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Title: It Was Marlowe - A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries
Author: Zeigler, William Gleason
Language: English
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IT WAS MARLOWE.

A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries.

by

WILBUR GLEASON ZEIGLER.

   “_It is not for any man to measure, above all it is not for any
   workman in the field of tragic poetry lightly to take on himself
   the responsibility or the authority to pronounce what it is that
   Christopher Marlowe could not have done._”--_Algernon Charles
   Swinburne._



Chicago
Donohue, Henneberry & Co.
407-429 Dearborn St.


[Illustration: “She had turned her face for a last look at the
Combatants.” P. 78.]


Copyright, 1895, by
Wilbur Gleason Zeigler.
All rights reserved.



  TO MY WIFE,
  WHOSE PRAISE IS AMPLE MEED
  FOR MY WORK;
  AND
  TO THE MEMORY OF MY MOTHER,
  THE ONE WHOSE ENCOURAGEMENT WAS THE
  KEENEST SPUR FOR BEST EFFORT,
  THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.

[Illustration]

  Wilbur Gleason Zeigler

June 8, 1898.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


        PAGE.

  Preface                                                            5

  The Meeting in Finbury Fields                                     13

  A Chance to Serve the Church                                      33

  The Drawn Sword                                                   47

  A Clash of Steel                                                  60

  The Cover of His Fame                                             77

  The Apprehension of Anne                                          91

  A Precarious Existence                                           103

  The Passing of Tabbard                                           118

  The Molding of the Mask                                          131

  A Point of Confluence                                            144

  In the Prince’s Wardrobe                                         153

  Where Lamentation Prevailed                                      165

  Over the Body of the Dead                                        175

  Into the Lion’s Mouth                                            191

  The Sacking of St. Olave                                         203

  Guilty on General Principles                                     217

  The Master Hand is Here                                          235

  Death to Thy Client or Mine                                      250

  The Ride to Tyburn                                               267

  Finis Coronat Opus                                               280

  Appendix                                                         297



PREFACE.

    _Nature doth strive with Fortune and his stars
    To make him famous._

    --_I Tamburlaine, ii, 1._

_Nature and Fortune joined to make him great._

    --_King John, iii, 1._


A number of years ago I read the plays of Christopher Marlowe; and as
evidence of the impression they made upon me, there is still among my
recent notes gathered for this romance, the extracts I then wrote down
from his Tamburlaine and Faustus. There was something in them to excite
more than the passing interest of a boy; and for a long time I mourned
over the accepted account of the untimely, and disgraceful ending of
that unfortunate poet--“our elder Shelley,” as Swinburne has termed
him. Later the Bacon-Shakespere controversy attracted my attention;
and while I became skeptical concerning the authorship by William
Shakespere of the dramas that bear his name, I could not attribute them
to the pen of Francis Bacon.

There are many reasons for my disbelief, in the solution of the mystery
as presented by the Baconians, but it has not arisen from my failure to
study the proofs and argument. One reason, however, must be mentioned.
A man, so solicitous of his fame as to leave it in his will “to
foreign nations and the next ages,” would not, if he had written the
plays, have departed this life without some mention of them. Whoever
wrote them was not blind to their merits; and of his knowledge of their
enduring quality we have the author’s own opinion in the lines:

    “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
     Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.”

Shakespere also left a will, as mean and petty in its details of “gilt
boles,” “wearing apparel” and money to “buy them ringes,” as though
conceived by a tiller of the soil whose eyes had never been raised
above his plow-handles. It had been carefully prepared three months
before his death, and subscribed while his “mind was yet unclouded;”
but, as in the case of Bacon, we listen vainly for one word from the
testator concerning the grandest productions of all time. Ye who have
sweat in striking “the second heat upon the Muse’s anvil,” think of the
utter indifference of both these men concerning the “living lines” of
Hamlet and of Richard!

With the fame of Shakespere thus rudely shaken, and that of Bacon
firmly set upon the enduring monument of law and philosophy which he
alone had raised for himself, I began groping for a solution of these
mysterious questions. Who wrote the plays? Why was their authorship
concealed?

As to the first inquiry, my belief that Christopher Marlowe could
have written the plays, had his life been sufficiently prolonged,
was supported by the opinions of Phillips, Collier, Dowden, Malone,
Swinburne and Dyce [notes 1-6.]

This belief was founded upon the striking similarity of the strongest
portions of his acknowledged works to passages of the Shakespere
plays; the tendency of each to degenerate into pomposity and bombast
in passages of tragic pathos [note 7]; the similar treatment of
characters, and the like spirit that pervades them. (The Shakespere
plays, free as they are from any trace of a hand during the period when
it was moved by an immature mind, seem like a continuation of the works
of the earlier master, and evolved when the author was at the meridian
of his power.)

It has been said that “Marlowe could not don alternately the buskin
and the sock,” and that he “never attempted to write a comic scene,”
and thus it would have been impossible for him to have written the
light and witty portions of the plays. The conclusion of Bullen, above
quoted, is not well founded. There are comic scenes in Faustus, and
originally there were like scenes for “vain, conceited fondlings” in
the “stately history” of Tamburlaine.

Against the theory of the authorship of Marlowe, was the record of his
death in June, 1593, when at the age of 29 years, a period of life
all too short to have enabled him to have produced much, if any, more
than the work which is known, beyond reasonable doubt, to be his. The
accredited account is that he was slain with his own sword in a tavern
brawl. Upon a careful examination of all the reports, I found them
loose and contradictory. In September, 1593, Harvey wrote that his
death was from the plague [note 8]; in 1597, Beard, the Puritan, wrote
that he was killed in the streets of London [note 9]; in 1598, Meres
referred to Beard’s account without correcting it [note 10]; in 1600,
Vaughn wrote that he was killed by “one named Ingram” [note 11]; in
1600, Rowland attributed the death to drinking [note 12]; about 1680,
Aubrey wrote that he was the victim of the famous duel of 1598, when
Ben Jonson killed his adversary [note 13]; and the burial register of
the parish church of St. Nicholas, in Deptford, contains the entry that
he was slain by Francis Frazer [note 14].

But no investigation brought to light what became of his slayer. There
is no record yet discovered of his escape or trial. Although Ben
Jonson was thrown into prison and “brought near the gallows” for his
duel on Bunhill, the alleged slayer of “kynd Kit Marloe” appears to
have vanished so utterly that it was not until within the last quarter
of this nineteenth century that even his name written in the burial
register became correctly known to the world.

It might be said that this obscurity concerning the death of Marlowe
was occasioned by the dearth of facilities for the conveyance of news,
but we can not close our eyes to the fact that it was not an ignorant
age, but one of criticism, violent controversial correspondence, and
pamphleteering. And then it was not the case of an obscure person
suddenly removed from the walks of life. Although violently attacked
a few years previously by contemporaries [note 15], for his allusion
to “the jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits” [note 16], and for the
innovations that his genius brought about upon the English stage [note
17], the height of his fame and the reverence in which he was held by
the English intellectual world was shown by Petowe, Chapman, Peele,
Blunt, Harvey, Chettle, and Drayton [notes 18-24]. It was praise that
emanated from the lips of these poets and writers before the close
of the year 1600. To them he was “the famous gracer of tragedians,”
“the highest mind that ever haunted Paul’s,” the “king of poets,” “the
muses’ darling,” that

    “Free soul whose living subject stood
    Up to the chin in the Pierian flood.”

How striking appears this praise when contrasted with the meager
contemporary notices of Shakespere by obscure writers [note 25]!

Among this crowd of admirers we catch no glimpse of the man from
Stratford-on-Avon, whom the most devout of his followers recognize, in
the earliest of the plays, as merely a “pupil” of “the earlier master.”
If it were his voice that was then uttering the “parrot-like note of
plagery,”[1] how unpardonable seems his silence, standing, as he did,
in the presence of the mighty dead!

These tributes to the memory of Marlowe, all with the omission of
the exact nature of his death; and on the other side, the full but
contradictory reports by rancorous Puritan scribblers, of the killing
of “this barking dogge,”[2] led me irresistibly to an answer to the
second question. Why was the authorship of the plays concealed?

The most plausible answer was that that master spirit labored until his
death under some tremendous fear. What else but the fear of arrest and
capital punishment for some crime could have kept him silent until,
unwarned and unprepared, he entered “the undiscovered country?”

Was it not possible that this crime was committed in 1593? If so, would
it not have kept this “king of poets” hidden in just such condition
of darkened vision, isolation and solitude as Frederic Schlegel [note
26] deemed imperative for the production of these austere tragedies?
Suppose this condition had existed for five years; that is, from 1593
to 1598; all of the stronger plays which it is possible to attribute
to the pen of one man could have been written. And what occurred
during those five years? Several of Marlowe’s acknowledged dramas were
published under his name [note 27], and at least Titus Andronicus,
Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, and Richard III appeared without the
name of any author on their title pages [note 28]. In 1598 the name
of “W. Shakespere” made its first appearance [note 29] on some of the
editions. Did Marlowe die in 1598, instead of 1593? Was Aubrey right?

Upon these conjectural answers to the questions of who was the author,
and why did he conceal his identity, I have built the story of “It
Was Marlowe,” and I trust that in its narration I have made my theory
plausible. But whether or not such has been the result, if through this
effort I have awakened, or increased the reader’s interest in a being
as grandly illumined with the flame of pure intellect as any who have,
since his consecration, knelt at the shrine of ideal beauty, or aspired
to ideal power, my work has not been entirely futile.

  THE AUTHOR.



“IT WAS MARLOWE.”



THE MEETING IN FINBURY FIELDS.


    _The man that on the forehead of his fortune
    Bears figures of renown and miracle._

    --_I. Tamburlaine, ii._

_A combination, and a form, indeed, Where every god did seem to set his
seal, To give the world assurance of a man._

    --_Hamlet, iii, 4._


At the point where the path from the Theater penetrated the brick
wall on the eastern boundary of Finbury Fields, late in the afternoon
of June the first, 1593, a man had paused, apparently to prevent
overtaking a crowd that was preceding him in the direction of the
Shore-ditch Highway.

A fog of varying density, that had already enveloped the streets of
London, was drifting across the fields, and hid not only the Theater
and Curtain from view, but also the buildings, nearer at hand, of the
dissolved Priory of Holywell. In spite of the obscuring mist, if one
had stood at one end of the broken wall while the man, just spoken of,
had paused in the center of the opening, the form and features of the
latter could have been seen to advantage. His face would first have
attracted attention. Both energy and sensibility could have been traced
upon it even in repose when the dark and glowing eyes were closed. The
first characteristic was displayed in a close-shaven chin which was
almost pugnacious in its squareness, and in a nose which, while too
fine for that of a Cæsar, had all the lordly outline of the latter.
Intelligence and sensitiveness were written on the full and finely
curved lips, and the glow upon his cheeks pronounced the extreme of
temperance in habit, or an inexhaustible power of recuperation. In the
eyes and broad and compact forehead evidences of genius were disclosed,
but it could not be determined whether it was in the fiery glance of
the former, or in the serenity of the latter, that such proof was
written. The letters were of a type intelligible to all readers. The
lines of thought, between his brows and on his cheeks, were indicative
of age, but his laugh was from the heart of youth alone. Between the
two one would have guessed his years correctly as close to thirty.

He was slender in stature and slightly above medium height. His dress
was of the extreme style of the period; but although rich in texture,
was worn with much use, and stained from evident dissipation. The
black cloak, with buff silk lining, was torn across one shoulder. The
scarlet doublet, because of missing buttons, was open more than its
maker intended, to show the vest of same color, and gayly embroidered
shirt front. The belt around the doublet was enriched with silver
cord, and held a long rapier, whose bejeweled hilt was enough to excite
the cupidity of vagrants or rufflers. The trunk hose of black fabric,
reaching half way down his upper leg, was slashed so as to admit the
protruding of purple silk, while tights of the latter color extended
from the bottoms of the trunks down into the low shoes. He wore a flat
cap with single white feather, and under it a mass of black hair hung
to his shoulders.

The crowd before him was one dispersing after a short afternoon
performance[3] at both theaters. It was smaller than usual and was the
last of the season. The Plague had firmly engrafted itself in the city,
and was gathering new life with increase of deaths.

Even in the suburbs the red crosses were being marked upon the doors
of infected houses. A week previously, the Lord Mayor had issued a
proclamation prohibiting the holding open of places of amusement during
the prevalence of the epidemic. This order, aimed at the gathering of
multitudes where germs of disease might be readily propagated, was
nugatory outside the city walls, but it had had its effect upon the
theater-going public. It was a warning of greater force than those
thundered from the pulpits. The hegira of the wealthier class of people
to the country had begun, and the poorer classes were closing their
doors and venturing out only as necessity compelled.

It was this condition of affairs that had caused the managers of the
play-houses in Finbury Fields to announce a closing of their doors, and
the prospect of a reopening before the fall, or possibly the winter
season, was not encouraging.

Such a cessation of occupation assured discomfort and perhaps misery
to the man described; for his livelihood depended upon the prosperity
of the theaters; but if he had at any time seriously considered the
matter, the consideration had in no wise affected his perennial good
humor. He laughed at the unsuccessful attempts of several crows at
lighting upon one of the wings of a near windmill that turned slightly
one way and then another in the shifting breeze. And then again he was
amused at the actions of an apparently intoxicated man, who, having
stumbled from the path, had in the fog encountered the wall near by,
and with one hand against it was repeating in loud voice the lines he
had lately heard from the lips of a ranting actor:

    “Swing back the gates, thou triple-headed fiend,
     Or by the gods this hand will draw a blade
     To make thy shoulders strangers to thy head.”

The laugh which these words and gestures awakened on the part of the
quiet observer just described was joined in by another man who was
approaching by the same path. The latter had been whistling with all
the ardor and enthusiasm of tender years and an undisturbed mind, until
the loud voice of the drunkard provoked him to laughter.

He was a beardless youth of apparently twenty years of age. As he
laughed his little blue eyes were almost closed beneath his red
eyebrows, so that their expression alone was enough to excite the
merriment of an observer. His wide open mouth revealed two rows of
white teeth, separated by at least two inches of space at the moment
that the loudest peal of laughter came forth. His round cheeks were
red with superabundance of health, and proclaimed contact with country
air. It was not an overshrewd face nor one showing resolution; but it
was so open, so frank and good natured, that even a person injured by
carelessness on the part of its owner would have paused in expressing a
natural remonstrance.

One would have expected to have seen a rough doublet of Kendal green,
or of homespun russet, with patched trousers and low cockers upon the
slender figure beneath this face; but, on the contrary, he was attired
in a neat-fitting garb appropriate for the page of a lord or rich
country squire. His blue coat, with velvet facing, had even an Italian
ruff with a hundred double turnings upon it. A short sword was belted
at his waist, and his trunks, of strong material, disappeared into top
boots. The latter, however, were patched, of crude manufacture, and
looked to have been worn through plowed fields at some recent period.
Neither was his hat in keeping with his new body apparel, but was one
evidently picked, for wearing on this particular expedition, out of
some pile of discarded garments of the man whom he served.

As he saw the man first described a gleam of recognition showed in his
face.

“Ho!” he exclaimed, joyfully, “Is that you?”

“None else,” returned the other, carelessly, as though the discovery of
himself by the stranger was of the least concern.

“Sir Kit?” queried the youth, taking off a hat, still adorned with a
broken feather, and bowing with a grace which was evidently a recent
acquirement, for it savored of a contact with people far removed from a
service in which he must have acquired his rough field boots.

“‘Sir,’ if so you will have it, but ‘Kit’ without doubt,” answered the
man addressed, smiling at the youth’s appearance, and at the same time
taking an interest in the jolly face of its owner. The latter feeling
caused him to inquire:

“Hast thou any matter of concern to communicate to me?”

“You do not recognize me,” returned the stranger, as though the matter
of his identity was first necessary to be established.

The gentleman studied the other for a moment, and then said:

“I have seen thy face before, but can not place thee. Where was it and
who are you?”

“You saw me in Deptford, and my name is Tabbard. I come now from Sayes
Court, where I have lately entered into better service than that of an
attendant upon gentle folk in a wayside inn. The duke took a fancy to
me.”

“And gave you a new doublet, and his old hat, eh?”

“True,” said Tabbard, “and the promise of long service, good wages and
promotion.”

“Your star is in the ascendant,” laughed the other, and then added,
“but what do you want to tell me?”

“It is this. The Duke of Sussex is at Sayes Court now, and many more
who have left London with him. You are to attend there a masque with
the remainder of the Earl’s actors.”

“Well,” interrupted the other, impatiently.

“But I am not here to tell you that alone. When I last saw you, you
were at the Golden Hind, Dodsman’s tavern, in Deptford. They called me
Tabbard there, and so did you when I waited upon you, and you gave me
an angel for my attendance.”

“I do not remember the gold. When I give gold my memory is gone as
well,” said the other, while an expressive smile played upon his lips.

“Well,” again began Tabbard, hurriedly, “at the same time that you were
there, a gentleman named Manuel Crossford, from Canterbury, was there
also with his daughter.”

“Yes, yes,” the man addressed as Kit exclaimed, and with it all the
reserve that he had maintained vanished.

“Let details go,” he continued, grasping Tabbard’s arm, “I remember it
all and you too. What of her?”

“The father did not look favorably upon your suit.”

“You evidently learned more than was proper for one in your position,”
again interrupted the other, “but you are certainly not here to badger
words with me. What else have you to say?”

The two men had moved close to one end of the brick wall, so as to
avoid being brushed against by the occasional stragglers, who were
still issuing from the mist in one direction and vanishing in the
other. These stragglers came singly, in pairs, and in groups. Here
would ride by a mounted cavalier in Spanish hat, loose velvet cloak
that covered him to his knees, and high boots rattling with clumsy
silver spurs. Then close in the latter’s wake would follow a ragged,
sneaking vagrant of the Straits,[4] who having caught a glimpse of the
spurs and the gold cord on the rider’s hat, was now intent on dogging
him, until upon the latter’s dismounting at some ordinary or ale-house
within the city, a groat might be earned by holding the horse. After
these, a line of truant apprentices would stagger by with locked arms
and swaying black-capped heads, endeavoring, by blocking the path, to
keep a group of gayly dressed women from hurrying toward the tenements
in the Garden Alleys.[5]

The sight of these trailing members of the great body of people which
had disappeared did not seem to disturb the attention of the gentleman
or his inferior; and pausing but for a moment the latter continued:

“Well, she is there at the Golden Hind to-day. I saw her face at one
of the windows as I was riding by and then I remembered your words to
never fail to inform you if I ever saw her again. I dismounted and went
in.”

“Was she there alone?” asked Kit, without endeavoring to conceal his
interest.

“I do not know, except----”

“And what do you know?”

“Let me proceed. Thou art too impatient. A line of horses was before
the place and a crowd inside. I went through the tap-room and up the
staircase without having made up my mind how to announce myself as
coming from thee--coming from thee, mind--or for what purpose; and
marry sir, she was at the head of the stairs and I simply blurted out:
‘Kit will be here to-night, and would see thee.’”

“And what answer made she, thou fool?”

“‘At nine,’ she said sir, ‘and tell him not to fail,’ and at that
moment a man who had followed me into the hall set his foot on the
lower stair and stumbled. This must have startled her, for she stopped
speaking.”

“And didst thou not ask the number of the room?”

“Wait. I heard the step and looked below, and when I turned again her
finger was on her lips and she drew back.”

“Canst thou never learn expedition?” exclaimed the other, biting his
lip.

“She was behind the balustrade,” resumed Tabbard, unmindful of the
interruption, “and where the light from the skylight fell upon her. He
could not see her, nor she him, but she heard him hit the stairs. I say
he could not see----”

“Go on, you stumble in your speech.”

“----not see her, but I could. She was dressed like a lady; her cheeks
pink, her eyes as dark as thine own; her hair golden.”

“The same,” uttered the other, nodding his head.

“She went into the room with carved panels on the door.”

“Are they not all carved?”

“May be so; but I think not. No, ’twas the first guest’s room; the
second door on the right from the head of the stairs. The man passed me
as I went down.”

“Who was he?”

“I never saw him before.”

“Was he not her father?”

“Oh, no. He was a young man dressed in grand style. In face he was so
like thee that I almost stopped him as I have thee now.”

“And did you make no inquiry at the bar?”

“The tapster was busy; the serving men were strangers to me, and
Dodsman was not in sight.”

“And you learned nothing more?”

“No; I mounted and came on.”

“Marry, and why didst thou not wait, and why didst thou not find me
before?” questioned the other, in tones of reproof. “It is now near six
o’clock and three miles lie between here and London bridge and then
another three miles or more to Deptford.”

“Is that not time enough?”

“And how much can one spare from it for a full meal and a glass of
Canary at the Red Bull or the Mermaid? I would not chance more than a
mug of sack and a square of black bread at the ale-house next to the
London wall. And how can one push his horse faster than a walk through
such a fog as this? But let us press on.”

Through the fields they proceeded along a wide path unfenced and
bordered with stretches of grass and rushes.

“You ask me why I did not wait for knowledge about the lady,” at length
said Tabbard, thinking that some explanation was still due. “It was
then late, and besides the message I had for the Earl’s actors, I
wished to see Gabriel Spencer as the king in ‘Edward the Second,’ at
the Theater. I could not miss that, Sir Kit.”

“And nearly missed seeing me,” said Kit, absently.

“I expected to see thee there, too. For admission I paid my last penny,
or at not seeing thee on the stage I should have gone to the other
playhouse. I tried to go into the galleries, but an upstart youth in
bare head and with sword at his side, like one of the Queen’s men,
forced me back, demanding another penny. Before me went a crowd of
women, and the galleries were filled with them. Unlike those in the
open pit, they sat under roof and without fear of rain.[6] So into the
pit I went, and must needs have paid another penny for a seat had not
Dudden, a countryman of mine from near Maidstone, in Kent, whom I had
not seen for four years, touched me on the shoulder and bade me squeeze
in between him and a friend. They had brought bottles of sack in with
them,[7] and not a drink would they take without my joining them.”

“And did that require much urging?”

“Little at first,” answered Tabbard, “but when once the play was well
on, I could not drink for fear of taking my eyes from the stage; not
that the devil heads on the tops of the posts on each side interested
me, or the dandies on the stools and dried rushes on the stage-floor[8]
under these heads, but the actors! Ah, but the actors, Sir Kit! Were
there ever such crimson doublets and cloaks with copper lacings worn?
And the rich dresses that the men wore, who played the parts of the
Queen and ladies, made me think that they had broken into the wardrobe
at Whitehall. And do ladies never play such parts, Sir Kit?”

“Never,”[9] answered the other, shaking his head.

“But Dudden swore they were ladies, and when one of the spectators
on the stage hissed the Queen for forgetting a line he threw one of
the empty bottles of sack at him. It was all so grand, so fierce, so
bloody. And Dudden went into a drunken fit when the head of Mortimer
was brought in. But that was at the end. My own heart was in my throat
at the sight of the mowers, with their Welch hooks, taking the king
captive.”

“Art thou so easily disturbed, fellow?” asked Kit, with a twinkle in
his eye.

“Prut!” exclaimed Tabbard, “Thou couldst never have seen the play, if
you say that. What man could sit still when the king moaned; ‘Lay me on
a litter and to the gates of hell----’”

“Hold,” interrupted the other, “not quite so. These are the words:

    ‘A litter hast thou? Lay me in a hearse,
     And to the gates of hell convey me hence:
     Let Pluto’s bells ring out my fatal knell,
     And hags howl for my death at Charon’s shore.’”

“Then he throws off his disguise,” continued Tabbard, excitedly. “Why
those sound like the very words. Didst thou ever play the part of
Edward?”

“Nay,” said Kit, shaking his head.

“Or Gaveston or Mortimer?”

“Nay, neither.”

Tabbard looked at his companion with open mouth, and then asked:

“And what says the king when he hands the Bishop his crown?”

“Now, sweet God of Heaven, make me despise this transitory pomp,”
answered the other without hesitation.

“Well, and dost thou know all the play?” asked Tabbard in amazement.

“Much of it,” came the answer.

“And never was in it as an actor?”

“Never.”

“And how comes it that you know it all?”

“I wrote it,” quietly answered the other.

“Wrote it!” exclaimed Tabbard, “and then thou art----”

“Christopher Marlowe,” continued the gentleman, “commonly called Kit.”

The effect on the excited youth was something magical. He stopped
talking but gave vent to a prolonged “Oh,” that died into a whisper.
He was in the presence of genius; this was the man who had written
the lines which for three hours under a hot sun, he had listened to
in silent awe and tremblings of terror. He could scarcely believe his
eyes; and Marlowe noticing Tabbard’s stupid amazement said:

“How much sack did you punish, Tabbard?”

The question was designed to bring the latter-mentioned person out of
his stupefaction, and it had this effect; but in his recovery Tabbard’s
wonder ran along the mental line of inquiry concerning how it was that
genius could be interested in such common matters.

“Enough to have lost my way and the place where I tied my horse,” at
length answered Tabbard, recovering his voice, and looking about him.

“Tied him? Witless, you should have had a boy hold him,” said Marlowe,
exhibiting some interest in the welfare of the man who had brought him
the message of all others the most pleasing to his ear.

“Then I needst must have cheated the boy, for I have not an old Harry
Groat in my pocket,” answered Tabbard, spreading his hands open before
him, with palms turned up.

“It is not safe to trust one’s animal with rope and post in these
fields nor in this lane,” said Marlowe in the tone of an adviser.

“Well a boy held two horses near where I tied mine to a tree not a
great way from this opening. But for the fog I could see him. And I
said ‘keep an eye on him. He can not be held.’”

“Which was false, undoubtedly,” nodded Marlowe, smiling.

“Ay, for the brute needs spurs for walking smooth roads. But the
watching required no labor.”

“And I suppose that your horse is a pleasing sight to look upon,” said
the other.

“True, Sir Kit, and so the score will be even.”

“Was one horse gray that the boy held, and one black, and did the boy
wear a cap and stand under an apple tree next to the Priory wall?”

“That is all true,” responded Tabbard.

“Well, the gray horse is mine,” said Marlowe.

“And why did you leave him so far from the entrance to the
play-houses?” asked Tabbard.

“A man who has creditors must appear to be a beggar on foot. I limped
to the theater and have now let the crowd precede me as you see,”
explained the other, and then noticing a group emerging from the fog,
he exclaimed: “Ah! here the boy is now, and there is your horse where
you tied him.”

The pair had been following the path for some distance, and now
mounting their horses, rode down the lane between brick walls, over
which great orchard trees extended their branches, and again on between
low houses with green blinds where the miserable outcasts of the city
had located themselves. Before them ran the Shore-ditch highway, and
entering this they rode on toward the invisible city wall.

In this vacancy of event, there is space for an epitome of the period,
in so far as it affected the condition of the principal character
of this romance. The somberness of the natural scenery, and the
obscurity of the sky were in keeping with his social surroundings and
the uncertainty of his existence. The fog might rise disclosing a sky
conducive of joyous spirits, or it might gather so dense that naught
but the austere form of Melancholy, with her trailing robes of black,
could walk with firm and unfaltering strides within it. It was the
latter condition that was to follow. At that moment, in the mind of
Marlowe, the rosiest dreams of life pursued one another as though
conceived by an Ovid, and impelled by the spirit of a Homer; but they
were to be buried in the blackness of what seemed eternal night.

Fired with the ambition of a god, he had issued from the studious walks
of Cambridge in 1587. Finding dramatic art confined to a close circle,
wherein only rhyming productions were considered fit for presentation
on the stage, and the public clamorous for aught that possessed the
fire of action and the thunder of bombastic declamation, he cast from
his shoulders the splendid cloak of rhyme, in which for a moment he had
adorned himself, and with the plain but majestic front of a warrior,
with feet in the buskins of an actor, he presented himself before the
public. It fell in adoration at his feet. The thunder of his tread
shook all the gods of rhyme from their immemorial thrones, and from
amid the ruins Greene, Nashe and others lifted their protesting voices.
Recognizing him as the son of the clerk of the parish church of St.
Mary, Greene insisted that he could not “write true English without the
help of clerks of parish churches,”[10] and Nashe, like Gervinus in his
analysis of the “Shakespere” plays, saw in the productions of this late
graduate of Cambridge and dramatic innovator, the lines of Seneca read
under the light of the English candle.[11] But all in vain was the
outcry.

In the production of Tamburlaine he had with one bound reached an
eminence from which it was impossible to dislodge him,[12] and, in
quick succession, followed the dramas of Faustus, The Jew of Malta,
Edward the Second, and the Massacre at Paris. These plays had been
produced during a term of six years, wherein he had alternated his
afternoon occupation as an actor at the Curtaine,[13] with nights as
a dramatic writer. These productions, teeming with majestic lines,
and filled with a spirit from “translunary” sources, required not the
critical minds of a later school of commentators to establish their
worth.[14] Some passages are still recognized as having “no parallel in
all the range of tragedy.”[15] Thus it was that at this period he was
throned in a school where all his fellows were his servile imitators.
Among them were Nashe, Peele, and Lilly; but poor Greene, with one
more outburst against the “upstart crow,” with “his tygres heart,”[16]
who could have been none else than the writer whom he had attacked in
1587, had finished his unfortunate career. And his career was the one
being pursued by all these fiery and impatient souls. It was Marlowe,
especially, who had plunged into all the mad excesses of an unbridled
life,[17] the temporary drift of a youth with convictions unsettled by
draughts from Greek philosophers, senses inflamed by the voluptuousness
of Ovid, and an existence checkered by frequent shadows of poverty
and flitting gleams of plenty. It was the unsettled state of vigorous
youth, augmented by the peculiar social conditions then existing.

Upon the continent the civil wars of Henry IV. had approached their
close. In England the Starchamber held its secret sessions; the block
of the executioner was kept warm with the blood of the insecure
nobility; while the torch for the fires of heretics was never allowed
to smolder. Elizabeth had been on the throne 35 years; Francis Bacon,
with mind bent on pre-eminence as a philosophic writer, was her counsel
learned extraordinary, and William Shakespere, six years previously
arrived from the obscure village of Stratford-on-Avon, was a member of
Lord Pembroke’s Company of actors. There were no theaters at that time
within the walls of the city; histrionic exhibitions being presented
on the boards of the “gorgeous playing houses erected in the fields.”
The edict against strolling players was rigorously enforced; freedom
of expression in matters of religious belief was the subject of penal
laws, and any animadversions concerning the policy of the government
were declared treasonable.

As an evidence of the barbarity of the times, the Southwark end of
the London bridge was decorated with the heads of thirty traitors,
all of which had fallen beneath the axe of the executioner after the
hanging and disemboweling of the bodies. The tower held many martyrs
of religion; and Fleet Street prison, with its foul quarters, was the
abiding place of hopeless prisoners for debt. If the pinch of poverty
of itself was spur enough to have produced the poems of Goldsmith, the
wonder at the immortal dramas and poems of the Elizabethan era must
vanish upon consideration of what poverty and debt then meant, and the
insecurity of the beggar who gave expression to his coin-producing
thoughts.

It was during a time, thus out of joint, that Hamlet and Richard the
III. walked, as embodied entities, from the brain of their author.
Besides the barbarity of the period, the intolerant spirit, and
the harsh laws, did any other factor add its motive power toward
these productions? Had some crisis been reached in the life of the
author greater than that evolved through poverty and the prospect of
imprisonment alone?



A CHANCE TO SERVE THE CHURCH.

    _Now will I show myself
    To have more of the serpent then the dove;
    That is more knave than fool._

    --_The Jew of Malta, ii, 3._

    _And thus I clothe my naked villainy
    With odd old ends stolen forth of holy writ,
    And seem a saint when most I play the devil._

    --_King Richard III, i, 3._


Under the newly-cast sign of an iron dolphin suspended before the
ale-house of that name, the two horsemen, who had ridden abreast from
Finbury Fields, dismounted for hasty refreshment. While Tabbard was
securing the horses near the end of the long stone trough, at the
front of the building, his waiting companion was idly surveying the
suroundings.

Directly across the unpaved highway, he could see the bulky steeple
of the parish church of Saint Botolph lifting itself into the misty
air, and just beyond the brick walls of the structure, the miserable
churchyard of Petty France. The few straggling headstones of the graves
of a multitude of buried foreigners could be faintly discerned under
scrubby trees inclosed with a fence of crumbling masonry. Its southern
edge was bordered by the town ditch, once broad enough for the defense
of the city, but now showing only a narrow black mouth under the
shadow of the old Roman wall. The latter was near enough to be visible,
and, coming out of the fog from east and west, terminated in stone
bulwarks against which the ancient gates of Bishopsgate were hung.
These were swung back, revealing a black expanse below which ran the
unseen road into the metropolis.

