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beating aside all opposition, he gained the roof. Topcliffe, however, was gone. Anticipating the result of the attack, he had let himself drop from the summit of the tower to the walls, and descending by the ladder, had made good his retreat.
Disarming the soldiers, Catesby then descended to the court-yard, where in a short time a large store of arms, consisting of corselets, demi-lances, pikes, calivers, and two falconets, were brought forth. These, together with a cask of powder, were placed in the baggage-waggon. Meanwhile, the larder and cellar had been explored, and provision of all kinds, together with a barrel of mead, and another of strong ale, being found, they were distributed among the
While this took place, Catesby searched the mansion, and, partly by threats, partly by persuasion, induced about twenty persons to join them. This unlooked-for success so encouraged the conspirators that their drooping spirits began to revive. Catesby appeared as much elated as the others, but at heart he was full of mis. giving.
Soon afterwards, the rebel party quitted Hewel Grange, taking with them every weapon they could find. The forced recruits were placed in the midst of the band, so that escape was impracticable.
AVOIDING the high road, and traversing an unfrequented part of the country, the conspirators shaped their course towards Stourbridge. As they reached Forfield Green, they perceived a large party descending the hilly ground near Bromsgrove, and evidently in pursuit of them. An immediate halt was ordered, and taking possession of a farm-house, they prepared themselves for defence.
Seeing these preparations, their pursuers, who proved to be Sir Richard Walsh, the Sheriff of Worcestershire, Sir John Foliot, three gentlemen, named Ketelbye, Salwaye, and Conyers, attended by a large posse of men, all tolerably well armed, drew up at some distance from the farm, and appeared to be consulting on the prudence of making an attack. Topcliffe was with them; and Catesby, who reconnoitred their proceedings from a window of the dwelling, in. ferred from his gestures that he was against the assault. And so it proved. The royalist party remained where they were, and as one or two of their number were occasionally sent away, Catesby judged, and correctly, that they expected some reinforcement.
Not willing to wait for this, he determined to continue his march, and, accordingly, forming his men into a close line, and bringing up the rear himself, they again set forward. Sir Richard Walsh and his
party followed them, and whenever they were in a difficult part of the road, harassed them with a sudden attack. 'In this way several stragglers were cut off, and a few prisoners made. So exasperated did Catesby become by these annoyances that, though desirous to push forward as fast as possible, he halted at the entrance of a common, and prepared for an engagement. But his purpose was defeated, for the royalist party took another course, nor did he see anything more of them for some time.
In about an hour the rebels arrived at the banks of the river Stour, not far from the little village of Churchill, and here, just as they were preparing to ford the stream, the Sheriff and his followers again made their appearance. By this time, also, the forces of their opponents were considerably augmented, and as more than a third of their own party were engaged in crossing the stream, which was greatly swollen by the recent rains, and extremely dangerous, their position was one of no slight peril.
Nothing daunted, however, Catesby instantly drew up his men on the bank, and, after a short skirmish, drove away the enemy, and afterwards contrived to cross the river without much loss. He found, however, that the baggage-cart had got immersed in the stream, and it was feared that the powder would be damaged. They remained on the opposite bank for some time; but, as their enemies did not attempt to follow them, they took the way to Holbeach, a large and strongly built mansion belonging, as has been already stated, to Stephen Littleton. Here they arrived without further molestation, and their first business was to put it into a complete state of defence.
After a long and anxious consultation, Sir Everard Digby quitted them, undertaking to return on the following day with succours. Stephen Littleton also disappeared on the same evening. His flight produced a strong impression on Catesby, and he besought the others not to abandon the good cause, but to stand by it, as he himself meant to do, to the last. They all earnestly assured him that they would do so, except Robert Winter, who sat apart, and took no share in their discourse.
Catesby then examined the arms and powder that had been plunged in the water in crossing the Stour, and found that the latter had been so much wetted as to be nearly useless. A sufficient stock of powder being of the utmost consequence to them, he caused all the contents of the barrel not dissolved by the water to be poured into a large platter, and proceeded to dry it before a fire which had been kindled in the hall. A bag of powder, which had likewise been slightly wetted, was also placed at what was considered a safe distance from the fire.
