The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

While he was in this situation, Bret, who, it has been mentioned, was thrown into the moat, swam to the wall, and endeavoured to ascend it. Xit immediately attacked him, and adopting the language of Magog to Wyat, threatened to throw him back again if he did not yield.

“I do yield,” replied Bret.

“Your name and rank?” demanded the dwarf, in an authoritative tone.

“Alexander Bret, captain of the London Trained Bands, second in command to Sir Thomas Wyat,” replied the other.

“Here, Magog—Gog—Og—help!” shouted Xit, “I have taken a prisoner. It is Captain Bret, one of the rebel leaders; help him out of the moat, and let us carry him before the queen! I am certain to be knighted for my valour. Mind, I have taken him. He has yielded to me. No one else has had a hand in his capture.”

Thus exhorted, Magog pulled Bret out of the moat. As soon as he ascertained who he was, he bore him in his arms towards the By-ward Tower, Xit keeping near them all the time, screaming, “He is my prisoner. You have nothing to do with it. I shall certainly be knighted.”

At Magog’s command, the portcullis was partially raised, and Xit and Bret thrust under it, while the two other giants repelled the assailants.

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THROUGHOUT the whole of the siege, the queen maintained her accustomed firmness; and to her indomitable courage, and the effect produced by it upon her followers, the successful issue of the conflict to the royalist party is mainly to be attributed. Startled from her slumbers by the roar of the artillery, Mary arose, and hastily arraying herself, quitted the palace with Gardiner, Renard, and a few other attendants, who had flown to her on the first rumour of the attack, and repaired to the lieutenant’s lodgings, where she found Sir Henry Bedingfeld in the entrance-hall, surrounded by armed men, busied in giving them instructions, and despatching messages to the officers in command of the different fortifications.

At the queen’s appearance, the old knight would have flung himself at her feet, but she motioned him not to heed her, and contented herself with saying, as each messenger departed: “Tell my soldiers that I will share their danger. I will visit every fortification in turn, and I doubt not I shall find its defenders at their posts. No courageous action shall pass unrequited: and as I will severely punish these rebels, so I will reward those who signalise themselves in their defeat. Bid them fight for their queen, for the daughter of the Eighth Henry, whose august spirit is abroad to watch over and direct them. He who brings me Wyat’s head, shall receive knighthood at my hands, together with the traitor’s forfeited estates. Let this be proclaimed. And now fight, and valiantly, for you fight for the truth.”

Charged with animating addresses like these, the soldiers hurried to their various leaders. The consequence may be easily imagined. Aware that they were under the immediate eye of their sovereign, and anticipating her coming each moment, the men, eager to distinguish themselves, fought with the utmost ardour; and such was the loyalty awakened by Mary’s energy and spirit, that even those secretly inclined towards the opposite party, of whom there were not a few, did not dare to avow their real sentiments.

While Mary remained in the lieutenant’s lodgings, word was brought that the fortress was attacked on all sides, and the thunder of the ordnance now resounding from the whole line of ramparts, and answered by the guns of the besiegers, confirmed the statement. As she heard these tidings, and listened to the fearful tumult without, her whole countenance underwent a change; and those who remembered her kingly sire, recognised his most terrible expression, and felt the same awe they had formerly experienced in his presence.

“Oh! that I had been born a man!” she cried, “that with my own hand I might punish these traitors. But they shall find, though they have a woman to deal with, they have no feeble and faint-hearted antagonist. I cannot wield a sword; but I will stand by those who can. Sir Henry Bedingfeld, take these orders from me, and they are final. Let the siege go how it may, I will make no terms with the rebels, nor hold further parley with them. Show them no quarter, exterminate them utterly. I no longer regard them as subjects—children; but as aliens—foes. Deal with them as such. And look you yield not this fortress, for by God’s grace! I never will yield it. Where is your own post, Sir Henry?”

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