The scene was desolate in the extreme, but the spirits of the silent
observer had reached too high a pitch of exaltation to be affected by
any aspect of Nature. The news brought him by the present henchman
of the Duke of Sussex and past servant of the Golden Hind, had
lifted his mind above the plane where even thoughts of approaching
financial distress or fears of the plague could arise, much less any
sober-colored clouds be created by what passed before the eye.

The bearer of the message, menial though he was, had rendered too
valuable a service to be treated in any other manner than as a good
fellow of equal rank with himself. Hence, he had thrown off the
superiority he generally assumed amid the common rabble, and after
listening affably to the remarks of Tabbard, had held him for a meal at
the Dolphin.

“How long will those gates be open?” asked Tabbard, looking in the
direction of the wall.

“Until ten o’clock, and even after that hour you can pass through if
you pound upon their fronts loudly enough to wake the keeper, who
sleeps within the little black house close to the wall on the southern
side. But in pounding, mind thee, Tabbard,” continued the speaker, with
a smile, “see to it that you do not mar the stone features of the full
length figure of King Richard the Second, which with broken scepter
in his hand, stands out from the northern front of one of the rotting
gates.”

“He must have his face now against the wall, for they are swung
outward,” remarked Tabbard.

“Yes, for the nonce, as closely hidden as the manner of his violent
death.”

“Ah,” said Tabbard, his mind crowded with the thoughts of the existing
religious persecutions, “did he espouse the cause of the Papists?”

“Nay, my good fellow, that was two hundred years ago, when the
fury of the church, then in power, expended itself mainly in bulls
of excommunication. The violence of these days did not exist; but
still conflicting doctrines entertained by the clergy disturbed the
serenity of Rome, and the chief heretic was Wycliffe, whom the young
king protected. That priest sowed the most fruitful seeds of the
Reformation; but none of the Brownists or Puritans appear to recognize,
amid the tenets of their beliefs, the handwriting of that master
husbandman.”

“And I suppose that he was burnt, was he not?”

“After death.”

“In hell’s everlasting fire, eh?”

“Nay, I do not mean that. He died a natural death; but many years
after, his body was taken from its grave and publicly burned.”

“Little it disturbed him, I wot,” remarked Tabbard.

“So it seems that fanaticism rests not even with the death of the
person on whom it would wreak its fury, and it burns even in the
breasts of men as mild looking as yonder group of Puritans.”

He pointed to the middle of the road close before them where several
men were slowly walking toward Houndsditch. The plainness of their
dress, of the same color from head to foot, and of exactly similar cut,
was in striking contrast with the apparel of the two men whom they were
passing.

Their broad brimmed hats were high-crowned and flat at the top, and
pulled down so low that only four inches of face were visible above
the deep collars of their gray coats. The latter were hung with heavy
capes, and fronted with pin-head buttons to the lowest point below
their waists. Loose breeches disappeared at their knees into rough
looking high-boots with great rolling tops.

Their appearance excited Tabbard to laughter. Although still regarded
as objects of ridicule by the irreligious populace and the body of the
established church, the more thoughtful of those of adverse belief
were beginning to recognize in the Puritans’ open and covert attacks
upon the follies and vices of the times, the growth of a moral and
political power which likewise demanded forcible suppression. Their
railing libels against the clergy of the established church had at
length formed a pretext for Parliament to pass an act that year making
Puritanism an indictable offense. Their assembling had already been
prohibited by the Black Act of 1584.

Despite their persecution, the zeal of the dissenters continued in
their attacks upon what they considered crying evils. They stood ready
to apprehend all offenders against such ecclesiastical laws as upheld
the truth and sacredness of religion and the divinity of Christ.
So far as Romanism might be by them considered destructive of true
religion, they were ready to wield the sword forged by the Episcopalian
Parliament for the dismemberment of the Papists. Many a non-conformist
discovered in the person of the prosecuting witness swearing against
him a member of the sect of Brownists. But particularly in the case
of apostates and blasphemers the Puritans and Brownists directed
their efforts toward having meted out to the offender the effective
punishment provided by law.

As the two men turned and approached the door of the tavern, a man
with deep-set eyes, sunken nose and red-bearded face, and dressed
in the garb of a Puritan, hurriedly withdrew his face from a window
adjoining the entrance. The sinister expression of his face had grown
more pronounced during the last moment of his survey of the newcomers;
for it was at them that his gaze had been directed. It was evident
that their approach had disturbed him greatly; but the disturbance was
rather that of joy than of alarm. Still, whatever the sight created
or revived in the mind of Richard Bame, the fanatic, his movements
elicited the fact that he was either not desirous of the impending
meeting, or that he considered that his presence in another quarter
would be more to his advantage. He had seen the gentleman in the black
cloak before, but not to the knowledge of the latter, so it was not
the dread of an encounter that made Bame turn and hasten toward the
side-door of the dimly lighted tap-room. It was the second step which
he had taken in what he considered a holy cause; of most evil effect
it might be to the man approaching. As the former passed the big chair
in which the fat hostess of the Dolphin sat knitting he muttered not
too softly to be kept from ears already aroused at the note of his
departure:

“My chance to serve the church is ripe.”

He passed into the side alley leading to the high road when the two men
entered the room. The leader spoke without giving the woman chance for
words of greeting:

“Good hostess, a hasty snack is what we want.”

“Of what shall it be?” she asked.

“Sack, cheese, bread and two pieces of meat as big as your hand. Drop
yourself there, Tabbard?”

The speaker had tossed his cloak over the back of a chair as he spoke
and as hastily filled another. In impatience he drummed a tattoo with
one of his feet on the smooth oaken floor; and, apparently without
noting the freshness of the bare walls and the chimney in which no fire
had ever burned, his eyes roamed around the room.

“Just built,” remarked Tabbard.

“Yes,” returned the hostess, setting the dishes called for before
the two strangers and smiling as though she felt flattered over the
knowledge that her house was the subject of observation and comment.

“Where went the old building?” asked Tabbard.

The hostess turned her hand with thumb pointing upwards and said, “In
smoke.”

“Yes,” said Marlowe, whose scarlet doublet and silver-corded belt had
awakened the hostess’ admiration and almost hushed her into respectful
awe, “I saw its blaze from as far south as the Standard in Cheap. The
old tavern was twice as large as this, and being just outside the wall
was greatly frequented by travelers approaching London late at night.”

“Do many stop here now?” inquired Tabbard.

“Not many at this season,” answered the hostess.

“The last one before you, kind sir,” she continued, now turning her
attention to Marlowe and bowing so that her eyes caught only the
sparkle of his rapier’s hilt, “left just as you entered. He acted
strangely as he caught sight of you.”

“So, who was he?”

“He gave me no name, but as he went out I heard him say: ‘My chance to
serve the church is ripe.’”

“How was he dressed?” asked Marlowe, suddenly setting down his
half-raised mug, and fixing his eyes upon the hostess.

“Like a Puritan,” she answered.

“And what business have honest Puritans hanging around the bars of
ordinaries and taverns?” exclaimed Marlowe, while Tabbard sneered
audibly, and asked:

“And of what appearance was this man who was lounging here for the
service of God?”

“His long red beard was all I noted,” she replied.

“I know him not,” said Marlowe, shaking his head, and then he asked:

“Do you know his name?”

“Methinks that a man who was with him earlier called him Bame at times,
and again Richard.”

“Richard Bame!” exclaimed Marlowe, lifting his eyebrows and gazing
fixedly at the woman. “And he said that his chance to serve the church
was ripe?”

“True,” nodded the hostess, with her fists against her waist and
continuing to look at her interlocutor as though in expectation that he
would explain what interest he had in the man who had departed.

“Draw us two more cups, Mistress Bunbay,” he said, noticing the
inquisitive expression on the woman’s face and desirous to get her out
of earshot.

As the woman went towards the bar, he whispered to Tabbard, “Good
fellow, for the turn thou hast done me in bringing news of the lady
at Deptford I would knight thee had I the power, or enrich thee had
I gold, but I have neither the one nor the other, except a brace of
angels of which one is thine. Here put it in thy pocket and when
occasion offers drink to the health of thy friend and to the confusion
of all such fellows as just left here. But now I would ask another
service of thee.”

“Speak, I am ready,” said Tabbard, picking up the ten-shilling piece,
and holding it as though he would have it grow into his palm.

“The man who left here,” continued the other, “is Richard Bame, who has
sworn to secure my arrest.”

“And for what?” exclaimed Tabbard. “Hast thou committed a crime?”

“Nay, listen. He is a whining, canting hypocrite, who has filed an
accusation against me for blasphemy. He hath no cause of grievance, and
his charges, if like what I have heard, are false. Word of this was
brought me but yesterday, and friendly warning given that as soon as my
whereabouts were known, my arrest would follow. I said as we journeyed
across the fields, a short time since, that I hung behind the crowd
to avoid my creditors, and that was partly true; but besides, I was
apprehensive of encountering a constable with the writ issued upon the
accusation. This Bame hath been watching for me and is now going for
the officer, if I mistake not.”

“And what can I do for thee?” asked Tabbard, excitedly. “The sword
point is all too good for him. How is it that Barrowe was burnt, and
such as he live?”

“He is either carried away by religious fervor or is acting at the
instance of some writer whom I have grievously offended, but it matters
not what gives the spur to his actions,”[18] continued Marlowe; “I
would not incite thee to do him violence. As soon as I reach the County
of Surrey, the writ issued by the justice will be inoperative; but
they may stay me before I cross London Bridge. Nothing must prevent my
reaching the Golden Hind, in Deptford, to-night.”

“And why not mount in haste and ride on now down Bishopsgate Street to
the Bridge?”

“The constable may be close at hand, and the pair even now awaiting
my departure. Then, again, I must stop at my quarters in Coward Lane
before I leave the city.”

“Well, well,” exclaimed Tabbard, “give me the word of action. I am
ready.”

“Mount horse at once, and press after him. Did you hear her description
of him? A red-bearded man with broad-brimmed hat and long gray coat. If
he encounters an officer and turns, haste thee here before them with
the warning. If he goes to his journey’s end, you will find it at
the office of the justice at the corner of the Old Jewry and Poultry
Street. It was there that the charge against me was sworn to. Ride down
Bishopsgate Street to Threadneedle and then into Poultry. You will
know the justice’s office by the red crown in the stone wall above the
doorway. Watch the actions of the man. If a constable starts from the
office upon Bame’s arrival, see to it that such officer is interrupted
by hook or crook, until thou hast reason to believe that London Bridge
lies between us.”

Tabbard had risen before the last word was spoken, and saying, “You can
trust me to keep your way clear,” he disappeared.

The man Bame paused not a moment on reaching the road, but hastily
crossed the bridge over the moat, passed through the wide gate and
strode on toward the south. Although he walked with alacrity, a
galloping rider coming in his wake had overtaken him before he entered
the street now known as Threadneedle. Crowds of people were moving in
all directions, but the broad-brimmed hat of the man on foot and his
long coat could be easily distinguished, and the rider, slackening his
horse’s pace, rode only fast enough to keep this figure in view.

Contrary to the expectation of the rider, Bame, instead of going into
and through Poultry Street, turned northerly and passed into Lothbury,
by the residences of rich merchants, by the Lothbury entrance of the
Windmill tavern, which was once a Jewish synagogue, by the low-built
stone shops of coppersmiths and founders of candlesticks, lamps and
dishes, and around the corner of the Old Jewry. Here before an arched
entrance of the long stone building, known as the Old or Prince’s
Wardrobe, he encountered a broad-shouldered man in leather doublet and
jerkin, and, as the two halted for a moment, Tabbard dismounted and
tied his horse at the corner of the parish church of St. Olave.

Tabbard could not overhear the conversation between the two men; but
as they moved, he followed to a building with quaint gables projecting
over the broad windows of two upper stories and a wide stone entrance,
above which was a great crown made of iron, set in the grimy wall,
and painted red. It was the house in which Thomas à Becket first saw
the light of day. Bame and his companion entered this building, and
Tabbard, leaning against a thick window frame near the door, and on a
level with his breast, looked through one of the small squares of glass.

Several candles had already been lighted in the room, for the high
walls of the structures facing on the street, aided by the fog, made
the interior as obscure as the hold of a vessel with closed hatches. He
saw a man with periwig clapped on his gray head, beard trimmed like an
ace of spades with sharp end down, and a loose taffeta gown, girt at
his gross waist by a buff leather belt. He filled a chair large enough
for two men as slender as Tabbard, and had his eyes been less confused
by waking suddenly from a comfortable nap, or wide open instead of
blinking, he might have seen the curious outsider.

Even Bame’s self-possession was disturbed in the presence of the
awakening conservator of the peace, and as noiseless as a drummer in
retreat from battle, he bowed most humbly.

“Well,” thundered the dazed justice, “who now, Gyves? Is this thy last
catch? And is it bail or the jail? What----”

“Nothing of that sort, your honor,” interrupted the constable, for such
he was.

“No,” began Bame, gaining confidence in himself from the knowledge that
the justice required some information which he could advance, “I am
Richard Bame, who swore to the accusation of blasphemy against----”

“Tut, tut, I know thee,” exclaimed the justice, cutting him short and
reaching across the table for a folded paper, “here, Gyves, this is the
warrant,” he continued. “It hath lain here to await information of the
whereabouts of the rogue. And where is he?”

“At the Dolphin tavern, in Bishopsgate, without the wall,” answered
Bame.

“I know not the place. Is it within the ward?”

“’Tis next outside the gate.”

“Then the arrest can be made there by this constable.”

“True, your honor,” murmured the latter, “it is the new ale-house this
side of Fisher’s Folly where the bowling alleys are.”

“Get you off, rascal, and bring him in.”

“He is a young man and wears a black cloak, scarlet doublet, and cap
with white feather. His horse is gray and perchance you may meet him
on the road,” said Bame impressively and repeated the description,
while the constable kept nodding his head in token of the reception and
retention of the words.

As the constable came from the justice’s office into the street he ran
into Tabbard who had purposely placed himself in his way. The latter
gave utterance to a groan and limped as Gyves stammered an apology for
his apparent clumsiness.

“My leg,” whined Tabbard, “is badly knocked. You must help me to the
wine room of the Windmill across the way.”

“I can do that much for you,” returned the constable, taking his
arm, and across the uneven street, not yet lighted by the watchmen’s
lanterns, nor disturbed by the bellman’s drowsy tinkling, the scheming
Tabbard proceeded with his prospective comrade for an evening’s
carousal. Meanwhile the man left at the Dolphin tavern, settled his
bill, mounted his horse and was riding down Bishopsgate Street toward
London Bridge.



THE DRAWN SWORD.

        _Therefore sheath, your sword;_
    _If you love me no quarrels in my house._

           *       *       *       *       *

    _Here must no speeches pass, no swords be drawn._

    --_Jew of Malta, ii, 3._

    _Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up._

           *       *       *       *       *

    _Beat down their weapons.--Gentlemen, for shame,
    Forbear this outrage:_

    --_Romeo and Juliet, iii, 1._


The plague, which thinned the population of London in 1593, was not
wholly confined to the city and its suburbs. Several of the villages
lying adjacent had been unable to bar its visitation. Travelers on
foot, on horse, or by boat upon the Thames, had aided in spreading the
germs. At the village of Deptford, situate three and a half miles from
London Bridge, cases had increased so that a quarantine had, as early
as June the first, been established against all boats approaching the
city side. It was not so easy to delay travel along the public roads,
and as yet the town lay open for another visitation should the cases
already within its limits be suppressed.

Two wayfarers had been struck down before the Golden Hind that day.
Dodsman, the landlord of this Deptford tavern, had allowed them to be
carried around to the stables, and left there to die, which they did
before night; and then, because of fear of infection, he had discharged
his two servants who had attended them. It was a duty that he owed to
the traveling public, so he asserted, and there seemed weight in the
assertion. It is to be supposed that any case within the tavern walls
would also have vitally affected his interests; for he knew not whether
the legal obligation to mark a red cross on the outer door, with the
text under it of “Lord have mercy upon us” was strictly confined to
the limits of London. As it was, this double death-stroke had carried
consternation into the crowd of refugees who, fleeing this far, had
complacently halted for the epidemic to die out. If they did not depart
on the morrow, it would be because they trusted more to tavern walls
than to the open road.

On this particular night, being the night of the day on which our
narrative begins, the tavern doors were closed. Only storms had
heretofore kept them from being open until midnight at least. There was
no reason to believe that death might not just as easily enter through
the keyholes as through open portals, and throttle one at the fireside;
but closed quarters seemed to assure safety. Dodsman, at least, felt no
fear when thus shut within his tap-room; and his constant rule was to
interpret other people’s feelings by the state of his own when in like
situations.

With his fat hands resting on the thick sill of a window, he stood
looking out into the uninviting night. The diamond-shaped panes of
variegated colors were not the clearest material to look through, but
they were transparent enough for him to see that the lantern hanging
from the arm of the high sign post at the tavern’s front was lighted.
The rays of this signal light had sufficient penetration to reveal
the wooden figure of a gilded deer, of life size, mounted upon the
sign post, and any belated traveler upon the fog-wrapped road could by
these rays alone have seen the red-painted facade of the building, its
bulging upper windows and the pedimented entrance.

The tavern had been erected early in the reign of Henry the Eighth,
so that the sunshine and tempests of eighty years had fallen upon it.
It was of two stories, the second with bay windows; and its rambling
front, plastered and painted red, rose close to the edge of the
highway. A few straggling dwellings of Deptford lay on the north and
west side of it, but the town proper lay so far to the south and east
that the tavern itself might almost be termed a wayside inn. There was
another house for travelers, at Redriffe, but this was much meaner in
pretensions, and interfered little, if at all, with the business of the
Golden Hind. The pretensions of the latter were considerable, if from
the gleams of art and the occasional display of extravagance in the
interior decorations, were to be drawn an opinion in regard to want, or
excess, of show.

There was stucco work in the ceiling of the tap-room, not plain, but
bearing raised arms, which better befitted the walls of the dining room
of some castle. In each corner, close to the ceiling, were medallion
figures of satyrs, while full-length images of these sylvan demi-gods
danced on raised panels in the center of each side of the room, painted
there with apparent reckless abandonment. One smaller than the others
was over the door, another was between two square windows at the north,
another repainted so that the original lower goat legs and hoofs of the
figure were surmounted by a like body and head and horns, shone, in
broken colors, from above the bar, while the last of the four, recently
retouched but not altered, stood out on the wide chimney above the
black fireplace.

This satyr was not the only decoration of the chimney-piece, for above
it a great bat extended its dusky wings, and under it hung a long bow
such as were even then used at the practice of archery in Finbury
Fields, and other commons in the vicinity of London.

There were other paintings in the rooms besides those in the panels.
From the cracked appearance of their canvas, and dingy hues, they gave
evidence of greater age than the cruder work of the former; but of the
collection of the portraits of two kings, one landlord and an oxhead,
not one would have been attributed to an Italian master. Which were
of the kings and which was of the ox could be still distinguished upon
careful observation.

The bar ranged on one side, and seemed of different growth from the
room, for there was nothing ornate about it except the decanters and
bottles on the shelf behind it. It appeared to have been dragged in
after some predecessor of Dodsman had planned to adapt the room to
uses other than those of dining, for which it had been originally
designed. Hence, tap-room it was, with its sanded floor, round tables,
uncomfortable wooden chairs, wherein the unrest of occupants could only
be drowned in sack or ale, despite the inharmonious garnishments of
walls and ceilings.

At the moment the landlord was staring through the window, the short
hand on the copper face of the old clock behind the bar was pointing to
the figure eight. Several candles in bronze holders at the angles of
the chimney, and at both ends of the bar, were blazing; and above the
room’s center, the immense brass chandelier hung with every one of its
big lamps lighted. Directly under it stood a round table bearing on its
top several silver mugs.

At the table were three men. They were all young in years, without
trace of past cares, and undisturbed with apprehensions of the future.
Two of the trio were attired in black doublets and hose, and to judge
by their dress or faces were little likely to attract attention in any
place. Their dark cloaks were hung against the wall at the back of
their chairs, and their hats were on the floor beside them.

The other member of the group was of more distinguished appearance.
His age was apparently thirty years. Although smooth-shaven and of
British cast of countenance there was something about him that bespoke
the foreign extraction of the man. It was not in his speech, for his
English accent was perfect; neither was it in his dress, for that,
although rich and elaborate, was clearly of the style peculiar to the
better class of London residents. His coat of buff color, with loose
sleeves, was edged with ruffles at collar and wrists, and was the most
striking feature of his dress. He appeared a gentleman of quality, and
as though he recognized his superiority over his companions, he kept
his head covered with a broad-brimmed felt hat. It was thrown back on
his head so that the long black plumes touched his shoulder.

The two men first described were members of the Earl of Sussex’s
company of actors; their companion was one known as Francis Frazer,
nicknamed the Count by those who had heard of his asserted claims to an
estate on the continent, or had known him before his imprisonment in
the Tower, from which place he had issued under his present name. He
claimed to be a member of the scattered family of La Marche, of royal
lineage, but driven by the fury of the civil wars of France to remain
an exile from that country.

His recitals of the wrongs suffered by his father, and the obstacles
that impeded his own return to the land of his nativity, were confused
when, at times, he became communicative over his cups. In sober moments
a veil, impenetrable as steel, concealed from chance companions even
the events of the yesterday of the man; and chance companions were all
that he associated with. He had no followers, no local habitation, and
was looked upon as an adventurer.

His constant disappearances from one haunt for months, and then
reappearances, without word of departure, notice of expected return,
or disclosure of the place and purpose of his absence, naturally made
him an object of suspicion. Once he had been thrown into the Tower,
and, after languishing for two years under a charge that fell to
pieces when the attention of the body in authority was turned to it he
was liberated, but not without a warning for him to keep himself in
retirement. It was because of this warning that he had adopted the name
of Frazer.

On this evening the two actors and Frazer had been thrown together in
the tap-room. One of the former and Frazer had met before, so that,
from their first calls for ale, there was enough of good-fellowship
between them to keep the cup circling. Besides the mugs upon the table,
was another article that seemed strangely out of place. It was the
naked sword of the so-called Count, with its basket hilt close in front
of the owner. It lay there glistening under the light of the lamps
like a menace to good cheer and humor. The handle of the sword and
the handle of the mug were constantly encountering each other, as the
owner, at intervals, reached for, quaffed from, and reset the latter.

Its presence had raised no comment, until the red-headed tapster, in
placing a re-filled mug upon the table, spilt some of the contents
upon the glistening steel. In doing this he had reached across
Frazer’s knees and before he could withdraw his arm and fully recover
his balance, a strong hand caught him by the shoulder and flung him
backwards upon the floor.

Dodsman turned from the window, as he heard the fall, and the clatter
of an empty mug. He circled around the sprawling man and approached the
group, which was laughing boisterously at the tapster’s mishap. Mine
host, concealing his anger with the policy of one who knew that the
dents in his silverware could only be offset by the fund which must
follow from the carousal, simply said:

“How now, fellow? Curses upon thy clumsiness,” to his man, and then
looked inquiringly at the Count.

“He’s wet the blade which only blood should stain,” said its owner,
drawing it across his knee. Again they laughed.

“And why is it drawn except in defense of honor, or the Queen?” asked
Dodsman.

Frazer scowled, but the host with his white beard, red cheeks and
pleasant eyes was no mean appearing person, and the former felt called
upon to say:

“When death stalks so close to one as he has for the past two weeks in
London streets, it is well to have thy weapon drawn at all times.”

“A ready reply,” returned Dodsman, “but of no great weight.”

“Well,” said the other, “if straight answer you must have, I had drawn
it to exhibit it. It is seldom that a blade of this character falls
into the hands of any one save a peer of the realm. Look at it closely,
mine host,” he exclaimed, holding it aloft in the direction of Dodsman,
and wielding it with the ease and grace of one accustomed to its use.

“Dost see its variegated watered appearance?” he continued, “like those
of Damascus make. Such it might be deemed to be, but here it bears the
stamp of Andrea de Ferrara. How many two-edged blades of Toledo didst
thou ever see drawn?”

“Few, good Count, but the less the better. This is a quiet house. I aim
for the entertainment of those, whom, whilst they here talk war and
duels, go elsewhere to engage in them.”

Several loud knocks at the outer door now resounded through the room.
The tapster, who meanwhile had raised himself from the floor, shot back
a bolt and drew in one wing of the two massy doors. The darkness of the
night could not conceal the mud-set stones of the pavement, for the
lights of the room streamed upon them. A man stood there, with cloak
wrapped close to his form and as high as his eyes, apparently to keep
from his face the increasing fog of the night. He held the bridle of a
horse in one hand and handing this to the serving man, he strode into
the room. As he swung back his cloak, the face was disclosed of the man
who had ridden with Tabbard from Finbury Fields.

One of the two actors recognized him at once and cried out:

“Welcome, Kit. Thy tankard is ready.”

He turned from noticing that the time by the clock was only a few
minutes past eight, and with a remark to Dodsman to see to it that his
horse was properly fed and bedded, went over to the party of three men.

“Already lodged near Sayes Court?” He spoke interrogatively.

“Yes,” rejoined one of the others. “You know the Count?”

“Most assuredly,” he answered.

Frazer nodded his head with the remark: “I remember the one occasion.”

“In the tireing room at the Curtain, last winter, when between the acts
in Tamburlaine, you showed me the counter parades in quarte and tierce.
I have since put the lesson to good use, and have brought the house
down by its exhibition. Didst thou ever see him fence, Bartol?” he
inquired of the actor who was seated opposite himself.

“Not I,” answered Bartol.

“It would do your heart good unless the encounter were in real earnest
and thyself an actor in it. And then thy life would not be worth a
tuppence. How ready lies thy blade for an occasion of that kind,” he
added, noticing the sword still laid across the table.

“Your praise is high,” said Frazer. “As for the sword, the hilt, when
in its place, interferes with my elbow when I drink.”

“Three reasons now for its drawing,” murmured the landlord to himself,
as, near at hand, he had been quietly listening to the conversation.
“The fourth reason will undoubtedly be the true one.”

“And when did you leave the city?” asked Bartol.

“Nearer seven than six by the clock in the tower at the Southwark end
of the London Bridge,” answered the late comer.

“Did you pass the morris-dancers?”

“Will Kemp and his company?”

“Yes, they left here late in the day. His taborer and two pretty
dancers were with him,” said Bartol.

“They were performing on the bridge as I rode across it. I reined in my
horse near the center of the bridge before the chapel of St. Thomas.
There they danced in the narrow way, with nearly every inhabitant of
the bridge either standing crowded in a circle around them or looking
out of the windows of their darksome shops. It delayed me long.”

“But not against thy will, I am sure,” remarked Frazer, looking
searchingly at the speaker, over his raised cup.

“And why so?”

“Were the fair dancers no attraction? If they were not, there must have
been something pulling thee strongly in this direction. Perhaps it is a
fairer lady.”

He seemed to speak advisedly.

“True,” chuckled the landlord to himself, “and I wonder does he know
that she who was once the sweet maid of Canterbury lieth here?”

“If so,” returned Marlowe with some irritation caused by the tones of
Frazer, “it is not a matter either for mention or discussion.”

“We will drink to her,” interrupted Bartol, “be she fair or plain, maid
or spouse, young or old. Here is to thy loadstone, Kit.”

“Not without mention of her name,” said Frazer, coldly.

“You will drink to her unknown or not at all,” responded Marlowe, with
considerable animation.

“Then not at all,” returned Frazer.

The two men stared at each other as though the breath of a coming
quarrel had touched their faces.

“Come,” exclaimed the actor, who thus far had remained silent. “This
is a raw gust that bloweth. If the gentleman knoweth a lady, I warrant
she is sweet enough for all glasses to be emptied in her praise and
honor. But he has not said that he knoweth any. And, on the other hand,
if the other gentleman hath some one in mind, whom he would not pledge
in reckless sort, is that not good reason to let his lips go dry? Come,
Dodsman, hast thou a box and dice?”

“Tug, the box,” said the landlord to the tapster.

“Is it to be at hazard?” asked Bartol.

“What you will,” answered the other.

“Set down thy mug,” he thundered to Marlowe, who seemed wrapped in
other thoughts.

“And Count,” said the landlord, “I will set thy sword here against the
wall.”

“Well, enough,” smoothly remarked the one addressed, who, adventurer as
he was, at mention of the dice let all his thoughts of quarrel slip.

“You three play,” said Marlowe, “I will look on.”

“As usual----” began Bartol.

“With only the dregs of a once full bottle,” muttered Marlowe,
finishing his friend’s remark.



A CLASH OF STEEL.

    _I know, sir, what it is to kill a man;_
    _It works remorse of conscience in me;_
    _I take no pleasure to be murderous,_
    _Nor care for blood when wine will quench my thirst._

    --_II Tamburlaine, iv._

    _Though in the trade of war I have slain men,_
    _Yet do I hold it very stuff of conscience_
    _To do no contrived murder. I lack iniquity_
    _Sometimes to do me service._

    --_Othello, i, 2._


The excitement of watching the game of hazard, in which Frazer and
the two actors had become engaged, was not sufficient to absorb the
thoughts of the man who was simply an observer. At each lucky throw
of the dice, he longed to become a participator in the game; and at
length, smothering his early fears of being left penniless, he placed a
sum of money upon the table, and was soon rising and sinking with the
vicissitudes of chance.

His one angel rapidly grew into a brace of gold pieces, and with the
increase of his success the stakes were raised in proportion. Still
sweet fortune breathed her hot breath upon his cheeks and the other
players muttered morosely and swore savagely at each rattle of the cup
and roll of the cubes.

The business of the tapster had not been stayed by reason of the
excitement of the play, but on the contrary it led him back and forth
from the bar, to the round table under the lit lamps, with movements
which were scarcely interrupted by an interval of rest. All of this was
quietly observed by Dodsman, who, having lighted a pipe of long-leaf
and ensconced himself, with almost closed eyes, in a tilted chair near
at hand, kept repeating to himself the lines:

    “Now let them drink, till they nod and wink,
     Even as good fellows should do,
     They shall not miss to have the bliss
     Good ale doth bring men to.”

Bartol had at length offered to pledge his long cloak, and after a
haggle about the sum to be raised, in which the repetition of the
drinking lines was interrupted, Dodsman had advanced the owner ten
shillings upon the article. Again the play went on, and the copper
clock had struck the hour of nine. Its strokes had been unnoted even
by the man who upon his late arrival had marked that hour as one of
joyful summons. There were hot heads, at that time, at the table, and
no sounds except those arising upon its upper surface and close around
its edges were noticed.

The door opposite to the outer entrance opened and a serving man
entered. He looked sharply at the four men at the table, and then,
limping across the floor, touched the man in scarlet doublet on the
shoulder. The latter turned his head and the menial said:

“A word with you, sir.”

It required no words for Marlowe to understand the nature of the
proposed communication; for the interruption had brought him to the
realization of matters outside of the circle he had just broken. But in
order to learn the exact import of the words tendered him, he withdrew
with the man to one side.

“I come to tell you,” said the servant, in a whisper, “that you are
expected.”

“Now?”

“At once.”

“At the door----”

“With the carved panels,” muttered the serving man, as Marlowe placed a
silver piece in his hand.

The rattle of the dice still continued.

“Take my place at the table,” said Marlowe, approaching the landlord,
and then he added to the players, “I will return immediately.”

He had no reason to believe that he would make a prompt return, but as
most of the money which had been wagered lay in his own pockets, he
felt it incumbent upon him to avoid any remonstrance by making this
statement. If he had noticed the changing color of the Count’s face,
and the determined expression that gathered upon it at this moment,
it might have caused him to have paused at some point along the line
of his proposed venture to ascertain the reason of this apparent
solicitude; but it had escaped his observation.

A moment after his departure from the tap-room he was hurriedly
ascending the stairway in the Golden Hind. His haste, although like
that of one pursued, was occasioned wholly by the force of attraction.
He had no cause to believe his time limited, nor that any one might be
enough interested in, or disturbed by, his presence there to attempt to
thwart him.

It was true that Tabbard had spoken of some one, who that day had
caused the lady to cut short her message for him; but such person
may have been merely a friend whom she did not desire to know of her
converse with the serving-man.

In his haste he had not stopped to make any inquiry of Dodsman
concerning the lady’s friend or friends at the tavern. If he had
considered for a moment, he would have remembered that both Manuel
Crossford and his daughter had been well known to the landlord, and
the occasion of her presence here could have been easily ascertained.
He had thought of making such inquiry prior to his entrance, but the
three men, and later the game of hazard, had diverted his mind. Besides
these diversions, the many cups of ale which he had drained were not
conducive to quick wit or sober thought. However, his failure to learn
more of his surroundings occurred to him as he climbed the stairs, but
no lover at the last step to the tryst ever yet turned back for an
answer which in any case could not have swerved him from his course.

