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Come Rack! Come Rope!

BY

ROBERT HUGH BENSON

_Author of "By What Authority?" "The King's Achievement,"
"Lord of the World," etc._


New York
P.J. Kenedy & Sons




PREFACE


Very nearly the whole of this book is sober historical fact; and by far
the greater number of the personages named in it once lived and acted in
the manner in which I have presented them. My hero and my heroine are
fictitious; so also are the parents of my heroine, the father of my
hero, one lawyer, one woman, two servants, a farmer and his wife, the
landlord of an inn, and a few other entirely negligible characters. But
the family of the FitzHerberts passed precisely through the fortunes
which I have described; they had their confessors and their one traitor
(as I have said). Mr. Anthony Babington plotted, and fell, in the manner
that is related; Mary languished in Chartley under Sir Amyas Paulet; was
assisted by Mr. Bourgoign; was betrayed by her secretary and Mr.
Gifford, and died at Fotheringay; Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam and Mr.
Simpson received their vocations, passed through their adventures; were
captured at Padley, and died in Derby. Father Campion (from whose speech
after torture the title of the book is taken) suffered on the rack and
was executed at Tyburn. Mr. Topcliffe tormented the Catholics that fell
into his hands; plotted with Mr. Thomas FitzHerbert, and bargained for
Padley (which he subsequently lost again) on the terms here drawn out.
My Lord Shrewsbury rode about Derbyshire, directed the search for
recusants and presided at their deaths; priests of all kinds came and
went in disguise; Mr. Owen went about constructing hiding-holes; Mr.
Bassett lived defiantly at Langleys, and dabbled a little (I am afraid)
in occultism; Mr. Fenton was often to be found in Hathersage--all these
things took place as nearly as I have had the power of relating them.
Two localities only, I think, are disguised under their names--Booth's
Edge and Matstead. Padley, or rather the chapel in which the last mass
was said under the circumstances described in this book, remains, to
this day, close to Grindleford Station. A Catholic pilgrimage is made
there every year; and I have myself once had the honour of preaching on
such an occasion, leaning against the wall of the old hall that is
immediately beneath the chapel where Mr. Garlick and Mr. Ludlam said
their last masses, and were captured. If the book is too sensational, it
is no more sensational than life itself was to Derbyshire folk between
1579 and 1588.

It remains only, first, to express my extreme indebtedness to Dom Bede
Camm's erudite book--"Forgotten Shrines"--from which I have taken
immense quantities of information, and to a pile of some twenty to
thirty other books that are before me as I write these words; and,
secondly, to ask forgiveness from the distinguished family that takes
its name from the FitzHerberts and is descended from them directly; and
to assure its members that old Sir Thomas, Mr. John, Mr. Anthony, and
all the rest, down to the present day, outweigh a thousand times over
(to the minds of all decent people) the stigma of Mr. Thomas' name. Even
the apostles numbered one Judas!

ROBERT HUGH BENSON.

_Feast of the Blessed Thomas More, 1912.
Hare Street House, Buntingford._






PART I




CHAPTER I


I

There should be no sight more happy than a young man riding to meet his
love. His eyes should shine, his lips should sing; he should slap his
mare upon her shoulder and call her his darling. The puddles upon his
way should be turned to pure gold, and the stream that runs beside him
should chatter her name.

Yet, as Robin rode to Marjorie none of these things were done. It was a
still day of frost; the sky was arched above him, across the high hills,
like that terrible crystal which is the vault above which sits God--hard
blue from horizon to horizon; the fringe of feathery birches stood like
filigree-work above him on his left; on his right ran the Derwent,
sucking softly among his sedges; on this side and that lay the flat
bottom through which he went--meadowland broken by rushes; his mare
Cecily stepped along, now cracking the thin ice of the little pools with
her dainty feet, now going gently over peaty ground, blowing thin clouds
from her red nostrils, yet unencouraged by word or caress from her
rider; who sat, heavy and all but slouching, staring with his blue eyes
under puckered eyelids, as if he went to an appointment which he would
not keep.

Yet he was a very pleasant lad to look upon, smooth-faced and gallant,
mounted and dressed in a manner that should give any lad joy. He wore
great gauntlets on his hands; he was in his habit of green; he had his
steel-buckled leather belt upon him beneath his cloak and a pair of
daggers in it, with his long-sword looped up; he had his felt hat on
his head, buckled again, and decked with half a pheasant's tail; he had
his long boots of undressed leather, that rose above his knees; and on
his left wrist sat his grim falcon Agnes, hooded and belled, not because
he rode after game, but from mere custom, and to give her the air.

