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ON recovering from the effects of the wound he had received from the trooper, Guy Fawkes found himself stretched upon a small bed in a cottage, with Viviana and Catesby watching beside him. A thick fold of linen was bandaged round his head, and he was so faint from the great effusion of blood he had sustained, that, after gazing vacantly around him for a few minutes, and but imperfectly comprehending what he beheld, his eyes closed, and he relapsed into insensibility. Restoratives being applied; he revived in a short time, and, in answer to his inquiries as to how he came thither, was informed by Catesby that he had been left for dead by his assailants, who, contenting themselves with making the old steward prisoner, had ridden off in the direction of Chester.
"What has become of Sir William Radcliffe?" asked the wounded man, in a feeble voice.
Catesby raised his finger to his lips, and Fawkes learnt the distressing nature of the question he had asked by the agonizing cry that burst from Viviana. Unable to control her grief, she withdrew, and Catesby then told him that the body of Sir William Radcliffe was lying in an adjoining cottage, whither it had been transported from the scene of the conflict; adding that it was Miss Radcliffe's earnest desire that it should be conveyed to Manchester to the family vault in the Collegiate Church; but that he feared her wish could not be safely complied with.. A messenger, however, had been despatched to Holt; and Sir Everard Digby, and Fathers Garnet and Oldcorne, were momentarily expected, when some course would be decided upon for the disposal of the unfortunate knight's remains. "Poor Viviana!" groaned Fawkes. "She has now no protector."
"Rest easy on that score," rejoined Catesby." She shall never want one while I live."
The wounded man fixed his eyes, now blazing with red and unnatural light, inquiringly upon him, but he said nothing.
"I know what you mean," continued Catesby; " you think I shall wed her, and you are in the right. I shall. The marriage
is essential to our enterprise; and the only obstacle to it is removed."
Fawkes attempted to reply, but his parched tongue refused its office. Catesby arose, and carefully raising his head, held a cup of water to his lips. The sufferer eagerly drained it, and would have asked for more; but seeing that the request would be refused, he left it unuttered.
"Have you examined my wound?" he said, after a pause. Catesby answered in the affirmative.
"And do you judge it mortal?" continued Fawkes. "Not that I have any fear of death. I have looked him in the face too often for that. But I have somewhat on my mind which I would fain discharge before my earthly pilgrimage is ended."
"Do not delay it, then," rejoined the other. "Knowing I speak to a soldier, and a brave one, I do not hesitate to tell you your hours are numbered."
"Heaven's will be done!" exclaimed Fawkes, in a tone of resignation. "I thought myself destined to be one of the chief instruments of the restoration of our holy religion. But I find I was mistaken. When Father Garnet arrives, I beseech you let me see him instantly. Or, if he should not come speedily, entreat Miss Radcliffe to grant me a few moments in private.'
"Why not unburthen yourself to me ?" returned Catesby, distrustfully. "In your circumstances I should desire no better confessor than a brother soldier, or other crucifix than a sword-hilt."
"Nor I," rejoined Fawkes. "But this is no confession I am about to utter. What I have to say relates to others, not to myself."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Catesby. "Then there is the more reason why it should not be deferred. I hold it my duty to tell you that the fever of your wound will, in all probability, produce delirium. Make your communication while your senses remain to you; and whatever you enjoin shall be rigorously fulfilled."
"Will you swear this?" cried Fawkes, eagerly. But before an answer could be returned, he added, in an altered tone, "No, —no,—it cannot be."
"This is no time for anger," rejoined Catesby, sternly," or I should ask whether you doubt the assurance I have given you?"
"I doubt nothing but your compliance with my request," returned Fawkes. And oh ! if you hope to be succoured at your hour of need, tell Miss Radcliffe I desire to speak with her."
"The message will not need to be conveyed," said Viviana, who had noiselessly entered the room; "she is here."
Guy Fawkes turned his gaze in the direction of the voice; and, notwithstanding his own deplorable condition, he was filled with concern at the change wrought in her appearance by the terrible shock she had undergone. Her countenance was as pale as death, her eyes, from which no tears would flow, as is ever