The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

“Nevertheless the fault is mine, and mine only,” replied the duke. “I was the originator of the scheme—the planner of the snare into which we have fallen—and if you perish, your death will lie at my door.”

“Think not of me, father,” replied the young man. “The life I received from you, I will gladly lay down for you. If you desire my forgiveness you shall have it. But I ought rather to ask yours. And, at all events, I entreat your blessing.”

“Heaven bless you, my son, and have mercy on us both,” exclaimed Northumberland, fervently. “If the humblest supplication could move our judges in your favour it should not be wanting. But I well know they are inexorable.”

“I would rather die a thousand deaths than you so demeaned yourself,” replied Warwick. “Ask nothing from them but a speedy judgment. We go to a condemnation, not a trial.”

“True, my lord,” added Northampton. “We have nothing to hope, and therefore nothing to fear. The game is lost, and we must pay the penalty.”

“Right, my lord,” rejoined Northumberland, embracing him, “and we will discharge it to the uttermost. Would that my life could pay for all.”

“Since it cannot be, my lord,” replied Northampton, “e’en let us meet our fate like men, and give our enemies no additional triumph. To see your grace so well reconciled to your fate, must encourage those who have lost so little in comparison.”

“I am so well reconciled to it,” replied the duke, “that I scarcely desire to be restored to my former condition. And yet,” he added, sternly, “I would gladly enjoy my former power for an hour, to be avenged on one man.”

“His name?” inquired the Earl of Warwick, quickly.

“Simon Renard,” replied the duke.

A deep silence ensued, which was broken at length by Northumberland, who inquired from the officer in attendance if he knew aught of the queen’s intentions towards Lady Jane Dudley.

“Her highness, it is said, is inclined to pardon her, in consideration of her youth,” replied the officer, “but her councillors are averse to such leniency.”

“They are my enemies,” rejoined the duke. “Again my crimes are visited on an innocent head.”

At this moment, a small arched door near one of the recesses was opened, and a warder announced that the escort was ready to convey the prisoners to Westminster Hall.

Preceded by the officer, the duke and his companions descended a short spiral stone staircase, and, passing under an arched doorway, on either side of which was drawn up a line of halberdiers, entered upon the Green. The whole of this spacious area, from Saint Peter’s Chapel to the Lieutenant’s lodgings—from the walls of the tower they had quitted, to those of the White Tower, was filled with spectators. Every individual in the fortress, whose duty did not compel his attendance elsewhere, had hastened thither to see the great Duke of Northumberland proceed to his trial; and so intense was the curiosity of the crowd, that it was with great difficulty that the halberdiers could keep them from pressing upon him. On the duke’s appearance something like a groan was uttered, but it was instantly checked. Northumberland was fully equal to this trying moment. Aware of his own unpopularity, aware that amid that vast concourse he had not one well-wisher, but that all rejoiced in his downfall, he manifested no discomposure, but marched with a step so majestic, and glanced around with a look so commanding, that those who were near him involuntarily shrunk before his regards. The deportment of Northampton was dignified and composed—that of the Earl of Warwick fierce and scornful. Lord Clinton, the Constable of the Tower, and the Lieutenant, Sir John Gage, now advanced to meet them, and the former inquired from Northumberland whether he had any request to make that could be complied with. Before an answer could be returned by the duke, an old woman broke through the ranks of the guard, and regardless of the menaces with which she was assailed confronted him.

“Do you know me?” she cried.

“I do,” replied the duke, a shudder passing over his frame. “You are Gunnora Braose.”

“I am,” she answered. “I am, moreover, foster-mother to the Duke of Somerset—the great, the good Lord Protector whom you, murderer and traitor, destroyed eighteen months ago. By your false practices, he was imprisoned in the tower you have just quitted; he was led forth as you are, but he was not received like you with groans and hootings, but with tears. He was taken to Westminster Hall where you sat in judgment upon him, and condemned him, and where he will this day testify against you. Tremble! perfidious duke, for a fearful retribution is at hand. He, whom you have destroyed, sleeps in yon chapel. Ere many days have passed, you will sleep beside him.”

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