"The rebels are betrayed, and you are condemned; but, if you will hearken to my request, this hour shall free you from prison:—Will you, will you tell me of my lost child?"
"It is not justice, Sir Robert Skipwith," said he, "to wrest the unfortunate from the merciful interposition of the church—it is not justice, but a high contempt of supreme law, to set at nought the merciful commands of the sovereign—it is not justice to usurp a power that belongs not to you, in order to crush a friendless woman—it is not justice to set the opinions of an individual against the sacred authority of God's church. The church alone, I repeat, has power to judge in cases where the soul is concerned, as in heresy and witchcraft.""My Lord De Boteler, boy or man, Wat Turner was never a knave, and—"There was a wicket in the northern gate, the common outlet for the domestics, which, as Holgrave had anticipated, the servitor had not closed after him. He entered, and stood within the court-yard; he heard the sound of voices, and the tread of feet, but no human being was near: he paused an instant to consider, and then, with the swiftness of a deer, he sprung towards the stables, and entered the one appropriated to the select stud of the baron. A lamp was burning, but the men who attended on the horses were now away, quaffing ale to the long life of the heir. The baroness's favourite palfrey was lying in a stall; he stept across the animal, and, after pressing his hands on various parts of the wall, a concealed door flew open, and a dark aperture was before him. He stooped and passed through, and ascended a long, winding flight of steps, till a door impeded his progress; he opened it, and stood in a closet hung round with dresses and mantles, and displaying all the graceful trifles of a lady's wardrobe. There was a door opposite the one at which he had entered, which led into the baroness's chamber, where there were lighted candles, and a blazing fire on the hearth. The floor was thickly strewn with rushes, and he could just perceive the high back of a chair, with the arms of the family wrought in the centre; he paused and listened; he heard the faint cry of a babe, and discovered, by the language of the nurse, that she was feeding it; then there was the hush-a-by, and the rocking motion of the attendant. In a few minutes, the sound of a foot on the rushes, and "the lovely babe would sleep," now announced to Holgrave that the child was deposited with its mother: then he heard the curtains of the bed drawn, and the nurse whisper some one to retire, as her ladyship was inclined to sleep; there was another step across the rushes, and a door was softly closed, and then for a few minutes an unbroken silence, which the nurse at length interrupted by muttering something about "whether the good father had come yet." Again there was a tread across the rushes, and the door again was gently closed; and Holgrave, after a moment of intense listening, stepped from the closet, and entered the chamber. In an elevated alcove stood the bed of the baroness; the rich crimson hangings festooned with gold cord, the drapery tastefully fringed with gold, even to the summit, which was surmounted by a splendid coronet. Holgrave, unaccustomed to magnificence, was for a moment awed by the splendid furniture of the apartment—but it was only for a moment—and then the native strength of his soul spurned the gaudy trappings; he stepped lightly across the spacious chamber; he unloosed the rich curtains—the heir of De Boteler was reposing in a deep slumber on a downy pillow; beyond him lay the exhausted mother, her eyes closed, and the noble contour of her face presenting the repose of death. For an instant, Holgrave paused: remorse for the deed that he was about to do sent a sudden glow across his care-worn face—but had not the baron destroyed his offspring? whispered the tempting spirit. He raised the babe from the pillows without disturbing its slumber—he drew the curtains, and—he reached the stable in safety, closed the secret door, and arrived at the postern, which was still unfastened, passed through, and gained his own door without impediment.It is almost useless to add, that the charters were soon after revoked, and thus failed the first struggle of the British helots.
- When he appeared before De Boteler the next morning, such a change had twenty hours of mental suffering produced in his countenance, that his lord, struck by the alteration, inquired if he were ill. Calverley said something about a fall that had partly stunned him, but assured De Boteler he was now perfectly well. While he yet spoke, the steward entered, to say that Stephen Holgrave had come to crave his lordship's pardon for marrying a nief without leave, and also to pay the merchet.
- "And will you allow Stephen Holgrave, who has tarried a willing prisoner—"
- "Why we are thus up in arms?" said Leicester, without circumlocution, as the herald proclaimed the king's interrogatory,—"why, because those who should command are thought nothing of, and those who do command ought to have their heads struck off."
- "Now will my soul depart in peace, since mine eyes have beheld this day!—now will my spirit rejoice, since thou hast had compassion on them that were in fetters, and hast released the children of the bond!" Then rising, and extending his clasped hands towards De Boteler, he said, in a louder tone, "May the Lord add blessings upon thee and thy children! May length of days be thy portion, and mayest thou dwell for ever in the house of the Lord." Then approaching Holgrave, he continued—"Farewell, Stephen! The clemency of the King has saved my life, and the voice of the anointed priest hath proved me cleansed of the leper spot—but I must now be a dweller in a strange land. Tell Margaret that we may not meet again; but surely, if the prayers of a brother can aught avail, mine shall be offered at the footstool of the Highest for her. I could not bid her adieu. Bless thee, Stephen, and bless her, and fare thee well!" He then pressed Holgrave's hand.
- The wine, too, began to exhibit many other of the confederates in colours very different from such as they had at first shewn, but the change generally was not such as was wrought in Leicester;—for vindictive cruelty and selfish rapacity might now be detected in many of those who, at the outset, had spoken only of justice and right. Then, too, were put forth the claims which each fancied he possessed of ranking above his fellows. "Did not I provide so many clubs or spears—or, did not I or my father, or uncle," as the case might be, "give so much corn to make bread—or so much silk to make a banner—or so much leather to make jacks," &c.
- "A message from the prophet!" cried Black Jack, as he glanced over the writing, and then read aloud, "John Ball greeteth Jack Straw, John Leicester, Ralph Rugge, and the other leaders, and also all the true commons assembled at Mile-end, and commandeth them that they listen to the voice of their anointed king, and hasten back to their own homes; and John Ball, who is now freed, will obtain from the royal hand, the charter of freedom, for the bond, and the redress of all the grievances that weigh down the free."
- De Boteler looked at Holgrave as he spoke, but did not reply; but, placing his hand upon the full shoulder that rose above the boy's tunic, he bent his head down and kissed the child's forehead. 更多 CPK 推荐