“I suppose I shall run into the arms of her morose and irascible sire,
before I catch a glimpse of her face,” he thought.

He reached the second story, passed along the hall a short distance
and then halted. The door that stood before him was emblazoned with a
shield lying flat against two spears. They were carved on the center
panel, which occupied nearly the whole space between the posts. There
was no other portal displaying elaborate decoration. The walls and
ceiling of the passage were timbered with chestnut, without finish and
in striking contrast to the door. This was undoubtedly the entrance to
the room into which, as told by Tabbard, the woman had so hurriedly
disappeared. It stood ajar, as though speaking an invitation to enter
without knocking. Without hesitation he pushed it open.

The room revealed was at one end of the tavern and its two latticed
windows overlooked a side street. The walls were unrelieved except for
a red arras hanging against the center of one, a black chimney-mouth
breaking the dead surface of another, and the two windows setting deep
in the wall furthest from the door. The few pieces of furniture were
of antique manufacture, and a carpet--an unusual article for houses at
that period, except city inns and private mansions--lay upon the floor.
A table stood near the chimney, and on it was a candelabrum. All of its
lights were burning.

If the fact of the existence of these general outlines of the room and
its intimate belongings, were conveyed to the brain of the intruder,
he was unconscious of the same, for their projection upon his retina
was destroyed by the sight of one sole object. At the creak of the
hinges, a woman, seated on a chair beside the table, raised her eyes.
It was this living figure that rushed into his vision with a violence
productive of slight symptoms of syncope.

The eyes which caught and returned the glance of his own would have
glorified a face of even the meanest features, so wonderfully brilliant
were they, so tender in their expression; but the countenance that they
illumined was perfect in outline, and not dependent upon the eyes to
win the admiration of the dullest observer. The curve of her dark and
finely-pointed eyebrows could have successfully eluded the imitation of
a painter, and their color was in striking contrast with the wealth of
golden hair which crowned her low and broad forehead. If the chin and
nose gave evidence of determination and ability to control, they did
not detract one iota from the beauty of the whole. But the mouth was
as much the mirror of the soul as were the eyes. The pink lips bespoke
the keenest sensibilities, and their delicate contour proclaimed even
in repose that they were ready torches to convey the fiercest blaze of
passion.

While she remained seated, it could not be determined whether her
figure was in keeping with the beauty of her face. But that such
was the case could be assumed from the queenly poise of her head,
supported on a neck, which, if in marble, would have been attributed
to the execution of a Greek chisel. The latter was exposed, for the
high ruff, invariably worn at that period by ladies, had been removed
for the sake of comfort. This assumption of grace of proportion was
confirmed into absolute knowledge, when upon seeing the figure of a man
in full view upon the threshold, she rose from her chair.

It was her movements, perhaps, more than her figure that would have
drawn the concentrated gaze of a crowded drawing-room upon her. The
perfect symmetry of her form and rich eastern look, however, would have
held attention long after the magnetism created by the grace of her
carriage had lost its spell. If her movements, entirely aimless so far
as concerned an ordinary observer, could have exerted such influence
upon the latter, it would be difficult to imagine, much less describe,
the effect upon the one who unconsciously was the magnet that attracted
this veritable Cleopatra.

He may have trembled with emotion; a mist may have gathered in his
eyes; his dreams of eternal fame now assuming a definite mould may have
been shaken into mere figments of the brain in the presence of this, to
him, the only reality of life, of time, of eternity. But whatever were
his sensations, or their outward expressions, they were drowned and
hidden in the tumult of his passion as the woman threw herself into his
arms.

No words needed to be spoken in this sacred communion of minds. Even
a whisper would have jarred the perfect communication of thought and
feeling. Amid more auspicious surroundings, no disturbing element could
have intruded; but even in the faintness produced in the woman by his
impetuous assault upon her lips, she shook with apprehension of coming
evil.

“Cease, cease,” she gasped, endeavoring to disengage herself from his
arms. “Ah, you know not our unsteadfast footing.”

He did not release her, but the sound of her voice broke down the
floodgates of his long voiceless thoughts. They came in a torrent.

“Why are you here? Why have you been silent? Didst thou not love me?
What is the meaning of thy splendid dress, thy demeanor that showeth
contact with more luxurious modes of life than those to which you were
late accustomed?”

“O, Marlowe, Marlowe!” she exclaimed in answer, “my life has been cast
amid rapids upon whose surface I have been as helpless as the drift.
Through all, thy image has been before me; but apparently with face
unresponsive to my silent appeals. The reconciliation for which I
prayed has come at length, but, ah, too late.”

“How? I do not understand. Why do you so speak? Too late? How is thy
situation changed? My love for thee is still the same as of old. And I
were dull of comprehension not to interpret this exhibition of feeling
on thy part as a symbol that the old love, which you once bore toward
me, remains.”

“Yes,” she answered, “but hopeless.”

“Why hopeless? Speak, speak!” he demanded.

“There is no safety,” she protested. “Danger lurks about us. Even now
we may be trifling with death. Frazer departed only an hour since
to see a friend on a vessel that lies at the wharf in the town. He
contemplates a voyage to Italy.”

“Frazer?” questioned Kit, still embracing her, not yet realizing the
real condition of affairs.

“Yes, the Count,” she answered.

And at that moment, as though in answer to his name so faintly spoken,
the Count appeared at the open doorway.

While sudden had been the passage of Marlowe from the lower room to
the one in which he now stood; while his pausing at the door and his
greeting of the woman had consumed but an additional moment, enough
time had passed for the so-called Count also to withdraw from the
tap-room, and make the same passage. It had taken longer, for he had
attempted to make it noiseless. His following of Marlowe had not
been occasioned by groundless suspicions of the latter’s purpose in
withdrawing from the tap-room. Although he had never had cause to
suspect his wife of infidelity, he was convinced when he noticed the
departure of the actor that a meeting was about to take place in which
he, himself, had a vital interest. This conviction was the result of
his having accidentally heard the words which his wife had spoken at
noon that day to Tabbard. This request of hers for a meeting with some
one, coming close, as it had, on the heels of a quarrel, concerning the
contemplated voyage to the continent, made him suspect an elopement.
With whom it was to be attempted he had obtained no knowledge. Soon
after their marriage, Anne had realized the intensely jealous nature
of the Count, and this had kept her from any mention of her old
lover. At the meeting between husband and wife, immediately after his
overhearing her words to Tabbard, the Count had kept his own counsel.
As night came on he had lulled all fears of discovery which she might
hate entertained, by departing with the announcement that he was going
aboard the “Petrel” and would return near midnight. He went no further
than the tap-room, where, awaiting developments, with the calmness of
one who knowingly holds a winning hand, he had met and watched the
three actors. It was not until Marlowe arose at the summons of the
serving-man that the Count’s suspicions became centered, and as the
lower door closed on the former’s withdrawal, the latter with hasty
remarks of disinclination to continue the game, also strode from the
room. He had not even paused to sheathe his sword, and with it held
in tense grasp pointing before him, with one, foot advanced into the
apartment and the other on the threshold, he stood a spectator of the
ardent meeting of the lovers.

It might be thought that the vitality of the mind’s picture of a scene
from human life depends upon the peculiarity or vigor in action of
the original. But that the duration and strength of existence of such
a picture is not to be measured by this criterion is shown in our
evanescent remembrance of even the most thrilling plays. Upon what
principle is it that a scene is perpetually held in unfading colors
in the shifting gallery of the mind? How is it that one particular
spectacle in the vast panorama of daily vision is alone singled
out, and swept into our dreams forever? It is never our voluntary
selection, for it is frequently a scene of direst woe, or horror almost
indescribable, all of which we would willingly forget.

In determining these questions we turn our thoughts from the object to
the recipient, and we find that the secret lies in the condition of
sensitiveness of the latter at the moment of impression. Thus, if at
that moment, the soul is at the point of supreme exaltation, or in the
lowest depths of despair, the object that brings about a sudden and
absolute change of feeling becomes one of the undying pictures of the
mind.

This explains why it was that Anne’s view of the Count in the doorway,
at the moment of her surrender to Marlowe, shot every feature, every
line, every shade of the face of the former, as he then appeared to
her, into the chambers of her brain and fastened them there forever.
Even at her dying hour, obscuring the visions of the then wished-for
countenances of those she loved, was that face with its gleaming eyes,
its air of desperation and insolent command, its cheeks on which
the flush of wine and the pallor of suppressed rage contended for
exhibition, its nostrils expanded into a sneer, and its lips expressive
of determined violence. It was the picture of an avenger gloating over
the assured prospect of the near fulfillment of a murderous vow.

The woman in her fright had disengaged herself from the embrace, and
with the apprehension of coming disaster written plainly on her face,
stood at one side gazing at the two men. As she did so, she could not
restrain an exclamation of wonder at the striking resemblance between
them. They were of much the same height and figure; both faces were
devoid of beard; their features seemed to have been cast in the same
mold; their flashing eyes of somewhat similar color, and the dark hair
of each hung heavy and luxuriantly. She had thought of this resemblance
before, and it was the first attraction she had discovered in Frazer,
and the last that had continued to bind her to him. But at no time had
she considered this resemblance so pronounced as this meeting proved it
to be. They seemed like two brothers in appearance, and the impending
combat was like a horrible travesty of life furnished solely to excite
her commiseration.

Marlowe had turned and half drawn his rapier, while his cloak,
hurriedly unclasped at his throat, had fallen to the floor. It was the
Count who first broke the oppressive silence.

“My suspicions were right,” he said, looking at the woman. “And thou,”
he hissed, glaring at the man, “draw thy sword. I could kill thee
like a rat, but the boldness of thy entry here entitles thee to more
consideration. Thou art not a coward in every sense of the word.”

He deliberately turned like one who had a grave, but not a dangerous
task on hand, shut the door and bolted it. As he turned he calmly
rolled back the ruff from his sword hand, and threw his hat whirling
from his head.

Marlowe, in the meantime, with his eyes glancing from one to the other
of the two persons thus confined with himself, had drawn his weapon.
Not yet did he understand the cause of the woman’s alarm, nor why
this man with rude intrusion and with an air of injured dignity and
violence, faced and threatened him at the sword’s point. His face was
blanched, his hand trembled and he involuntarily retreated for a step
or two. He knew the expertness of the man before him in handling a
foil, and he could not prevent the knowledge of his critical situation
from displaying itself by outward symbols.

Frazer smiled at his evident distress.

“You fear me,” he said.

The other did not respond, but he made a further effort to conceal his
anxiety, and more attentively observed every movement of the man who
was thus forcing him to mortal combat. From what he had previously seen
of Frazer he had not been impressed with the idea that he was possessed
of a superabundance of courage, and he could not but entertain the
opinion that the confidence and bravery now displayed arose from the
fact that his own inexpertness was thoroughly known. He is probably a
coward at heart, he thought, and with this he regained confidence in
himself.

“I did not know,” again said the Count, “which one of the three was
expected here. The exhibition of my trusty sword was no warning, it
seems.”

“You must hold the characters of those with whom you come into contact
in light consideration, if you think that merely the showing of a sword
would keep one in awe,” retorted Marlowe, ruffled by the remark.

“What! I thought you had swallowed your tongue in your fright!”
exclaimed the other, with a sneer.

“Look to it that yours is not wagging its last,” returned Marlowe,
sternly.

The lights of the candelabrum on the table burned as steadily as those
of a death-chamber. They threw the shadow of the Count against the red
arras, behind which, in the alcove, stood the bed for the apartment;
and more darkly projected the figure of his antagonist upon the white
wall between the latticed windows. They showed the colorless face of
the woman which, with its sad expression, was of such striking beauty,
that in the momentary glimpse afforded at the point of non-action, one
would have scarcely noted the grace of her carriage or the elegance of
her attire.

“By what pretended infringement of any rights of thine do you force
this duel?” asked Marlowe.

“Pretended!” sneered Frazer. “Is not your presence here a violation of
all the sacred rights of a home?”

“What, are you this lady’s husband?” asked Marlowe, and with amazement
he looked at the woman, who did not endeavor to return an answer.

“Your question is ill-timed,” exclaimed Frazer, advancing. “Defend
yourself!”

He lunged forward, but Marlowe had thrown himself on guard, and the
thrust was skillfully parried. The blades rang sharply, and it seemed
that the candles blazed upward with a fiercer light. The Count assumed
the aggressive from the first; but if his demeanor indicated his real
feelings, it was that of an executioner rather than an avenger. He was
cool and deliberate, showing neither passion nor fury. As contrasted
with this, his opponent fought with the strength of despair. Whether
it was that the woman read these expressions, or that the moves of the
combatants interpreted to her the situation and its probable final
issue, she felt that nothing but a miracle could avert the impending
calamity. She saw, as in a glass darkly, the bleeding body of her
lover, and with a cry she fell forward on her knees at Frazer’s feet.

“Spare him, Count,” she moaned.

She had clasped his knee; but never taking his eyes from those of the
man before him, he rudely shook her off.

“So, it is I you would see slain,” he muttered, savagely.

His opponent was showing greater skill than he had anticipated, and
his face grew graver in its expression. Clash, clash, clash, rang the
blades, and the stamp of feet upon the checkered carpet grew quicker
and heavier. Still the actor retreated in curves around the room, and
still the Count pressed him.

Suddenly the unforeseen happened. The Count found his foot entangled in
the folds of the cloak which Marlowe had let fall upon the floor. He
endeavored to kick it aside but lost his equilibrium. The other became
the aggressor, and with a desperate lunge, as the Count stumbled, he
thrust his rapier blade deep into the eye and brain of the latter.
The stricken swordsman gave utterance to a savage but suppressed cry
of pain. The temporary check to his fall only increased its impetus
when the rapier was wrenched from its lodgment, and with a crash he
descended to the floor.

All sounds lay hushed with the fall. The living man looked speechlessly
at his antagonist outstretched with face downward on the carpet, and
still retaining a dying clutch upon the hilt of his sword. The end had
come so unexpectedly that for a moment the survivor did not grasp the
full extent of his victory nor the consequences of the deed. He leaned
over the unfortunate man and turned him on his back. He saw that he was
beyond the aid of earthly power. He heard him breathe in gasps, and
then, trembling like an aspen, he dropped his own rapier upon the floor
and leaned back against the wall.



THE COVER OF HIS FAME.

    _Come death and with thy fingers close my eyes,_
    _Or if I live, let me forget myself:_

    --_Edward the Second, v, 1._

    _Oh God!--Horatio, what a wounded name,_
    _Things standing thus unknown, shall leave behind me!_

    --_Hamlet, v, 2._


The termination of the combat awakened feelings in the woman varied
in their character and following one another with the speed of
successive thoughts. She was stunned with the suddenness of the close;
horror-stricken with the violence of the catastrophe; elated with the
escape of Marlowe, find tremulous with sympathy for the unfortunate
slain. In her silent prayer for the deliverance of Marlowe, she had
only thought of it through deliberate truce, or interference from
without. No idea of his escape through the death of his antagonist had
occurred to her. She could not have prayed for such catastrophe, and
even the wish was foreign to her mind. All the confidence that Fraser
had displayed had been impressed upon her, and there had been nothing
in the prolonged, though skillful, resistance of Marlowe that had
raised a doubt over the dreaded outcome.

Faint with her loss of hope for mercy on the part of Frazer, she had
crept to the door with the idea of throwing it open and alarming the
house. With one hand on the bolt and the other on the knob she had
turned her face for a last look at the combatants. It was at this
moment that the coup de grace was given. She turned about and started
forward with a low cry, partly of relief, partly of anguish, partly of
horror.

There was something in the agonized face of the wounded man, that,
while it awakened her pity, repelled her. He was still clutching his
sword as though to thrust it at his unseen adversary, and the point
of the trembling blade danced on the carpet. Her impulse had been
to afford him succor, but the sight of his dying struggles, and the
weakness of her limbs prevented. She sank on a couch before one of the
walls, and, as though fascinated by the scene that had rendered her
momentarily powerless, she continued to gaze upon it.

The morbid curiosity that controls an observer of the strongest agonies
appears to give the lie to the belief that man is naturally humane; or
why does resistance against impending death attract more than beauty
or the peacefully sublime? Our resistance against observation availeth
not, until the issue is no longer in doubt. Is it not because the
glow and fire of intense action is communicated from the actor to the
spectator? for even frailty of physical body, or purity of mind can not
close the eyes at that point where in the supreme struggle neither life
nor death appears to have complete mastery? But when the horror has
reached its climax, interest fails with the cessation of action, and
if death hath prevailed, then at length we hide our faces.

Thus it was that the woman was controlled; thus it was that, speechless
and with straining vision, she caught every move of the man before
her. His struggles grew less; his gaspings more prolonged and choked,
until with a last effort he partly raised himself and then fell back
motionless. The death-rattle escaped from his lips, and from the
ensuing silence, the woman knew that the body upon the floor was
lifeless; but she saw it not. She had long desired a separation from
this man, but not at such sacrifice. She thought not of it then, even
with the old love returned and every obstacle apparently swept aside.
It was the thought of murder done that surged in and out, and in and
out, of her mind.

And Marlowe, still against the wall, seemed reeling with the burden of
his thoughts. He saw not the woman with terror-stricken face before
him; he saw not the flaring candles, the fallen chairs, the naked
swords upon the floor, the bleeding body near his feet. All these
objects were before his open eyes, but the horror of the scene had
bred new and shifting phantoms. The spirit which in quiet meditation
had bodied forth the good and evil angels of Faustus, the harnessed
emperors of Tamburlaine and the dying Edward, now saw itself in body
hounded by the officers of the law; saw the impassive judge, the dull
jury, and the shadow of the gallows.

He saw the honors of Cambridge blotted with stains indelible; the
averted face of Walsingham, his patron; the sad countenance of Manwood,
under whose flattering praise and financial aid he had pursued his
studies. And, closer still, he saw the troubled and pallid face of that
one woman, who, with steadfast faith in his genius and undying hope in
his ultimately glorious career, prayed ever for him under the home-roof
in Canterbury. Was she--his mother--to hear of his trial, and death
under sentence of the law? And Marlowe, what of thyself?

In the train of these dark presentiments of what the material life
promised, came now the heavy clouds wrought through consideration of
the aspect of his ideal world. The treble darkness of night was about
him. The dreams with which he had nursed his ambition vanished. And
that ambition how deplorably annihilated. He who had written:

    “Virtue solely is the sum of glory,
     And fashions men with true nobility,”

required no posthumous lines to point his place among the immortals.
What dramas stood on the same eminence with Faustus and Edward the
Second? Were not the gates of the inner temple opening wide before him?
Were not his fancy’s wings gathering strength for greater flights? The
flush of youth at nine-and-twenty was upon him; the fate of a murderer
awaited him. Of reasoning faculty sublime, he shuddered at the thought
of his name being eternally linked with crime.

In this agony, all thoughts of the original purpose of his presence in
the room, all consideration of the woman, were buried as though beneath
ice. It was the contrasted thoughts of the height from which he had
fallen with the depth that he had reached that pervaded his mind. He
blinded his eyes with his hand and staggered like a drunken man across
the room toward the windows at the front, where he stood looking out
through the lattice, back from which the heavy shutters had been swung.
No objects met his gaze; no sounds arose. The woman heard his steps and
aroused herself. It was Kit whom she saw, and the calmness resulting
from her knowledge of freedom from hated ties came to her like fresh
air through windows lately pent. The dead man escaped her eyes; she saw
no one but the living, and raising herself from the couch she followed
him across the room. Misapprehending the nature of his distress, she
whispered encouragingly:

“There is chance for escape.”

He did not answer her, and this utter disregard of her presence and of
her voice provoked an involuntary tremor.

“Kit, Kit, Kit,” she said, prolonging the name with each utterance, “do
you not hear me? No alarm has been given. We can escape.”

But still he gave no sign of hearing, and she shook his shoulder
desperately and turned his face so that his eyes could not but dwell
upon her face. Again she spoke sympathizingly:

“At worst, ’twas done in self-defense. The combat was forced upon you.
And was not the fatal stroke an accident? Come, come, we can not remain
here.”

“Self-defense?” he repeated, questioningly, as though the idea was
a new one generated wholly through his own deliberations. “’Twas a
duel, and a death in such event is murder,” he added, observing her
apparently for the first time.

“Thou couldst not avoid the deed,” she said in remonstrance.

“True, but what of that? Did not Hopton, Renow, and Dalton seek refuge
under such a plea without avail? The outcome of a tavern brawl will
not be handled by a judge with gloves on. The jury, it is true, can
speak but only under the direction of the court.” He seemed talking to
himself, but aloud so that she heard him. “The killing of another in a
duel is murder on the part of the survivor. And then the infamy of such
a trial!”

“But,” she exclaimed, “you may avoid arrest. And as for infamy, the
disgrace would be mine. My husband killed by thee and in my apartments.”

At these latter thoughts the look of distress deepened on her face,
and the weakness exhibited was in striking contrast with the strength
she had displayed in her endeavor to afford him solace. His apparent
coldness had also chilled and repelled her, and not understanding the
nature of a despair in which he could not give some faint expression of
love for her, she sank helpless at his feet.

This movement shook him from his brooding over the far-reaching and
distant effect of the fatal stroke, to a consideration of the living
reality. The tide of his feelings rose in its proper channel; he bent
over her compassionately and raised her from the floor.

“Anne, Anne,” he said with returning fervor, “forgive me for my
selfishness. I have been so blinded by the darkness that I thought I
walked alone. And what is my misery compared with thine?”

He held her closely in his arms. It was not strange that a relaxation
of mind should follow with the knowledge that she was not standing
wholly alone. With her realisation that his past indifference had been
but a temporary condition, her emotions became too strong to control,
and the flood of tears that welled from her eyes gave evidence of the
recent strain to which her feelings had been subjected. He did not
attempt to subdue this exhibition of sensitiveness except with words of
hope and assurance of his love, while he continued to hold her to him.
The emotion had at length spent its force, and a calmness that seemed
unnatural in the presence of the dead pervaded her. Releasing herself
from his embrace she went over and kneeled down beside the body of
Frazer. She touched the face compassionately, at the same time shocked
with the sense that life was wholly extinct. The face was turned
back so that the wound was on the side toward the floor. Half of the
horribleness of the object was thus hidden, and viewing the profile she
was again struck with its likeness to Marlowe’s.

“Look,” she said to her companion, who stood near her, “how like he is
to thee.”

“So?” he asked, quickly.

“Yes, do you not see? Is there not a striking similarity in form? Is
not the nose the same as thine? The face clean shaven; the hair of like
color?”

“But his dress.”

He spoke as though to change her opinion, and then added, “Dost thou
mean that there is enough resemblance for the one to be taken for the
other?”

This time his anxiety for an affirmative answer could have been read by
the veriest tyro.

“Like? Yes, much like, and when you met here I was startled by the
resemblance,” she answered decidedly; and in a strain like that of
one whose mind has dwelt long and intensely upon the subject, she
continued, “I could not fail to comment on it when I met him shortly
after I last saw you and when I believed we were done with each other
for ever. It was this that drew my attention to him, and prevailed upon
by his apparently sincere professions of love, I became his wife.”

“When was this marriage, Anne?” he interrupted.

“Had you not heard of it?”

“No,” he answered, “nor even entertained a suspicion that you had so
soon forgotten me.”

“Nay, do not say that,” she remonstrated, “it was seven months since,
but----”

“Why was this? Did I not love thee?” he interposed.

“Yes, yes; will you listen to the whole story? Ah----”

He interrupted her. “This is no place for such confession. Later, Anne;
I cannot listen now.”

“Ah, see how he bleeds, Kit, and so cold.”

She had touched the hand of the dead man, and then as she noticed the
glittering and unstained brand she shuddered at the thought of how much
more deplorable would have been her situation had the sword reached the
mark for which she had lately seen it wielded.

While Anne was thus momentarily occupied, her companion was possessed
with new and entirely different thoughts than those which had lately
disturbed him. In his late reflections concerning his future the
question of escape had cut no prominent figure, for even though he
might forever successfully baffle the officers of the law, none the
less this dark chapter of his life would sully his fame. But the
woman’s words of his resemblance to the dead man had lifted the
heaviest of the clouds of darkness; and in the succeeding mental
illumination, he felt a transport that urged him to immediate action.
His mind, fertile in plot, had developed a cover for his fame. He saw
the passing away of his old life, and, in the transition, read the
promise of a new one; it might be in obscurity, but without obloquy.

There was no time to be spent in aught but the furtherance of his
design, but first he felt the need of his companion’s assurance of
absolute secrecy concerning the tragedy. His own future might now be
subjected to so many vicissitudes, that a separation between himself
and Anne might be inevitable. Who could tell what influences might be
brought to bear upon her years hence? The seal of secrecy must never be
broken.

“Anne,” he said, abruptly, “this deed may bring trouble to both of us.
Can I rely upon thee absolutely and forever, in whatever situation
thou art placed, whether apart from me or with me, to let no whisper
of my name come from thy lips so far as the events of this night are
concerned? I know it is asking much, but I have more than my personal
safety at heart. I can not explain to thee. I can only implore----”

“Stop,” she exclaimed, passionately, as though the doubt in her implied
by the question had cut her to the quick. “Why should you ask?”

“But we know not,” he resumed, “to what test thy love, thy constancy
may be put. I do not doubt thee nor thy strength.”

“Say no more,” she again interrupted. “No persuasion, no promises, no
threats, no torture shall ever prevail upon me to lisp one syllable of
thy name as connected with this death. You can trust me in that.”

“Even though I should die to-morrow?” he asked.

“Yes,” she answered.

“And such answer might be of advantage to thee?”

“Yes,” again came the firm reply.

Her assurance was of a character calculated to press him forward in his
hastily formulated scheme of concealment.

“I trust you implicitly,” he said, “and now you must lose no time in
flight.”

“And then?” came the quick inquiry.

“I shall go, too, but it must be by a different way. You know the exits
from this tavern even better than I do.”

“Yes, yes,” she returned, “the stairway, hall and every outer door.”

“And the inn-yard?”

“Yes, and the stall where my horse is standing.”

She hurried into the alcove and returned with a cape thrown over her
shoulders, in the hood of which she was hastily arranging her hair.

“See,” she said, pointing towards the arras, “the filled saddle bags
are there. You must bring them with thee. And where am I to meet thee?”

“At the gnarled oak,” he answered, “a half mile from here at the point
where the road turns downward to the little bridge. You will wait for
me there.”

“But why do you not go with me?”

“I wish to hide the crime,” he whispered, and as she looked inquiringly
at him, he added, “Nay, do not ask how.”

And with these words he cautiously unbolted and opened the door wide
enough to admit of her exit. The hall lamps had been extinguished.

“It is very dark,” he whispered as though hesitating at the thought of
her departure alone.

“I only fear for thy safety,” she said, bravely.

“Have no fears of that,” he returned, “hasten, we have no time to
spare.”

No further words were spoken, but hurriedly embracing each other as
though years instead of minutes was to be their term of separation, she
disappeared into the darkness.

He closed the door and bolted it again. Then he knelt beside the dead.
His hands trembled in spite of the determination with which he set
himself to accomplish his project. The excitement, apprehension of
discovery, and the horror of the scene, almost unnerved him; but he
covered his eyes with one of his hands for a moment, shook off the
feeling of weakness, and then moved the body to one side, to clear it
of the pool of blood. He unbuttoned the buff doublet of the corpse, and
drew it off. Next he stripped it of the jerkin, belt and scabbard, then
the shoes, hose and trunks and shirt. A naked body lay before him under
the flickering light of the candles. Heavy footsteps in an adjoining
room startled him, and he glanced at one of the corners beside the
great chimney as though expecting a form to come forth. But immediately
the source of the noise became apparent, and the chorus of a bacchanal
song jarred him with its unfitness:

    “O for a bowl of fat Canary,
     Rich Palermo, sparkling sherry,
     Some nectars else from Juno’s dairy,
     O these draughts would make us merry.”

This song of John Lilly, one which he had sung many times with riotous
companions, could not but cause him to add, in the momentary relaxation
afforded:

    And if the tapster does not bring
    The draughts for which you’re clamoring,
    Come drain with me the bitter bowl
    I drink at passing of a soul.

They were lines provoked half in jest half in earnest; and again
as quietness prevailed, he relapsed into his previous condition of
profound melancholy. His task was but half completed; he unbuckled his
own sword belt, and his fingers, which had again begun to tremble, let
the scabbard fall clattering at his feet. He shook himself as though
his body were the unruly instrument of a prompting and immovable mind.
If this action had any result whatever it did not prevent his hands
from wrenching several buttons from the front of his scarlet doublet,
as he stripped it off. Still he proceeded in his task.

One by one his rich but rough-used vestments were thrown off, until
the living was as the dead. The work was now bringing the calm which
afforded speed to his movements, so that in an interval he had dressed
the corpse in his garments, leaving it just as it had fallen on the
floor. He next retreated to the alcove and washed himself clear of
blood.

The buff coat was stained and spotted by the life-current of the dead
man. He cast it to one side. The rest of the garments were free of any
traces of the catastrophe. In these he dressed himself; buckled the
belt around his waist; picked up the long murderous-looking blade of
Ferrera and sheathed the same in its scabbard against his puffed upper
hose. From a hook upon the wall, in the alcove, he took a long dark
cloak with white silk lining and silver buckle at the collar. This he
threw over his shoulders so that the absence of a coat or doublet was
not perceptible.

The papers from his own pockets, with his name written upon several
of them, he had dropped near one of the out-stretched hands upon the
carpet. There seemed no possibility for the body to be buried under any
name but that of Christopher Marlowe. He readjusted the misfitting hat,
extinguished the candles, opened the door, and closing it after him,
stepped into the hall.

The old life had closed. So far as the world should know the first
adventurous pilot upon the ocean of English blank verse [note 17], the
mighty Marlowe, was among the immortal dead.



THE APPREHENSION OF ANNE.

    _Was that the face that launched a thousand ships_
    _And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?_

    --_Faustus, by Marlowe, Scene xiv._

                _Why she is a pearl_
    _Whose price hath launched above a thousand ships_
    _And turned crowned kings to merchants._

    --_Troilus and Cressida, ii, 2._


Eighteen years before the date fixed for the beginning of this
narrative, a daughter of Manuel Crossford, alderman and mercer, was
born in the town of Canterbury. This child was christened Anne, and, as
the sole offspring of the house and only companion of the father, whose
wife had soon after joined the silent majority, her welfare became his
chief concern. At sixteen years of age she had developed into a girl of
such beauty that Christopher Marlowe, son of the clerk of “St. Maries”
of Canterbury, a graduate of Cambridge, and resident of London, had
fallen desperately in love with her. It was during a temporary visit to
his native town that this occurred.

Well authenticated stories of Marlowe’s five years of dissipation in
London, after the termination of his scholarship at Cambridge, caused
Manuel Crossford to look with disfavor upon his attentions. There was
the chapter in which he figured as a common player of interludes,
or, in other words, as a vagrant actor, forming part of the unwritten
biography of the suitor; and the father of the maiden could not forget
the account of Marlowe’s having broken “his leg in one lewd scene, when
in his early age,” as was expressed some time later by a malignant
rhymster.[19]

This latter report had been clearly disproved, but it had raised a
prejudice which could not be overturned. Then again, Crossford was
a devout Brownist, and it was too well known to admit of doubt that
Marlowe was an avowed freethinker. Had he not written in one of his
plays:

    “I count religion but a childish toy,
     And hold there is no crime but ignorance”?[20]

If a man did not entertain such opinions himself he would not allow
them to be mouthed by any speaker before an assemblage, thought
Crossford. It was true that he had written passages that glowed with
the fervor of his worship of the All-creating Soul of the Universe,
but this did not prevent him from abjuring the Trinity. There were
suspicions that he had committed this ecclesiastical crime.

Crossford was not familiar with Marlowe’s works, but he had heard the
clerk of “St. Maries” enthusiastically repeat the lines written by his
distinguished son:

    “Our souls, whose faculties can comprehend
     The wonderous architecture of the world,
     And measure every wandering planet’s course,
     Still climbing after knowledge infinite,
     And always moving as the restless spheres,
     Will us to wear ourselves, and never rest,
     Until we reach the ripest fruit of all.”

And at their recital he, Crossford, had nodded approval, and then shook
his head as he thought of the eternal fires already prepared for the
irreverent young man. The predicted fame of the latter had no weight
in the other side of the scales held by the non-compromising Brownist
[note 30].

