“To what purpose would you play so unholy a trick, which must, moreover, be discovered in a day, seeing that Sir Christopher lives?” asked Martin, staring at him.
“For a very good purpose, my friend. It is well that Sir Christopher Harflete should seem to die, who, if he is known to be alive, has powerful kin in the south who will bring much trouble on us.”
“Do you mean——? If so, before God I will have no hand in it.”
“I said—seem to die. Where are your wits to-night?” answered the Abbot, with irritation. “Sir Christopher travels with you to Spain as our sick Brother Luiz, who, like myself, is of that country, and desires to return there, as we know, but is too ill to do so. You will nurse him, and on the ship he will die or recover, as God wills. If he recovers our Brotherhood will show him hospitality at Seville, notwithstanding his crimes, and by the time that he reaches England again, which may not be for a long while, men will have forgotten all this fray in a greater that draws on. Nor will he be harmed, seeing that the lady whom he pretends to have married is dead beyond a doubt, as you can tell him should he find his understanding.”
“A strange game,” muttered Martin.
“Strange or no, it is my game which I must play. Therefore question not, but be obedient, and silent also, on your oath,” replied the Abbot in a cold, hard voice. “That covered litter which was brought here for the wounded is in the next chamber. Wrap this man in blankets and a monk’s robe, and we will place him in it. Then let him be borne to Blossholme as one of the dead by brethren who will ask no questions, and ere dawn on to the ship Great Yarmouth, if he still lives. It lies near the quay not half-a-mile from the Abbey gate. Be swift now, and help me. I will overtake you with the letters, and see that you are furnished with all things needful from our store. Also I must speak with the captain ere he weighs anchor. Waste no more time in talking, but obey and be secret.”
“I obey, and I will be secret, as is my duty,” answered Brother Martin, bowing his head humbly. “But what will be the end of all this business, God and His angels know alone. I say that I like it not.”
“A very dangerous man,” muttered the Abbot, as he watched Martin go. “He also must bide a while in Spain; a long while. I’ll see to it!”
Just before the wild dawn broke on the morrow of the burning of the Towers, a corpse, roughly shrouded, was borne from the village into the churchyard of Cranwell, where a shallow grave had been dug for its last home.
“Whom do we bury in such haste?” asked the tall Thomas Bolle, who had delved the grave alone in the dark, for his orders were urgent, and the sexton was fled away from these tumults.