Heaven grant this may prove more destructive to our enemies than the combustibles we placed in the mine beneath the Parliament House,' observed Percy.
'Heaven grant so, indeed !' rejoined Catesby, with a moody smile. • They would call it retribution, were we to perish by the same means which we designed for others.'
' Jest not on so serious a matter, Catesby,' observed Robert Winter. For my own part, I dread the sight of powder, and shall walk forth till you have dried this, and put it away.'
You are not going to leave us like Stephen Littleton ?' rejoined Catesby, suspiciously.
"I will go with him,' said Christopher Wright; 'so you need be under no apprehension.'
Accordingly, he quitted the hall with Robert Winter, and they proceeded to the court-yard, and were conversing together on the dismal prospects of the party, when a tremendous explosion took place. The roof of the building seemed rent in twain, and amidst a shower of tiles, plaster, bricks, and broken wood falling around, the bag of powder dropped untouched at their feet.
Mother of mercy ! exclaimed Christopher Wright, picking it up, • Here is a providential occurrence. Had this exploded, we must all have been destroyed.'
Let us see what has happened, cried Robert Winter. And, followed by Christopher Wright, he rushed towards the ball, and bursting open the door, beheld Catesby enveloped in a cloud of smoke, and pressing his hand to his face, which was scorched and blackened by the explosion. Rookwood was stretched on the floor in a state of insensibility, and it at first appeared that life was ex. tinct. Percy was extinguishing the flames, which had caught his dress, and John Grant was similarly occupied. "Those are the
very faces I beheld in my dream,' cried Robert Winter, gazing at them with affright. It was a true warning.'
Rushing up to Catesby, Christopher Wright clasped him in his arms, and extinguishing his flaming apparel, cried, 'Wretch that I am! that I should live to see this day !
* Be not alarmed!' gasped Catesby. 'It is nothing-it was a mere accident.'
• It is no accident, Catesby,' replied Robert Winter. 'Heaven is against us and our design.'
And he quitted the room, and left the house. Nor did he return to it.
• I will pray for forgiveness! cried Percy, whose vision was so much injured by the explosion that he could as yet see nothing. And dragging hiinself before an image of the Virgin, he prayed aloud, acknowledging that the act he had designed was so bloody that it called for the vengeance of Heaven, and expressing his sincere repentance.
No more of this,' cried Catesby, staggering up to him, and snatching the image from him. It was a mere accident, I tell you. We are all alive, and shall yet succeed.'
On inquiry, Christopher Wright learnt that a blazing coal had shot out of the fire, and falling into the platter containing the powder, had occasioned the disastrous accident above described.
HOURS IN HINDOSTAN.
Back their own opinion by a wager. Every one bets in India: betting is the life and soul of society. Ladies smoke rose-water hookahs, and bet gold mohurs; gentlemen puff strong chillums, and stake lacs of rupees: everything that comes on the table, everything that passes the window, becomes the subject of a wager; the number of almonds served up on a desert plate, or the probable sex of the next passer-by, may cause the transfer of thousands,-nay, hundreds of thousands; for in a country where none wear purses, money becomes a mere nominal commodi. ty, only to be spoken of, rarely to be seen ; the consequence naturally results, that it being quite as easy to talk of thousands as hundreds, and far more imposing to do so, lacs of rupees are sported till the unfortunate sporter, if not exceedingly knowing, lacks everything, and the rich idler becomes the tool of the knowing sharper, who makes gambling his profession, and as such, studies it during those hours devoted by the less clever man to amassing riches to pay his debts.
Charles Macauley (this was not bona fide his name, but I will call him so) was one of the former,—that is to say, a good fellow, who would bet on certainties, drug your wine, or play with you for what you liked,
whenever he was certain of having the best of it. James Gordon had long been a flat. While up the country, he had lost large sums of money to Colonel Macauley, but finding it more convenient, had come down to Calcutta to fill a lucrative post; had been two years in the capital of Bengal, and was not quite so raw as he once had been. Charles was unaware of this little fact, or perhaps he would not have followed him down with the kind intent of fleecing him ; however, these surmises have nothing to do with this sketch.