At length matters reached such a crisis that in 1592, the alderman
determined that his daughter should be placed under more strict
surveillance than he was capable of maintaining. In considering the
matter his thoughts had turned in the direction of his sister’s house
in London. The chances were fair for the close confinement there of the
maiden until time should have worn away the image of her lover. For
the moment, the Protestant actually wished for the restoration of the
dissolved nunneries. Like the Jew of Malta, who had placed his daughter
within the walls of a priory, the stiff-necked Brownist could have
smothered his religious prejudices when the interests lying next to his
heart were at stake. But half a century had elapsed since the sisters
of the convents, with only their clothes upon their backs, had been
rudely forced into secular life, and their abodes confiscated by the
crown.

The sister of Crossford was the wife of Richard Bame. Living
childless, she had long since pleaded for the adoption of her niece,
but Crossford had turned a deaf ear toward all such entreaties. Her
home was a “faire dwelling” amid spacious and walled grounds, the
bequest of her father. As she was a woman of advanced education for
the times, and a strict disciplinarian, it was no wonder that Manuel
Crossford turned toward her in what he deemed was his extremity.
Without notice given his daughter of their destination or his
intentions, the alderman started with her on the journey toward the
great metropolis.

They traveled by the way of Deptford, and knowing Dodsman intimately
from an early day, they stayed for several days at the Golden Hind.
Before their sojourn at the latter place had ended, Marlowe had
heard of their presence there and forthwith appeared at the tavern.
A stormy interview took place between the father and the suitor; a
misunderstanding arose, and a bitter quarrel followed between the
lovers, and apparently the meeting was but an episode in the journey.

Anne was soon afterward received into the house of Mistress Bame,
where studies were begun and assiduously maintained. Any tears which
she might have shed over what she supposed was the termination of the
affair with Marlowe, were soon followed by a condition of mind giving
evidence of its freedom from regret and melancholy, by clarity of
countenance. But this peaceful condition of mind was more in the nature
of a reflection of the new, and, at first, pleasant surroundings. The
extent to which her affection had become involved was not at that time
known to herself. It required another revolution of the kaleidoscope of
her life to show the contrasting pictures of light and gloom, traced by
her first love in ineffaceable colors. This revolution was not to be
long delayed. It required another’s devotion; the paling of the fire of
attraction and the second advent of Marlowe.

Anne had not been wholly restricted to the grounds within the walls
of the residence of Bame; but upon all her departures therefrom she
was accompanied by the watchful mistress. Upon one of these occasions
they became separated from each other by the waves of a great crowd
rushing through Fenchurch Street. It was an insurrection raised by the
apprentices of the city against the alien workingmen; and although
neither riotous nor destructive at the point where the younger woman
became lost from the older, it was sufficiently threatening to cause
the closing and barricading of all shops and houses along that ancient
thoroughfare. Anne became extricated from the mob through the efforts
of a young man, who proved to be Francis Frazer. He had noticed her
upon a previous occasion. He had the grace of a courtier and his
apparel was in keeping with his apparent rank.

Her beauty had flashed upon him and fixed his attention. On his part,
it was love at first sight. Upon her part, she was attracted by
his distinguished appearance, and visibly affected by his immediate
protestations of affection. Unfortunately for both, as the sequel
proved, he escorted her to her home.

Frequent occasions for meetings between the two followed, despite the
vigilance of the aunt, and gradually the restraints of home life became
irksome beyond the limit of endurance. The interest of the girl in
her admirer increased in like proportion, and he, at an early period
of their acquaintance, discovered that his feelings toward her were
founded upon something more than temporary passion. With all the ardor
of his impetuous nature he prevailed upon her to accept his hand in
marriage; and the safeguards which Manuel Crossford had erected to keep
his daughter fancy free, until he might arrange a suitable marriage,
trembled at the assault and then fell to pieces. In confidence that
the Count would fulfill his promise of marriage, the girl fled from
the home of Bame leaving no clue from which to ascertain the cause of
her flight or the place of her concealment. She was married to Francis
Frazer at St. Peter’s Church on Cornhill.

Suspicions were by Crossford directed against Marlowe, for he knew
nothing of the new suitor, and although he was quietly shadowed on
several occasions, the fruitless result had not yet been sufficient to
satisfy the father that Marlowe was not holding the girl in some secure
hiding-place. At Canterbury and elsewhere Marlowe had been unable
to learn anything concerning the girl since her departure from her
father’s house. Not even a rumor of her marriage had reached his ears,
and more than a year had passed since their last meeting when, beside
the dead body of the Count, she told him of it.

This marriage had proved to be an unhappy one, partially due to the
excessive and unwarranted jealousy of her husband. During the few
months of their married life, they had wandered through various
quarters of London and its vicinity, and at length had reached the
Golden Hind a few days prior to the eventful night of June the first,
1593.

Here Frazer sojourned while making arrangements for leaving with his
wife for the continent. A vessel then lay at the wharf of Deptford upon
which he designed to make the voyage. Against this contemplated move
the wife had remonstrated with such vigor and persistency that despite
her protestations to the effect that her objections arose from a dread
of entering an unknown world, and a desire to become reconciled with
her father, the Count became suspicious that she had plotted to desert
him or at least to thwart his plans.

It was shortly after one of the most violent scenes between them
that Anne saw Tabbard in the hall, as related, and heard his welcome
announcement that the one whom she believed had passed forever out of
her life was not only anxious to see her, but was within call. Upon
that sudden and unexpected communication, if she had had time to
consider she might have formulated a different answer, but with the
remembrances which the mention of Marlowe’s name awakened, her heart
rushed to her lips, and at the instant she caught a glimpse of Frazer,
she gave expression to her longing. It was like an outcry of one in
distress, but founded upon no idea that through her old lover lay
deliverance.

As already stated Frazer had accidentally heard the few words she had
uttered, and it was his actions resulting from his suspicions of a
contemplated elopement that brought about the tragedy at the tavern.
With this digression, explanatory of the events leading up to the
tragedy of that night, we will now return to the point where the door
was closed upon the retreat of Anne.

The hall into which the woman entered, lighted, as it was momentarily,
by the rays from the room faced by the carved panels, became black as
night as she heard the door shut behind her. She found the balustrade,
pushed her hand along its smooth top and at length reached the head
of the stairs. Even then, as her eyes stared into the lower depths,
no amelioration of the darkness appeared. Step by step she descended,
crossing the middle landing, still holding to the balustrade. She had
reached the foot and stood there for the moment trembling over thoughts
of the scene from which she had just fled and apprehensive of present
evil. The way was known to her as clearly as a father’s house to
children. Straight ahead led the hall without a turn to the narrow door
into the inn-yard. Her hand fell from the balustrade, but as it did so
it was caught by another hand, and she felt bungling fingers run across
her face. In vain she attempted to control her terror, but the brain,
already overtaxed, went to pieces like a glass let fall on marble
pavements. She uttered one scream and fainted.

A quiet, like that of a country church at high noon on week days had
been for some time pervading the tap-room of the Golden Hind. The party
at the center table had scattered; the landlord rubbing his eyes, had
disappeared through the door above which hung the cracked painting of
the host in red coat and face betokening welcome; the line of decanters
and bezzling glasses on the shelf, under the long mirror behind the
bar, appeared ready for the dust of at least one quiet half-night to
settle upon it; while outstretched on two chairs, with his drowsy head
leaning on the arm of one of them, lay the tapster, the only human
occupant of the room. The cat had crawled under his arm, and, in his
half sleep, he was mechanically stroking her. Out of this condition he
was aroused by startling sounds in the hall.

He quickly rose to his feet and rushed to the door. The light fell full
upon two persons, a woman lying unconscious at the base of the stairs,
and a drunken actor leaning over her. The latter exhibited a stupefied
countenance, either as the result of a light being flashed so suddenly
upon him, or from the discovery of what lay at his feet. He had hardly
realized that he had clasped a hand or fumbled a face, or at least
nothing more than that of some serving woman of the place, and when he
saw a woman with features of almost transcendent beauty, and of attire
fit for a lady of rank, lying at his feet, he cowered in the light as
one might when apprehended in the commission of a heinous crime.

“Zounds,” exclaimed the tapster, “what’s this snarling about?”

“Good God, man, is she killed?” exclaimed the other leaning over and
attempting to raise the recumbent body at his feet.

Blood was flowing from a gash cut in the woman’s head by the sharp
edge of the stair. The two men picked her up and carried her into
the tap-room, where they placed her in one of the widest chairs. The
tapster recognized her as the lady who had arrived there a few days
previously with the Count, and looked suspiciously at the actor; but,
without asking any questions of the latter, he began bathing her
face in cold water and binding a cloth around her head to stop the
flow of blood. Its current darkly streaked the mass of golden hair
which, having been liberated from the confinement of the hood, fell
disheveled around the high white ruff, in which the lower part of
her face was concealed, and upon the puffed shoulders terminating
the tight, slashed sleeves of vari-colored silk. Her hooded cape of
showy fabric lay upon the floor. Her full gown of blue silk with front
embroidered from the collar down the long pointed doublet and dress
front, comfortably filled the chair. The lamps directly overhead had
been extinguished, and it was the light from the still blazing candles
at the angle of the chimney that flared upon her pallid face.

Several minutes had passed and all attempts at her restoration had
been unavailing. A serious expression had gathered on the face of
the tapster, and the actor looked to have been shaken into sobriety.
Suddenly the two men heard light footsteps in the hallway. The door had
been left open. They looked toward it, and at that moment the figure of
a man passed across the seam of light and was immediately swallowed by
the darkness that lay on the further edge. As the light struck him he
had looked towards its source, but if he recognized any member of the
group or realized the character of the scene which he had momentarily
disturbed, it did not cause him to pause. The sound of the closing of
the door into the inn-yard immediately afterwards echoed through the
hall.

“That was her husband, the Count,” whispered the actor, looking with
amazement at his companion.

“You are wrong. It was Marlowe,” remarked the tapster.

“Nay,” said the actor, “Marlowe was not so attired. It is her husband.
You had better follow him with word of her condition.”

“If I thought you were right,” returned the tapster with considerable
feeling, “I would not stir a step, for I am not anxious to serve the
ruffian. The blow he felled me with was none to my liking. I would do
anything for the lady, but what she needs is what he is now doing. We
will stop him, whoever he is, as he returns.”



A PRECARIOUS EXISTENCE.

    _Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure_
    _When like the Draco’s they were writ in blood._

    --_Jew of Malta, i, 1._

        _The bloody book of law,_
    _You shall yourself read, in the bitter letter,_
    _After your own sense._

    --_Othello, i, 3._


On the night of the murder in the old Deptford tavern the man who was
to profit most from the false shadows thrown by the crime and its
concealment was at the Boar’s Head in London. This man was William
Shakespere. Without his volition and unknown to himself the crown of
immortality was being set upon his brows. Just as unconsciously moved
the hands that placed it there. Had the placing of it been designed;
had the person who has worn it all these centuries felt its presence
and coveted it, possibly all cloud that has since obscured his title
might have been removed; but the actors were only puppets in the
hands of the blind goddess of Mischance. The vital flaws remain, and
have been pointed out by the searchers. Their genuineness has been
demonstrated, but the source of title has been misapprehended. The
falsifying of the record of the crime at Deptford being discovered, the
tracing of the title through a deep channel to its true fountain head
is a task easy of accomplishment. It leads to Christopher Marlowe.

With Shakespere were two others, whose lives were inseparably
interwoven with that of his own and with Marlowe’s. One was George
Peele, the dramatist, the other was Christopher Tamworth, the lawyer of
Gray’s Inn.

The Eastcheap tavern, while frequently the gathering place for
roysterers, was also a known resort for strolling players,
pamphleteers, dramatists and other men of genius and ambition, who were
looked upon with suspicion by a government that imagined greater danger
from a middle class with intellect and ability of expression than from
a powerful nobility, or an ignorant multitude of serfs.

At times, crowds in bacchanalian riot burnt out the hours of the night;
again the peace of a cloister pervaded there, and from the lower bay,
and higher dormer windows the lights of workers’ candles gleamed.
Eastcheap Street might rattle with tumbrils, carts and horses’ hoofs,
and the air be shattered by the cries of costard mongers, tooting of
hautboys, or the ringing of bellmen, still the thick walls of the
Boar’s Head enticed within them those who worked out their deliverance
in solitary effort and meditation.

The three men were in a spacious room at the rear corner of one of
the upper stories of the famous tavern. One window opening through
the thick stone wall, faced the church-yard of St. Michaels with its
drooping trees, its tenants of near three hundred years of burial,
and its stately edifice wherein the fishmongers and butchers from
near shops and stalls congregated. Clambering vines rooted in rich
soil, framed this deep and narrow window in green; and in breezy
hours sent to the ears of indwellers a rustle sweetly suggestive of
the far distant woods of Kent or Surrey. In the wall facing Crooked
Lane another window overlooked a traveled way so narrow that hands
outstretched from facing windows on either side could clasp each
other. On the pavement below, a foot passer might squeeze by a costard
monger’s cart, but two carts abreast could not pass. Projecting
platforms, under fronting doors with narrow stairs descending to the
street, and boards thrust out from windows whereon hung linen drying,
or boxed plants, assisted in obscuring the light.

The room was the living apartment of George Peele, and for several
years during his separation from his wife, had been the retreat of that
genius, where in intervals between mad dissipations he had written “The
Famous Chronicle History of King Edward the First.” The innate taste
of this individual, as displayed in the richness of the imagery that
characterized his plays, could not but reveal itself in the external
surroundings over which he had control. His purse had never been
sufficiently distended for him to contract for luxurious apartments, or
at least distended long enough for him to pause in the wild revel which
always followed close on the heels of the receipt of money for a play,
to consider any question of comfort in the near future, consequently
both in seasons of poverty and moments of affluence this one room at
the Boar’s Head was his permanent headquarters.

The blackened ceiling remained as he had found it; the ground work of
dingy wall on all sides had not been changed except by the articles
hung against it, and these were as varied as a prodigal hand could
gather. A magnificent piece of tapestry from the looms of Flanders,
bearing upon its blue groundwork the red figure of a horse and crowned
rider, covered one entire side of the room. It was said to have been
the gift of Queen Elizabeth, for whom, in 1584, Peele had written the
comedy of “The Arraignment of Paris,” and had been bestowed after her
hearing of the poet’s fancy for the hanging as he had first seen it in
the banqueting house of the royal palace at Whitehall. On low stands
before it were two black Greek vases of great value.

Against another wall were two long halbards, crossed just below their
heads, whose bright steel flashed back the light of the lamp. The ends
of their poles touched the floor, and between them was a long Norman
hauberk of trellised plate and a kite-shaped shield as rusty as six
centuries could make them. The chimney place was narrow, deep and
black. Great brass firedogs was all that it contained at that season.
Above it the shelf, formed by the receding of the chimney, was crowded
with bronze and white marble statuettes, among which, one of the queen
overtopped the others of more ancient sculpture.

The low iron bedstead of rude manufacture, almost concealed in the
recess formed by the projecting chimney, was evidently a fixture. Of
the same category were the chairs and the table. Over the latter a lamp
designed to aid a scholar in his lucubrations, burned steadily from a
bracket in the wall.

Books and papers were scattered on this table with inkhorn and quills,
and a score of volumes on the uncarpeted floor. A copy of Homer’s
Iliad lay open, with printed pages touching the wooden surface of the
table, and its embossed cover displayed. Besides this were two volumes
of Cicero, an English translation of the tragedies of Seneca, and of
Jocaste of Euripides, of the edition of 1577. Half a dozen other Greek
and Latin classics, in the costly bindings of John Reynes, were heaped
so that the light of the lamp displayed them to advantage. In meaner
bindings, Holinshed’s Chronicles lay open on the floor with the Mirror
of Magistrates piled upon it, and in the same heap were several other
volumes of cotemporary dramatists. Bundles of manuscript dramas were on
one end of the table, and scattered papers bore on their faces the work
of the master of the den.

It was late at night, and the three friends, for such they were, had
been together in the room for several hours. The play upon which Peele
was then engaged, was designed by the writer for performance by Lord
Pembroke’s actors of which Shakespere was then a member.[21] He had
been reading it for their appreciation and suggestion, and now, having
finished, they were conversing upon other topics. Tobacco smoke from
the pipe of Tamworth rose in clouds, and in a wide arm-chair against
the tapestry, Shakespere, also smoking, was listening to the lawyer’s
remarks.

“The crime,” said he, “is blasphemy and not apostasy.”

“How do you distinguish them?” inquired Peele.

“The last is renouncing one’s religion after having professed it; the
other is reviling the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost.”

“Aye, and the crime of blasphemy he has committed.”

“No question of that.”

“Have you a copy of the paper?” asked Shakespere, addressing Peele.

“Yes, the same that was sent to the Queen.” [Note 31.]

He drew from his inner pocket a folded paper, and holding it so that
the light struck full upon it he read: “The first beginnynge of
religion was only to keep men in awe.”

“There may be some truth in that,” interrupted Tamworth.

“But wait,” continued Peele, “here is the sentence that sticks and
perhaps gives ground for the charge, ‘if the Jews among whom he was
born did crucify him they best knew him and whence he came.’”

“Truly that is blasphemous,” remarked Tamworth, “but I do not believe
that he wrote it. Doth it profess on its face to be his?”

“No, they are simply charges made against him by Richard Bame, and he
is an obscure person; but the Queen hath considered it seriously and a
warrant hath been issued by one of the justices for his arrest.”

“Whose, Bame’s?”

“No, Marlowe’s.”

“What is the punishment upon conviction?” asked Shakespere.

“You need not add the words ‘upon conviction,’ for that followeth an
arrest as surely as night followeth day. It is declared by law to
be fine and imprisonment, and other infamous corporal punishment,”
answered Tamworth.

“Of what nature is such punishment?”

“Slitting the nose; cutting off an ear; a seat in the pillory, and the
like,” answered Peele before the lawyer could speak.

“Thou knoweth the law, too, Peele, like a solicitor. Hast thou ever
been a student and lodged at Clement’s Inn?” asked Tamworth with a
smile.

“Nay, but in one play I had put blasphemous words in the mouth of a
dissolute character, and, before its presentation, the same was pointed
out to me by the actor whose part it was to read it, and forthwith we
went to the Temple and there learned the definition of the offense and
the penalty.”

“And on this opinion of one who has read no better lines than those to
be found in Justinian or Littleton, and made no professions of ability
to criticise, thou expurgated what to me seemed the most stirring
passages of the play. Wilt thou let the light of thy torch be blanketed
so that only black smoke can roll forth? Fie upon thee, man!” said
Shakespere with animation.

“You know not of what you speak,” exclaimed Tamworth. “The corporal
punishment may be more severe than as defined by Peele. His definition
is correct, but the judges have often stretched the words to a greater
extent. What if they saw fit to apply such infamous punishment that
death would necessarily result?”

“Could they do that?”

“Aye, and they have. Death for blasphemy maketh one smile at the laws
of Draco, but such hath been and only four years since.”

“You speak of Kett,” remarked Peele.

“Yes, Francis Kett.”

“And what of him?” asked Shakespere.

“He was burnt,” said Tamworth, solemnly.

“At the stake?”

“True, at Norwich in February, 1589, for questioning the Divinity of
Christ, and giving utterance to other unorthodox views.”[22]

“O Diabole!” muttered Peele.

“Is there any safety in any occupation?” inquired Shakespere.

“Well, there is certainly little in your profession, my good fellow,
unless you are licensed, or enrolled.[23] The penalty of being
apprehended as a strolling player, or as a common actor of interludes,
is probably known to thee, and to thee, too, Peele.”

“Yes; whipping, and burning with a hot iron through the gristle of
the right ear,”[24] interrupted Peele, “for I saw the like punishment
administered to Endermon, who is now with Henslowe at the Rose.”[25]

“And,” continued Tamworth, “it is because of this act of Elizabeth that
you, Shakespere, are enrolled as a servant of Lord Pembroke.”

“A sorry wretch you are,” laughed Peele, looking at Shakespere, “so
miserably considered that in order to gain the plaudits of the pit you
must attach yourself to a licensed company.”

“And in what better condition are you?” asked Tamworth, with a smile.
“Dost thou not know that in the law a dramatist is classed with
vagrants? That any line of what you, Peele, write, may be interpreted
as blasphemy or treason; and that as the judge before whom you may be
dragged passes upon the meaning, force or effect of the questionable
writing,[26] you are virtually deprived of a trial by jury? And upon
what slender thread your liberty would hang! Aye, e’en your life.
Moreover, the judge pompously declares that he looks into the spirit
instead of the letter, and thus between the lines he reads an avowal of
popery and pronounces you a Papist.”

“Aye, then the sentence comes ‘To the Tower,’” exclaimed Shakespere.

“The rats’ dungeon!” he said, solemnly.

“And is not the pious poet, Robert Southwell, there now on the same
charge, popery?”[27] asked Peele.

“True,” said Shakespere.

“And hath he not,” continued Peele, “in cankering languishment written:

    “‘I often look upon my face
     Most ugly, grisly, bare and thin;
     I often view the hollow place
     Where eyes and nose had sometime been;
     I see the bones across that lie,
     Yet little think that I must die.’”

“Is anything more wanting to restrain one in the flourish of one’s pen?”

“Next we shall hear of prizes for stupidity,” ejaculated Shakespere,
replacing his pipe between his lips, from where it had been withdrawn
during the interval of legal discussion. “My wonder is,” he continued,
“that you ever write a line beyond God save the Queen and damn the
Pope. Praise God, that my temporary calling is licensed, and that not
yet have I been tempted into fields where pitfalls lie concealed, and
all else is open to the blazing sky.” [Note 29.]

“Well said, friend Will, but let once the honied praise for children of
thy brain melt into thy being, and no threat or dread of bodily ill can
keep thee wholly from the permanent expression of thy thoughts. And now
it is my livelihood,” returned Peele.

“For one of thy calling it would be safer to live in obscurity,”
remarked Tamworth.

“Yes, as though dead,” the dramatist answered in a whisper, as though
there were others who might overhear his words.

A knock sounded at the door. The two visitors looked at Peele
inquiringly. He said “Come in,” but the door did not open, and again
the knock sounded.

“The fellow is like a beggar for coin who refuses a purse without
looking into it,” remarked Peele, arising and going to the door.

“More like a lady who wishes to know who is within before venturing,”
said Shakespere significantly.

Peele had opened the door. A man stood there in the passage and raised
his finger warningly. Peele paused in the greeting he was about to
utter, and then, moving his head slightly backward in gesture, said in
a low voice: “Shakespere and Tamworth.”

“And none other?” asked the man.

“None.”

He stepped within, but did not seem to notice Peele’s extended hand.

“Lock the door,” he said.

“Right,” said Peele, “the warrant is already out.”

“What, so soon?” exclaimed the other, throwing his hand to his face,
which grew ghastly as he stared at his friend.

“Marlowe,” exclaimed Shakespere in greeting, “even now we were talking
about you.”

The man addressed continued, gazing speechlessly at Peele, who said,
“Well ’twas no more than we were apprehensive of when last we met.”

“You talk in riddles,” gasped the other, “’Tis only two hours since his
death. A warrant already issued: You know it? My God! do I dream?”

Peele now displayed a questioning face; “Riddles; two hours since his
death?” he asked, and then after a short pause, continued: “I mean the
charge of blasphemy. That warrant is out. Of what do you speak?”

Marlowe’s visage cleared to some extent.

“Ah! I understand,” he murmured.

He removed his hat, and sank as though in exhaustion into a cushioned
chair close before the chimney. Tamworth and Shakespere were already
up, and the three had gathered before him.

Shakespere spoke sympathizingly: “They are not likely to search in this
quarter. To-morrow I will intercede with the Queen, for she has already
given me recognition--”

“And the offense is only of an ecclesiastical nature,” continued
Tamworth.

“In the eyes of the law it is considered murder,” said Marlowe.

The three looked questioningly at each other, while Marlowe, throwing
off the last trace of qualm, continued:

“I have just fled from the place of its commission, and thy first
utterance, Peele, unnerved me. I killed the man and he lies dead at
the Golden Hind in Deptford. It was in duel forced upon me. Francis
Frazer, the Count, they call him. I say that he lies dead, but others
will say that it is I. You look at me as though there were more riddles
and there are. You see the clothes I wear? Well, they are none of
mine. Mine are at the Golden Hind and on the dead. You see it was this
way. He came upon me when I was with the woman, his wife, it seems.
He demanded that I draw and defend myself. I did, and well, and then
thrust home. He fell. Here I have come. What way is clear?”

“A duel,” exclaimed Shakespere, admiringly, “and you killed him? Bravo!”

“Wherein lies the offense?” interrupted Peele.

“You do not understand; the combat was in his apartments where I had
intruded. There were no witnesses save his wife. She sides with me, but
what a cloud would be cast upon me before the Court, with the woman
swearing in my favor as against the dead husband? I say that death
would be the penalty.”

“But you say that you stripped the dead,” said Tamworth, “and whether
it was a vindictive murder, a duel, or done in self defense, such fact
must weigh heavily against thee. Art thou crazy, Kit? Why this garb? I
do not understand it.”

He had finished his questions with visible excitement, and with it
Marlowe arose.

“You are my friends,” he said, “the occasion calls for staunch ones.
Come, I need the aid of all.”

Instinctively they drew about the table as though closeness begat
confidence and strength. The light shown upon a true brotherhood of
souls united by common interests both for advancement and preservation.
Peele with clear and thoughtful eyes, and face still displaying
wonderment; Shakespere with the smooth-shaven visage of an actor, and
open, generous countenance; Tamworth with clear-cut features, cold eyes
and bearded chin and lip--all sat silent as their companion vividly
narrated the events of the night at the Deptford tavern. At its close
he paused, and then in the ensuing silence resumed:

“The past hath ended in a grave. You all see that. No broad road of
the life of yesterday is open to me. Henceforth darkness and obscurity
is my sole store. And wherein lies solace for such continuance of life?
Aye,” and his voice rang with the intensity of his feelings, “even a
livelihood is debarred me unless a mask conceals my workings.”

Again for an interval no words were spoken. Outside the fog had lifted
and a midnight rain was falling on the roof and beating against the
windows. Its patter pervaded the room. The Greek vases seemed waiting
to be filled; the red king on the arras appeared listening expectantly
for words of deliverance; the halberds glittered defiantly, as though
raised by hands ready in defense.



THE PASSING OF TABBARD.

    _I see an angel hovers o’er thy head,_
    _And with a vial full of precious grace,_
    _Offers to pour the same into thy soul._

    --_Faustus, scene xiv._

    _His life was gentle, and the elements_
    _So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up_
    _And say to all the world, “This was a man:”_

    --_Julius Cæsar, v, 5._


The Gloom that pervaded the great city during the prevalence of the
plague was a figure of changing size that at times came with a rush,
and again grew into place beside the hearth-stone, slowly and almost
imperceptibly, and then at length assumed such dreadful proportions
that the affrighted watchers buried their sad faces in trembling hands,
as if to drown the vision. A pall covered him from head to foot, and
his face was unseen; but there was a suspicion that it was fleshless,
and whether he came to the open stall or closed shop, before or after,
the visit there of the plague, his presence numbed the hands of toil,
and then either folded them in prayer, or dropped them in stolid
apathy. He pervaded almost every dwelling; he was where the morning
orisons arose in churches and cathedrals; he walked the open streets
even in the sunlight; he sat with the judge upon the bench; he knelt
with the bride at the altar, and even where full cups were lifted
high, with nods indicative of good health and peace, he came and went
like a restless spirit.

As Tabbard and Gyves slowly crossed the street from the office of the
Justice, a cart delayed their steps for a moment. Their breasts were
almost against its heavy wheels as it passed, and their eyes were on
a level with the top of its box, which was filled above its edges.
The jolting of the stones shook the contents so that the man in black
beside the driver, through fear of losing part of the load, kept his
eyes fixed upon the rear end-board of the cart.

“Ugh!” exclaimed Gyves, drawing back with a shudder, “’Tis the death
cart. See, they have piled them in like dead mutton.”

“Look at that stiff beggar with fallen chops hanging over the wheel,”
remarked Tabbard, with face wrinkling in his disgust.

“They are in too great haste to keep them properly covered. And this is
the earliest load I have seen hurried through the streets.”

“Don’t they carry at all times?” inquired Tabbard.

“Nay, only after sundown and just before sunup.”

“The plague must be growing worse,” remarked Tabbard, for the moment
longing for the fresh, sweet air of Kent, and heartily wishing that he
was out of that foggy street, which had suddenly grown as melancholy as
a church-yard of new-made graves. He almost forgot to limp, or lean
heavily on the constable as they reached the opposite walk.

“God save you, sir. It is breathing in every ward both north and south
of Holborn, Cheapside and Fenchurch, and as far west as Gray’s Inn and
Temple Bar. Red paint has gone up in price, I hear, for nearly every
house owner has had to buy some to daub the cross on his door. I saw
one man fall on Coleman street to-day, and in less than an hour he was
dead in the alley where they had moved him. Oh, man! it would be well
for you, if you had never ventured in from the fields; for I see that
you have the healthful looking face and air of a countryman.”

“Does one die quickly?” asked Tabbard, with a quaver in his voice.

“Too quickly to send either for doctor, or priest, in some cases,”
replied Gyves.

“And is there no help?”

“Little before and none after the black spots appear.”

“And do many die?”

“Thousands.”

“Near here?” inquired Tabbard, shuddering as he looked at the gloomy
buildings around him.

“Nay, mostly in the dwellings and tenements. With one death in the
family, you can count that every member will follow. Ah! here is the
Windmill.”

They turned from the sidewalk to mount the steps leading to the tavern.
The building was a quaint structure built by the Jews at least three
hundred years before. Once a synagogue, next a dwelling and then a
tavern, it had, despite all these changes in its use, maintained some
of the characteristics of each. Like a minister, who had become a
soldier and then deserted for some safer but less honorable calling, it
had retained an outward expression of sanctity in the narrow, pointed
lancet-windows in its front and its six-columned portico; while, as
evidence of its passage through an intermediate period, oriel windows
jutted out from what might be second and third stories. The painting
of a windmill, hanging between the two middle columns of the portico,
published the present purposes of the place with as loud a flourish as
trumpets might announce.

Into what was once the inner narthex of the synagogue, they passed. A
stone floor was under foot, while a low vaulted ceiling rose overhead,
its base being supported by attached columns with decorated capitals
and elaborately carved corbels. Here, where devout Hebrews had once
paused to arrange their gabardines, or stamp thoughts of usury for one
short session from their minds before entering the body of the church,
the sacrilegious Gentile had set his snares of destruction. It had
become the tap-room of the tavern.

Near the foot of the rood-stair, which once led to the gallery, stood
a brilliantly lighted bar, with a range of butts of Malmsey, kegs of
beer and sack, deep in the recess behind it; and on the near shelves,
against a bastard wall, was a glittering line of decanters, mugs and
tankards.

The heavy round tables were encircled by many persons drinking under
suspended lamps, and several groups of men were standing here and
there on the sanded floor. A quietness, except for the low buzz of
conversation and an occasional laugh, pervaded the room, thus speaking
well for the sobriety of the inmates and the respectability of the
tavern; still the crowd was as mixed as could be found anywhere except
in the middle aisle of St. Paul’s. There, in the nave of that famous
cathedral, dedicated to pious uses, in the aisles, before the ambries,
and beside the font, during intervals between divine service, horsemen,
usurers, cut-throats, beggars, bargainers of all kinds, doctors,
lawyers and noblemen, plied their avocations, held their meetings,
hatched their conspiracies and settled accounts.

Here there were no beggars, such being barred entrance; but their
tatters could be seen on the portico whenever the door swung open.
But men, in apparel fit for noblemen, walked in and out; others, with
the hardened visages of men who dreamt continually of the gallows and
shuddered at every flash of light across their paths, drank at the bar,
or gathered under some of the isolated columns.

At one table was a country squire in dun-colored serge coat, with full
bearded face, bending over a trencher filled with a half devoured
pheasant. Before him was his city cousin, in velvet cap, with a
lovelock suspended from under the green rim down across his ruffled
collar. Decorated with pointed mustachios and framed in powdered
periwig and high ruff, he was typical of the dandy of the period.

If the raw-boned, ungainly young man, with repellant features, who
monopolized the conversation at another table, was not Ben Jonson [note
33], then Gyves, who pointed him out to Tabbard, had selected some one
who looked enough like that genius, just rising to eminence, to be
confounded with him.

