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The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

They were speedily undeceived. Before they reached the steps, a number of armed figures, some of whom bore torches, appeared, while a thundering splash behind told that the portcullis had been let down, so as to cut off their retreat. Nothing remained but to sell their lives as dearly as they could. Quarter was neither asked nor granted. Some leaped overboard, and tried, sword in hand, to force a way up the steps; others prepared to follow them; and the gunner discharged a falconer planted at the prow of the boat, occasioning fearful havoc among their opponents.

But this availed nothing. They were driven back, and their assailants pursuing them into the recesses of the arch, put them to death. The light of the few torches that illumined the scene, fell upon figures fearfully struggling, while the arches rang with the reports of musquetry, groans, and curses. In a short time, all was still and dark as heretofore. But when the water gate was afterwards opened, fourteen mangled corpses floated out to the Thames.

While the siege was thus vigorously carried on, on the north and south, the western side of the fortress was not neglected. Remaining at Cornhill for some hours, Wyat divided his forces into two detachments, and committed one to Captain Bret, whom he directed to proceed to the upper part of Tower Hill, along Lombard Street, Fenchurch Street, and Tower Street, and to place his men within the churchyard of All-Hallows, Barking, and at the rear of the scaffold on Tower Hill; while with the other he himself marched down Gracechurch Street, along Thames Street, taking up a position before the Bulwark Gate.

As soon as he had reached this point, and arranged his men, he rode off to Bret, and ordered a party, commanded by Captain Cobham, to attack the postern gate, as before related. Bret was to hold himself in readiness to march down to the Bulwark Gate, or to attack the Leg Mount, a bastion at the north-west angle of the fortress, corresponding (though of somewhat smaller size) with the Brass Mount, as he should receive instructions.

Having issued these directions, Wyat rode back to his troops— he was now mounted, as were several of his officers, on the steeds captured in the recent skirmish with the Earl of Pembroke —and commanded them to remain perfectly quiet till Admiral Winter’s squadron should arrive off the Tower. His injunctions were strictly obeyed, and such perfect silence was observed, that though his men were drawn up within a few yards of the fortress, they were not discovered by the sentinels.

On the arrival of the squadron, Wyat immediately commenced an attack upon the Bulwark Gate—one of the weakest outworks of the fortress—and while directing his engines against it, some half-dozen wooden houses adjoining it on the side of the moat were fired by his men; and the flames quickly extending to the buildings immediately contiguous to the Bulwark Gate, that defence was at once surrendered.

The first point gained, Wyat despatched a messenger to Bret ordering him to join him instantly; and while a handful of his men rushing round the semicircular wall, heretofore described as protecting the lesser moat, attacked the embattled gateway fronting the Lion’s Tower, with the intention of joining Suffolk’s party on the wharf, he directed his main force against the Lion’s Gate. This fortification was stoutly defended, and the insurgents were twice repulsed before they could bring their engines to bear against it.

Bret and his party having arrived, such an irresistible attack was made upon the gate, that in a short time it was carried. With loud shouts, the insurgents drove the royalists before them along the narrow bridge facing the Lion’s Tower, and leading to the Middle Tower, putting some to the sword, and throwing others over the walls into the moat.

The movement was so expeditious, and the rout so unexpected, that the portcullis of the Middle Tower, which was kept up to allow the flying men to pass through it, could not be lowered, and hastily directing those around him to prop it up with a piece of timber, Wyat continued the pursuit to the By-ward Tower.

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