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   Chapter 69 No.69

Come Rack! Come Rope! By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 3901

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


On the following Saturday John Merton came up into the room where the priest was sleeping after dinner and awakened him.

"If you will come at once with me, sir, you can have speech with Mr. Bourgoign. My master has sent me to tell you so; Mr. Bourgoign has leave to go out."

Robin said nothing. It was the kind of opportunity that must not be imperilled by a single word that might be overheard. He threw on his great cloak, buckled his sword on, and followed with every nerve awake. They went up the street leading towards the church, and turned down a little passage-way between two of the larger houses; the young man pushed on a door in the wall; and Robin went through, to find himself in a little enclosed garden with Mr. Bourgoign gathering herbs from the border, not a yard from him. The physician said nothing; he glanced sharply up and pointed to a seat set under the shelter of the wall that hid the greater part of the garden from the house to which it belonged; and as Robin reached it, Mr. Bourgoign, still gathering his herbs, began to speak in an undertone.

"Do not speak except very softly, if you must," he said. "The Queen is sick again; and I have leave to gather herbs for her in two or three gardens. It was refused to me at first and then granted afterwards. From that I look for the worst…. Beale will come to-morrow, I hear…. Paulet refused me leave the first time, I make no doubt, knowing that all was to end within a day or two: then he granted it me, for fear I should suspect his reason. (Can you hear me, sir?)"

Robin nodded. His heart thumped within him.

"Well, sir; I shall tell Sir Amyas to-morrow that my herbs do no good-that I do not know what to give her Grace. I have seen her Grace continually, but with a man in the room always…. Her Grace knows that you are here, and bids me thank you with all her heart…. I shall speak to Sir Amyas, and shall tell him that you are here: and that I sent for

you, but did not dare to ask leave for you until now. If he refuses I shall know that all is finished, and that Beale has brought the warrant with him…. If he consents I shall think that it is put off for a little…."

He was very near to Robin now, still, with a critical air pushing the herbs this way and that, selecting one now and again.

"Have you anything to say to me, sir? Do not speak loud. The fellow that conducted me from the castle is drinking ale in the house behind. He did not know of this door on the side…. Have you anything to say?"

"Yes," said Robin.

"What is it?"

"Two things. The first is that I think one of the fellows in the inn is doubtful of me. Merton tells me he has asked a great number of questions about me. What had I best do?"

"Who is he?"

"He is a servant of my lord Shrewsbury's who is in the neighbourhood."

The doctor was silent.

"Am I in danger?" asked the priest quietly. "Shall I endanger her

Grace?"

"You cannot endanger her Grace. She is near her end in any case. But for yourself-"

"Yes."

"You are endangering yourself every instant by remaining," said the doctor dryly.

"The second matter-" began Robin.

"But what of yourself-"

"Myself must be endangered," said Robin softly. "The second matter is whether you cannot get me near her Grace in the event of her execution. I could at least give her absolution sub conditione."

Mr. Bourgoign shot a glance at him which he could not interpret.

"Sir," he said; "God will reward you…. As regards the second matter it will be exceedingly difficult. If it is to be in the open court, I may perhaps contrive it. If it is to be in the hall, none but known persons would be admitted…. Have you anything more, sir?"

"No."

"Then you had best be gone again at once…. Her Grace prays for you…. She had a fit of weeping last night to know that a priest was here and she not able to have him…. Do you pray for her…."

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