“He is an actor,” said Gyves, “who lately returned from the Low
Countries with the company of soldiers of which he was a volunteer, a
most companionable man: can drink deeper and swear louder than any one
around him.”

“Doth he make no choice of companions?” questioned Tabbard, noticing
that some of the group looked misplaced anywhere but dangling from a
gibbet’s arm.

“Not he,” said Gyves, “according to his stories, he has messed with
the worst of the cut-throats of the Straits, kept by the side of
clapperdoggers on their rounds, learned all the slang of the purlieus
of Cheapside, and would as lief hobnob with a ruffler as with a
nobleman or parish priest.”

“Hath he good sense?”

“The very best, I think, for I heard the Justice say that he wrote
plays of the people, and must mingle with them to learn their ways.”

By this time they had approached a vacant table, and as Tabbard seated
himself with pretended difficulty, he said, “Now sit you there; my
friend, and have one cup with me before you venture out.”

Gyves required no second invitation.

“’Tis a bad night to hunt the highways for clapperdoggers,” said he, as
he dropped into a chair, and pulling his whiskers glanced around the
room with an air of familiarity as great as that of a chained mastiff
in his own kennel.

“Is it a beggar you are after?” asked Tabbard with a forced air of
unconcern.

“Not exactly, and I correct my expression,” returned Gyves, “but one
even less harmful.”

“Some poor devil who has failed to attend church for a Sunday or two,
eh?” [note 34.]

“Nay, I took in two on such complaints this morning, but to-night I
shall hail in a blasphemer.”

“Hardly to-night,” thought Tabbard, and then he added aloud, “Doth not
thy conscience prick thee at times for dragging such men to jail?”

“I am but an instrument of the law,” replied the constable in deep
tones, at the same time striking his chest with his fingers evidently
in imitation of the voice and action of the Lord High Sheriff. “The man
who should have cold sweats is the accuser, the public informer.”

“Are there many of such curs?”

“Enough to keep us busy,” answered Gyves.

“And who has held thy nose to the hot scent?”

“Out cow-herd! I like not thy terms of address,” exclaimed Gyves,
bringing his fist down with a ring upon the table, “A hot scent with a
nose upon it raises the figure of a dog. It takes no keen wit to see
that. And as thou hast called it my nose, then forsooth, I am the dog.”

“Nay, nay!” exclaimed Tabbard, “I meant no offense. Here, I clink
glasses with thee as evidence of good-fellowship.”

They raised the glasses of wine which the drawer had set before them.

“Who was the accuser of the man you bear a warrant for?”

“Bame,” said the constable, lowering his voice. “He is one of the prime
movers against Papists and scoffers of religion.”

“Of the established church, eh?”

“Nay, a sour, morose Brownist, who strikes at all but his own sect.”

“A gad fly,” said Tabbard.

“An asp, more like; a carrion-eating swine!” exclaimed Gyves, as though
the words were the froth of bitter recollections.

“Is his rope long?”

“As long as the laws under which he acts.”

“And who is the accused in this case?”

“Chris--”

He checked himself and then continued:

“’Sdeath! When I get the reviler where liberty is a sweet memory
only, I will if I choose call aloud his name in every quarter but St.
Paul’s.”

“And why not there?”

“He hath attacked the church, ’tis said.”

“Canst thou not recollect his name, over this second glass?” inquired
Tabbard, smoothly.

“I said nothing of my recollection being faulty.”

“Hast thou the warrant? If thou hast let me see it,” said Tabbard,
with the air and tone of one in command. “Here, some more of that best
Rheinish wine,” he thundered to the drawer.

Gyves had never encountered so reckless a spendthrift. His admiration
was rising as every glass was lowered. He was in no hurry to go on his
quest. The foggy night, and the dark miles between the Windmill and the
Roman Wall caused him to embrace the glittering present. The tap-room
of the Windmill never appeared so enchanting. Tabbard, despite his
rusticity, was growing into a prince. The cultivated caution of the
constable oozed away, and he placed the warrant in Tabbard’s hands.
Just at that moment Bame walked into the tap-room and came hurriedly
toward the table. Tabbard had caught sight of him out of the corner of
his eye. He thrust the warrant in his pocket, at the same time giving a
significant glance at Gyves, who, with at first a motion that he would
retake the paper, subsided on noticing Bame. The latter said, as he
reached the table, “How now, Gyves, has the arrest been made?”

“Shortly, sir, shortly,” exclaimed Gyves, scarcely able to conceal his
surprise at seeing the sanctimonious-looking Brownist beside him in
the tap-room.

“Good faith, man! Get thee out quick, or the fellow will be fled. Thou
hast already squandered an hour here. Come, stir thyself!”

The tones were peremptory and husky with suppressed anger. Gyves knew
Bame’s power. He felt that temporary action was necessary to preserve
his office. True, he could not act without the warrant, and he dared
not expose to Bame his folly by demanding its return. So, hoping that
he could see Tabbard later, and, having procured the warrant, make the
arrest, he arose.

“I am off at once--” he said.

“Odds end!” exclaimed Bame savagely, “Don’t stop to mouth words. Push
along.”

“And where will you lodge?” asked the constable of Tabbard, who,
rejoicing over the complete relief he had secured for his friend Kit,
sat there apparently unconcerned.

“Here,” answered Tabbard.

Gyves turned and walked away from them. In going, Bame’s back was
toward him, but he saw the smiling face of Tabbard, and striking his
own breast, he made a motion with his hand as though to say, “The
warrant you have in your pocket deliver to me a little later.”

Tabbard nodded his head understandingly, and the troubled arm of the
law passed out of the old Jewry entrance.

Bame scrutinized the late companion of the constable for an interval
without changing his position. Tabbard stared back at him with an
expression of contempt and hatred, which changed to a smile of triumph
as he thought with what exultation he could tear the warrant into
shreds before Bame’s eyes. He itched to do it on the instant; but the
other man wheeled round and sought a table in a retired corner, from
where he continued his scrutiny of Tabbard. There was something about
the latter man which jarred a chord in Bame’s memory, and suddenly he
recognized him as the person who had been with Marlowe at the Dolphin.
This recognition, connected with the fact of the lately interrupted
meeting between Gyves and Tabbard, raised his suspicions, and his
watching became like that of a hawk.

Tabbard took out the warrant. He opened it curiously and examined the
seal. It was the only portion of the paper that assured him of the
legal character of the writ. Words in Greek could have conveyed as
much meaning as those printed and written on the paper. If he had been
convicted of felony, Tabbard would have suffered the severe penalty;
for the benefit of clergy would not have availed him. He could not read
the Lord’s Prayer in English print.

He folded the paper and then began tearing it into small bits. These
he scattered around him, feeling like a life convict taking the first
breath of air outside the broken wall of the prison. As he ground
the last pieces into the sand under his feet, he lifted his glass
of Rheinish wine and threw his head back to drain the contents. The
thought of “Sir Kit” was in his mind, a smile played upon his lips.

Could death strike us at the moment of accomplishing good for a friend
or for the human race, we might not parley but pass with glorified
faces into a peace assuredly in keeping with the joy kindled by the
generous act. With few the end comes so gloriously. To the soldier, the
martyr, the mother, such passing of the spirit is oft vouchsafed; the
first, falling at the head of the victorious forces on the captured
battlements; the second, amid flames at the stake; the last, with the
first breath of her infant upon her lips already damp with the dew of
dissolution.

In the position assumed by Tabbard for his last draught, the bright
flame of a suspended lamp flared in his eyes. To him it appeared to
swing in a circle, although in fact it was stationary; and the vaulted
ceiling seemed rising in air higher and higher, until he looked into
the darkness of absolute night. It was his head that swayed instead
of the lamp; it was the gradual failure of his eye-sight that raised
the phenomenon of the fading ceiling. A violent nausea seized him, so
that every fiber of his body shook and his glass fell shivered upon
the floor. He groaned so loudly that every one in the room turned his
face in his direction. And thus, before staring and startled faces, the
quivering man rolled from his chair to the sanded floor. A whisper
rose from every lip, except from the pair which grew white in distress.
The words were the same from all:

“The plague!”

The stricken man may have heard the two words, but it could have
conveyed no new tidings to his mind. Even the shiver of his frame from
a draught of cold air would have sprung the belief that the first
symptom of the Black Death had appeared. But there was no mistaking
the pang that shot through him, like an arrow from a long bow. Could
he have seen his face a few moments afterward as Bame saw it, turned
upward on the floor, he would have died more suddenly from fright;
hæmorrhagic spots discolored it--the unmistakable symbol of internal
dissolution. They looked like the black imprints of the fingers of a
hand that had been thrust with violence against it.

“Tell him he is safe,” came the broken words from lips moved by a
wandering mind.

“Who?” asked Bame, leaning over him.

The dying man did not answer, but the words “Deptford” and the “Earl’s
actors” were uttered in his rambling speech.



THE MOLDING OF THE MASK.

    _Jove sometimes masked in a shepherd’s weed,_
    _And by those steps, that he hath scaled the heavens,_
    _May we become immortal like the gods._

    --_I Tamburlaine, i, 2._

    _Conceal me what I am, and be my aid_
    _For such disguise as haply may become_
    _The form of my intent._

    --_Twelfth Night, i, 2._


The silence in Peele’s chamber at the Boar’s Head had continued many
minutes. The three hearers of Marlowe’s vivid recital looked at each
other expectantly; but as all had quaffed his cup of misery, silence
was alone the fit expression of their depth of feeling and interest.
The intense personality of the man had aroused in them sentiments like
those he entertained. They recognized his genius [note 18 to 24], the
height from which he had fallen, the deplorableness of his situation.
It was as though his intellect had unseated theirs and mounted on the
thrones thus vacated. Thus the boon companion of their riotous follies,
the good fellow, the well-beloved and revel-loving Kit, had in a thrice
vanished in thin air, and a veritable king of men assumed his place.

He had simply summoned the power that he knew was lodged within him,
deep in the inexhaustible fountain from which he had drawn his lines of
fire and figures of immortal mold.

“Let us calmly consider your situation,” at length said Tamworth,
looking feelingly at Marlowe, “Against thyself lieth now an accusation
of blasphemy upon which a warrant hath been issued. Even now,
undoubtedly, with this in hand, the officers shadow thy customary
haunts. During their search, news will soon come of thy death at
Deptford; for, from what thou sayeth of the unfortunate Frazer’s
resemblance to thee, he will be buried under thy name. The warrant will
be returned; the information pigeonholed, and thou wilt have little to
fear from that source.”

“Unless he goes abroad among those who know him,” ejaculated Peele.

“That can not be,” whispered Marlowe.

“Then we will take it, that, as Marlowe, thou art like one dead beyond
all resurrection,” continued the lawyer with emphasis.

“It can not be otherwise,” rejoined the subject of these comments,
“unless in some retreat of assured safety, and at some future time, I
reveal myself.”

“As the slayer of the Count?” was asked.

“There’s the rub,” whispered Marlowe, shaking his head.

“Well that is for later consideration,” said Tamworth calmly. “Let me
continue. On the morrow a hue and cry will be raised for the arrest of
Francis Frazer. The character which you have assumed for the last few
hours cannot avail thee further. It has answered its purpose. Thou
hast kept thy name from being sullied with the crime of murder. But as
the Count, or Francis Frazer, thou canst not walk forth.”

“Assuredly not,” said Peele.

“An arrest before noon would follow,” interrupted Shakespere, “and
then, thy trial, in which, perchance, the true situation of affairs
would come to light.”

“Wherein lieth safety?” asked Marlowe, raising his eyes and glancing
from one face to the other of his friends.

“A life of obscurity,” answered Tamworth, “is all I can see for thee,
unless thine efforts at concealment are undone; you deliver yourself up
and stand trial. I cannot guarantee an acquittal, but it is not going
too far to place firm hope in one.”

“No,” exclaimed Marlowe, “rather the concealment and obscurity than
such course. The die has been cast; so far it worketh well, and even
with an acquittal, this untried charge of blasphemy would stick in
the burr. What is it? How far doth it reach? Hast thou a copy of the
accusation?”

“I have,” said Peele, again producing the paper and handing it to
Marlowe.

“The severity and falsity of the charges appall me,” exclaimed Marlowe,
“nothing could be blacker. Are there no means to vindicate my name?”

“Your memory,” suggested Shakespere.

“True, that is all the world hath of me, but in all seriousness can not
this false swearer, Bame, be punished?”

“He can, if you desire it,” answered Tamworth.

“Desire it? What man would not demand it?”

“I know of none.”

“Much of it is too vile for utterance, and that I knew one Poole in
Newgate, and intended coining English shillings is as false as Hell.
When shall his prosecution be pushed?”

“At once,” answered Tamworth.

“On what charge?”

“Perjury.”

“The penalty is what?”

“He can be tried either under the statute or the common law. Under the
latter, the punishment is death.”

“Let it be the latter,” said Peele and Shakespere before Marlowe could
answer.

“But to return to the suggestion of your concealment,” said Peele, “How
can you remain concealed for any length of time?”

“No one will look for me. All who know me will hear the account of my
death at Deptford.”

“But someone besides us and the wife of Frazer will doubtless encounter
thee.”

“Can I not lie safely housed until passage can be secured for the
continent?”

“But in what quarter?”

“Far from the old familiar places, Peele,” answered Marlowe. “Not at
the Black Bull, nor at Gerard’s Hall; nor at the Mermaid Tavern. And
are these names to be but memories? Why, it is not two weeks since we
secretly played Tancred and Gismund to the crowded galleries in the
Bull; and then the dance around the fir-pole in the high-roofed hall at
Gerard’s! That was not a month since, Peele. And verily my lips have
not yet dried from the last glasses of fine old wine drank with thee,
Nash, Jonson and the other merry wags at the round table within the
bow-window at the Mermaid.”

Peele rocked backward and forward without speaking.

“Ah well, such frivolity should have ended long ago,” Marlowe went on,
in a tone growing sterner with every word. “When mine enemy, Greene,
dying of his surfeit of Rheinish wine and pickled herring, besought
his friends in his Groat’s Worth of Wit [note 35] to abandon dissolute
companions and in solitude nourish their spirit’s fire, why should I,
despite his attack upon me, have not listened to his warning voice
addressed to others, and not have waited for a finger dipped in blood
to write, ‘Here endeth thy career?’”

A pause followed in which no one spoke, and again he continued: “’Tis
well that this has happened. Without it what could have stayed me from
wasting the hours which henceforth can be spent only in intellectual
effort? Now the devil is chained. I can not even sell my soul to
him. The world with its temptations lieth as distant as the fields of
Trasymene. Is it not a subject for congratulation? What campaigns may I
not enter; what conquests may I not gain?”

With the egotism of a god, knowing himself, and the source from which
he drew his inspiration, he continued his torrent of words:

“Tamburlaine was written with the collar of the university about
my neck; Faustus, while my hatred of the existing laws designed to
chain one’s belief, prevented a just appreciation of true religion;
the Massacre of Paris, with my mind disturbed from the effects of
continuous dissipation; Hero and Leander, while deep in Love’s young
dream; and so on with the list. But now what is there to clog or muddy
the fountains? Is my mind not broader; are not the impediments to
studious application and undisturbed contemplation removed? For twenty,
thirty, yea forty or fifty years, what is before me but the opportunity
to produce immortal and transcendent work? Nay, give me ten years in
solitude, O thou dread force, and under my hand all form, all thought,
shall find expression in written words!”

He fell forward on the table with outstretched arms and clenched hands.
Shakespere lifted him up; pityingly brushed back the hair from his
face, and said: “Forget the matter for a moment.”

No other words were spoken; still the rain pattered on the window
opening towards St. Michael’s, and no sounds came up from the narrow
walks in Crooked Lane.

At length Tamworth broke the silence. “I do not doubt, dear Kit, that
whatever may be thy aim, thy arrow will reach. But life can not be
maintained without capital or revenue. Your design being linked with
an ambition for personal immortality precludes the publication of thy
productions till after thy death or when hope of life is gone. Now,
where will come the fund for thy maintenance?”

“Thou canst not appear as an actor,” suggested Shakespere.

“And neither can the works you may produce be sold as thine,” said
Peele.

“Could they not be sold under some one else’s name?” asked Marlowe. “At
the proper time their authorship could be confessed and established.”

“But in whose name?” queried Peele.

“Why not thine; at least temporarily?”

“Bah,” ejaculated Peele, “I could not pass thy dramas off as mine. The
style, my dear fellow, the style. Henslowe would at once say, ‘What
Peele, this thy drama? Marry, and where didst thou steal this new fire?
Off with thee. It is none of thine. Leave it. I will look up the older
dramatists, Greek and Latin, from which I ween thou hast taken its
entire,’”

“Then why not as thine, Shakespere?”

“Mine,” exclaimed Shakespere, shaking with laughter which he could not
control, “Greater objections than those stated by Peele would arise.
Only a few years ago I held horses before the Curtain and Theater. I
write a play; Ho! Ho!”

He laughed so heartily that Tamworth joined with him.

“Stop,” said Peele, endeavoring to interrupt the sudden mirth, “The
suggestion is a good one. What does Henslowe know of your horseholding,
friend Will?”

“But,” answered Shakespere, “he knoweth that I came from the miserable
village of Stratford-on-Avon only six years ago, where there are few
books and nothing better than a grammar school. [note 36] Although
I can say ‘Stipendium peccati mors est,’ as being learned from thy
Faustus, Marlowe, I would die in the attempt to give its meaning.”

“He surely will not question thee about thy Latin or thy Greek,” said
Tamworth, joining in with the scheme, “and as thou hast never turned
a hand at such work, there are not, as in Peele’s case, fair-skinned
children of earlier birth to give the lie to the paternity of the later
ones of different complexion.”

“And am I to claim them as mine?” asked Shakespere.

“Only as may be necessary for the sale to theatrical managers,”
answered Marlowe.

“And perchance grow famous; for we know the depth and strength of thy
work.”

“Only for a time,” said Marlowe, impressively, “In the end all will be
clear.”

“So be it then,” said Shakespere.

“But thy handwriting, Marlowe, is too well known. Still,” continued
Tamworth, “the manuscript may be copied, and as I write a clear hand I
would gladly aid thee.”

“But where are you to live, Kit?”

“At Southwark?” questioned the latter.

“Nay,” exclaimed Tamworth, “the Rose is there, with many players who
know thee, and its numerous hangers-on. The heart of this city is far
better. I know of a retreat. No hunted deer ever found so secure a
covert. It is the building known as the Prince’s Wardrobe on the Old
Jewry. Its corridors are unfrequented except by the few tenants who,
through the benevolence of the present keeper, dwell in some of the
chambers. Its demolition, begun many years ago, has been stayed. Once
vacated because of notice of its contemplated razing, it is again
being occupied through the apparent inertness of its owners. But this
inaction is due to other causes--”

“I have heard of secret chambers there,” interrupted Peele.

“There are,” continued Tamworth, “It was once used as a palace, but its
early history is lost. Some of its stone walls are down, and above the
cleared ruins at one end, divers lordly buildings have been reared; but
the half portion towards St. Olave is intact. A question concerning
its title being now unsettled in the courts, no progress can be made
either in its repair or its destruction. Years may pass before the
question is finally determined. The receiver appointed by the courts is
a descendant of Sir Anthony Cope, who purchased the property from the
crown in 1548, and, due to my acquaintance with him, and late services
rendered, I now have a furnished chamber therein. The way out, or in,
may be easy of discovery, and my quarters are occasionally visited by
friends, but to me alone is known an inner room where you can dwell in
perfect safety.”

“Thy words are of good cheer,” exclaimed Marlowe, “and no delay must be
incurred.”

“Did you encounter no one upon entering here?” asked Peele.

“No; I came in at the side entrance. It was open. Crooked Lane was
deserted as far as I could see.”

“And on the road from Deptford?”

“No one who knew me appeared upon the road. At the Golden Hind as I
passed the tap-room door I caught a glimpse of the drawer, one of the
actors who had been with me early in the evening, and the wife of
Frazer.”

“Ah; she has not escaped then?” exclaimed Tamworth. “This is serious.
She may be held until after the discovery of the deed.”

“Undoubtedly she has been,” answered Marlowe, “I could not catch the
occasion of her resting in the tap-room, neither could I pause, for
discovery would have been certain.”

“Did she see thee?”

“I think not, for the drawer stood before her, so that only a portion
of her gown was visible to me. I mounted hurriedly in the inn-yard and
riding to the gnarled oak I waited under it, and in the thick fog for
at least an hour. She did not come.”

“She will testify against thee.”

“Never,” exclaimed Marlowe.

“Ah,” said Tamworth, prolonging the word and opening wide his eyes.

“Have no fears of that,” continued Marlowe, firmly, and then as though
to turn their thoughts into another channel, he continued: “The ride
over that country road was lonely beyond all comparison. I slunk by
the lights at Redriffe like one unarmed passing by the known lair
of a sleeping lion. At the moment they struck my face I could have
fallen from the saddle. But no eye of careless watcher was apparently
following their seams into the darkness; for no haloo broke the night.
The wood of oak and elm fencing the road this side the half-way house
was resonant with swaying limbs. A wind was coming from the river, and
the fog was like rain.”

“Was it dark?”

“So dark I could not see the ground.”

“Thy horse found the way and reached the bridge?”

“No, I turned not in towards it; but passing Bataille’s Inn, I
rode down to a waterman’s house close by the river’s bank. There I
dismounted, tied my horse and found the waterman. He was tying his
wherry at the foot of the landing. With much persuasion, I induced him
to row me across and, reaching the stone steps somewhere near the Swan,
I came here with all haste.”

“And when were you last at your quarters in Coward Lane?”

“Just before starting for Deptford.”

“Whatever is there must be left.”

“Nay,” exclaimed Marlowe, “I have much unfinished work there.”

“Doth not Nash lodge in the same tenement?”

“Yes, in the room adjoining.”

“Doth he know of these writings?”

“All about them. He is engaged with me in writing the tragedy of Dido.
I read him the two sestiads of Hero and Leander only two nights since.”

“Well then such things can not be taken unless Nash is numbered with
us.”

“’Twould not be well,” said Tamworth, “the lesser the number holding
the secret, the less fear of discovery.”

“Thy judgment is sound, Tamworth,” said Marlowe, “let Nash finish the
tragedy, and have him place the poem of Hero and Leander in the hands
of Chapman with word that it was my dying request that he complete it
[note 37].”

“Good,” exclaimed Peele, “and perchance embodying within it some golden
lines touching thy unfortunate demise.”

“Most excellent,” said Marlowe, smiling at the thought of reading of
his own death and the estimate of his own worth expressed in the poetic
language of a loving friend.

“These matters,” said Tamworth, “will be attended to as strictly as
bequests should be by an executor. We must at once reach my lodgings.”

“Leave the Count’s cloak and take this of mine,” said Peele, taking
down a short mantle from a hook against the wall.



A POINT OF CONFLUENCE.

    _If ever sun stained heaven with bloody clouds,_
    _And made it look with terror on the world:_
    _If ever day were turned to ugly night_
    _And night made semblance of the hue of hell, etc._

    --_The Massacre at Paris, scene 2._

    _Oh! I have passed a miserable night,_
    _So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams,_
    _That as I am a Christian, faithful man,_
    _I would not spend another such a night,_
    _Though ’twere to buy a world of happy days._

    --_King Richard III, i, 4._


The human sea of London was at the period of its deepest calm. The
noisy idle white-caps of the night had been laid at rest, and not
yet had the strong billows of the trade current begun their steady
roll. The sun might already have lifted his rim slightly above the
Langdon Hills, but no evidence of his coming was as yet visible in
the labyrinth of London streets. One might have turned one’s face
upward in the drizzling rain and noticed the clouds with faint glow
suffused, but whether it was moonlight filtering through broken ranks
of driving vapor, or the gray of the dawn, could not for a time have
been determined.

It was at this hour that two men were passing into that ancient
street of the city known as the Old Jewry. Their heads were muffled
in their cloaks or capes; their nearer arms locked as they walked
abreast, and their steps were as swift as it was possible to take in
the darkness. They stumbled along without a link light or a lanthorn to
show the holes in the broken pavements, the turns of streets and other
impediments and intricacies of the way. It was not only unusual but a
matter to excite suspicion, for any person with even the weight of an
untattered coat on his back to venture thus through the quarters from
which these two men had come. Here and there, a lanthorn in the hands
of a bellman of the night blinked and wavered; and directly before
them, the flaring torch of a link-boy shot a shifting light along
black, dripping shop fronts and displayed the figure, close following
in its wake, of a solitary horseman.

No part of the city was deemed safe after the candles, burning in the
horn receptacles before the dwellings and shops, were extinguished.
The hour for such extinguishment was nine; and close following it, on
moonless and foggy nights, bludgeon-bearing thieves issued from reeking
alleys into the public streets, and assaulted belated passers. The
bellman, with his formidable halberd, might rush where he heard the
cry of the person assaulted, but long before he reached the spot his
lanthorn had warned the assaulter, and naught but the bleeding victim,
with rifled pockets, would meet his gaze.

But the solitary thief, or skulking pairs of rufflers, were not the
only menace against night walks. Bodies, numbering sometimes a hundred
men, having assembled in some obscure den, would sally forth at
midnight and rob the houses of whomsoever were reported to have money
or treasure. Murder at such times, either of defenseless citizens in
night robes within their houses, or inoffensive unfortunates stumbling
into the ranks of the lawless crews, was a crime of frequent occurrence.

The neighborhood of the junction of Poultry street and the street of
the Old Jewry was a favorite rendezvous of these thieves; for the
majority of the persons stirring late at night in that locality was
of the class wearing jewels or carrying coin, and the situation was
favorable for robbing without hazard. At the corner of the two streets
one could command a vision for many blocks in several directions. The
moving lights of the guardians of the night could thus be watched
without fear of the unexpected approach of the latter. While one thief
might be thus occupied, his fellows could halt, assault and rob the
incautious passer. The lofty buildings rendered the shadows deep upon
the pavements on all nights, and the wide portico of St. Olave, with
its great columns, made an excellent ambush. Behind this church ran
Cutthroat Lane--a narrow and never-lighted alley, into which one, with
but a few feet of separation from a pursuing officer, could enter
and vanish as though swallowed by the sea. It was a row of shackly
tenements, facing one side of this alley, that thus gave friendly
aid. Their doors were always ajar, even when winter storms prevailed;
and stairs, ascending to intricate upper halls, and descending into
connecting cellars, soon baffled all panting pursuers. Even the
cautious police who, in daytime, attempted to thread the ways through
which some desperado had eluded pursuit, were confused with blind
passages and daunted by a darkness and silence that imported evil.

On this particular night, five thieves were hanging like trembling
shadows about the portico of St. Olave. The night was almost spent
and not one groat had they raised. All the passing groups of men had
comprised too many members to warrant any attack and the one sole
traveler, whom they had seized at the mouth of Cutthroat Lane proved
to be a beggar. His unconscious body now lay face downward in the mud
of that lane. The chance of his recovery from the blow of one of the
disappointed robbers was a question for the doctors.

What business had beggars to be abroad at the hour when gentlemen were
returning from nightly revels? Who could distinguish a ragged cloak
from one edged with gold in such darkness? Gentlemen thieves were not
to be lightly imposed upon. A varlet who has no angels in his pockets
should be abed at dark. For such the sleep that knows no waking is a
blessing. This was the argument of the men who had halted the beggar.

As the two men, whose steps we have been following, entered the Old
Jewry, their approach was a matter of notice, and as they reached a
spot directly before the church, three of the thieves sprang out of the
shadows of its projecting entrance. The attack came so unexpectedly
that the two men had no chance for flight, and safety seemed to lie
only in such effort. In the first grapple, the taller man’s cloak was
torn from him, but this was of fortunate occurrence, for it enabled
him to draw his sword. His companion had been felled to his knees,
but, avoiding another blow aimed at his head, he rose to his feet and
staggered to one side. The drawn sword of his friend swung through the
air. It cut a face wide open in its career, and was again wielded in
like manner, but without effect. Then the wounded robber seized the
knees of the swordsman, only to be thrust through and through, as the
latter stumbled and fell in the embrace.

In the meantime, the other man assailed, tugging at the hilt of his
own sword which was kept from handy withdrawal by the folds of his
cloak, retreated backward into the middle of the street. Approaching
him was the robber who had delivered the first ineffectual blow. In the
tussle he had dropped his bludgeon, and he was now trusting to his own
strength to overpower this man before him. Suddenly another sword was
out of its scabbard. There was a quick thrust at the dark body between
outstretched hands which had almost grasped the swordsman’s neck. A
groan escaped from agonized lips, and the wielder of the sword felt
warm blood upon his sword hand. His victim had fallen heavily against
him, but he pushed him off like so much dead weight, and at that moment
he heard his friend’s voice:

“Run, Kit, for thy life!”

“I am with you,” came the answer.

He saw that two other shadows had joined the decimated group. These two
had been drowsing on the portico, and at length, aroused by the cries,
had come forth. He saw his companion turn and run, and he followed him.

The lights of the windmill tavern streamed across the way, for its
doors were open. They reached the fronting pillars of its portico, as
though a haven, and then paused. Both of them knew that they could not
venture in, and fortunately their assailants had given up the chase.

In the gloom, behind one of the columns, they stood panting. Near them
stood a man also in the shadows. Their swift approach had been observed
by him; but if he had apprehended the cause, it had not shaken him from
his intent to remain concealed. He might have heard the retreating
footsteps of their now baffled pursuers, and this should have disturbed
him; for the cause of the men who had almost brushed against him was
his cause. It was his duty to pursue the assailants; but there are
times when the public weal is forgotten--blotted out by thoughts of
one’s private welfare. And so it was with the man in the darkness of
the portico. The continuance of his ability to act for the public, nay,
possibly his existence, depended on different service than the arrest
of midnight marauders.

This man was Gyves, the constable, and he was waiting to see Bame leave
the tavern so that he might venture in, find Tabbard, and obtain by
persuasion or violence the warrant for the arrest of Marlowe. He had
waited there for hours, through the mist which had drifted across the
portico, and then later, while the drizzling rain had beaten in his
face and set him shivering. He had yet no knowledge of the destruction
of the writ, and no whisper of the sudden visit of the plague had
touched his ears. So it was that the paper, upon which he dreamed
his welfare hung, and the man whom he had for the past eight hours
yearned most to see, were both beyond power of production to him.
But despite all this, the arrest of Marlowe, which was his ultimate
object, required at that moment neither the departure of Bame nor
his possession of the writ. And furthermore no long weary walk nor
tiresome search in an unfamiliar quarter would have been necessary. He
could have reached out his hand and have arrested the two men under
the neighboring column for a disturbance of the peace. Even then a
sword was being sheathed by one of them, and Gyves had heard the late
outcry which of itself was sufficient to have justified him in taking
them into custody to await further investigation. One of the men was
Christopher Marlowe.

To us, with our limited vision, what a comedy is life. Over what scenes
of merriment could we not amuse ourselves were we robbed of hearts
and consciences and there were added to our remaining faculties the
power of unlimited sight alone; to see the struggles of one during a
whole life for a result which required only a few days’ effort along
another line than that pursued; to see the entanglement, in a single
web, of many with worthy designs, and their struggles liberating only
that one who as it appeared to us should have remained entangled; to
see the life pursuit for a will-o’-the-wisp; to see genius strangled,
and dullness triumphant. Perhaps the truth would then burst upon us,
that we are but the pawns and knights of the chess-board, moved by an
Omniscient hand toward the final victory of the whole.

As the three men held back in the shadows, three more men came forth
from the portals of the tavern; but only two of them walked. The third
was between the others, but instead of being like them, erect, he was
in a horizontal position. He lay upon a stretcher which the two men
bore. He was motionless, and a rough cloth covered his form.

Certain it was that the covering of the man upon the stretcher
should have concealed his face, but through some inadvertency it had
rolled down upon his breast so that his face was revealed. It was
expressionless and that of one from whom the soul had fled. A man with
flaming torch now ran out of the doors, as though to lead the way, and
as the light struck upon the form upon the stretcher, one of the two
men who had escaped the murderous, bludgeons of the thieves, clutched
his companion’s arm and gasped:

“My God! the dead man is Tabbard.”

Then, as the flaming torch illuminated the man in front, who, with back
toward the corpse, bore the stretcher, Marlowe, for he was the speaker,
sunk his fingers deep into the clutched arm, for at that moment he
heard a voice near him whisper:

“And Bame, Richard Bame, carries him.”

A shadow, shifting with the wavering of the torch, fell across
Marlowe’s face. The latter looked to ascertain its cause and also
the source of the last words spoken, and saw the outline of a man in
the coat of an officer slink from the portico into the rain and the
darkness. The torch now revealed an object close to the edge of the
pavement. It was a heavy cart with horses attached like the one which
had passed Tabbard early that night. His body was being borne toward
it.



