himself with fury. "Here, upon this book, ye shall swear," he
continued, picking up the breviary, which had fallen to the ground.
"What! Ye make me doubt you! Swear, I say; swear!"
But the priest was still incapable of speech. His terror of Sir
Daniel, his terror of perjury, risen to about an equal height,
And just then, through the high, stained-glass window of the hall,
a black arrow crashed, and struck, and stuck quivering, in the
midst of the long table.
Sir Oliver, with a loud scream, fell fainting on the rushes; while
the knight, followed by Dick, dashed into the court and up the
nearest corkscrew stair to the battlements. The sentries were all
on the alert. The sun shone quietly on green lawns dotted with
trees, and on the wooded hills of the forest which enclosed the
view. There was no sign of a besieger.
"Whence came that shot?" asked the knight.
"From yonder clump, Sir Daniel," returned a sentinel.
The knight stood a little, musing. Then he turned to Dick.
"Dick," he said, "keep me an eye upon these men; I leave you in
charge here. As for the priest, he shall clear himself, or I will
know the reason why. I do almost begin to share in your
suspicions. He shall swear, trust me, or we shall prove him
Dick answered somewhat coldly, and the knight, giving him a
piercing glance, hurriedly returned to the hall. His first glance
was for the arrow. It was the first of these missiles he had seen,
and as he turned it to and fro, the dark hue of it touched him with
some fear. Again there was some writing: one word - "Earthed."
"Ay," he broke out, "they know I am home, then. Earthed! Ay, but
there is not a dog among them fit to dig me out."
Sir Oliver had come to himself, and now scrambled to his feet.
"Alack, Sir Daniel!" he moaned, "y' 'ave sworn a dread oath; y' are
doomed to the end of time."
"Ay," returned the knight, "I have sworn an oath, indeed, thou
chucklehead; but thyself shalt swear a greater. It shall be on the
blessed cross of Holywood. Look to it; get the words ready. It
shall be sworn to-night."
"Now, may Heaven lighten you!" replied the priest; "may Heaven
incline your heart from this iniquity!"
"Look you, my good father," said Sir Daniel, "if y' are for piety,
I say no more; ye begin late, that is all. But if y' are in any
sense bent upon wisdom, hear me. This lad beginneth to irk me like
a wasp. I have a need for him, for I would sell his marriage. But
I tell you, in all plainness, if that he continue to weary me, he
shall go join his father. I give orders now to change him to the
chamber above the chapel. If that ye can swear your innocency with
a good, solid oath and an assured countenance, it is well; the lad
will be at peace a little, and I will spare him. If that ye
stammer or blench, or anyways boggle at the swearing, he will not
believe you; and by the mass, he shall die. There is for your
"The chamber above the chapel!" gasped the priest.
"That same," replied the knight. "So if ye desire to save him,
save him; and if ye desire not, prithee, go to, and let me be at
peace! For an I had been a hasty man, I would already have put my
sword through you, for your intolerable cowardice and folly. Have
ye chosen? Say!"
"I have chosen," said the priest. "Heaven pardon me, I will do
evil for good. I will swear for the lad's sake."
"So is it best!" said Sir Daniel. "Send for him, then, speedily.
Ye shall see him alone. Yet I shall have an eye on you. I shall
be here in the panel room."
The knight raised the arras and let it fall again behind him.
There was the sound of a spring opening; then followed the creaking
of trod stairs.
Sir Oliver, left alone, cast a timorous glance upward at the arras-
covered wall, and crossed himself with every appearance of terror
"Nay, if he is in the chapel room," the priest murmured, "were it
at my soul's cost, I must save him."
Three minutes later, Dick, who had been summoned by another
messenger, found Sir Oliver standing by the hall table, resolute
"Richard Shelton," he said, "ye have required an oath from me. I
might complain, I might deny you; but my heart is moved toward you
for the past, and I will even content you as ye choose. By the
true cross of Holywood, I did not slay your father."
"Sir Oliver," returned Dick, "when first we read John Amend-All's
paper, I was convinced of so much. But suffer me to put two
questions. Ye did not slay him; granted. But had ye no hand in
"None," said Sir Oliver. And at the same time he began to contort
his face, and signal with his mouth and eyebrows, like one who
desired to convey a warning, yet dared not utter a sound.
Dick regarded him in wonder; then he turned and looked all about
him at the empty hall.
