“I do nothing unwomanly, and I do nothing, I trust, ignoble. I go to meet the Knollys fate, whatever it may be.”
“Lady Catharine,” cried Pembroke, passionately, “I have said I loved you. Never in my life did I love you as I do now!”
“I like to hear your words,” said the girl, frankly. “There shall always be your corner in my heart—”
“Yet you will do this thing?”
“I will do this thing. I shall not whimper nor repine. I am sending him away forever, but ’tis needful for his sake. I shall be ready for whatever fate hath for me.”
“Tell me, then,” said Pembroke, his face haggard and unhappy, “how am I to serve you in this matter.”
“In this way: To-morrow night call here with your coach. My household, if they note it, may take your coach for my own, and may perhaps understand that I go to the rout of my Lady Swearingsham. We shall go, instead, to Newgate. For the night, Sir Arthur Pembroke shall serve as coachman. You must drive the carriage to Newgate jail.”
“And ’tis there,” said Pembroke, slowly, “that the Lady Catharine Knollys, the dearest woman of all England, would take the man who honorably loves her—to Newgate, to feloniously set free a felon? Is it there, then, Lady Catharine, you would go to meet your lover?”
The tall figure of the girl straightened up to its full height. A shade of color came to her cheeks, but her voice was firm, though tears came to her eyes as she answered:
“Aye, sir, I would go to Newgate if there were need!”
On a certain morning a messenger rode in hot haste up to the prison gate. He bore the livery of Montague. Turnkey after turnkey admitted him, until finally he stood before the cell of John Law and delivered into his hand, as he had been commanded, the message that he bore. That afternoon this same messenger paused at the gate of the house of Knollys. Here, too, he was admitted promptly. He delivered into the hands of the Lady Catharine Knollys a certain message. This was of a Wednesday. On the following Friday it was decreed that the gallows should do its work. Two more days and there would be an end of “Jessamy” Law.
That Wednesday night a covered carriage came to the door of the house of Knollys. Its driver was muffled in such fashion that he could hardly have been known. There stepped from the house the cloaked figure of a woman, who entered the carriage and herself pulled shut the door. The vehicle was soon lost among the darkling streets.
Catharine Knollys had heard the summons of her fate. She now sat trembling in the carriage.
When finally the vehicle stopped at the curb of the walk which led to the prison gate, a second carriage, as mysterious as the first, came down the street and stopped at a little distance, but close to the curb on the side nearest to the gate. The driver of the first carriage, evidently not liking the close neighborhood at the time, edged a trifle farther down the way. The second carriage thereupon drew up into the spot just vacated, and the two, not easily distinguishable at the hour and in the dark and unlighted street, stood so, each apparently watchful of the other, each seemingly without an occupant.