MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
step, still not able to distinguish clearly in the darkness, exclaimed, “Where is the Archbishop?” Instantly the answer came:  “Reginald, here I am, no traitor, but the archbishop and priest of God; what do you wish?” and from the fourth step, which he had reached in his ascent, with a slight motion of his head—­noticed apparently as his peculiar manner in moments of excitement—­Becket descended to the transept.  Attired, we are told, in his white rochet, with a cloak and hood thrown over his shoulders, he thus suddenly confronted his assailants.  Fitzurse sprang back two or three paces, and Becket passing by him took up his station between the central pillar and the massive wall which still forms the south-west corner of what was then the chapel of St. Benedict.  Here they gathered round him, with the cry, “Absolve the bishops whom you have excommunicated.”  “I cannot do other than I have done,” he replied, and turning to Fitzurse, he added, “Reginald, you have received many favours at my hands; why do you come into my church armed?” Fitzurse planted the axe against his breast, and returned for answer, “You shall die—­I will tear out your heart.”  Another, perhaps in kindness, struck him between the shoulders with the flat of his sword, exclaiming, “Fly; you are a dead man.”  “I am ready to die,” replied the primate, “for God and the Church; but I warn you, I curse you in the name of God Almighty, if you do not let my men escape.”

The well-known horror which in that age was felt at an act of sacrilege, together with the sight of the crowds who were rushing in from the town through the nave, turned their efforts for the next few moments to carrying him out of the church.  Fitzurse threw down the axe, and tried to drag him out by the collar of his long cloak, calling, “Come with us—­you are our prisoner.”  “I will not fly, you detestable fellow,” was Becket’s reply, roused to his usual vehemence, and wrenching the cloak out of Fitzurse’s grasp.  The three knights struggled violently to put him on Tracy’s shoulders.  Becket set his back against the pillar, and resisted with all his might, whilst Grim, vehemently remonstrating, threw his arms around him to aid his efforts.  In the scuffle, Becket fastened upon Tracy, shook him by his coat of mail, and exerting his great strength, flung him down on the pavement.  It was hopeless to carry on the attempt to remove him.  And in the final struggle which now began, Fitzurse, as before, took the lead.  He approached with his drawn sword, and waving it over his head, cried, “Strike, strike!” but merely dashed off his cap.  Tracy sprang forward and struck a more decided blow.

* * * * *

Project Gutenberg
MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook