The King's Achievement eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 517 pages of information about The King's Achievement.

“He is to be tried again on Thursday,” went on the Prior, “and my friends wish me to see him, God knows—­”

He stopped abruptly, made a sign with his hand, and as Chris left the room he saw that he was leaning once more against the stone-work, and that his head was buried in his arms.

Three more Carthusians had been condemned in the previous week, but the Bishop’s trial, though his name was in the first indictment, was postponed a few days.

He too, like Sir Thomas More, had been over a year in the Tower; he had been deprived of his see by an Act of Parliament, his palace had been broken into and spoiled, and he himself, it was reported, was being treated with the greatest rigour in the Tower.

Chris was overcome with excitement at the thought that he was to see this man.  He had heard of his learning, his holiness, and his austerities on all hands since his coming to London.  When the bishop had left Rochester at his summons to London a year before there had been a wonderful scene of farewell, of which the story was still told in town.  The streets had been thronged with a vast crowd weeping and praying, as he rode among them bare-headed, giving his blessing as he went.  He had checked his horse by the city-gate, and with a loud voice had bidden them all stand by the old religion, and let no man take it from them.  And now here he lay himself in prison for the Faith, a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, with scarcely clothes to cover him or food to eat.  At the sacking of his palace, too, as the men ran from room to room tearing down the tapestries, and piling the plate together, a monk had found a great iron box hidden in a corner.  They cried to one another that it held gold “for the bloody Pope”; and burst it open to find a hair shirt, and a pair of disciplines.

* * * * *

It was a long row down to the Tower from Southwark against the in-flowing tide.  As they passed beneath the bridge Chris stared up at the crowding houses, the great gates at either end, and the faces craning down; and he caught one glimpse as they shot through the narrow passage between the piers, of the tall wall above the gate, the poles rising from it, and the severed heads that crowned them.  Somewhere among that forest of grim stems the Carthusian priors looked down.

As he turned in his seat he saw the boatman grinning to himself, and following his eyes observed the Prior beside him with a white fixed face looking steadily downwards towards his feet.

They found no difficulty when they landed at the stairs, and showed the order at the gate.  The warder called to a man within the guard-room who came out and went before them along the walled way that led to the inner ward.  They turned up to the left presently and found themselves in the great court that surrounded the White Tower.

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The King's Achievement from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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