IN THE PRINCE’S WARDROBE.

    _But stay, what star shines yonder in the East?_

    --_Jew of Malta, ii, 1._

    _But soft: what light through yonder window breaks?_
    _It is the East--_

    --_Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2._


Marlowe and Tamworth now followed the example of the constable and,
having moved silently along the street, in a few moments were in the
wide and dark hall of a large building near the church of St. Olave.

“Hold to my arm,” said Tamworth, “This is the Prince’s Wardrobe.”

“And entered without turning so much as a knob or lifting a latch,”
responded Marlowe.

“Here we climb the King’s staircase,” said Tamworth, as one of his
advancing feet struck against an obstacle.

The morn was breaking, but the interior of the building, although
open and windswept, was wrapped in utter darkness. Nought could be
distinguished of the broken columns down the long hall, the tesselated
pavement under foot, the marred frescoes of the walls, the blackened
stucco of the ceilings, the solid staircase with heavy stone balustrade
ascending to a middle landing. Once the principal palace of King Henry
VI, it had long since been remodeled and adapted to plebeian uses.
It has even survived its fitness for the latter shifts, and partially
dismantled by man and ruined by time it stood simply as a landmark of
the fourteenth century.

The few words of the lawyer set moving through the poet’s mind a vision
of splendid pageantry. The great hall rose out of shadow, bright with
the illumination of a thousand lamps, and across its shining floor and
up and down the marble stairway moved figures resplendent in the pomp
of royalty--men of magnificent mien in cloaks of cloth of gold and
waving plumes; court sycophants with cringing shoulders under their
rich mantles; clowns in cap and bells and spangles; fair ladies in
regal robes, their faces beautiful in youth, or growing queenly with
the marks of age. All were raised as at a masque under the signal of
the Master of the Revels.

And this interior scene, from which kings, courtiers and the fairest
and most womanly of women were to be drawn for all time, was not his
only vision of the tumultuous past. Outside, again, Jack Cade, with
his rebels, Kentish peasants, ragged mendicants and starvelings of the
alleys, swept defiantly through the Old Jewry and halted with deafening
uproar before the barricaded entrance. There at their head, he saw the
“shag-haired crafty kerne” and, close pressing him, the leather-aproned
smiths and hedge-born hinds, awkward soldiers of the day’s enlistment,
from whose base lips all the drolleries of the seamy side of life were
to issue.

And he, the magic creator of forms more palpable and enduring than
those of clay, groping in the darkness which might never be lifted, was
thus beginning the conjuration of the everlasting.

“Marlowe,” exclaimed Tamworth, noticing the lack of pressure on his
arm, and his friend’s faltering footsteps. “You drag your feet as
though in sleep. See, the clouds are breaking and the gray of the dawn
is about us.”

They were passing along an upper corridor, and at its end, through the
glassless spaces between the mullions of a lancet window, a glow was
spreading so that the rear gables of the row of houses on the Lothbury
could be seen shaking themselves free of the murky air. Above their
steaming roofs, slender columns of smoke were rising from the cold
mouths of chimneys, and early fires made gleaming spots on many of the
distant walls. The last wet gust of the storm had splashed upon the
open casement through which now came, like a benison, the pure breath
of morning.

Down the corridor they turned, and, at length halted, while Tamworth
with a great key which he had taken from a sunken niche in the wall,
unlocked and swung open a narrow door. Through this they entered an
apartment whose single window did not yet admit enough light to render
distinctly visible the interior. The air was cold and damp, and for the
moment the place seemed as gloomy as a vault. Tamworth hastily lighted
a lamp, which at first flamed upward with black smoke, and as it did so
Marlowe glancing around him, uttered an exclamation of surprise.

“You notice that something more than a mere vestige of past regal
splendor remains here,” said Tamworth, smiling.

“Why, I should judge that the door had just closed upon the departure
of the prince.”

“A hundred years ago,” answered Tamworth.

“And--” began his companion.

“Has remained vacant until I entered as its occupant.”

“Why this long disuse?”

“It is in a retired wing of the building. Only two keepers have had
charge since the Crown parted with its title. The first, from what may
have been an over-refined reverence for royalty, held this apartment
locked and almost secret. His successor found no use for it until I
solicited lodgment. He gave me possession five years since.”

“It is a wonder that the tapestries have not been removed,” said
Marlowe, looking in admiration at one end of the room where hung two
magnificent fabrics, still displaying in enduring colors scenes from
the Apocalypse. They were drawn back from the middle line of the
alcove before which they hung; and, in the recess thus disclosed,
the outlines of a bed, with gorgeous canopy overhanging it, could be
seen. Other textiles of equally antique manufacture, at many points
detached from the fastenings, hung here and there against the walls.
Separate pieces of Oriental carpet lay over some spaces of the floor.
The furniture was dark as ebony. A lamp of brass, with four projecting
wings and blackened chains, suspended from the center of the ceiling.
The deep and wide chimney-place was fit for a fire great enough to
warm the banqueting hall of a castle. Its mantel was supported by
elaborately carved columns standing half out from the front of the
chimney-wall.

“And where does that stairway lead?” asked Marlowe, pointing at a dark
opening in the floor beside one wall. It was guarded by a brass railing
raised waist-high on a closely set balustrade, and at its foot could be
seen a solid door held shut by an iron bar across its face.

“To an underground passageway.”

“For escape?”

“Evidently.”

“And ends where?”

“Under a marble slab which must be somewhere in the chancel of the
church of St. Olave. I have passed along it measuring the distance.”

“But never issued at the other end?”

“No. The slab is closely set in its place, but it hath hinges on its
lower side.”

“And on its upper side, I doubt not,” said Marlowe ironically, “are the
words in fair letters ‘Touch not mine annointed’?”

“Possibly,” rejoined Tamworth.

“If the king ever rose from the grave,” said Marlowe, smiling, “I
imagine that he took great pains to conceal it.”

“There is no tradition that this room was ever occupied by a king or
a prince; but what I know of the life and character of the weak and
unfortunate monarch, Henry the Sixth, taken in connection with the
arrangement of this room and its adjoining secret chamber, convinces me
that a crowned head once rested on the bed within the alcove.”

“Ah, the secret room is an oratory, is it?”

“You surprise me,” exclaimed Tamworth, “how could that have reached
your ears?”

“I simply inferred it, for I certainly do not think that the secret
tunnel into the chancel was for the purpose of easy attendance upon
divine service.”

Tamworth smiled, and Marlowe continued speaking:

“I knew of the imbecility of that prince and the strength of his
religious devotion; and naturally in my mind was raised the picture of
a world-weary king in penitential cell.”

“You are right,” returned the lawyer. “See.”

He parted the heavy and worm-eaten hangings suspended from the
ornamental cornice of the wall beside the painted window. The outline
of what appeared to be a walled window appeared. Its sill, like that
of the one that was open and uncovered, was only a foot above the
floor. He pressed on one of the mullions, which, although apparently
blocked with stone on both sides, remained standing out from the
surface of the wall. This surface rolled inward as he pressed. The
opening was wide enough to admit the passing of a man in stooping
posture.

“Come,” said Tamworth.

He stepped upon the stone sill, and as Marlowe, holding back the musty
tapestry for a moment, pressed close in his wake, he entered a small
room.

They were in what was certainly a devotional chamber. Before them in
the center wall of a semi-circular recess, or exedra, was a gilded
crucifix in bas-relief. A stone canopy extended from the top of this
recess, and was still fringed with heavy black velvet. At the bottom of
the recess was a platform slightly raised above the floor of the room.
One could imagine that this low ambo bore the imprints of the knees of
the royal penitent.

The ceiling was dome-shaped overhead, as severe in its smoothness and
absence of tracery as the supporting walls, which without curvature,
fronted each other with a space between of twenty feet in length and
twelve in breadth. In the face of one wall, near the floor, was a dark
cavity, with an iron basket within it, for the maintenance of fire
during prolonged self-communion. A leather-covered couch stood in one
corner, and before it hung a lamp in rusty chains. An iron table,
with legs covered with elaborate scrollwork, stood at the end of the
room furthest from the couch. Upon its top was a great black-lettered
Mazarin Bible, and beside it was a solid square-seated chair with high
carved back. Above this table hung a lamp similar to the one near the
couch; and in the smoky wall behind it was a square window covered
with an iron lattice. The strips of the lattice were narrow, and not
closely crossed, so that the entrance of daylight was little hindered.
But no sunshine could enter, for two buttresses extended far beyond its
exterior face, thus concealing it from the glance of vagrant eyes in
the narrow church-yard of St. Olave. It looked upon that seldom-visited
but thick-tenanted piece of burial-earth.

“So there the king prayed,” murmured Marlowe, pointing toward the
crucifix, while Tamworth nodded.

“And there he rested?” continued Marlowe, turning his gaze toward the
couch. No reply came from Tamworth, who, with sad expression on his
face, remained a listener.

“And there he studied and meditated upon the mutability of worldly
things,” added Tamworth, solemnly, as both glanced in the direction of
the chair and Bible.

“Study, meditation, prayer, and slumber,” repeated Marlowe, as though
to himself.

“Once the occupation of a king,” said Tamworth.

“And,” added the other, “mine also until death.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Tamworth was aroused from a morning sleep by the pressure of a hand
upon his shoulder. He was lying undressed upon the bed within the
alcove where he had thrown himself after the inspection of the secret
oratory. He had vainly endeavored to induce Marlowe to gain rest by
slumber; but the latter had alternately walked the floor and occupied
a chair before the window. His restlessness of mind was still beyond
control. The faint figures of the angels on the tapestries, the scroll
work on the chimney-columns, the dragon head from whose mouth came the
lamp chains, and the green trees within the courtyard, attracted his
attention only temporarily. Stronger than these objects presented to
his bodily eyes were the mind’s pictures of the eventful night: his
meeting with Anne, the sword combat, the stripping of the slain, the
conference at the Boar’s Head, the dead face of Tabbard, and his future
place of study. He could not shut them out; and with them were troubled
thoughts concerning Anne. The hours passed; he watched the unbroken
slumber of his friend, and, at length unable to remain inactive, he
shook the sleeper into consciousness.

“What will occur to-day at the Golden Hind?” he asked as soon as the
lawyer was awake.

“Still brooding on that? You better sleep, Kit, and drown consciousness
for a few hours.”

“No; answer me.”

“The inquest will be held at the tavern, and in the room where the body
lies.”

“You must be there,” said Marlowe in a decided tone.

“For what purpose?”

“To see the woman.”

“Forget her,” said Tamworth.

“No; but more if she has been apprehended, she may need aid or advice.”

“Possibly,” answered Tamworth, and then after a moment’s thought he
continued: “She may even need to be warned against a betrayal of the
true situation of affairs.”

Marlowe was on the point of disputing this imputation of bad faith;
but he held his peace, for he saw that this idea alone would cause the
lawyer to hasten to the scene of the crime.

“I will go,” at length said Tamworth.

“And tell her where I am, and that she must keep me posted as to her
whereabouts, and that I hope for final deliverance. Tell her that I
think of her as of old. Tell her, that the future, though dark, may
clear. Tell her to wait for me. My God! can you not bring her back
with you? Let no--”

“Hold! hold, man!” exclaimed Tamworth, “this matter is too fresh in the
minds of those who surround her. They think that you are dead and that
the slayer is her husband. Every movement of hers will be watched. A
visit like that here would be fatal. I will do what I can, but nothing
rash.”

“It rests with thee, then,” resumed Marlowe, pressing his friend’s
hand, “you recognize the depth of my love. Do everything in thy power
to prevent an everlasting separation between us. Do not increase my
despair, I pray you. I may fence myself from the world. I may succeed
in drowning the memory of my friends, their faces, their voices; I may
so dwell that hope is a word of no import, and the future purposeless
and empty; but still there is one link in life that must not be
severed.”

“I understand,” said Tamworth, feelingly, “whatever can be done with
safety shall be done. Rid thy mind of these morbid ideas, or every line
you write be tinctured with them. There is much yet for you to live
for. The future is not so dark as you picture.”

Marlowe shook his head without replying.

“Now,” continued Tamworth, “we will see what my purveyor has for us. It
will be light to-day, but before to-morrow there shall be notice given
of my increase of appetite.”

He threw open the richly paneled door of what appeared to be a mediæval
portable wardrobe. A shelf in its interior slowly sank under pressure
of his hand, and disappeared from view down a dark shaft.

“It is late for the morning meal, but good mistress Pickle will send
up something for us. The keeper and his wife live directly below, and
whenever I signal with the dumb waiter, it soon rises with the best the
cupboard and fire-place afford.”



WHERE LAMENTATION PREVAILED.

    _Weep, heavens, and vanish into liquid tears!_
    _Fall, stars that govern his nativity,_
    _And summon all the shining lamps of heaven_
    _To cast their bootless fires to the earth._

    --_II Tamburlaine, v, 3._

    _Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!_
    _Comets, importing change of times and states,_
    _Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,_
    _And with them scourge the bad, revolting stars._

    --_First Part Henry VI, i, 1._


When Gyves, the constable, slunk away from the portico of the Windmill
Tavern, where he had been exhausting his patience on protracted watch,
his face was the composite picture of all the hopeless wretches whom
he had arrested during his long term of office. He had waited for
Tabbard, and--he had seen him. It was evident that no demand upon the
latter could be responded to. What was he to do? To be without the
warrant meant the loss of his office and perhaps heavy fine or severe
punishment. It might be that the contents of Tabbard’s pockets had been
removed before the body was taken from the tavern; but this was not
likely. Every one feared contagion; and the dead, from plague, were not
usually disturbed more than was necessary to move them to the death
cart. A ray of hope scattered some of the gloom on his countenance, and
the breaking light of the morning revealed it. He determined to follow
the cart, which was already passing down the Old Jewry. He started
upon this spur, and at the corner of the Poultry overtook the cart,
which, turning west, entered Cheapside. Gyves kept at a distance of
thirty feet from the object that he followed, either to avoid raising
suspicions of evil on the part of the living occupants of the cart, or
to avoid close proximity to the victims of the plague.

The morning light was now strong enough for Gyves to see that the cart
was only half full of bodies. His apprehension, that frequent halts
would ensue before they reached the potters’ field, soon proved to be
in part well founded. The first one occurred near the mouth of a side
street or lane. Gloomy looking buildings stood at the corners, and
close behind each, facing on the lane, were rows of small, miserable
cottages. Despite the ordinance prohibiting the building of houses of
frail and perishable material, these structures had been raised with
fronts of wood and roofs of reeds. They were all of one story and arose
from the edge of the muddy walk--low walls of upright planks, broken
by narrow windows and spaces between doorposts. The reeds of the roofs
never flourished in a locality more suitable for their rank growth
than the lane below. It was deep with mud and water. Lights shone from
some of the windows, but so faintly that the still dull glimmer of the
morning seemed to mock the poverty of their rays. On several of the
doors red crosses were printed, and two watchmen were pacing to and
fro before them, to see that these marked doors were kept closed except
for the purpose of passing out the corpse of an inmate.

Sounds of lamentation came from the lane. These were somewhat smothered
by the thin walls which only added to their mournfulness. The cart
turned into the lane, and Gyves heard one of the watchmen say:

“Always late. Ten minutes more an’ it’ll be sun up, and we wouldn’t
dare to pass another corpse to the cart. Why don’t you start earlier?”

“Always growling,” returned the driver. “How many are here?”

“Six,” answered the watchman.

“It’s growing worse.”

“Yes; only two yesterday morning.”

“Which dwellings this time?” asked the second man on the cart, who was
known as a burier.

“There, there and there,” said the watchman, pointing with the head of
his halberd.

“What! again?” exclaimed the driver, looking at the hovel nearest at
hand.

“The last of the family,” added the watchman.

“Man or woman?”

“Neither; a ten-year-old girl.”

“Died alone?”

“Yes. A friend came early in the night to see her, but the law, you
know, allows no one to go into and then come out of an infected house,
except you buriers.”

“And this friend said he would want to come out.”

“Of course.”

“So he went away?”

“She did; it was a woman.”

“Then, the crying don’t come from that house.”

“No, from over there. They raised the window an hour ago, and a man
said, ‘My son just died and my wife is now taken sick in the same way.’
He wanted to come out for medicine, but I couldn’t let him. You can
hear him.”

“We’ll have trouble with him, likely.”

“Yes. He may want to go to the church-yard.”

Just then the window was raised and the white face of a man peered out
over the sill. Even the hardened buriers felt sick at heart, as they
caught the trembling tone of his voice and heard his words. He said:

“So you have come for them?”

“Then there’s seven instead of six,” whispered the watchman; “for I
only counted on one here.”

“And everything is gone from me,” continued the man at the window.

“We can’t say nothing cheerful,” said the watchman, in low voice,
to the two men near him, “so it’s best to keep quiet, except when
necessary. Go in there first,” he added, pointing to the house wherein
lay the dead girl.

While the two buriers went in and were carrying out the body, the
watchman said to the man at the window: “Is your door locked?”

“They’re all dead,” he answered, “there’s no need coming in. You can’t
help them any, and it’s better they remain here than be thrown into
that black pit. I’ve seen it. I went out the night John Andrews died.
They threw him in naked, and at least a hundred others were in the same
great hole. It isn’t christian-like.”

“Come, open the door,” said the watchman.

“No,” returned the man. “They’re my dead.”

“He’s crazy,” whispered the watchman.

“And we have no time to spare,” suggested the driver.

“And you’ll have a load with the four over in that house,” said the
watchman.

“To-morrow we’ll come for that pale face, too,” remarked the burier;
and then they proceeded with their task at the other house.

Gyves nervously thought of his own family as he watched the proceedings
in the lane. They lived in no better quarters, and although the plague
had not yet visited his neighborhood, he could find little to cheer him
in that fact.

The cart now began rolling through Cheapside. The sun, well cleared
from the clouds along the horizon, was rapidly drinking up the dampness
of streets and roof-tops. Gyves was reverent enough to bow his head,
as, gleaming before his eyes, he saw the gilt cross in Cheap. It was
an imposing object for the center of the thoroughfare, but the fact
of it being an obstruction to the current of midday trade was not
apparent at this early hour, when only one vehicle was wheeling under
one of its extended arms. This vehicle stopped for its living load to
refresh itself at the stream of water pouring from the breast of the
alabaster image of Diana that stood out from the tabernacle under the
cross. During the interval Gyves’ eyes ranged from the muddy and broken
pavement to the dangling signs of every conceivable trade, to the
projecting galleries of the upper stories of great buildings, to the
fronts of imposing churches, and then to the open and continuing space
ahead into which Cheapside entered and ran on as Newgate street. It was
into Newgate street that the cart was now driven. On it went in haste,
for other travelers were beginning to thread the thoroughfares, and the
Charter House burying ground was still at some distance, outside the
city wall. No closed gates confronted them either at the city wall or
at the cemetery, through whose open ways they passed.

Gyves was at length amid the tombs and the cypresses of the now long
since abandoned necropolis, and was close enough to the cart to hear
the crunching of its wheels on the freshly graveled road, and for the
driver to notice him. He was taken for a mourner, and even the gruff
sexton who looked from his window in the little house just within the
wall, failed to come forth and warn him to keep outside the gate.

He idly watched the unloading of the vehicle; and with that task
completed, the men, as though exhausted with the night’s unpleasant
work, immediately drove away without glancing at the solitary figure
near the pile of corpses. The burden of the cart should have been
cast immediately into a common grave, but one had just been entirely
filled and a new one was not quite ready. This condition of things was
most opportune for Gyves. He did not delay; but, taking hold of the
shoulders of one body wrapped in a sheet, he was about to shove it off
the pile, when he heard some one say in a tone of remonstrance:

“What are you doing there?”

The voice came from a grave-digger, who, having raised himself from a
deep trench near at hand, now stood near the pile of corpses. He had
been digging in the rain and the mud all night, and the morning light
and the warmth of his own respiring body wrapped him in a steam. It
arose, as though from a dung-hill, for he was plastered with black mud
from head to foot. Gyves raised his head and stared at him. There was
nothing to dread but the shovel, so, pulling two bodies apart, and
rolling one over the rest, he said:

“Looking for a brother.”

“Got a permit?”

“No,” gruffly answered Gyves.

“What do you want of him? He’s, dead, ain’t he?”

“I want to identify him.”

“You’re taking a risk,” continued the grave digger.

“How so?”

“The plague.”

“Bah!” exclaimed Gyves.

“And, furthermore, it’s a crime.”

“Go back to your hole,” growled Gyves.

“For you are rifling the body of the dead,” continued the man, raising
his voice.

Gyves had found the corpse of Tabbard; and, at the last loud words, he
was thrusting his hands into the pockets of the dead man.

“Keep your clapper still,” sneered Gyves, contemptuously.

The man turned and ran toward the house near the open gate of the
cemetery, yelling for help as he did so. Gyves had already completed
his search; there was nothing in the pockets. As he clambered off
the pile, he saw a man from the house meet the grave-digger. They
came toward him. Their looks were menacing and the newcomer held a
blunderbuss in his hands. Gyves could not retreat, so he confronted
them.

“Give yourself up,” said the man with the blunderbuss. He was the
sexton and spoke authoritatively; and the man with the shovel supported
the order with the words: “It never misses fire.”

“What should I give myself up for?” asked Gyves.

“Trespassing.”

“And robbing the dead,” added the grave digger.

“Drop your gun,” commanded Gyves, “I’m an officer.”

He pulled open his doublet exposing his badge of authority.

“And, moreover,” he continued, “I have taken nothing.”

The sexton looked inquiringly at his companion.

“I saw him search the pockets of one of those corpses.”

“For my papers and to identify him,” responded Gyves, “and found
nothing. The paper I wanted was not there.”

The guardian of the place appeared satisfied. He lowered the muzzle
of his blunderbuss, and the three walked toward the entrance. Gyves
had been growing paler with every step taken by him. The result of his
search for the warrant had staggered him much more than had the leveled
shotgun. He feared that Bame had it. He had no idea of what prosecution
might be instituted against him, or what punishment might be inflicted;
but, knowing that thieves, found guilty of stealing above twelve pence,
were hung, he had reason to fear a similar fate for his more grievous
offense. By the time he reached the sexton’s house he was of the color
of chalk and his knees gave way. The two men assisted him to the steps
before the house.

“It is as I expected,” murmured the grave-digger.

“The plague?” queried the sexton, fixing his wide open eyes upon Gyves’
face.

“Why, yes,” answered the grave-digger.

“No,” panted Gyves in a low voice, “I’ll be better in a few minutes.”

Both men drew back and shook their heads. They waited, fearful of
seeing him lose consciousness, rave and die; but much to their surprise
his color came back; he staggered to his feet; he asked for water,
which he received and drank; he uttered his thanks, strode down the
road, and passed through the open gate.

When Gyves asserted his position as an officer to the two men in the
cemetery, he had felt that it was about the last time he could take
such a stand. Later, upon that day, he was removed from office at the
instance of Bame, the charge being that he had parted with official
papers; neglected his duties, and proved himself incompetent to perform
them. He could not produce the warrant. Bame produced the fragment
of the seal and portions of the caption and the body of the writ. It
closed Gyves’ public career. He was plunged into abject poverty; in the
wake of famine came the black destroyer, and his entire family was torn
from him in a few hours.

It was not strange that he attributed all his misfortune to Bame. If
at every curse he muttered against his accuser, he had drawn a poniard
across a whetstone, the blade would have been as narrow as a lancet. He
dogged Bame’s steps; he waited for him always with dark intentions; but
like Hamlet, he deferred action.



OVER THE BODY OF THE DEAD.

    _What sight is this, my Lodovico slain!_
    _These arms of mine shall be thy sepulchre._

    --_Jew of Malta, iii, 2._

    _These arms of mine shall be thy winding sheet;_
    _My heart, sweet boy, shall be thy sepulchre._

    --_Third Part King Henry VI, ii, 5._


The morning was far advanced when Tamworth reached the bottom of the
steps of the Old Swan. There, where the ebb and flow of the Thames had
placed its mark upon the masonry, he embarked in a wherry and was soon
passing under London Bridge. The hot rays of the June sun were for a
few moments intercepted. The swift current bore them with the velocity
of a mill-race under the arch beneath which the rower had directed the
wherry’s prow. The stone-work and the thick road-bed of the bridge
prevented him from hearing the rattle of carts and the movement of the
tumultuous stream of foot passers overhead; but, as the boat issued
into the sunshine, he could see the crowds approaching and pouring out
of the north end. High overhead rose the close row of buildings which
ran along the edge of the bridge, like a line of fortifications. There
were but three breaks in this line from the London to the Southwark
side. The great dingy buildings of four, five and six stories appeared
as though hanging tremulously on the verge of a precipice. The sharp
steeple of the chapel of St. Thomas, arising above the tenth or central
pier, together with the towers of a great structure beside it, added to
the weirdness of the mid-air city, motionless above restless waters.

Now moving into mid stream, at the urging of his passenger, the
wherryman plied his oars with such vigor that the walls of the Tower
soon rose far in the background and the sharp bend of the river at
the lower pool hid the city itself from view. The peace of wide and
unbroken waters pervaded here, for no vessels were moving against the
current, and the low hills fronting either bank were still crowned
with virgin forests. At the Deptford wharf, Tamworth left the boat and
hurriedly walked through the town; by the Globe, by the parish church
of St. Nicholas, within whose churchyard was soon to be laid the body
of Francis Frazer, and onward to the wayside tavern of the Golden Hind.

When Tamworth reached the place last mentioned, it was high noon. There
were enough horses before the tavern front to give him the idea of a
crowded tap-room within; but when he entered the latter place he found
it deserted, except for the wife of the landlord, who, with anything
but a pleasant countenance, walked back and forth before the bar.

“Good day, Mistress Dodsman,” said Tamworth, and then with the
intention of conveying the idea that he knew nothing of the murder, or
the inquest, he continued: “A quiet house for this hour. Where are the
riders of the horses that crowd this front?”

“The coroner’s inquest is being held,” she answered, and shaking her
head excitedly, resumed: “Dodsman must needs be there, Tug and the
serving man, and so I am left to hold and entertain the public.”

“What inquest?” inquired Tamworth.

“Over a murdered man.”

“Who?”

“I cannot swear who it is, for there is a question in my mind.”

“How so?”

“The murdered man and the murderer were alike as two peas, and I
wouldn’t say whether the Count lies up there or the actor, until the
Count’s wife speaks.”

“And what think others about this?”

“Well, the actor who encountered the Countess, says the dead man is
Marlowe, and he ought to know something about it; but Tug says it
is the Count, and as he has a keen eye for guests when living, some
respect is due his opinion on a dead one.”

“And what says the coroner?”

“Well, I’ve heard him say nothing, but he talked first with the actor,
and having got the impression from him that it was Marlowe who was
killed, I heard that he impaneled his jury to hold an inquest over
Marlowe.”

“Ah,” said Tamworth, with a sigh of relief, thinking that the scheme
had not wholly miscarried.

“Yes,” said the woman, “and with all my interest in the poor lady,
who must face the coroner and tell what she knows of the murder, I am
compelled to remain here.”

“Is she here?” calmly asked the lawyer.

“I think that she is in the room where the inquest is being held, or if
not, she soon will be.”

“As a witness?”

“Yes, so I suppose. Poor thing, when I left her an hour ago, locked in
the room where they had carried her last night in a dead swoon, she was
so much disturbed by my refusal to say one word about who had brought
her there, about the murder, or what was to take place to-day, that I
pitied her from the bottom of my heart.”

“Did she know Marlowe was killed?” asked Tamworth.

“His name was not mentioned.”

“Did she say nothing about her husband?”

“No; she saw that I would say nothing; and after a why is this, and a
why is that, and a shake of my head, she stopped asking.”

“Which is the room of the inquest?”

“At the head of the stairs.”

Tamworth waited for no further words. The door into the hall was open,
and a moment after he had entered the room to which he had been
directed. A scene of peculiar interest was before him. The room was the
one of the tragedy of the previous night. Its most conspicuous object
was an antique bedstead with high oak head-board. It had been removed
from the alcove, and now with its foot extended toward the center of
the room, it stood before the red arras. On it was stretched the body
of the dead man. It was still attired as Marlowe had left it, and in
all its ghastly pallor, and unwashed of the blood which followed the
fierce thrust of the rapier, it lay exposed to the morbid view of the
vulgar. From where he stood Tamworth could not see the face of the
corpse, but it was with a smile that he recognized the scarlet doublet
and purple lower garments of his friend.

The sunlight coming from the direction of the Thames, streamed through
the two windows. It fell upon the motley crowd of villagers packed
close against them. The other portion of the intent audience held the
space about the outer door. Across the center of the room from the
bed’s foot was a table, along the further edge of which, with his back
against the wall, was one whom it required no acuteness to single out
as the coroner. He was a solemn looking man in a misfitting powdered
periwig and damask cassock edged with fox-fur. The air of pomposity
which he had assumed was apparent to the critical eye of Tamworth. The
latter smiled, as he noticed an open book in law French, lying on the
table and recognized the text of Plowden. It was evident to him that
this book, like the great periwig and the rich cassock, was used with
the idea of filling the assemblage with awe; and Tamworth wagered a
hundred pounds with himself that the man, who looked occasionally at
the lines, could no more interpret their meaning than the landlord
could who sat close beside him. The red cheeks of the landlord were a
trifle paler than usual, and the serious expression on his face denoted
that he felt that a full discovery of all the facts connected with the
death of his guest should be obtained for the good name of his house.

Near these two personages were crowded together six men in the rough
garb of husbandmen. They constituted the jury, and had been sworn for
a true verdict. The actor was being examined when Tamworth entered.
Closed in by the crowd, Tamworth was not noticed by the chief actors
in the drama, and with interest he listened to the actor’s testimony.
He gave a vivid picture of his encountering the woman in the dark hall
and her fainting at the foot of the stairs. He told how he and the
tapster had carried her into the tap-room, and attempted to revive
her; of how she was dressed as though to leave the tavern; of how they
had heard footsteps, and, passing along the hall before them, had seen
Francis Frazer, who, although seeing his wife, had not paused. That
his face was deathly pale, as he disappeared through the door to the
innyard. That, alarmed that the woman did not revive, and impatient
over Frazer’s failure to return as they had anticipated, they carried
the unconscious woman to her room. That there they had stumbled against
the dead body, which he identified as Christopher Marlowe.

Then the witness went further. He had not been an intimate acquaintance
of Marlowe, but he had long known him by repute as a prince of
good-fellows. With such feeling had he mentioned this characteristic
of the man, and discoursed on his genius as an actor, and writer,
that the unlettered crowd, whose model for a hero conformed to these
proportions, was ready to weep at the further mention of his name, or
give its united efforts to the apprehension of the murderer. Already
the vow was on all lips to join in the hue and cry until the pursued
was run to earth. Each one in his imagination had noted some dark nook
in wayside forest where possibly the murderer lay concealed; and still
with breathless interest they hung upon the words of the tragic speaker.

In honest desire to see the deed avenged, the actor testified to
what had transpired before the tragedy, and in vivid manner narrated
the episode of the tap-room, from where the drawn sword had been
first displayed, to the point where the Count had suddenly begged
to be excused, and had quit the game of hazard. Did the Count know
of Marlowe’s coming to the tavern? he asked dramatically. Had he
formulated the murderous intent at an hour long in advance of its
execution? Had he cut him down in the dark and then dragged his body
into this room?

A smothered cry of anguish arose from the crowd at the last fierce
question of the speaker, and then, as in anticipation of further moving
utterances, the silence that fell was oppressive. In it, the coroner
glanced for the twentieth time at the blood-stained rapier that lay
upon the table. He had noticed that it was from the scabbard belted to
the waist of the dead man. Before the actor could resume he asked:

“Was that the sword drawn in the tap-room?”

The actor grasped it by the hilt and raised it before his face. A
shudder went through the crowd; but no answer came from his lips. He
looked at the blade in amazement, then said:

“This is not the sword.”

“Then,” said the coroner, “the Count must have been wounded.”

“Or,” suggested Dodsman, “Marlowe was killed with his own weapon.”

“Possibly,” said the actor, and with this evident refutation of his
theory of an unforwarned attack in a dark passage, he closed his
argumentative testimony. At the close of the actor’s examination,
Tug was called. His testimony corroborated the actor’s, except that
he insisted that the man who had passed through the hall and into
the innyard was Marlowe. This statement created a sensation, but
the witness being weak and vacillating, under a fire of questions,
lost his positive manner, and at length said that he might have been
mistaken. However, his statement had raised the question of identity,
and it required the testimony of at least another to clear the minds of
the jury.