"What make ye?" he inquired.
"Why, naught," returned the priest, hastily smoothing his
countenance. "I make naught; I do but suffer; I am sick. I - I -
prithee, Dick, I must begone. On the true cross of Holywood, I am
clean innocent alike of violence or treachery. Content ye, good
And he made his escape from the apartment with unusual alacrity.
Dick remained rooted to the spot, his eyes wandering about the
room, his face a changing picture of various emotions, wonder,
doubt, suspicion, and amusement. Gradually, as his mind grew
clearer, suspicion took the upper hand, and was succeeded by
certainty of the worst. He raised his head, and, as he did so,
violently started. High upon the wall there was the figure of a
savage hunter woven in the tapestry. With one hand he held a horn
to his mouth; in the other he brandished a stout spear. His face
was dark, for he was meant to represent an African.
Now, here was what had startled Richard Shelton. The sun had moved
away from the hall windows, and at the same time the fire had
blazed up high on the wide hearth, and shed a changeful glow upon
the roof and hangings. In this light the figure of the black
hunter had winked at him with a white eyelid.
He continued staring at the eye. The light shone upon it like a
gem; it was liquid, it was alive. Again the white eyelid closed
upon it for a fraction of a second, and the next moment it was
There could be no mistake. The live eye that had been watching him
through a hole in the tapestry was gone. The firelight no longer
shone on a reflecting surface.
And instantly Dick awoke to the terrors of his position. Hatch's
warning, the mute signals of the priest, this eye that had observed
him from the wall, ran together in his mind. He saw he had been
put upon his trial, that he had once more betrayed his suspicions,
and that, short of some miracle, he was lost.
"If I cannot get me forth out of this house," he thought, "I am a
dead man! And this poor Matcham, too - to what a cockatrice's nest
have I not led him!"
He was still so thinking, when there came one in haste, to bid him
help in changing his arms, his clothing, and his two or three
books, to a new chamber.
"A new chamber?" he repeated. "Wherefore so? What chamber?"
"'Tis one above the chapel," answered the messenger.
"It hath stood long empty," said Dick, musing. "What manner of
room is it?"
"Nay, a brave room," returned the man. "But yet" - lowering his
voice - "they call it haunted."
"Haunted?" repeated Dick, with a chill. "I have not heard of it.
Nay, then, and by whom?"
The messenger looked about him; and then, in a low whisper, "By the
sacrist of St. John's," he said. "They had him there to sleep one
night, and in the morning - whew! - he was gone. The devil had taken
him, they said; the more betoken, he had drunk late the night
Dick followed the man with black forebodings.
CHAPTER III - THE ROOM OVER THE CHAPEL
From the battlements nothing further was observed. The sun
journeyed westward, and at last went down; but, to the eyes of all
these eager sentinels, no living thing appeared in the
neighbourhood of Tunstall House.
When the night was at length fairly come, Throgmorton was led to a
room overlooking an angle of the moat. Thence he was lowered with
every precaution; the ripple of his swimming was audible for a
brief period; then a black figure was observed to land by the
branches of a willow and crawl away among the grass. For some half
hour Sir Daniel and Hatch stood eagerly giving ear; but all
remained quiet. The messenger had got away in safety.
Sir Daniel's brow grew clearer. He turned to Hatch.
"Bennet," he said, "this John Amend-All is no more than a man, ye
see. He sleepeth. We will make a good end of him, go to!"
All the afternoon and evening, Dick had been ordered hither and
thither, one command following another, till he was bewildered with
the number and the hurry of commissions. All that time he had seen
no more of Sir Oliver, and nothing of Matcham; and yet both the
priest and the young lad ran continually in his mind. It was now
his chief purpose to escape from Tunstall Moat House as speedily as
might be; and yet, before he went, he desired a word with both of
At length, with a lamp in one hand, he mounted to his new
apartment. It was large, low, and somewhat dark. The window
looked upon the moat, and although it was so high up, it was
heavily barred. The bed was luxurious, with one pillow of down and
one of lavender, and a red coverlet worked in a pattern of roses.
All about the walls were cupboards, locked and padlocked, and
concealed from view by hangings of dark-coloured arras. Dick made
the round, lifting the arras, sounding the panels, seeking vainly
to open the cupboards. He assured himself that the door was strong
and the bolt solid; then he set down his lamp upon a bracket, and
once more looked all around.