Colonel Charles Macauley had not arrived two hours in Tank Square, ere he heard that his old friend Gordon was making money fast, that he was to give a very grand dinner-party the next day, and that the said dinner was to be served on some splendid new diningtables, imported from Europe by the luxurious civilian : this information seemed strangely to interest Charley. At eleven o'clock next morning, the gallant Colonel jumped into his palanquin, and away he jogged to Chowringee, to see his old friend.
• Sahib in Ghurmi hi ?' The question replied to in the affirmative, Charley ascended the stairs amid the low salaams of the linen-wrapped kidmigars who lolled about the piazzas and passages. At last the great hall or banqueting-room was gained, and a very fine room it was.
"Gordon Sahib-make shabe-come directly,' said the confidential sedar of the great man.
‘Bohut achar,' responded the visitor. • Walky in here ?
• Rather not. I'll wait here till your master has finished his toilette : you may go ;' and the Colonel began to hum an air with a degree of carelessness peculiar to well-bred people, very different from the vulgarity of Mrs. Trollope's Americans. The black servant va
nished; so did Charley's indifference as he quitted the room, for in the middle of the hall stood the identical tables that had just arrived from England. The Colonel was a man who soon made up his mind; he gave ane glance around to ensure that he was unobserved, and in another instant had pulled out a yard measure, and ascertained the exact height of the said tables, which he as instantly set down in his pocket-book; then lolling out of the windows, began to watch the hackeries, tom.johns, palanquins, and other detestable vehicles, which rapidly flitted through Chowringee.
The most knowing men are sometimes mistaken in their calculations; for once even Macauley was deceived: he had thought him. self unobserved; but he was in error; for as the sedar had truly said, his master was shaving in the next room; his back was towards the door, his eye on a little round looking-glass, which, unfortunately for Charley, reflected it. Now it so happened that the said door was slightly ajar when the measuring took place, so without turning round, or widening the aperture further, the owner of the tables saw the whole operation, and made up his mind to turn the tables on his friend; but to do this it required gumption, as we shall see by the sequel.
How are you, my dear fellow ?-I am delighted to see you! cried the civilian, as he grasped the hand that had just been measuring. Where have you been these thousand years ?'
• Up the country—could not get away—the instant I could, came down to see you. We've had sharp work: three general actions, and a sharp campaign. Our regiment alone lost a havildar and three sepoys, besides poor Jackson ; who, you may remember, played whist so well: he got an ugly wound in the hand in the taking of a mud forty-where we had a drummer wounded, -would drink brandy pawny, and died of mortification. I lost ten thousand rupees on him; I bet he would live three days ;-lost by two hours ;-devilish hard, wasn't it? besides a thousand I should have won from him, if he had survived till next day; he backed it not to rain, and it poured in torrents all the time we were burying him.'
Poor fellow !-he is a great loss !' 'Indeed he is. We cannot make up a rubber now; so I got leave, and ran down to see you.' • When did you arrive ?'
Only last night : put up at Taylor's deuced good fellow-he won a lac of rupees by making six hundred dots in a minute.'
You'll dine with me to-day ?—seven o'clock; got some famous “loll shrob.”
'I am engaged to Taylor's : but never mind that ; I'll get off, and come to you. I've some business in the fort; so, till
seven, good bye ! and away trotted the sporting Colonel.
James Gordon ordered his servant to say he was out; he then busied himself about various affairs. Amongst others, one which he thought important : but more of that anon.
At seven o'clock the dinner was served up, and a more excellent one never was given in Calcutta ; but as every pleasure must come to an end, so this excellent dinner at last was finished; the desert was served up, and the hookahs began to emit their guttural notes.
Many were the subjects broached, and got rid of; many the boasts which enlivened this fashionable feast.