There was a movement near Tamworth, as some one in response to an order
passed into the hall; and a moment later a lady entered the door and
passed close beside him through the crowd. Her face was downcast and
partially concealed in her handkerchief. She averted her face from the
direction of the bedstead, and as hurriedly as it was possible to move,
with so many pressing on all sides, she reached the chair opposite to
and facing the coroner. Under his instruction she sat down. Her back
was toward the bedstead. Its occupant could not be seen by her except
by turning her head.

All information concerning the inquest to be held that day had been
sedulously kept from her. The landlord, with no knowledge as to his
duties either to his guest or to the Crown, and apprehensive that any
move on his part might involve him in trouble, had determined to keep
the wife in ignorance of all proceedings, and on no condition to allow
the seal on her lips to be broken by any one except the coroner. Upon
the discovery of the crime and while she still remained unconscious,
she had been carried to an apartment adjoining her own, where, with the
wife of the landlord, she had been held awaiting the investigation by
the authorities.

It was in this uncertainty as to what was required of her, and as to
what had become of Marlowe, that she entered the room of the inquest.
She at once recognized the judicial character of the proceeding, and
concluded that it was the inquest being held over her husband. It was
then her mental comment that Marlowe had failed in the concealment of
the deed.

The coroner asked:

“Your name is--?”

“Anne Frazer.”

“The Countess,” came the whisper of a third voice.

“How long have you been at this tavern?”

“Four days.”

“Were you in this room at any time before twelve o’clock last night?”

“I was.”

“For how long?”

“From early in the day until near that hour.”

“Did you witness the death of this man?”

“I did.”

“Was any one else present?”

“There was.”

“Who?”

There was a prolonged silence after this question. When no answer came,
the nervousness of the landlord displayed itself by the drumming of his
fingers on the table, and in a score of rapid glances, first at the
witness and then at the coroner. In striking contrast with Dodsman’s
anxiety was the witness. She sat directly before the coroner on the
opposite side of the table. She had answered clearly and to the point,
until the direct question came as to who was present besides herself.
Then she sat mute.

Tamworth could not but gaze in admiration at this witness. Her face
showed traces of a night of unrest and intense thought and worry. If
there was any disturbance of mind from the ordeal, it did not prevent
the manifestation of a resolution that was almost heroic. She steadily
returned the gaze of the coroner and remained as silent as a sphinx.
It was this attitude of determination and self reliance, that, even
more than her beauty, awakened the admiration of the lawyer. He was
not a man with heart wholly unresponsive to the magnetism of brilliant
eyes; but his natural susceptibility had been so toned by years of
experience, that it was the exhibition of strength of soul in another
that set the strings of his being in vibration.

“What is your answer?”

“I can not answer,” said the witness, decidedly.

It was her tone that caused the coroner to forbear pressing the
question; and with the idea of reverting to it, he started on a new
tack.

“Was any one injured except the dead man?” he inquired, casting his
eyes upon the rapier.

“No,” she answered.

He nodded significantly to the actor, and at the same time Dodsman
touched his shoulder, whispering, “My theory is right; Marlowe was
slain with his own weapon.”

“Was there a combat?”

“There was.”

“But wait,” said the coroner, “I forgot to ask if you were legally--I
mean when were you married?”

“On last All Saints’ day at the church of St. Peter’s on Cornhill in
London.”

“To the man with whom you came to this tavern?”

“Yes, my Lord.”

“Now you say there was a combat. Did both contestants draw their
swords?”

“They did.”

“How was it that this man was killed with his own weapon?”

“I do not think that I understand your question,” answered the witness,
looking at the coroner with a surprised expression on her face.

The curtain that hid the truth trembled; the slightest breath would
have raised it, and Tamworth alone grasped the whole situation. It came
to him like a flash. The woman as yet evidently knew nothing of the
change that had been made in the apparel of the two men. As she knew
that it was her husband that had been slain, she had no reason to think
that this fact was not known to every one present. She was testifying,
as she supposed, at an inquiry over the death of Francis Frazer. The
situation was critical; for under a skillful examination, incited by
her answer that the dead man was not slain by his own sword, suspicions
might be aroused and the true facts revealed. But the suddenness with
which the lawyer had apprehended the situation, had not shaken his keen
wit. The means to avert such a catastrophe occurred to him, and before
the coroner could repeat the question, he said in clear tones which
rang through the room:

“You can not ask her further concerning this matter. The law in no case
alloweth the wife to testify against her husband.”

The entrance of the murderer himself would have created little more
excitement. All eyes were turned in the direction from which the
voice came. They saw a man standing prominent amid the crowd near the
door. He was of distinguished appearance. His soft black hat, with
high crown, had the wide rim at its front upturned so that the broad
forehead of the owner was fully revealed. Below this feature of the
face, penetrating eyes looked forth with an expression of unconquerable
will power. His thick luxuriant short beard was trimmed in the style
then worn by lawyers. The latter adornment of his face, and the flowing
locks which concealed his ears, rested on a high ruff which turned
broadly outward with lace-fringed edge. His richly embroidered doublet,
with full sleeves corded with white silk, was of black lustrous
taffeta.

He raised neither his hat nor his hand, as the coroner glanced at him;
but returned the latter’s gaze with so steady a look, that no words of
remonstrance for the interruption came forth. That he was a person of
weight and authority required no announcement. The coroner’s expression
softened; and in the way cleared for him by the wondering crowd, he
pushed forward.

“I am Tamworth, of Gray’s Inn,” he said, in lower voice, “and appear as
a friend of the court.”

He was standing beside the table, as these words were spoken; and the
obsequious Dodsman arose from his chair, and waved his hand for him
to be seated beside the coroner, who could not refrain from bowing as
graciously as he knew how.

“As the proceeding is in behalf of the Crown,” continued the lawyer,
before taking the proffered chair, “it should be conducted in strict
accordance with law.”

“Is it not being so conducted?” asked the coroner, in a voice which was
soft and low with respect.

“Yes; except where the answers of the witness may tend to criminate her
husband.”

“True,” returned the coroner, assuming an air of wisdom; then after a
moment’s thought, he said: “But as we have not learned how many persons
were present, and as the sword is evidently not the Count’s, I am
certainly at liberty to exhaust that line of examination.”

“Undoubtedly,” returned Tamworth.

“How many persons were present when this deed occurred?” asked the
coroner.

“Three,” said the witness.

“Your husband was one?”

Before Tamworth could interpose an objection, the witness answered by a
question, “Why ask so foolish a question?”

Tamworth smiled, and although he knew the occasion of the witness’
inquiry, he looked at the coroner and said: “See, she knoweth the
rights of a wife and will not answer. There is no law to compel her.”

Anne looked thankfully at her champion; and, although she could not
perceive how any answers could in any way affect her dead husband,
she could see that the coroner considered the lawyer’s admonitions
seriously. To know that she was not wholly alone in her extremity, gave
her additional strength. The words of Marlowe, “Canst thou keep this
secret?” rang in her ears. They had steeled her against disclosure of
his name and the account of the combat.

Now came the question, “Do you know the dead man, Christopher Marlowe?”

The witness started at the name. It was the first time it had been
mentioned. But it was not so much that fact as the way in which it was
coupled. Marlowe! the dead man! She stared at the coroner with curious
expression. It was one of wonder growing into terror.

“I do not understand you,” she said, with trembling voice. “The dead
man, Christopher Marlowe?”

“Yes, he who was murdered by--”

“Dead, murdered, when?” she interrupted, grasping the arms of the chair
and leaning forward.

“’Tis well acted,” whispered the landlord.

“Madam, this ill becomes you,” sternly said the coroner. “This inquest
is over Marlowe. Your husband, as we suspect, killed him. The law in
its wisdom prevents you testifying against the murderer, but there is
no occasion for this display on your part. Answer me.”

The witness had arisen from her chair and turned her head. She saw the
figure on the bed, and started, for at the first glimpse she thought
the coroner’s words were true. She recognized the scarlet doublet, vest
of the same color, and the rest of the attire as that in which Marlowe
had appeared. The face--yes, that was also his, but--no, it was not.
She sank back in her chair, and, in full flood, light burst upon her.
Marlowe had concealed the crime.

“I know the dead man,” she said firmly, “It is Christopher Marlowe.”



INTO THE LION’S MOUTH.

    _And tell him that I labor all in vain,_
    _To ease his grief and work his liberty;_
    _And bear him this as witness of my love._

    --_Edward II, v, 2._

    _O! give thyself the thanks, if aught in me_
    _Worthy perusal stand against thy sight;_
    _For who’s so dumb that cannot write to thee._

    --_Sonnet, xxxviii._


At the close of Anne’s testimony and while the coroner’s jury was in
deliberation, Tamworth had had an opportunity to speak to her. He
stated that Marlowe was secreted in the heart of London, but where he
would not disclose; that an early meeting was devoutly prayed for, and
that the main purpose of his presence at the inquest was to arrange for
it; that the church of St. Olave in the Old Jewry was deemed the most
convenient place; that she was to be at its entrance upon the following
Sabbath night at ten o’clock. This was as much as could be communicated
in the short space of time allowed. A ready assent was given by her,
and with this, Tamworth left the tavern and returned to London. His
departure had been too hasty; for with a delay of a few moments he
would have discovered the frustration of his plans for the meeting. By
the light of such discovery another tryst might have been arranged but
it was darkness that ensued. Anne never appeared before the church of
St. Olave.

Tamworth had been careful to avoid raising suspicions that he had
anything more than a passing interest in the wife of Francis Frazer.
It was this that caused him to leave before the hour which he thought
would mark her departure. If he had at any moment entertained the idea
that the coroner would bind her over to attend before the Grand Jury,
or in Court, he had dismissed such idea with the thought that sureties
for her attendance would be readily secured. The coroner did bind her
over despite Tamworth’s recent exposition of the law concerning the
wife’s incompetency to testify against her husband. She was unable to
secure bail.

While Anne was testifying before the coroner in such manner as to
secure the peace of Marlowe, Bame was as zealously working for an
exactly contrary object. If we should here announce that at length the
efforts of Anne became perverted and joined those of the man who worked
for destruction, it would seem that this narration was descending to a
travesty of life; but such a concatenation of events followed, and it
arose as a natural sequence. While Tabbard, with only temporary concern
and that mainly of pecuniary character, had brought about the meeting
of the lovers, and circumvented the police to his own destruction,
she, whose heartstrings were interlaced with those of the man whom the
rustic Tabbard had aided, had involved him in an affair which was to
eclipse his ascending star, and was to place him in the hands of his
arch enemy. When, in the Windmill tavern, Bame had recognized Tabbard
and imagined evil from the hobnobbing of the latter with the constable,
his fear of a miscarriage of his plot of destruction had been increased
by seeing the exultant expression on Tabbard’s face as he destroyed
the warrant. At that moment the character of the scattered paper was
unknown to him. All that had transpired in the Windmill forced him to
the conclusion that he had been outwitted. He had only reached this
stage of mind when Tabbard’s glass fell from his hand and the stricken
man rolled to the floor. Bame was the first one to reach the victim. He
heard his words, and then picked up the largest pieces of the warrant.
His apprehensions were verified; Marlowe had escaped him.

That night he held a vigil over the dying Tabbard, who had been removed
to a bed chamber of the tavern, a cramped room in a corner of the
building, with a round window looking down in the Old Jewry. Until
the end came, Bame remained beside the dying man, not in the spirit
of a ministering angel, but to gain information of the whereabouts of
Marlowe. Tabbard’s disconnected utterances about Deptford and some one
whose interest he held at heart, conveyed no absolute assurance that
Marlowe could be found in the locality mentioned; but it was a straw
at which the hearer grasped. The armorial device of the house of
Surrey upon the hilt of Tabbard’s short sword proclaimed the wearer’s
dependency upon the Duke of that name. Bame knew of Sayes Court, the
country place of the Duke at Deptford, and at once in mind he placed
the actor there. Had not the theaters closed for the season? Had
not the Duke withdrawn to Sayes Court during the prevalence of the
plague in London? Was it not more than probable that the company of
actors, of which Marlowe was a member, was gathering at Deptford for
the entertainment of royalty? These were the mental questions of the
Brownist, and carried affirmative answers with them.

After taking the corpse of Tabbard to the death-cart, Bame, first
taking care to see that no member of his sect was within sight, had
re-entered the tavern, braced himself up with a glass of charnico,
and fallen asleep at one of the lap-room tables. It was but a short
doze, for the morning stir began early. He partook of breakfast where
he sat, then full of his intent to see Gyves punished, and Marlowe
apprehended, he passed into the street. Shop blinds were being taken
down, and the street criers beginning their day-long noise. The latter
shook him uncomfortably, for the night had given him no rest, and there
was naught that appealed to his wants in the cries of “rushes green”
and “hot sheep’s feet.” He required no rushes for the floors of his
dwelling and his hunger had been appeased. The citterns played by
some barbers close at the corner, where he paused to consider whether
he should go first to his home or to the Justice, was not unpleasant
music, but it grated harshly on his Puritanical ears; and reviving his
thoughts of playhouses and their orchestras, it started him toward
the Justice’s office. Tabbard’s horse, still standing at the corner
of St. Olave, attracted his attention as he waited for the Justice to
dress himself and come below. It was a strange place for a horse to be
tied. The church was closed and there were no open windows near at hand
into which the rider could have vanished. Tabbard’s spurs had raised
the query as to where the dead man had left his horse, and in this
forlorn-looking steed he read the answer. He determined to put him to
use as soon as a proper lapse of time gave additional assurance that he
was right in attributing ownership to Tabbard.

In the stuffy den of the Justice, he spread the proof of Gyves’ offense
upon the table, and swore to a complaint against him for a misdemeanor
in allowing an accused person to escape. Then he applied for an alias
warrant on the old charge of blasphemy against Marlowe, but as it
appeared that the latter had fled the country, the Justice declined to
act further until he had assurance that the accused was within reach of
his process. Bame insisted, but the Justice shook his whole heavy body
with the violence of his negatives.

“What can be done?” demanded Bame.

“See the public prosecutor.”

“Can you not advise for the sake of the church?”

“Lay the charge before the higher authorities.”

“What, before the Queen? That has been done.”

“For what purpose, when your charge was made here?”

“To give it greater publicity.”

“Was it made strong?” questioned the Justice.

“All that was necessary was to quote from his writings, and to pound
into the ears of the Queen the quotation from Marlowe’s ‘Jew of Malta’:

    ‘Many will talk of title to a crown:
     What right had Caesar to the empery?
     Might first made kings, and laws were then most sure
     When like the Draco’s they were writ in blood.’”

“Good,” said the Justice, “you were equal to your task, but you should
have made it even more bitter; for if the Queen is not moved by your
first accusation, she will not be by anything later.”

“It showed that he reviled religion; that he persuaded one man to
become an atheist; that he meant to utter false money of the kingdom.”

“’Tis the same charge you made and swore to here. Is it wholly true?”

“Can any crime be too heinous to attribute to an atheist?” asked Bame
with a vicious expression on his face.

“Then such judicial process may issue from the King’s Bench to bring
him in from any county in England wherever he may be found. You must
await the action of that higher court.”

“’Tis a grave public duty,” said Bame, solemnly, “and I now go to
Deptford to locate him in case the Queen should move the King’s Bench
to action.”

Bame met with many delays before he rode Tabbard’s horse across London
Bridge. The verdict of the coroner’s jury had been returned, and the
body of the slain man was being followed to its resting place in the
churchyard of St. Nicholas when Bame overtook the small funeral cortege
just beyond the Golden Hind. The majority of the train were actors and
they bore the rough board coffin on their shoulders. In answer to his
query, they had honestly but not correctly stated that the deceased was
Marlowe, and Bame, feeling that the object of his wrath had forever
escaped him, abruptly reined in his horse.

“Where are you taking the body?” he asked.

“To St. Nicholas,” came the answer.

“’Tis unfit for Christian burial,” he exclaimed.

He was about to say more, but glances from several members of the
group froze his utterance. The glances meant violence. They came from
the eyes of men who recognized him as a member of the sect which not
only cursed their profession but was endeavoring to crush them out of
existence. He swung his horse’s head around and dug his heels in the
animal’s flanks. For his own good, his flight had been well timed, for
all that reached him were their merited execrations.

At the Golden Hind he learned of the events of the past twenty-four
hours, and as he talked in the tap-room, through the center came the
coroner. Anne was with him. She was to accompany the officer to the
house of the sheriff. The meeting between uncle and niece was not
without an exhibition on her part of something approaching filial
affection. In his own household he had ever presented himself as
devoid of all the sterner and harsher traits which made him an object
of dislike and hatred in the outer world, and great sympathy and love
had existed between them. Her elopement had shaken these sentiments in
him, but this meeting had revived them. They conferred apart while the
good natured coroner attempted to drown the heat of his late exciting
session by many deep bowls with Dodsman and several obsequious and
admiring loungers.

Many were the questions with which Bame plied his niece. Whom had
she married? How came she here? Where had her husband fled? All were
answered except the last, she maintaining even with Bame that Marlowe
was the dead man.

At the conference between Bame and Anne, it was decided that he should
journey at once to Canterbury and inform her father of her unfortunate
situation. There appeared no other plan by which she could be released.
Bame and Crossford should stand as sureties for her future appearance.
The former agreed to bring about a reconciliation. But then there was
a matter which to her seemed of more pressing importance. She required
a courier for the opposite direction, that is, toward London. It took
some deliberation to formulate her story and as much more to determine
whether it were safe to convey even this story to Bame. The question
of safety concerned Marlowe only. Her road for the meeting on the
following Sunday evening at the church of St. Olave was blocked as
effectually as though prison bars held her in. The promise for her
appearance there had gone from her freely. Neither she, nor Tamworth,
had suggested any means or method for further communication between
herself and Marlowe, should their meeting, as proposed, be prevented.
The thought of his being a fugitive from justice had appalled her as to
its far reaching consequences to herself. It was only in some foreign
country, unknown to herself, that she had pictured him. Tamworth’s
communication had scattered her fears. The order of the coroner for
her detention had again plunged her into a deeper pit of despair. Here
was the opportunity to convey the reason of her inability to meet
him as promised, and to post him of her future. She realized that it
was a dangerous matter to run anyone into contact with Marlowe, but
here she apprehended no danger. Up to the time of her departure from
Bame’s house, she knew that Bame was a stranger to the man in question.
It was not only unlikely but highly improbable that he, a devout
Brownist, should know the licensed player, and unlicensed writer. Thus
reasoning, she placed the man she loved into the hands of his most
implacable enemy.

It was one of her husband’s friends, she said, who would be at the
entrance of the parish church of St. Olave at ten o’clock on the
evening of June --. The meeting had been arranged before the duel at
the tavern. It concerned his departure from England. His flight, she
continued, would prevent the meeting. It was a matter of great concern,
and at the moment of the separation between herself and husband she had
promised to meet the man who would be in waiting for him. Would Bame
act in her behalf? The statement was plausible, but Bame saw more in
it than her words conveyed. However, whether the meeting was of her
own concertion, with a nameless man or with her husband, whom Bame had
never seen, did not seem of importance. What message was he to bear?

She wrote, in few words, of her predicament and prospects; she sealed
it, and delivered it to Bame. The missive ran thus: “I have word of thy
present safety and rejoice; for my situation had made me fearful of
thine own. To thy request for me to meet thee, I returned my promise;
but now the hope of compliance hath vanished. I am held as a witness.
If the termination of my imprisonment is dependent upon thy arrest,
I pray that I may never be at liberty. However, I have hope of an
early release, and of going to my father’s house in Canterbury. In the
meantime be content, I pray thee, with the assurance of my love. The
bearer is to be trusted. He is my uncle and will return here with thy
answer. Let it be of where I can find thee later. Sealed with my love.
Anne.”

       *       *       *       *       *

It has taken many pages to narrate events covering only a full day in
space of time; but in comparison with the vast harvests of literature
that have been gleaned from the sowing of the night of June 1, 1593,
this sole noting of the steps of the husbandmen who scattered the seed,
is but a single sheaf. And now with the coroner’s verdict in, Francis
Frazer buried under the name of Christopher Marlowe, the latter darkly
brooding in obscure safety, and the world so cony-catched that only
after an interval of 300 years doth it see clearly, we will trace the
dark events leading up to the darker ending of Bame.

Richard Bame was hung at Tyburn on the 6th of December, 1594. That
event is historical, and it is well to fix it in the mind of the
reader before drawing his attention to a narration of what may have
been the reasons for this tragedy. In this connection it is also well
to emphasize a few other historical facts. The accusation against
Marlowe for blasphemy was actually placed before the Queen [note 31].
If Marlowe’s death followed so closely on the heels of this proposed
vigorous prosecution of him for that ecclesiastical crime, it was a
remarkable coincidence. Conviction would have been certain. It required
no reading between the lines of Faustus and the Jew of Malta. Flight,
or concealment, was the only escape for him. What was better calculated
to stay a search and avert apprehension, than a report of death? The
reports, many and contradictory, appeared [notes 9-13].

But why was his accuser hung? Was it due to revengeful influences
working for Marlowe, that Bame, wearing the cockade of the condemned,
passed through crowds down Tyburn-road on his last earthly ride? Or was
this horrible culmination of his days due wholly to his own misapplied
zeal and a catastrophe of criminal character?



THE SACKING OF ST. OLAVE.

    _What God, or fiend, or spirit of the earth,_
    _Or monster turned to a manly shape,_
    _Or of what mould or metal be he made,_
    _Let us put on our meet encountering minds._

    --_I Tamburlaine, ii, 6._

    _What art thou that ursurp’st this time of night_
    _Together with that fair and warlike form_
    _In which the majesty of buried Denmark_
    _Did sometimes march?_

    --_Hamlet, i, 1._


A storm of almost unprecedented fury had prevailed in London from
early evening on June --, 1593. The wind, coming strong from the
northeast, increased in violence as the hours passed, and out of heavy
black clouds the rain fell in torrents. It was a night for everyone in
Middlesex to be well housed and forgetful of the sea. Again and again,
the sole inmate of the oratory in the Prince’s Wardrobe had looked
out into the night. He could not see beyond the flying buttresses at
the edges of the window, except when an occasional flash of lightning
seared the darkness. Under these flashes the near churchyard appeared
as fleeting and as sorrowful as the face of the fallen angel in our
dreams; and the venerable walls of St. Olave looked even more venerable
and gloomy as they stood forth with startling distinctness. Every
cranny became a marked feature of its visible side and the long windows
from their deep setting showed the thickness of the masonry and the
rankness of the century-growth of vines that clustered around them.

It was the night on which Marlowe expected meeting Anne, and the storm
made him apprehensive that their plans might be frustrated. This
uneasiness caused him to leave the oratory long before the appointed
hour. Tamworth was not in his apartment as Marlowe entered it, and
with lighted candle descended the stairs into the underground passage
leading to the church. He reached its end with hasty steps, and having
on a previous night succeeded in putting in working order the hinges
on the slab that had blocked further passage, he entered the chancel
of the church. A darkness as absolute as that of the night prevailed
in the church, except where, at the distance of a hundred feet, the
lights from the chantry shone across a strip of benches or rude pews.
He crept cautiously to the open door of this chantry to see that no one
was in it and then retraced his steps to the chancel where he lowered
the raised slab to its place, taking care to feel its distance from the
rail near at hand. He then passed through the body of the church, and
having reached the middle door at the front, he unbolted it and stepped
without. He felt across every step of the wide entrance, and finding
that he was alone, he took up his station near the door which he had
loosely closed.

It was about this time that Bame left his house and started for St.
Olave. Before doing so he had taken off his conventional garb and
donned his shabbiest suit. Bame was not accustomed to carry any weapon,
but the storm and the darkness prompted him to belt a sword to his
waist. It was with difficulty that he made any progress in the storm,
and at length reached the steps of the church. Here he stood for a
moment in the meager shelter afforded by one of the columns of the
portico, and then began moving with extended hands toward the entrance.
He could see nothing, and for some time in his measured progress he
encountered nothing but open space or the stone wall. Suddenly a flash
of lightning illuminated the portico. In it he saw a man in loose
cloak standing beside him. Neither had realized the presence of the
other until the flash revealed it; but in it Bame caught no glimpse of
Marlowe’s face.

“Hold!” he said, as the cloaked figure stepped backward and again was
entirely enveloped by the darkness. If there were any answer to this
command, it was drowned by the roll of thunder which followed the
lightning.

“You await a lady here, do you not?” continued Bame, proceeding on the
theory that the man was Francis Frazer, “Well, I come with word from
her.”

Still no answer came. Bame reached forward and touched the shoulder of
the silent figure, saying as he did so, “I come from Anne.”

“So, what is the message?”

“She is held in custody by the coroner.”

“For what purpose?”

“As a witness before the grand jury.”

“When did you see her?”

“On the day of the inquest.”

“Who are you?”

There was something in the voice that struck Bame peculiarly. He had
heard it before, but somehow it created a feeling of awe, and an
involuntary shudder passed through him. The reason of this feeling was
not apparent. He was anxious to determine its cause. He answered the
last question by one like it.

“Who are you?”

“What is the purpose of your query? Are you not satisfied that I am
the person whom you seek? You came from one at Deptford. Is that not
sufficient to assure you? If she did not tell you who I am, there is no
occasion for your knowing.”

Bame felt impelled to say that the reason of his asking was because he
thought he knew the speaker, or at least the voice was familiar; but
his natural caution restrained him. He said with ill reason:

“Before I delivered the message I wished to be assured that you were
the one for whom it was intended.”

“Out upon you,” said the other, “If she gave you no name, my telling it
could give you no assurance; but this talk is idle while gusts of rain
blow in upon us. You have found me. Have done with words. What is the
message?”

“It is written,” said Bame.

“Well, give it me,” exclaimed the other impatiently.

“There is an answer expected.”

“And you are to bear it?”

“Yes; where can you read while I wait?”

“Within the church. A light burns in the chantry.”

Bame fumbled in the pocket of his doublet, and then he said: “I can not
distinguish it from other papers. I require a light to find it. Let us
step to the nearest tavern.”

“Nay, ’twould be a waste of time. Follow me.”

He pushed on the door behind him, and Bame heard hinges creak, but all
about him was still wrapped in darkness.

“Into the church?” he faltered.

“Aye. Not a word.”

His hand was grasped and he followed. He felt his entrance to be
a sacrilege and his awe concerning his companion increased his
trepidation. When at length the entrance to the body of the church was
reached, a faint glow of light could be seen from a narrow space in
one wall. Toward this they moved up the dark aisle, feeling the unseen
pews as they passed. Upon facing this glowing space, they perceived
the chantry. It was so small that it hardly merited the name; but,
rising from the marble floor, was the low, richly-carved tomb of the
founder of the church, with raised font before it, and, in niches in
the wall behind it, six blazing candles. Its walls were of solid stone
and no other door or windows opened from it. The arched ceiling rose
scarcely eight feet overhead and bore no tracery nor stucco work upon
its surface. Into this chantry they entered. Bame, forgetting to make
a pretended search in his pocket for the message, hastily handed it to
Marlowe. And now the lights were near and strong enough to show clearly
the faces of the two men. Bame’s eyes and mouth bespoke an astonishment
that almost robbed him of the power of speech. He recognized the man
beside him, but the latter without even a glance at his companion,
nervously broke the seal of the letter, and passing around the tomb,
held it so that the rays from the candles fell upon it. Bame had
noticed that Marlowe was without a sword, and before the second line of
the message had been read he interrupted the reading with the words:

“I thought thou wast dead.”

Marlowe raised his eyes and glared in wonder at the speaker, who
continued:

“Thou art Christopher Marlowe.”

Marlowe leaned back against the wall with his hands so tightly clenched
that their nails almost entered his palms. The scowl grew deep on
his face, but no words came from his lips. It seemed no occasion for
speech, and action on his part was forestalled; for Bame had drawn his
short sword.

“I am Richard Bame. You have undoubtedly heard of me as the uncle of
Anne.”

“And as the swearer of false and vile charges against the man of whom
you speak,” said Marlowe, his voice impetuously breaking forth.

“Against yourself,” interrupted Bame, “but not as a false accuser.
Listen to me.”

“But why should I; and why have you drawn a weapon? You see that I am
defenseless. You came in the character of a bearer of good tidings;
why do you now assume a violent front? Is it not enough that I am the
friend of the one from whom you come--your niece? Have I ever wronged
you? Put down your sword! even though the time were opportune for
murder, the sanctity of the place should stay your hand. Doth not its
holiness appeal to thee?”

Bame began with the echo of the last word:

“You speak well, but to no purpose. You have rendered me no personal
injury, but you have attacked not only my church, but all churches,
all faith, all religions. No,” he continued, shaking his sword in his
fervor as Marlowe was about to reply, “Let me go on. Nothing is sacred
in thine eyes----”

“Cease,” exclaimed Marlowe, “You know little of what you speak. Blinded
by a fanaticism, narrow, violent and perverted, you can see nothing
good in aught that promotes pleasure and breaks the chrysalis of joy.
You would tear down the playhouses, and on the spot where laughter
has chased the gloom from the face of grief and apathy, and where new
generations are being educated in the history of the past and in the
polished manners of the higher classes, a school, wide, noble and
elevating, you would erect houses for wailing and for the blind worship
of an unknown God. And I, whom you deem the head and front of atheism,
you wished burned at the stake, and now would take upon thyself what
your religion deems an unpardonable crime, that of sending my soul
unprepared before its Maker.”

“Maker!”, sneered Bame, “Maker, Thou hast denied the existence of the
Trinity.”

“Such denial,” began Marlowe, undisturbed by the accusation, “is not
inconsistent with the belief in the existence of a supreme intellectual
force of which my soul is part. Thy mind is too narrow to comprehend
the impersonal and omniscient intellect that rules by unswerving laws.
Clinging to the disgusting belief of a resurrection of the body, you
bury it with pomp and lamentation; waste over it your tears, and dream
of its reinhabitation as the temple of the soul. Out upon thee. The
tenure of thy faith is most precarious. Under the dark wings of death,
nought but the longing for eternal rest will pervade thee, like it
has pervaded and ever will pervade all manner of men, whether with or
without creed or belief. But such longing contains no assurance of its
attainment, but is only the reconcilement of the soul to its coming
change of existence without the trammels of the flesh. And this, I
tell thee, blind apostle of a worn-out creed, this world is governed
by a force that worketh ever toward perfection; the perfection of the
material is in beauty; of the spiritual, in wisdom. And both matter
and spirit are eternal. Immortality is not a dream but a demonstrable
fact. Do not the waters of the stream break in silver spray, or become
mirrors for the face of nature, or, being lifted by the sun, form the
clouds whose glorious colors flame and fade at twilight? Do not even
the dull boulders at length present glassy faces, or, crumbling, form
the powdered soil on which flourishes and, aye, is part of, the wild
flowers? Do not the brilliant stars rise from the nebula that strews
the floor of heaven; thus struggling through a thousand changes toward
ideal beauty in form, never losing one atom of substance? And now
what of the mind of man? It grows with years and attains its utmost
perfection as the bodily forces fail. Then comes the disintegration
of the body for new forms as the ages roll. If the material cannot be
lost, how can the spirit, the ego that knows, and is as superior to
the clay as the living face of woman is to the clod under foot? It
must continue under the force that raised it, and in its just line
of aspiration. It is against the nature of all things, material and
spiritual, that the mind with its accumulated knowledge from years of
life should pass into oblivion.”

The eloquence of the poet in the delivery of his sermon of the soul had
stilled the voluble Bame. Marlowe appeared, for the moment, in Bame’s
mind as a martyr of persecution. He could have chewed the accusation
and swallowed it if he had had it. In the transport of these friendly
feelings he felt tempted to sheath his sword, but at that moment the
sounds of footsteps attracted their attention, and they became intent
auditors. Low voices reached their ears, and the noise created by the
stumbling movements of many persons in the darkness came with shocking
distinctness. Bame stood nearest the folding doors of the chantry.

“Close them,” whispered Marlowe, pointing.

Bame turned in instant response, and pushed to the narrow doors,
bolting them. But circular openings were in their fronts, and seeing
this, Marlowe hastily extinguished the burning candles. The voices came
nearer, and the footsteps now sounded in the aisles.

“It cannot be the watchmen, for they are many.”

“And bear no lanterns.”

“It may be a band of thieves.”

“Did you not bar the entrance door?”

“No, I did not even close it.”