For what reason had he been given this chamber? It was larger and
finer than his own. Could it conceal a snare? Was there a secret
entrance? Was it, indeed, haunted? His blood ran a little chilly
in his veins.
Immediately over him the heavy foot of a sentry trod the leads.
Below him, he knew, was the arched roof of the chapel; and next to
the chapel was the hall. Certainly there was a secret passage in
the hall; the eye that had watched him from the arras gave him
proof of that. Was it not more than probable that the passage
extended to the chapel, and, if so, that it had an opening in his
To sleep in such a place, he felt, would be foolhardy. He made his
weapons ready, and took his position in a corner of the room behind
the door. If ill was intended, he would sell his life dear.
The sound of many feet, the challenge, and the password, sounded
overhead along the battlements; the watch was being changed.
And just then there came a scratching at the door of the chamber;
it grew a little louder; then a whisper:
"Dick, Dick, it is I!"
Dick ran to the door, drew the bolt, and admitted Matcham. He was
very pale, and carried a lamp in one hand and a drawn dagger in the
"Shut me the door," he whispered. "Swift, Dick! This house is
full of spies; I hear their feet follow me in the corridors; I hear
them breathe behind the arras."
"Well, content you," returned Dick, "it is closed. We are safe for
this while, if there be safety anywhere within these walls. But my
heart is glad to see you. By the mass, lad, I thought ye were
sped! Where hid ye?"
"It matters not," returned Matcham. "Since we be met, it matters
not. But, Dick, are your eyes open? Have they told you of to-
"Not they," replied Dick. "What make they to-morrow?"
"To-morrow, or to-night, I know not," said the other, "but one time
or other, Dick, they do intend upon your life. I had the proof of
it; I have heard them whisper; nay, they as good as told me."
"Ay," returned Dick, "is it so? I had thought as much."
And he told him the day's occurrences at length.
When it was done, Matcham arose and began, in turn, to examine the
"No," he said, "there is no entrance visible. Yet 'tis a pure
certainty there is one. Dick, I will stay by you. An y' are to
die, I will die with you. And I can help - look! I have stolen a
dagger - I will do my best! And meanwhile, an ye know of any issue,
any sally-port we could get opened, or any window that we might
descend by, I will most joyfully face any jeopardy to flee with
"Jack," said Dick, "by the mass, Jack, y' are the best soul, and
the truest, and the bravest in all England! Give me your hand,
And he grasped the other's hand in silence.
"I will tell you," he resumed. "There is a window, out of which
the messenger descended; the rope should still be in the chamber.
'Tis a hope."
"Hist!" said Matcham.
Both gave ear. There was a sound below the floor; then it paused,
and then began again.
"Some one walketh in the room below," whispered Matcham.
"Nay," returned Dick, "there is no room below; we are above the
chapel. It is my murderer in the secret passage. Well, let him
come; it shall go hard with him;" and he ground his teeth.
"Blow me the lights out," said the other. "Perchance he will
They blew out both the lamps and lay still as death. The footfalls
underneath were very soft, but they were clearly audible. Several
times they came and went; and then there was a loud jar of a key
turning in a lock, followed by a considerable silence.
Presently the steps began again, and then, all of a sudden, a chink
of light appeared in the planking of the room in a far corner. It
widened; a trap-door was being opened, letting in a gush of light.
They could see the strong hand pushing it up; and Dick raised his
cross-bow, waiting for the head to follow.
But now there came an interruption. From a distant corner of the
Moat House shouts began to be heard, and first one voice, and then
several, crying aloud upon a name. This noise had plainly
disconcerted the murderer, for the trap-door was silently lowered
to its place, and the steps hurriedly returned, passed once more
close below the lads, and died away in the distance.
Here was a moment's respite. Dick breathed deep, and then, and not
till then, he gave ear to the disturbance which had interrupted the
attack, and which was now rather increasing than diminishing. All
about the Moat House feet were running, doors were opening and
slamming, and still the voice of Sir Daniel towered above all this
bustle, shouting for "Joanna."
"Joanna!" repeated Dick. "Why, who the murrain should this be?
Here is no Joanna, nor ever hath been. What meaneth it?"
Matcham was silent. He seemed to have drawn further away. But
only a little faint starlight entered by the window, and at the far
end of the apartment, where the pair were, the darkness was
"Jack," said Dick, "I wot not where ye were all day. Saw ye this
"Nay," returned Matcham, "I saw her not."
