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- St. George and St. Michael Vol. II - 34/34 -

under the manger, gave no cry when he entered, but seemed to gather a little courage when she found that the approaching steps were those of a human being.

'Mistress Amanda Fuller,' said his lordship with awful severity, 'thou hast in thy possession a jewel which is not thine own.'

'A jewel, my lord?' faltered Amanda, betaking herself by the force of inborn propensity and habit, even when hopeless of success in concealment, to the falsehood she carried with her like an atmosphere; 'I know not what your lordship means. Of what sort is the jewel?'

'One very like this,' returned lord Herbert, producing the false ring.

'Why, there you have it, my lord!'

'Traitress to thy king and thy lord, out of thine own mouth have I convicted thee. This is not the ring. See!'

As he spoke he squeezed it betwixt his finger and thumb to a shapeless mass, and threw it from him--then continued:

'Thou art she who did show the rebel his way from the prison into which her lord had cast him.'

'He took me by the throat, my lord,' gasped Amanda, 'and put me in mortal terror.'

'Thou slanderest him,' returned lord Herbert. 'The roundhead is a gentleman, and would not, to save his life, have harmed thee, even had he known what a worthless thing thou art. I will grant that he put thee in fear. But wherefore gavest thou no alarm when he was gone?'

'He made me swear that I would not betray him.'

'Let it be so. Why didst thou not reveal the way he took?'

'I knew it not.'

'Yet thou wentest after him when he left thee. And wherefore didst thou not deliver the ring he gave thee for mistress Dorothy?'

'I feared she would betray me, that I had held talk with the prisoner.'

'Let that too pass as less wicked than cowardly. But wherefore didst thou lock the door upon her when thou sawest her go into the roundhead's prison? Thou knewest that therefrom she must bear the blame of having set him free, with other blame, and worse for a maiden to endure?'

'It was a sudden temptation, my lord, which I knew not how to resist, and was carried away thereby. Have pity upon me, dear my lord,' moaned Amanda.

'I will believe thee there also, for I fear me thou hast had so little practice in the art of resisting temptation, that thou mightst well yield to one that urged thee towards such mere essential evil. But how was it that, after thou hadst had leisure to reflect, thou didst spread abroad the report that she was found there, and that to the hurt not only of her loyal fame, but of her maidenly honour, understanding well that no one was there but herself, and that he alone who could bear testimony to her innocence and thy guilt was parted from her by everything that could divide them except hatred? Was the temptation to that also too sudden for thy resistance?'

At length Amanda was speechless. She hung her head, for the first time in her life ashamed of herself.

'Go before to thy chamber. I follow thee.'

She rose to obey, but she could scarcely walk, and he ordered the men to assist her. Arrived in her room she delivered up the ring, and at lord Herbert's command proceeded to gather together her few possessions. That done, they led her away to the rude chamber in the watch tower, where stood the arblast, and there, seated on her chest, they left her with the assurance that if she cried out or gave any alarm, it would be to the publishing of her own shame.

At the dead of night Caspar and Tom, with four picked men from the guard, came to lead her away. Worn out by that time, and with nothing to sustain her from within, she fancied they were going to kill her, and giving way utterly, cried and shrieked aloud. Obdurate however, as gentle, they gave no ear to her petitions, but bore her through the western gate, and so to the brick gate in the rampart, placed her in a carriage behind six horses, and set out with her for Caerleon, where her mother lived in obscurity. At her door they set her down, and leaving the carriage at Usk, returned to Raglan one by one in the night, mounted on the horses. By the warders who admitted them they were supposed to be returned from distinct missions on the king's business.

Many were the speculations in the castle as to the fate of mistress Amanda Serafina Fuller, but the common belief continued to be that she had been carried off by Satan, body and soul.


St. George and St. Michael Vol. II - 34/34

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