command you to stand aside, cried Dee, in a tone of concentrated anger.

Catesby laughed aloud.

What if I refuse? he said, in a jeering voice.

Doctor Dee made no answer; but, suddenly drawing a small phial from beneath his robe, cast its contents in his opponent's face. Blinded by the spirit, Catesby raised his hand to his eyes, and while in this condition a thick cloth was thrown over his head from behind, and, despite his resistance, he was borne off, and bound with a strong cord to an adjoining tree.

Half an hour elapsed, during which he exhausted his fury in vain outcries for assistance, and execrations and menaces against Dee and his companion. At the expiration of that time, hearing steps approaching, he called loudly to be released, and was answered by the voice of Martin Heydocke.

What! is it your worship I behold? cried Martin, in a tone of affected commiseration. Mercy on us! what has happened? Have the rascally searchers been here again?

Hold your peace, knave, and unbind me, rejoined Catesby, angrily. I shrewdly suspect, he added, as his commands were obeyed, and the cord twined around his arms unfastened, and the cloth removed, "I shrewdly suspect, he said, fixing a stern glance upon Martin, which effectually banished the smile from his demure countenance, that you have had some share in this business.

What I, your worship? exclaimed Martin. Not the slightest, I assure you. It was by mere chance I came this way, and, perceiving some one tied to a tree, was about to take to my heels, when, fancying I recognised your worship's well-formed legs, I ventured forward.

You shall become more intimately acquainted with my worship's boots, rascal, if I find my suspicions correct, rejoined Catesby. Have you the effrontery to tell me you have never seen this rope and this cloth before?

Certes, I have, your worship, replied Martin. May the first hang me, and the last serve as my winding-sheet, if I speak not the truth! Ah, now I look again, he added, pretending to examine them, it must be a horse-cloth and halter from the stable. Peradventure, I have seen them.

That I will be sworn you have, and used them too, rejoined Catesby. I am half inclined to tie you to the tree in my place. But where is your employer? where is Doctor Dee?

Doctor Dee is not my employer, answered Martin, neither do I serve him. Mr. Humphrey Chetham, as I have already told your worship, is my master. As to the Doctor, he left the hall some time since. Father Garnet thought you had accompanied him on the road. I have seen nothing of him. Of a truth I have not.

Catesby reflected a moment, and then strode towards the hall, while Martin, with a secret smile, picked up the halter and cloth, and withdrew to the stable.

Repairing to the chamber of the wounded man, Catesby found Garnet seated by his couch, and related what had occurred. The Jesuit listened with profound attention to the recital, and on its conclusion observed,

I am sorry you have offended Doctor Dee, my son. He might have proved a good friend. As it is, you have made him a dangerous enemy.

He was not to be trusted, father, returned Catesby. But if you have any fears of him, or Kelley, I will speedily set them at rest.

No violence, my son, rejoined Garnet. You will only increase the mischief you have already occasioned. I do not think Dee will betray us. But additional circumspection will be requisite. Tarry here while I confer with Viviana on this subject. She has apparently some secret influence with the Doctor, and may be prevailed upon to exert it in our behalf.

It was long before Garnet returned. When he reappeared, his looks convinced Catesby that the interview had not proved satisfactory.

Your imprudence has placed us in a perilous position, my son, he observed. Viviana refuses to speak to Doctor Dee on the subject, and strongly reprobates your conduct.

Catesby's brow lowered.

There is but one course to pursue, he muttered, rising; our lives or his must be sacrificed. I will act at once.

Hold! exclaimed Garnet authoritatively. Wait till to-morrow and, if aught occurs in the interim to confirm your suspicions, do as you think proper. I will not oppose you.

If I forbear so long, returned Catesby, it will not be safe to remain here.

I will risk it, said Garnet, and I counsel you to do the same. You will not leave Viviana at this strait.

I have no such thoughts, replied Catesby. If I go, she goes too.