"Nor heard tell of her?" he pursued.
The steps drew nearer. Sir Daniel was still roaring the name of
Joanna from the courtyard.
"Did ye hear of her?" repeated Dick.
"I heard of her," said Matcham.
"How your voice twitters! What aileth you?" said Dick. "'Tis a
most excellent good fortune, this Joanna; it will take their minds
"Dick," cried Matcham, "I am lost; we are both lost. Let us flee
if there be yet time. They will not rest till they have found me.
Or, see! let me go forth; when they have found me, ye may flee.
Let me forth, Dick - good Dick, let me away!"
She was groping for the bolt, when Dick at last comprehended.
"By the mass!" he cried, "y' are no Jack; y' are Joanna Sedley; y'
are the maid that would not marry me!"
The girl paused, and stood silent and motionless. Dick, too, was
silent for a little; then he spoke again.
"Joanna," he said, "y' 'ave saved my life, and I have saved yours;
and we have seen blood flow, and been friends and enemies - ay, and
I took my belt to thrash you; and all that time I thought ye were a
boy. But now death has me, and my time's out, and before I die I
must say this: Y' are the best maid and the bravest under heaven,
and, if only I could live, I would marry you blithely; and, live or
die, I love you."
She answered nothing.
"Come," he said, "speak up, Jack. Come, be a good maid, and say ye
"Why, Dick," she cried, "would I be here?"
"Well, see ye here," continued Dick, "an we but escape whole we'll
marry; and an we're to die, we die, and there's an end on't. But
now that I think, how found ye my chamber?"
"I asked it of Dame Hatch," she answered.
"Well, the dame's staunch," he answered; "she'll not tell upon you.
We have time before us."
And just then, as if to contradict his words, feet came down the
corridor, and a fist beat roughly on the door.
"Here!" cried a voice. "Open, Master Dick; open!" Dick neither
moved nor answered.
"It is all over," said the girl; and she put her arms about Dick's
One after another, men came trooping to the door. Then Sir Daniel
arrived himself, and there was a sudden cessation of the noise.
"Dick," cried the knight, "be not an ass. The Seven Sleepers had
been awake ere now. We know she is within there. Open, then, the
Dick was again silent.
"Down with it," said Sir Daniel. And immediately his followers
fell savagely upon the door with foot and fist. Solid as it was,
and strongly bolted, it would soon have given way; but once more
fortune interfered. Over the thunderstorm of blows the cry of a
sentinel was heard; it was followed by another; shouts ran along
the battlements, shouts answered out of the wood. In the first
moment of alarm it sounded as if the foresters were carrying the
Moat House by assault. And Sir Daniel and his men, desisting
instantly from their attack upon Dick's chamber, hurried to defend
"Now," cried Dick, "we are saved."
He seized the great old bedstead with both hands, and bent himself
in vain to move it.
"Help me, Jack. For your life's sake, help me stoutly!" he cried.
Between them, with a huge effort, they dragged the big frame of oak
across the room, and thrust it endwise to the chamber door.
"Ye do but make things worse," said Joanna, sadly. "He will then
enter by the trap."
"Not so," replied Dick. "He durst not tell his secret to so many.
It is by the trap that we shall flee. Hark! The attack is over.
Nay, it was none!"
It had, indeed, been no attack; it was the arrival of another party
of stragglers from the defeat of Risingham that had disturbed Sir
Daniel. They had run the gauntlet under cover of the darkness;
they had been admitted by the great gate; and now, with a great
stamping of hoofs and jingle of accoutrements and arms, they were
dismounting in the court.
"He will return anon," said Dick. "To the trap!"
He lighted a lamp, and they went together into the corner of the
room. The open chink through which some light still glittered was
easily discovered, and, taking a stout sword from his small
armoury, Dick thrust it deep into the seam, and weighed strenuously
on the hilt. The trap moved, gaped a little, and at length came
widely open. Seizing it with their hands, the two young folk threw
it back. It disclosed a few steps descending, and at the foot of
them, where the would-be murderer had left it, a burning lamp.
"Now," said Dick, "go first and take the lamp. I will follow to
close the trap."
