The death-bell thrice
was heard to ring,
An aerial voice was heard to call,
And thrice the raven flapp’d its wing
Around the towers of Cumnor Hall. —Mickle.
We are now to return to that part of our story where we intimated that Varney, possessed of the authority of the Earl of Leicester, and of the Queen’s permission to the same effect, hastened to secure himself against discovery of his perfidy by removing the Countess from Kenilworth Castle. He had proposed to set forth early in the morning; but reflecting that the Earl might relent in the interim, and seek another interview with the Countess, he resolved to prevent, by immediate departure, all chance of what would probably have ended in his detection and ruin. For this purpose he called for Lambourne, and was exceedingly incensed to find that his trusty attendant was abroad on some ramble in the neighbouring village, or elsewhere. As his return was expected, Sir Richard commanded that he should prepare himself for attending him on an immediate journey, and follow him in case he returned after his departure.
In the meanwhile, Varney used the ministry of a servant called Robin Tider, one to whom the mysteries of Cumnor Place were already in some degree known, as he had been there more than once in attendance on the Earl. To this man, whose character resembled that of Lambourne, though he was neither quite so prompt nor altogether so profligate, Varney gave command to have three horses saddled, and to prepare a horse-litter, and have them in readiness at the postern gate. The natural enough excuse of his lady’s insanity, which was now universally believed, accounted for the secrecy with which she was to be removed from the Castle, and he reckoned on the same apology in case the unfortunate Amy’s resistance or screams should render such necessary. The agency of Anthony Foster was indispensable, and that Varney now went to secure.
This person, naturally of a sour, unsocial disposition, and somewhat tired, besides, with his journey from Cumnor to Warwickshire, in order to bring the news of the Countess’s escape, had early extricated himself from the crowd of wassailers, and betaken himself to his chamber, where he lay asleep, when Varney, completely equipped for travelling, and with a dark lantern in his hand, entered his apartment. He paused an instant to listen to what his associate was murmuring in his sleep, and could plainly distinguish the words, “Ave Maria—Ora pro Nobis. No, it runs not so—deliver us from evil—ay, so it goes.”