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   Chapter 59 No.59

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 2096

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

She was back again on her couch now, once more as drowsy-looking as ever. The candlesticks were gone again; the handkerchief still in its place, and the woman back again behind the couch. The two men kneeled close beside her, near enough to hear every whisper.

"Listen, gentlemen," she said softly, "I cannot tell you what you have done for my soul to-day-both of you, since I could never have had the priest without my friend…. I cannot reward you, but our Lord will do so abundantly…. Listen, I know that I am going to my death, and I thank God that I have made my peace with Him. I do not know if they will allow me to see a priest again. But I wish to say this to both of you-as I said just now in my confession, to you, mon père-that I am wholly and utterly guiltless of the plot laid to my charge; that I had neither part nor wish nor consent in it. I desired only to escape from my captivity…. I would have made war, if I could, yes, but as for accomplishing or assisting in her Grace's death, the thought was never near me. Those whom I

thought my friends have entrapped me, and have given colour to the tale. I pray our Saviour to forgive them as I do; and with that Saviour now in my breast I tell you-and you may tell all the world if you will-that I am guiltless of what they impute to me. I shall die for my Religion, and nothing but that. And I thank you again, mon père, et vous, mon ami, que vous avez…."

Her voice died away in inaudible French, and her eyes closed.

* * * * *

Robin's eyes were raining tears, but he leaned forward and kissed her hand as it lay on the edge of the couch. He felt himself touched on the shoulder, and he stood up. The old man's eyes, too, were brimming with tears.

"I must let Sir Amyas in," he whispered. "You must be ready."

"What shall I say?"

"Say that you will prescribe privately, to me: and that her Grace's health is indeed delicate, but not gravely impaired…. You understand?"

Robin nodded, passing his sleeve over his eyes. The woman touched the

Queen's shoulder to rouse her, and Mr. Bourgoign opened the door.

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