“Thou dost bid me be faithful above all things, my Freda—faithful unto death?”
He felt the shudder that ran through her frame. It had been easy once to speak these words, but they sounded more terrible now. Yet for all her tremors her voice did not falter.
“It is the voice of the Spirit, Anthony; it is His word. But ah! how I hope and pray that such a trial of faith will not be thine! Faithful to death—to such a death! Anthony, my love, my love, how could I bear it?”
“Thou wouldst have the strength, as I trust I should, were such a choice before me,” he answered gravely. “But why should we fear the worst, when so little has yet happened? All men say of the cardinal that he is not cruel, nor willingly a slayer of men for conscience’ sake. He is the bitter foe of heresy; but it may be that it will suffice him that Garret be gone, and that those of us that have consorted with him remain quiet and silent. That we are willing to do. I have removed my lodging to Gloucester College, where I shall henceforth study the law, since I have abandoned all thoughts of the priesthood. It may well be that the storm will roll over our heads without breaking. And when it has passed away we can recommence our readings and discourses together, but quietly, so as not to arouse notice. Even the holy apostles themselves were content to abide quiet and silent amid perils that threatened their freedom and safety. They escaped out of various dangers, and used caution and carefulness; and if they, why not we?”
Freda heaved a long breath, as of relief from the over pressure of emotion. She had seen that Arthur Cole had entertained some fears on Dalaber’s account, knowing the fiery nature of the man, and his quick, impulsive temperament. He had had misgivings lest he, by some rash act, should draw down the anger of the authorities upon himself, and be made a scapegoat, in the stead of the absent Garret.
Therefore Freda heard his words with a certain relief. Constancy and steadfastness she desired to see in him, but not the reckless defiance which rushes upon danger and courts martyrdom. She herself had scarcely known which course her lover would follow, and his appearance in this quiet and thoughtful mood was a great relief to her.
“That is how I feel, Anthony,” she answered. “Any trial the Lord sends us we must bear for His sake with all constancy; but even He Himself was obedient and submissive, and careful in His words and acts. Let none have cause to accuse us as brawlers, or headstrong, or enemies to law and order; but yet let us, when the time come, be found faithful, even unto death.”
He took her hand and kissed it, as though to seal the compact.
Chapter VIII: The Fugitive
Meantime, in the darkness of that February morning, Thomas Garret stepped forth from the sheltering walls of his still-beloved Oxford, and turned his rapid steps in a southerly and westerly direction.