The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

“My voice is for Northumberland,” cried Cecil.

“And mine,” added Huntingdon.

“We are all unanimous,” cried the rest of the council.

“Your grace hears the opinion just given,” said Jane. “Will you undertake the command?”

“No,” answered the duke, bluntly. “I will shed my blood in your majesty’s defence. But I see through the designs of your artful council, and will not be made their dupe. Their object is to withdraw me from you. Let the Duke of Suffolk take the command. I will maintain the custody of the Tower.”

“Do not suffer him to decline it,” whispered Simon Renard to the queen. “By this means you will accomplish a double purpose—insure a victory over Mary, and free yourself from the yoke he will otherwise impose upon you. If the Duke of Suffolk departs, and he is left absolute master of the Tower, you will never attain your rightful position.”

“You are right,” replied Jane. “My lord,” she continued, addressing the duke, “I am satisfied that the council mean you well. And I pray you, therefore, to acquiesce in their wishes and my own.”

“Why will not your highness send the Duke of Suffolk, as you have this moment proposed?” rejoined Northumberland.

“I have bethought me,” replied the queen. “And as my husband has thought fit to absent himself from me at this perilous juncture, I am resolved not to be left without a protector. Your grace will, therefore, deliver up the keys of the Tower to the Duke of Suffolk.”

“Nay, your majesty,” cried Northumberland.

“I will have no nay, my lord,” interrupted the queen peremptorily. “I will in nowise consent that my father shall leave me. To whom else would your grace entrust the command?”

The duke appeared to reflect for a moment.

“I know no one,” he answered.

“Then your grace must perforce consent,” said the queen.

“If your majesty commands it, I must. But I feel it is a desperate hazard,” replied Northumberland.

“It is so desperate,” whispered Pembroke to Renard, “that he has not one chance in his favour.”

“The council desire to know your grace’s determination?” said Arundel.

“My determination is this,” rejoined the duke. “Since you think it good, I will go, not doubting your fidelity to the queen’s majesty, whom I shall leave in your custody.”

“He is lost!” whispered Renard.

“Your grace’s commission for the lieutenantship of the army shall be signed at once,” said Jane; “and I beseech you to use all diligence.”

“I will do what in me lies,” replied the duke. “My retinue shall meet me at Durham House to-night. And I will see the munition and artillery set forward before daybreak.”

A pause now ensued, during which the duke’s commission was signed by the whole council.

“It is his death-warrant,” observed Renard to the Earl of Arundel.

“Here is your warrant, under the broad seal of England,” said the Earl of Pembroke, delivering it to him.

“I must have my marches prescribed,” replied the duke. “I will do nothing without authority.”

“What say you, my lords?” said Pembroke, turning to them.

“Agree at once,” whispered Renard, “he is planning his own ruin.”

“Your grace shall have full powers and directions,” rejoined Pembroke.

“It is well,” replied Northumberland. “My lords,” he continued with great dignity, addressing the council, “I and the other noble personages, with the whole army that are now about to go forth, as well for the behalf of you and yours, as for the establishing of the queen’s highness, shall not only adventure our bodies and lives amongst the bloody strokes and cruel assaults of our adversaries in the open fields; but also we leave the conservation of ourselves, children and families, at home here with you, as altogether committed to your truth and fidelity. If,” he proceeded sternly, “we thought you would through malice, conspiracy, or dissension, leave us, your friends, in the briars and betray us, we could as well, in sundry ways, foresee and provide for our own safety, as any of you, by betraying us, can do for yours. But now, upon the only trust and faithfulness of your honours, whereof we think ourselves most assured, we do hazard our lives. And if ye shall violate your trust and promise, hoping thereby of life and promotion, yet shall not God account you innocent of our bloods, neither acquit you of the sacred and holy oath of allegiance, made freely by you to the queen’s highness, who, by your own and our enticement, is rather of force placed therein, than by her own seeking and request. Consider, also, that God’s cause, which is the preferment of his word, and fear of Papists’ entrance, hath been (as you have heretofore always declared) the original ground whereupon you even at the first motion granted your good wills and consents thereunto, as by your handwritings appeareth. And think not the contrary. But if ye mean deceit, though not forthwith, yet hereafter, Heaven will revenge the same.”

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