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Chapter 5 Earl Risingham

  • Earl Risingham, although by far the most important person then in Shoreby, wa_oorly lodged in the house of a private gentleman upon the extreme outskirt_f the town. Nothing but the armed men at the doors, and the mounte_essengers that kept arriving and departing, announced the temporary residenc_f a great lord.
  • Thus it was that, from lack of space, Dick and Lawless were clapped into th_ame apartment.
  • “Well spoken, Master Richard,” said the outlaw; “it was excellently wel_poken, and, for my part, I thank you cordially. Here we are in good hands; w_hall be justly tried, and, some time this evening, decently hanged on th_ame tree.”
  • “Indeed, my poor friend, I do believe it,” answered Dick.
  • “Yet have we a string to our bow,” returned Lawless. “Ellis Duckworth is a ma_ut of ten thousand; he holdeth you right near his heart, both for your ow_nd for your father’s sake; and knowing you guiltless of this fact, he wil_tir earth and heaven to bear you clear.”
  • “It may not be,” said Dick. “What can he do? He hath but a handful. Alack, i_t were but to-morrow - could I but keep a certain tryst an hour before noo_o-morrow - all were, I think, otherwise. But now there is no help.”
  • “Well,” concluded Lawless, “an ye will stand to it for my innocence, I wil_tand to it for yours, and that stoutly. It shall naught avail us; but an I b_o hang, it shall not be for lack of swearing.”
  • And then, while Dick gave himself over to his reflections, the old rogu_urled himself down into a corner, pulled his monkish hood about his face, an_omposed himself to sleep. Soon he was loudly snoring, so utterly had his lon_ife of hardship and adventure blunted the sense of apprehension.
  • It was long after noon, and the day was already failing, before the door wa_pened and Dick taken forth and led up-stairs to where, in a warm cabinet,
  • Earl Risingham sat musing over the fire.
  • On his captive’s entrance he looked up.
  • “Sir,” he said, “I knew your father, who was a man of honour, and thi_nclineth me to be the more lenient; but I may not hide from you that heav_harges lie against your character. Ye do consort with murderers and robbers;
  • upon a clear probation ye have carried war against the king’s peace; ye ar_uspected to have piratically seized upon a ship; ye are found skulking with _ounterfeit presentment in your enemy’s house; a man is slain that ver_vening - ”
  • “An it like you, my lord,” Dick interposed, “I will at once avow my guilt,
  • such as it is. I slew this fellow Rutter; and to the proof” - searching in hi_osom - “here is a letter from his wallet.”
  • Lord Risingham took the letter, and opened and read it twice.
  • “Ye have read this?” he inquired.
  • “I have read it,” answered Dick.
  • “Are ye for York or Lancaster?” the earl demanded.
  • “My lord, it was but a little while back that I was asked that question, an_new not how to answer it,” said Dick; “but having answered once, I will no_ary. My lord, I am for York.”
  • The earl nodded approvingly.
  • “Honestly replied,” he said. “But wherefore, then, deliver me this letter?”
  • “Nay, but against traitors, my lord, are not all sides arrayed?” cried Dick.
  • “I would they were, young gentleman,” returned the earl; “and I do at leas_pprove your saying. There is more youth than guile in you, I do perceive; an_ere not Sir Daniel a mighty man upon our side, I were half-tempted to espous_our quarrel. For I have inquired, and it appears ye have been hardly deal_ith, and have much excuse. But look ye, sir, I am, before all else, a leade_n the queen’s interest; and though by nature a just man, as I believe, an_eaning even to the excess of mercy, yet must I order my goings for my party’_nterest, and, to keep Sir Daniel, I would go far about.”
  • “My lord,” returned Dick, “ye will think me very bold to counsel you; but d_e count upon Sir Daniel’s faith? Methought he had changed sides intolerabl_ften.”
  • “Nay, it is the way of England. What would ye have?” the earl demanded. “Bu_e are unjust to the knight of Tunstall; and as faith goes, in this unfaithfu_eneration, he hath of late been honourably true to us of Lancaster. Even i_ur last reverses he stood firm.”
  • “An it pleased you, then,” said Dick, “to cast your eye upon this letter, y_ight somewhat change your thought of him;” and he handed to the earl Si_aniel’s letter to Lord Wensleydale.
  • The effect upon the earl’s countenance was instant; he lowered like an angr_ion, and his hand, with a sudden movement, clutched at his dagger.
  • “Ye have read this also?” he asked.
  • “Even so,” said Dick. “It is your lordship’s own estate he offers to Lor_ensleydale?”
  • “It is my own estate, even as ye say!” returned the earl. “I am your bedesma_or this letter. It hath shown me a fox’s hole. Command me, Master Shelton; _ill not be backward in gratitude, and to begin with, York or Lancaster, tru_an or thief, I do now set you at freedom. Go, a Mary’s name! But judge i_ight that I retain and hang your fellow, Lawless. The crime hath been mos_pen, and it were fitting that some open punishment should follow.”
  • “My lord, I make it my first suit to you to spare him also,” pleaded Dick.
  • “It is an old, condemned rogue, thief, and vagabond, Master Shelton,” said th_arl. “He hath been gallows-ripe this score of years. And, whether for on_hing or another, whether to-morrow or the day after, where is the grea_hoice?”
  • “Yet, my lord, it was through love to me that he came hither,” answered Dick,
  • “and I were churlish and thankless to desert him.”
  • “Master Shelton, ye are troublesome,” replied the earl, severely. “It is a_vil way to prosper in this world. Howbeit, and to be quit of you_mportunity, I will once more humour you. Go, then, together; but go warily,
  • and get swiftly out of Shoreby town. For this Sir Daniel (whom may the saint_onfound!) thirsteth most greedily to have your blood.”
  • “My lord, I do now offer you in words my gratitude, trusting at some brie_ate to pay you some of it in service,” replied Dick, as he turned from th_partment.