Little by little, however, the discontent began to smoulder once more, for the King’s pledges of restoration were not fulfilled; and Cromwell, who was now recognised to be the inspirer of all the evil done against Religion, remained as high as ever in the royal favour. Aske, who had been to the King in person, and given him an account of all that had taken place, now wrote to him that there was a danger of a further rising if the delay continued, for there were no signs yet of the promised free parliament being called at York.
Then again disturbances had broken out.
“I was at Hull,” said the monk, “with Sir Francis Bygod in January; but we did nothing, and only lost our leader, and all the while Norfolk was creeping up with his army. It was piteous to think what might not have been done if we had not trusted his Grace; but ’twas no good, and I was back again in the dales here and there, hiding for my life by April. Everywhere ’twas the same; the monks were haled out again from their houses, and men were hanged by the score. I cut down four myself near Meux, and gave them Christian burial at night. One was a monk, and hanged in his habit. But the worst of all was at York.”
The man’s face twitched with emotion, and he passed his hand over his mouth once or twice before continuing.
“I did not dare to go into the court for fear I should be known; but I stood outside in the crowd and watched them go in. There was a fellow riding with Norfolk—a false knave of a man whom we had all learnt to hate at Doncaster—for he was always jeering at us secretly and making mischief when he could. I saw him with the duke before, when we went into the Whitefriars for the pardon; and he stood there behind with the look of a devil on his face; and now here he was again—”
“His name, sir?” put in Dom Adrian.
“Torridon, father, Torridon! He was a—”
There was a sharp movement in the room, so that the monk stopped and looked round him amazed. Chris felt the blood ebb from his heart and din in his ears, and he swayed a little as he leaned against the wall. He saw Dom Anthony lean forward and whisper to the stranger; and through the haze that was before his eyes saw the other look at him sharply, with a fallen jaw.
Then the monk rose and made a little stiff inclination to Chris, deferential and courteous, but with a kind of determined dignity in it too.
When Chris had recovered himself, the monk was deep in his story, but Ralph had fallen out of it.
“You would not believe it,” he was saying, “but on the very jury that was to try Master Aske and Constable, there were empanelled their own blood-relations; and that by the express intention of Norfolk. John Aske was one of them, and some others who had to wives the sons of my Lord Darcy and Sir Robert Constable. You see how it would be. If the prisoners were found guilty, men would say that it must be so, for that their own kin had condemned them; and if they were to be acquitted, then these men themselves would be cast.”