So they descended one after the other, and as Dick lowered the
trap, the blows began once again to thunder on the panels of the
CHAPTER IV - THE PASSAGE
The passage in which Dick and Joanna now found themselves was
narrow, dirty, and short. At the other end of it, a door stood
partly open; the same door, without doubt, that they had heard the
man unlocking. Heavy cobwebs hung from the roof; and the paved
flooring echoed hollow under the lightest tread.
Beyond the door there were two branches, at right angles. Dick
chose one of them at random, and the pair hurried, with echoing
footsteps, along the hollow of the chapel roof. The top of the
arched ceiling rose like a whale's back in the dim glimmer of the
lamp. Here and there were spyholes, concealed, on the other side,
by the carving of the cornice; and looking down through one of
these, Dick saw the paved floor of the chapel - the altar, with its
burning tapers - and stretched before it on the steps, the figure of
Sir Oliver praying with uplifted hands.
At the other end, they descended a few steps. The passage grew
narrower; the wall upon one hand was now of wood; the noise of
people talking, and a faint flickering of lights, came through the
interstices; and presently they came to a round hole about the size
of a man's eye, and Dick, looking down through it, beheld the
interior of the hall, and some half a dozen men sitting, in their
jacks, about the table, drinking deep and demolishing a venison
pie. These were certainly some of the late arrivals.
"Here is no help," said Dick. "Let us try back."
"Nay," said Joanna; "maybe the passage goeth farther."
And she pushed on. But a few yards farther the passage ended at
the top of a short flight of steps; and it became plain that, as
long as the soldiers occupied the hall, escape was impossible upon
They retraced their steps with all imaginable speed, and set
forward to explore the other branch. It was exceedingly narrow,
scarce wide enough for a large man; and it led them continually up
and down by little break-neck stairs, until even Dick had lost all
notion of his whereabouts.
At length it grew both narrower and lower; the stairs continued to
descend; the walls on either hand became damp and slimy to the
touch; and far in front of them they heard the squeaking and
scuttling of the rats.
"We must be in the dungeons," Dick remarked.
"And still there is no outlet," added Joanna.
"Nay, but an outlet there must be!" Dick answered. Presently, sure
enough, they came to a sharp angle, and then the passage ended in a
flight of steps. On the top of that there was a solid flag of
stone by way of trap, and to this they both set their backs. It
was immovable. "Some one holdeth it," suggested Joanna.
"Not so," said Dick; "for were a man strong as ten, he must still
yield a little. But this resisteth like dead rock. There is a
weight upon the trap. Here is no issue; and, by my sooth, good
Jack, we are here as fairly prisoners as though the gyves were on
our ankle bones. Sit ye then down, and let us talk. After a while
we shall return, when perchance they shall be less carefully upon
their guard; and, who knoweth? we may break out and stand a chance.
But, in my poor opinion, we are as good as shent."
"Dick!" she cried, "alas the day that ever ye should have seen me!
For like a most unhappy and unthankful maid, it is I have led you
"What cheer!" returned Dick. "It was all written, and that which
is written, willy nilly, cometh still to pass. But tell me a
little what manner of a maid ye are, and how ye came into Sir
Daniel's hands; that will do better than to bemoan yourself,
whether for your sake or mine."
"I am an orphan, like yourself, of father and mother," said Joanna;
"and for my great misfortune, Dick, and hitherto for yours, I am a
rich marriage. My Lord Foxham had me to ward; yet it appears Sir
Daniel bought the marriage of me from the king, and a right dear
price he paid for it. So here was I, poor babe, with two great and
rich men fighting which should marry me, and I still at nurse!
Well, then the world changed, and there was a new chancellor, and
Sir Daniel bought the warding of me over the Lord Foxham's head.
And then the world changed again, and Lord Foxham bought my
marriage over Sir Daniel's; and from then to now it went on ill
betwixt the two of them. But still Lord Foxham kept me in his
hands, and was a good lord to me. And at last I was to be married-
-or sold, if ye like it better. Five hundred pounds Lord Foxham
was to get for me. Hamley was the groom's name, and to-morrow,
Dick, of all days in the year, was I to be betrothed. Had it not
come to Sir Daniel, I had been wedded, sure - and never seen thee,
Dick - dear Dick!"
And here she took his hand, and kissed it, with the prettiest
grace; and Dick drew her hand to him and did the like.
"Well," she went on, "Sir Daniel took me unawares in the garden,
and made me dress in these men's clothes, which is a deadly sin for
a woman; and, besides, they fit me not. He rode with me to