“Ha!” he exclaimed, after reading through several leaves: “was ever man worse deceived? Here have I been harboring in my house and taking to my bosom a concealed Papist, as this writing sufficiently discloses. Nor yet a born Papist either, laboring under a delusion sucked in with mother’s milk, but a recreant Protestant, a voluntary seeker after error; for here are written down the memorial of his shame, the very time and place where and when he struck hands with Anti-Christ, the name of the university where he assumed the scapula, as the blinded errorists call two woollen bands, the one crossing the breast and the other the back, one of those ridiculous mummeries whereby, with other devices and unseemly grimaces, they have contrived to bring the cross itself of the Redeemer into disrespect, and the degrees in superstition taken by this wretched backslider. Woe is me! How can the arch-deceiver assume the form of an angel of light! Yet is here no name written. The memorandum may refer to some-one else. But that cannot be. Himself is meant. Why should he carry about with him a note of this kind respecting another? This betrayer of treachery, this touchstone of truth, shall off forthwith to Winthrop, and be the antidote to the bane of my letter.”
Thus murmured Governor Bradford, grieved as well as vexed at the deceit, as he supposed it to be. With a rapid hand, he wrote an account of his discovery, and entrusting it, with the note-book, to a messenger, commanded him to hasten after the soldiers from Governor Winthrop, and deliver to them the package.
Nought is on earth more sacred or divine,
That gods and men do equally adore,
Than this same virtue that doth right define,
For th’ heavens themselves, whence mortal men implore,
Right in their wrongs, are ruled by righteous lore.
SPENSER’S FAERY QUEEN.
It was with some embarrassment that Governor Winthrop received his prisoner, though none was manifested in the mien of Sir Christopher. On the contrary, his manner indicated conscious innocence, and just that degree of resentment which a well-balanced mind and good temper might be expected to exhibit under the circumstances. If there was any change in his bearing, he was a trifle haughtier, as presuming on his rank—a trait never noticed in him before, and it showed itself by his speaking first, without waiting to be addressed, the moment he entered the presence of the Governor.
“By what authority,” he demanded with some sternness, “is it, that I, a free-born Englishman, innocent of crime, have a price set on my head, and am hunted by savages bribed for that purpose?”
Before making a reply, the Governor intimated his desire to be left alone with the Knight, whereupon those present retired.
“You inquire by what authority you are arrested,” said Winthrop. “I answer, by that authority vested in me by charter, as the ruler of a State; by common law, and by common sense. The question is not asked by one with the endowments of Sir Christopher Gardiner because he is ignorant, but for some other reason.”