He was meeting his first man's trouble.

Last year he had said good-bye to Derby Grammar School--of old my lord
Bishop Durdant's foundation--situated in St. Peter's churchyard. Here he
had done the right and usual things; he had learned his grammar; he had
fought; he had been chastised; he had robed the effigy of his pious
founder in a patched doublet with a saucepan on his head (but that had
been done before he had learned veneration)--and so had gone home again
to Matstead, proficient in Latin, English, history, writing, good
manners and chess, to live with his father, to hunt, to hear mass when a
priest was within reasonable distance, to indite painful letters now and
then on matters of the estate, and to learn how to bear himself
generally as should one of Master's rank--the son of a gentleman who
bore arms, and his father's father before him. He dined at twelve, he
supped at six, he said his prayers, and blessed himself when no
strangers were by. He was something of a herbalist, as a sheer hobby of
his own; he went to feed his falcons in the morning, he rode with them
after dinner (from last August he had found himself riding north more
often than south, since Marjorie lived in that quarter); and now all had
been crowned last Christmas Eve, when in the enclosed garden at her
house he had kissed her two hands suddenly, and made her a little speech
he had learned by heart; after which he kissed her on the lips as a man
should, in the honest noon sunlight.

All this was as it should be. There were no doubts or disasters
anywhere. Marjorie was an only daughter as he an only son. Her father,
it is true, was but a Derby lawyer, but he and his wife had a good
little estate above the Hathersage valley, and a stone house in it. As
for religion, that was all well too. Master Manners was as good a
Catholic as Master Audrey himself; and the families met at mass perhaps
as much as four or five times in the year, either at Padley, where Sir
Thomas' chapel still had priests coming and going; sometimes at Dethick
in the Babingtons' barn; sometimes as far north as Harewood.

And now a man's trouble was come upon the boy. The cause of it was as
follows.

Robin Audrey was no more religious than a boy of seventeen should be.
Yet he had had as few doubts about the matter as if he had been a monk.
His mother had taught him well, up to the time of her death ten years
ago; and he had learned from her, as well as from his father when that
professor spoke of it at all, that there were two kinds of religion in
the world, the true and the false--that is to say, the Catholic religion
and the other one. Certainly there were shades of differences in the
other one; the Turk did not believe precisely as the ancient Roman, nor
yet as the modern Protestant--yet these distinctions were subtle and
negligible; they were all swallowed up in an unity of falsehood. Next he
had learned that the Catholic religion was at present blown upon by many
persons in high position; that pains and penalties lay upon all who
adhered to it. Sir Thomas FitzHerbert, for instance, lay now in the
Fleet in London on that very account. His own father, too, three or four
times in the year, was under necessity of paying over heavy sums for the
privilege of not attending Protestant worship; and, indeed, had been
forced last year to sell a piece of land over on Lees Moor for this very
purpose. Priests came and went at their peril.... He himself had fought
two or three battles over the affair in St. Peter's churchyard, until he
had learned to hold his tongue. But all this was just part of the game.
It seemed to him as inevitable and eternal as the changes of the
weather. Matstead Church, he knew, had once been Catholic; but how long
ago he did not care to inquire. He only knew that for awhile there had
been some doubt on the matter; and that before Mr. Barton's time, who
was now minister there, there had been a proper priest in the place, who
had read English prayers there and a sort of a mass, which he had
attended as a little boy. Then this had ceased; the priest had gone and
Mr. Barton come, and since that time he had never been to church there,
but had heard the real mass wherever he could with a certain secrecy.
And there might be further perils in future, as there might be
thunderstorms or floods. There was still the memory of the descent of
the Commissioners a year or two after his birth; he had been brought up
on the stories of riding and counter-riding, and the hiding away of
altar-plate and beads and vestments. But all this was in his bones and
blood; it was as natural that professors of the false religion should
seek to injure and distress professors of the true, as that the foxes
should attack the poultry-yard. One took one's precautions, one hoped
for the best; and one was quite sure that one day the happy ancient
times his mother had told him of would come back, and Christ's cause be
vindicated.

And now the foundations of the earth were moved and heaven reeled above
him; for his father, after a month or two of brooding, had announced, on
St.



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Keywords: priests, through, marjorie, chapel, riding, priest, manner, things, matstead, fitzherbert
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