The approach of Black Jack and three of the others (the fourth had been left with the horses) prevented any farther conversation; and, throwing aside their cloaks, the galleyman and the three jurors instantly commenced clearing the grave."The writ," said he, "was given to me by my lord archbishop; and how do I know that I should be right in surrendering it to a stranger? Have you any order from his grace?"
The next day he went to his task, and pursued his labour with sullen industry, but no approaches to familiarity would he permit in the companions of his toils. He still regarded himself as a free man; he knew not how distant the day of his release might be; but he resolved, if an opportunity ever did occur, that he should not let it pass.The next night, being the eve of the trial, Black Jack entered the Mitre, and, ordering a fresh gallon of stout ale, proceeded on to the little room where he had seen Calverley, and in which, around an oak table which nearly filled the area of the apartment, ten men were seated. A measure stood before them which they had just emptied, and were murmuring at their leader's close hand that restricted them to a single gallon.
"Never! never!" replied the woman, with a convulsive scream. "No one but you dare I ask鈥攁nd I will not leave my hold, unless you force me! You know not what is in the heart: even in the last hour there may be鈥攖here is mercy. Let him not die with the curse upon him鈥攁nd, by all your hopes in this life, and by the blessedness that will gladden you hereafter, do not deny the last hope of the wretched!" The woman again bent down her head, as if exhausted by the intensity of her feelings."You have made him a freeman since then?" inquired Sir Robert.
"See, see!" said Byles, pointing to the north-west.
"It will!" answered Holgrave, emphatically; and, as he acquiesced in Turner's implied threat, a smile might be detected on Oakley's lips.Holgrave drew the brim of his hat again over his face, and folding his arms, looked silently on as the work proceeded.
"My lord, I have more to shew you," resumed Holgrave."Become a bondman!" cried the smith, disappointed and mortified at the alternative: "Stephen, I would sooner die.""Hold your tongue, woman," said Byles, jumping out of the bed into which he had thrown himself, and taking up the clothes, concealed them in the pit. "Do you want to have me hanged? To bed, I tell you."
"And is this your present?鈥擶hat is your name?""No," replied Holgrave, "I cannot call your face to mind; but surely I must have heard your voice before."
"The writ," said he, "was given to me by my lord archbishop; and how do I know that I should be right in surrendering it to a stranger? Have you any order from his grace?"Byles looked at Calverley for an instant, perfectly astonished at his condescension.
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That night, the freemen and serfs that dwelt on the estate of De Boteler, and even the inmates of the castle itself, were alarmed by the sudden glare of red flames rising in a bright column above the tallest trees, and so fiercely burned the flame, that in a few minutes the horizon was tinged with a ruddy glow. There was an eager rush to discover from whence the phenomenon arose, and many were the exclamations, and many the whispered surmises, when it was ascertained that the cottage was on fire from which Holgrave had been so recently ejected.Holgrave's mind was relieved as Margaret spoke, for he had confidence in her truth. He knew, however, that Calverley stood high in the favour of De Boteler, and he determined not to trust himself with further words.CHAPTER III.
"The dagger, knave," muttered Tyler, still intent on humbling the proud sword-bearer, and raising his axe in a menacing attitude.详情
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