“And a pretty load on any man’s conscience!” cried the virtuous Mr. Chiffinch. “And so all this nest of assassins—”
“Sir; I did not say that. I said—”
“That is enough; we want no comments and glosses, but the bare truth. Well, Keeling, if this tale be true, you have saved your own life—that is, if your fellow murderers do not get at you again. You have been in trouble before, I hear, too.”
“Sir; it was on the matter of the Lord Mayor—”
“I know that well enough. Well, sir; so this is the tale you will tell to-morrow to Mr. Secretary.”
“Yes, sir, if I can remember it all.”
“You will remember it, I’ll warrant. Well, sir; I think I have no more questions for the present. Sir, have you any questions to ask this man?”
I shook my head. I was near sick at the torture the man was in.
“Well, sir; you may go,” said the page. “And I would recommend you and your brother to lie very private to-night. There must be no more evasion.”
* * * * *
When he was gone, Mr. Chiffinch turned to me.
“Well?” he said. “What do you think?”
“Oh! I think he speaks the truth, in the main,” I said wearily. “Shall I be needed any more; or when may I leave town?”
“You must wait, Mr. Mallock, until we have laid hands on them.”
* * * * *
It was not until the middle of July that I was able to leave. On the eighteenth of June a proclamation was issued, with the names of some of the conspirators; and numerous arrests were made. One matter pleased me a little, and that was that Keeling had been man enough after all, to warn some of the humbler folk, who had been led into the affair, of what he had done; and the most of these got clean away. Then Sheppard came forward and betrayed three or four who had met in his house, as I had seen for myself: and West added many details. A second proclamation containing the names, and offering rewards for the arrest of Monmouth, my Lord Grey, Sir Thomas Armstrong and the Reverend Robert Ferguson, was made after my Lord Russell’s arrest; but all four of them escaped. My Lords Howard and Essex were taken on the tenth of July; and two days later Walcot, Hone and Rouse were convicted.
As soon as my Lord Russell’s trial was begun, and the certainty that he would be convicted was made plain by my Lord Howard turning King’s evidence, I left London with my man James. And before we were at Dover the news came to us that my Lord Essex, in despair, had cut his throat in the Tower. As for myself, I was glad enough to leave; for I was both sick and weary of intrigue. It would be of a very different sort in France; and of a kind that a gentleman may undertake without misgivings: so, though I was loth to leave the land where Dolly was, the balance altogether left me refreshed rather than saddened.