“Hush!” murmured Bame, “and see----”

A faint light flared up in one of the aisles, and then another and
another. Each increased in volume of flame until several torches were
blazing here and there in the body of the church. They were borne aloft
over moving heads, and the two men in the chantry saw villainous faces
and ragged forms. It was a score of the most desperate thieves of the
Straits, who, having found the loosely closed door of the church opened
wide by a furious blast of the storm, had entered like water into the
broken hold of a vessel. The fierce desire for plunder had robbed them
of caution, and they had become emboldened by their numbers. Possibly
they had not thought that the exterior appearance of the lighted church
would cause alarm, and it is questionable whether such thought would
have stayed them. Then began a scene of spoliation which, in splendor
of setting and fierceness of its moving figures, beggars description.

Seldom, if ever, had a house of worship blazed with like illumination.
Black smoke arose from the wavering torches, but it was lost in the
great space intervening between the spots where it took flight and the
groined ceiling, so that nothing obscured the painted windows, the
flamboyant tracery above them, and the great arch over the chancel
and the altar, except the shadows thrown by intercepting columns. The
brilliant colored faces of the saints upon the lancet windows appeared
to look down in wonder upon the vandals, whose glances in turn directed
upward to these rows of costly panes were the extreme of covetousness.
It was only the insurmountable space that kept these pictured saints
inviolate. But there were other treasures which held no positions of
safety against unholy and unlawful onslaught, and it was toward them
that the robbers now directed attention. They began stripping the
gilt trappings from the altar and the pulpit, tearing down the purple
tapestry before the sacristry, gathering up the chalices, books and
vestments, and even wrenching the brass balusters from the winding
rood stair to the choir. It may have been their intense action or the
awfulness of the surroundings, that closed all lips from the moment
that, with eyes feasting on the splendors of the church, they began
its desecration. However that may have been, no sound of human voice
accompanied the furious workings of the robbers. Still, silence did
not prevail. There were blows of solid substances together, rasping of
metals, tearings of cloth, and their echoes prolonged by a construction
of dome, walls and galleries calculated to keep every sound alive.

Toward the closed chantry, two robbers at length turned. One thrust his
torch through a circular window of the door, and the two men within
sunk on the marble floor close by the tomb of the founder. The eyes
of the thief should have followed the torch, but at that moment a cry
attracted his attention, and he saw the tapestry hanging against the
wall behind the pulpit wrapped in fierce flames.

It had been kindled by the careless handling of one of the torches, and
bid fair to supplement the night’s work with total destruction. While
that sight first drew attention, another sight and the sound of shrill
voices immediately caused diversion. New figures had suddenly appeared
at the wide entrances to the body of the church, and a new fear ran
like wildfire through the scattered mob of thieves. There was no outlet
except where the alarmed and hastily gathered watchmen were standing.
The blazing tapestry forced the robbers forward. None of their spoils
were dropped. Having grouped together for an instant, they rushed
recklessly toward the entrances held by the watchmen, who could not
repel the onslaught. Excepting three who stumbled and fell, the thieves
poured forth into the street.

Marlowe was first upon his feet after the withdrawal of the searching
torch. He saw the blazing tapestry and the mad rush of the cornered
robbers. He unbolted the door, flung it open and without a glance
behind him, ran down the aisle and entered the chancel. The light
aided him in his rapid survey. He recognized the tomb by which he had
ascended, and, lifting the slab, he crawled under into the passage made
for the king. In the oratory, a few moments later, he searched his
clothes nervously for the still unread message from Anne. It was not
to be found, and the meeting of the night had resulted in nought but
perplexity and misfortune.

It was not until Marlowe had mysteriously disappeared, that Bame
gathered himself for action. He thought of no chance for escape except
through the way he had entered. He attempted it, and, having traversed
with expedition the aisles and narthex of the church now brilliantly
lighted by the flames of the burning tapestry and its supports, he ran
into the arms of the watchman in the portico to which the latter had
withdrawn. His protestations were of no avail. In vain he pleaded that
he had just come up from the sidewalk. Three officers had seen him
issue from the church entrance. As one of the thieves he was taken into
custody.



GUILTY ON GENERAL PRINCIPLES.

    _These looks of thine can harbor nought but death!_
    _I see my tragedy written in thy brow._
    _Yet stay, awhile forbear thy bloody hand._

    --_Edward II, v, 5._

    _No doubt the murderous knife was dull and blunt,_
    _Till it was whetted on thy stone-hard heart,_
    _To revel in the entrails of my lambs._

    --_King Richard III, iv, 4._


It could be stated in one sentence that Richard Bame was tried at the
Old Bailey for felony, found guilty, and hung at Tyburn; but what
pictures would that present of the tragedy? The session-hall of the old
court and the straggling road to Tyburn would be less to the mind than
the substance of the vaguest dream; and he, who endeavored to cover
with eternal infamy our eldest and greatest master of the drama, would
steal away like a thief in the night, unnoticed and soon forgotten. It
is not my purpose to close the chapter of the miscreant’s life in so
summary a manner.

While from the window of the oratory, Marlowe had seen the church
consumed to ashes no news of the arrest and impending trial of Bame
had reached his ears. It was during the progress of the conflagration
that he had told Tamworth of the startling events of the night, and the
recital had greatly disturbed the lawyer. He saw in the fact of Bame’s
recognition of his friend, a menace against the safety of Marlowe, for
the prying Bame might endeavor to unravel the mystery concerning the
burial of the dramatist and his later appearance in bodily form. This
apprehension, however, was soon quieted. Tamworth learned of Bame’s
arrest, and then that he was about to be brought to trial.

All this information was sedulously kept from Marlowe, for Tamworth
knew not what Marlowe might do to save the accused, not that his hatred
had abated, but he might have scruples against one being hung for an
offense of which one was innocent. In the mind of the lawyer, Bame
deserved the severest punishment known in the law for his false charges
against the dramatist. Marlowe could do nothing except with peril to
his own safety. He could swear that Bame was not in the church for
any unlawful purpose, but to appear as a witness would be to deliver
his own body into the hands of the executioner. The disclosure was,
therefore, delayed until some time after the fatal day of December 6th,
1594.

It was at one of the sessions of the Old Bailey, during a time when
human life was at the lowest estimate it ever reached in England, that
Richard Bame was brought to trial for the burglary of the church of St.
Olave. Pento and Badly, two of the arrested robbers, had preceded him
in the dock, and having been found guilty of the same crime of which
he was accused, had received the death sentence. In anticipation of the
coming of the Brownist, the gallery which projected from one side of
the square hall, was filled. The lower benches were also occupied, and
here and there amid the forms of the ordinary lookers-on, could be seen
gray-coated Puritans. Their numbers excited comment, and it began to
be whispered that the man to be tried was one of the dissenters. Some
of them were there to testify to his previous good character, others
were there from curiosity. Bame was well known among the congregations
from the Tribulation of Tower Hill and the Lime House, not particularly
as a shining example of devotion, but as a tireless worker for their
interests. It was a grave question whether the fire of persecution
that burned within him was kept alive by wild and extravagant notions
of what man’s duties were to God, or whether he was simply a tool in
the hands of some strong and unscrupulous man who had private wrongs
to redress. He was blind and emotional enough for a fanatic, but while
he expended this frenzy upon apostates and non-observers in the lower
ranks of life, his small courage appeared unequal for an attack upon
those capable of defense. So, when the attack upon Marlowe was known,
the belief arose that he was being prompted and upheld by some one
high in authority [note 38]. The truth of the matter can never be
known. However, Bame conducted himself upon his trial like one who had
friends powerful enough to hold the wheels of the prosecution. This
conduct may have arisen from his innocence of the charge on which he
was tried.

With firm steps he crossed the uncovered Newgate yard from his
temporary cell, and as he entered the Old Bailey with like movement
the crowd noticed with murmured approval his air of a martyr. Boldness
of demeanor is always the subject of admiration with the people; but,
again, a miserable exterior may create a counter wave of feeling. So it
was in this case. As soon as Bame reached the dock, and with face from
the audience, displayed only his ragged garments and unkempt locks the
enthusiasm vanished. He now presented a woeful appearance. He was still
attired in the discarded garments which he had donned on the night of
the storm, and there was nothing to distinguish him from an ordinary
vagabond. His wife had brought his customary street suit--the gray garb
of the Puritan--to the jail, but the turnkey had roughly ordered her
away with it, expressing himself as being averse to allowing jail birds
to impose with fine feathers on the court or the jury. Thus Bame was on
a footing with the ruffians who had preceded him at the bar on a like
charge.

One warning had been impressed upon him before entering the hall, by
the felons in the adjoining cells, who had said:

“A gilded sword, with point upward, is suspended against the
crimson-padded wall behind the judge. You will see it when you go in,
but mind you this: Turn your eyes from the sword as soon as the judge
begins his charge, and keep from gazing upon it until the jury returns
with its verdict.”

“Why so?” Bame had asked.

“It is the sword of justice, and it will fall upon you. We were found
guilty. We looked upon the sword.”

The jailer had overheard this conversation and said with an expressive
smile: “The records show that 99 out of 100 look upon the sword and the
hundredth man never returns here to tell whether he looked upon it or
not. It must be true.”

This superstition of the jails had so impressed Bame, that the sword
was the first thing he noticed as he faced the judge’s bench, the
jury-box and the bar. There it hung under the square canopy and against
the crimson drapery on the wall. It was a more striking object to Bame
than the judge himself. He determined to keep his eyes fixed on the
bar and jury during his ordeal. Moreover, the judge’s face was not
attractive; it was so unemotional, and his lips seemed unready to move
with any words or tones except those as harsh as the jury’s verdict of
“guilty.”

Bame’s counsel, Thomas Eliot, was within the bar. He was a
consequential barrister with long flowing robe and powdered periwig.
He condescended to recognize the prisoner, and to confer with him. A
loud buzz of conversation filled the room, stilled at intervals by the
bailiff, who looked as dried and shriveled as though he had been cut
down alive from the Tyburn tree after having hung there in hot winds
for several weeks. He was the only object in the room that caused Bame
to smile.

The day outside was hot, and here the heat was increased by the
respiration of the great crowd, and the sunshine pouring through the
three windows looking toward the prison. However, the dingy walls of
the court-room appeared as cold as the face of the judge. They had
been in position to hear too many convulsive cries, following the
announcements of verdicts, to grow warm under any circumstances.

The clerk read the indictment in sonorous voice. None of it was
understood by the audience; for the Anglo-Saxon words were so
thoroughly shaken up with words in Law French and phrases in Latin
that it seemed like a recital entirely in a foreign language. None of
the lawyers interpreted it as read, for the clerk’s pronunciation was
villainous; and as for Bame, he looked stupidly at the clerk until he
finished, and the plea of not guilty was entered.

“You might have stood mute,” said the barrister afterwards, “but you
would have been taken to the rack or the thumbscrews.”

The attorney for the Crown made no opening statement to the jury. Time
was too precious for that; for Newgate was running over with the scum
of human life, all of which must find evaporation through this gloomy
hall.

The watchman who had made the arrest stated that the prisoner had run
into his arms before the first cloud of smoke had poured from the
church. He (the witness) was then standing on the edge of the portico,
and was positive that the prisoner had come from the church. There
could be no mistake about it, for he was coughing as though stifled
with the smoke. He had nothing in his hands or arms, and on finding
that he was in custody, he immediately protested that he had come up
with the crowd from the street. These protestations had been laughed
at, for others had seen him. The others were called--two more watchmen,
and their testimony was of like effect. The defense failed to shake
them on cross-examination, and then a witness named Pence was brought
from his cell in the prison. He was one of the arrested robbers,--a
ragged, coatless, barefooted boy of sixteen years. Not only the
misery of his own brief existence, but of the unknown line of which
he was a descendent, had so moulded his face that there was no line
nor feature of it but what was debased and expressive of low cunning
and viciousness. His trial had not taken place, but being accused and
confined as one of the participants in the crime, it was in irons that
he entered the Old Bailey. His testimony might be of little weight, but
it had been decided to put it in for what it was worth. He was sworn
and after prompt answers to preliminary questions, he drifted into a
narrative of the night’s work. Cleared of verbiage and the cant of the
Straits and translated into modern English, it read:

“The rain had driven me upon the portico of St. Olave. I lay in a
recess near one of the doors, and was asleep when the conversation
of two men awoke me. I heard them speak of entering the church, and
finding the door partially opened, I followed them in.”

“To steal the first thing you could find, eh?” interjected the counsel
Eliot for the prisoner. The witness looked fearlessly at the speaker
and said:

“Never. I would no more dare steal from a church than I would rob a
grave at night. I was curious to learn what they were going to do.”

“Let the witness proceed without interruption,” demanded the public
prosecutor. At this the boy continued:

“I saw them pass into the lighted chantry, and, being barefooted, I
reached the place without noise and looked in. That man was there.” He
pointed one of his manacled hands at Bame. “The other man was reading a
paper. He was behind the tomb, close by the lighted candles. They said
nothing for a few moments, and then the prisoner drew a sword as though
to kill the other man.”

“What!” exclaimed the prosecutor. The exclamation aroused the judge
from a revery that was more pleasant than listening to the rambling
account of a witness. The witness repeated: “The prisoner drew his
sword.”

“Where was this?” asked the judge.

“In the chantry of the church of St. Olave.”

“Ah,” said the judge sternly; for as a high churchman he looked
unfavorably upon the dissenters, and never let a complaint against them
grow stale for lack of investigation. “See to it, Mr. Attorney, that
if the prisoner escapes this trial, that he be brought here again for
drawing a weapon in the church.”

“We object,” said Bame’s counsel, rising, “to further remarks of this
character. They are prejudicial to the prisoner. The jury should not be
impressed with the idea that my client is guilty of other crimes. He is
on trial for the burglary of the church, not for an affray for which
excommunication and the loss of his ears is the penalty. It is too much
the habit of juries to find a man guilty upon the general principle
that he is an unfit member of society, and therefore a fit subject for
judicial murder.”

“Hold!” thundered the judge, his ears tingling with the remarks, and
noticing how every whisper had been stilled by the barrister’s bold
speech. “Your interest in your client is carrying you beyond the limits
allowed here for argument. Sit down, or you will provoke more than a
reprimand. Let the witness proceed.”

The barrister knew the rigorous character of the judge, and saw
something more than a serene judicial expression on his pale face.
The barrister interpreted it as a fine for himself, if he continued
his remarks, and at the close of the trial a charge to the jury which
would be virtually a command to convict. Realizing that his fervor had
carried him beyond the bounds of discretion, but unable to formulate an
apology for remarks which he knew were justifiable, he reseated himself
amid the murmurs of the audience. These murmurs were of approval of the
stand he had taken against the court, and he felt that the jurors were
with the masses from which they came.

“Well, what was done when Bame drew his sword?”

“The other man looked frightened, and when Bame said ‘I thought you
were dead,’ he staggered as though struck. Then they talked.”

“Well, what did they say?”

“I can’t remember it all. It was about some false charges. The prisoner
said that his name was Richard Bame, and he called the other by name,
but I have forgotten it. He was a handsome man in black cloak, and he
seemed much distressed. The lights showed his face well, which was
smooth, and he had a white feather in his cap. I think the prisoner
would have killed--”

“Never mind what you thought,” interposed Eliot.

“You were interrupted,” said the judge, in the pause which followed,
“because you are not allowed to express your opinions. State only what
you did, what others did and what was said.”

“I was so afraid that the prisoner would kill the other man,” continued
the witness, “that I crept away out of the church. I wanted to find a
watchman, but I saw no lights. I ran around the corner of the church,
and at the mouth of the alley bumped into a man. A score of other men
were with him and these were the thieves, but I didn’t know it. I said,
‘A man is about to be killed in this church.’ And the one who held
my arm asked, ‘How do you know’? And I said, ‘I have just come out.’
Then said he, ‘Are the doors open?’ ‘Yes,’ I answered; and at that he
whispered to those nearest, ‘Come on. The church is open. We can sack
it.’ At that they hurried me along, and we passed into the church with
much noise. The man to whom I had spoken still held my arm and was at
the head. I looked for the lights of the chantry, but saw none, and
someone said, ‘The boy has lied. No one is here,’ and they let go my
arm. And when they had lighted torches, I ran toward the chantry. The
doors were closed and no lights shone.”

“Is that all?” asked the judge, and as the witness made no answer, he
continued: “This testimony corroborates the testimony of the officers
that the prisoner came out of the church despite his statements to
them to the contrary, but it appears that he was in no way connected
with the burglary. He was not an associate of the two robbers tried
yesterday, nor of the boy.”

At this the boy suddenly inquired: “Have Pento and Badly been tried?”

“Yes, and found guilty. What of it?”

The boy collected his faculties. To secure his own liberty, the
prisoner must be convicted. So far he had stuck to the truth, but
he was ready to add fiction. The turnkey of his ward in Newgate had
intimated that if he turned state’s evidence he might possibly go free.
So it seemed that the two other robbers had been tried and found guilty
without his appearance as a witness. This he had not suspected. So
there would be no chance for him to tell how he had seen Pento light
the first torch, and Badly tugging and wrenching at the ornaments
about the altar. They were already under sentence of death. If he said
nothing more about the man at the bar, the latter would be acquitted,
and the Tyburn rope would be around his own neck. Had he been of the
order of dangerous reasoners, who consider no act wrong so long as the
prosperity of the State is secured or advanced by it, he might have
felt that the perjured testimony he was about to give was justifiable
because the prisoner should be hung on the general principles spoken
of by his attorney. But this was not his incentive. If he were to say
anything, he must say it quickly, for all eyes were upon him, and again
no whispers were heard in the great hall. His life experience, in which
he had had to use falsehood, bravado and cunning against human foes
and starvation, stood him in good stead. He spoke, but his voice was
scarcely above a whisper, and he kept looking at his manacles:

“That is not all.”

“Go on then.”

“The door of the chantry opened before all the torches were lighted,
and the prisoner came out.”

“He lies!” exclaimed Bame.

“Let the prisoner remain quiet,” said the judge. “The witness must not
be intimidated.”

Bame had arisen with his own exclamation and looked as though he
intended jumping from the dock. The ready testimony and coolness of the
perjuring witness had startled him; and he recognized his own peril.
The boy looked upward at the judge, and then his eyes followed a narrow
strip of sunlight to the windows through which it came. There was a
streak of blue sky visible, and from it the boy let his eyes fall upon
the manacles around his wrists. The distressed look that came into
his pinched face was followed by a determined expression; and then,
although he knew there was nothing to fear from Bame at that moment, he
cunningly said:

“You will not let him harm me if I tell the truth? In the church he
made me swear to tell no one. He came out alone with his sword in his
hand. It was red with blood.”

“Stop!” exclaimed the excited prisoner, rising from his chair. “The
boy is giving perjured--”

“Sit down,” thundered the judge. Eliot remonstrated with the prisoner,
and the prosecutor asked: “Could you see it?”

“Yes, your Honor, for I was on the floor close before the chantry, and
he paused there to wipe his sword on a black cloak which he had dragged
out with him. The other man did not come out with him and the chantry
was too dark for me to see within it. One of the ruffians recognized
the prisoner, and they entered the sacristry together. I saw them both
come out with vestments in their arms.”

“You did not so testify upon your preliminary examination,” said the
judge.

“No, your Honor, I did not think it necessary.”

“Why do you now? Do you bear him ill will?”

“No.”

“Have any promises been made you, if the prisoner should be found
guilty?”

The witness hesitated, and then said: “No, your Honor.”

“Take the witness,” said the prosecutor to Eliot.

Pence wondered where he was to be taken. He hoped that it was not to be
back to his cell. “However,” he thought, “I am not to go yet.”

“Where were you just brought from?” asked Eliot.

“A cell in the prison.”

“What were you doing there?”

“Confined to await my trial.”

“For what?”

“Burglary of St. Olave.”

“By what means do you live?”

“Begging, I suppose.”

“And what else?”

“Nothing.”

“Where have you been living?”

“Anywhere. Wherever night found me.”

“Ever been arrested before?”

“Yes.”

“How often?”

“Twice.”

“For what?”

“Stealing.”

“Why weren’t you hung?”

“The judge pitied my youth, and knew that I could not take advantage of
the benefit of clergy and so must hang if he sentenced me. I could not
con the neck verse” [note 39].

And so the questioning went on through every phase of the boy’s life to
the night of the crime. Then he was drawn back and forth, in and out,
through every sentence he had uttered, but all to no purpose. Every
answer he made only served to strengthen his story. Bame felt that
his fate was sealed unless his own testimony could offset the boy’s
perjury. The case was closed for the prosecution, and the prisoner took
the stand. He told of the events of the night the church was sacked and
burnt, but he carefully refrained from stating that the man with him
at the church was Marlowe, although he was still of that opinion.

From his first consultation with his client, Eliot had rejected this
opinion; for against it was the reported coroner’s verdict of Marlowe’s
death. Was it not possible that this unknown man was the suspected
murderer? Anne had stated to Bame that the person whom he was to meet
that night was a friend of her husband. It was more than probable,
thought Eliot, that this man was the husband himself, and as Bame did
not know him by sight, his confounding him with Marlowe was natural. An
inquiry was instituted for Anne, but she had escaped from the sheriff’s
house. The identity of this witness lay with her, and possibly the
knowledge of his whereabouts; but her whereabouts could not be
ascertained. Thus stood the case when called for trial. Therefore Eliot
advised that a statement according to the prisoner’s opinion would cast
a doubt upon the narrative. The rumor of Marlowe’s death at a time
prior to the burning of St. Olave was already public, and it would be
said: “The prisoner is a self-convicted perjurer, if nothing more. He
depends for proof of his innocence upon one who was dead before the
night of the fire. This is his only witness, and besides, the boy Pence
says that the man who was with the prisoner in the chantry remained
there after Bame came out with dripping sword.”

So Bame testified that the man was a stranger, and had undoubtedly met
his death in the flames. It was a vile falsehood that he had harmed
this man, as Pence had sworn. No one had seen such a person coming
from the church. In all other particulars Bame held to the truth. The
jury believed him, but the judge did not. Five brethren from the Lime
House swore to his good character. Then Mr. Attorney General and Mr.
Barrister Eliot thundered for one short hour at the jury, and during
their arguments the audience and the jurors wept and applauded in
turns; but the judge held scales that were moved no more on the side of
justice than his own heart, or his own face.

In those good old days, it was seldom that an accused person, placed
on trial at the bar of the Old Bailey, escaped conviction. Even though
the jury might fail to discover his guilt, they were such puppets in
the hands of the judge that his will was their will; and as he charged
both as to the facts and the law they found as he instructed. There had
been cases where they had returned verdicts of acquittal, but in many
of these they had been ordered to retire and again deliberate. Such
deliberation always brought about the desired change. As Bame’s trial
drew to a close, the prisoner had reason to tremble, for contumely
had been heaped upon him at every point by the judge, whose hatred of
dissenters was well known. Here it had been so violently expressed that
two of the jurymen, who were Presbyterians, felt as though on trial for
their own lives. It was upon these two men that Bame placed his faint
hope of an acquittal. But they were the last men to run counter to the
wishes of the court. They feared that all his wrath would be directed
against them, and a confiscation of their estates might follow [note
40].

The judge charged in the same spirit in which he had ruled during the
taking of testimony. Bame had showed himself a liar; he was given to
ruining innocent men with false charges; he had entered the church
without permission and probably with force; he had drawn a weapon in
the church; it was possible that he had killed a man there, and then
joined the lawless crew of thieves. The jury must not be influenced
because he was a devout Brownist. That sect was to be despised. It was
already growing too strong in the community, and the members merited
a rebuke. He would have instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of
guilty, but he saw that it was unnecessary. He proved himself a shining
example for the later Jeffreys, and raised a precedent for the latter
to follow in the bloody assizes. The jury were faithful to his charge,
not their own, and returned a verdict of guilty.



THE MASTER HAND IS HERE.

    _O what a world of profit and delight,_
    _Of power, of honor, of omnipotence_
    _Is promised to the studious artisan._

    --_Faustus, i._

    _Knowing I loved my books, he furnished me,_
    _From my own library, with volumes that_
    _I prize above my dukedom._

    --_Tempest, i, 2._


The secret oratory of the king held no shadows within its square walls
on a most memorable night several months after the trial of Bame. The
lamp near the iron-latticed window was burning, and a fire blazed in
the chimney-basket. Besides the light, other late additions to the
room, contributed to dispel its inborn air of austereness. One of the
tapestries from the main chamber had been removed from its hangings,
and lay here upon the floor, a violent appropriation to rude uses of a
trapping of royalty. Two of the easiest chairs, which had added to the
luxuriousness of the same chamber, had also been brought in. But the
articles which rendered most assistance in changing the room from a
cell to a study, were the books shelved below the square window. These
had been contributed, one at a time, by Tamworth and Peele, until a
goodly library of Greek and Latin, English, French and Italian books
stood against the wall.

For more than a year, in voluntary exclusion from the world, Marlowe
had pursued the occupation which he had years since adopted, but
in which fate now compelled him to render exclusive and unwavering
service. Although he was drinking from the inexhaustible wells of
inspired masters in all the provinces of thought, it was the jealous
muse of dramatic poetry that alone sat beside him and commanded his
powers. The alternating spaces of light and darkness in the flight
of time had cut no figure in his moods for work and rest; and thus
while the night had fallen upon a day of unflagging industry, he still
continued working at his table. While thus engaged, a narrow space of
the wall opposite the exedra swung inward, and a familiar face showed
itself in the dark opening. It was that of Peele, the dramatist, and
with a hearty salutation he entered, closely followed by Shakespere.

“Thou art doubly welcome,” said Marlowe, rising and grasping the
outstretched hands of his unexpected visitors.

“So?” questioned Peele, “but I fear that before you hear the news and I
advise with thee, this welcome may be thought inappropriate.”

“Never while I am of enough concern to bring thee here,” said Marlowe,
feelingly.

“And I, on my part, am here with a message of no pleasing import,” said
Shakespere, seriously.

“What! croaking ravens, both of thee?” exclaimed Marlowe, with a smile
which in no way tended to scatter their apparent gloom.

“Is the landlord of the Boar’s Head pressing thee, Peele, for two pence
for thy last draughts of Malmsey; and has thy absent wife demanded thy
immediate return to the foul alleys of Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespere?
Or if not, why these sad presaging countenances, more like those of the
worshipers at the Tribulation than of honest and fearless men? Would
you bring blue devils into this glorious place of mirth to provoke
moaning where nothing but laughter prevails? Am I--”

“Come, come,” interrupted Shakespere, “withhold thy attempts at
sarcasm. We are not here to get thee to condole with us.”

“But to give thee friendly advice,” continued Peele.

“It is for thy interest,” added Shakespere.

“Ah!” said Marlowe, “why not then begin it with a song?”

“Of course singing is out of the question,” responded Peele, “and song
without wine is like meat without salt, so we can have neither, for the
nonce at least. But now let me ask: what progress have you made since I
was here?”

“I am deep in the third act,” answered Marlowe, picking up a page of
the manuscript of Romeo and Juliet, which lay scattered over the top
of the table “And what think you of this as the speech of a love-lorn
maiden?

    Gallop apace you fiery-footed steeds
    Toward Phoebus’ mansion; such a waggoner
    As Phaeton would whip you to the West,
    And-bring in cloudy night immediately.”

He would have continued, but Peele interrupted: “Hold! you have put
similar language in the mouth of Edward II, descriptive of his desire
for the shortening of time before battle. I recollect it well; thus:

    ‘Gallop apace, bright Phoebus, through the sky;
    And dusky night in rusty iron car,
    Between you both shorten the time, I pray,
    That I may see that most desired day.’”

“Well?” exclaimed Marlowe.

“You must change it,” said Shakespere.

“Why should I?” retorted Marlowe, “a man cannot commit plagiary on his
own writings; and, although the style of composition is similar, and
the figure is used in both places to rail against the slowness of time,
you must acknowledge that they are both appropriate in their places.”

“Now this has brought me to the very subject which I came here to talk
over with you,” responded Peele.

“Ah, so you are the first one to draw the sword? Has the presentment of
my latest drama at the Rose awakened thy unfavorable opinion? Was the
fault with the players or with myself?”

“Your work improves with every line you write,” said Peele,
enthusiastically, “but still with all the increase of learning
displayed, the growing compactness of expression, the sustained fire,
the maturity of thought, the diverseness of opinion, the wondrous
expanse of human horizon disclosed,--thy style is stamped indisputably
upon every passage.”

“So! I have labored to change it.”

“Marry, but thou hast not” [note 41].

“Then it is like my skin, a part of me.”

“No more to be changed than thy countenance, it seems, which with age
and experience may get new lines and grow wiser looking, but still
shows the old familiar expressions with every change of feeling.”

“Then there is no help.”

“But thou must change thy methods of treatment of some subjects.”

“Again I ask, why should I?”

Peele surveyed him like a father might his recreant son, and Shakespere
slowly shook his head as though the case were one beyond all cure,
exclaiming as he did so: “Why, man, for thine own safety.”

“Is that in danger?”

“It will be,” continued Peele, “Gabriel Harvey and George Chapman were
in my hearing discussing the drama of Titus Andronicus as presented by
the Earl of Sussex’ actors at the Rose, a week since; and, although the
play was sold to Henslowe, as one written by Shakespere, Harvey swore
it must be thine.”

“And what said Chapman,” interrupted Marlowe.

“He said, ‘Most damnably like Marlowe’s, but certain it is that it was
not among his posthumous effects, and it was never presented under his
name, nor before his death.’”

“And what said Harvey?”

“He said truly that if thou didst not write it, then this fellow
Shakespere had caught thy very trick of hand.”

At this remark, Shakespere laughed so heartily that even the others had
to join with him.

“Apt critics, these,” said Marlowe, “’tis strange that they should see
resemblances between that play and any of my acknowledged works.”

“Bah,” returned Peele, “no one so blind as a mother to the faults of
her child. Strange? Why that play is full of thine old spirit. Here,
give me thy copy of it, and of thy Jew of Malta.”

Marlowe turned to a chest beside his table and drew forth two rolls of
manuscript. He handed them to Peele, who opened the Jew of Malta at the
second act, and read:

    “As for myself I walk abroad o’ nights
     And kill sick people groaning under walls:
     Sometimes I go about and poison wells:

           *       *       *       *       *

     And always kept the sexton’s arms in ure
     With digging graves and ringing dead men’s knells:

           *       *       *       *       *

     And every moon made some or other mad,
     And now and then one hang himself for grief.
     Pinning upon his breast a long great scroll
     How I with interest tormented him.”

“And now,” he continued, “see how thou hast imitated thy early and
immature work almost to an echo.”

He unrolled the manuscript of Titus Andronicus at the fifth act, and
read:

    “Oft have I digged up dead men from their graves
     And set them upright at their dear friends’ doors,
     Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
     And on their skins as on the bark of trees,
     Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
     ‘Let not your sorrow die though I am dead.’
     Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things,
     As willingly as one would kill a fly.”

“Now in this same play, thou hast given us the very echo of Tamburlaine
and his queen Zenocrate. The scene where Tamora first appears to the
emperor is couched in identical language with the one where Zenocrate
is given the crown by the king; and again in the first act of the
first part of Henry VI you treat the death of Joan in the same manner
as you do the death of Zenocrate. No servile imitator could have more
carefully copied his master.”

“His very trick of hand,” drawled Shakespere.

Marlowe did not reply, but continued a rapt listener while his friend
went on with increasing ardor:

“In act II of Titus Andronicus you write of the golden sun galloping
‘the zodiac in his glistening coach,’ as though in your ears still
rattled ‘ugly darkness with her rusty coach,’ as you have described the
night in act V of the first part of Tamburlaine and again in Edward
II. If thou must take the most striking passages of thy Tamburlaine,
and cut from them scraps and pieces upon which to pad out these later
dramas, thou should be more circumspect in their use. If thou art not,
one of two things will surely follow, thy friend here, who stands as
thy mask, will be dubbed a plagiarist of vilest sort, or all these
plays will be proclaimed thine.”

“Save me from such a calumny,” exclaimed Shakespere, “and Peele speaks
truth, for a tempest has already begun to brew. But that is my story,
and I must not break the thread of Peele’s argument.”

“Well! And what if the plays are proclaimed mine as you mention?” asked
Marlowe.

“Why, thy existence will be discovered, for both Chapman and Nash know
the full list of your works. Perhaps more know it. The report of thy
death is loose and has not been widely circulated. Harvey attributed it
to the plague.”

“Yes,” said Shakespere, “he wrote that ‘gogle-eyed sonnet’ about you
in September, 1593, containing the line, ‘He and the plague contended
for the game,’ and how the ‘graund disease’ smiled at your ‘Tamburlaine
contempt,’ and ‘sternly struck home.’”

“Enough of that!” exclaimed Marlowe, impatiently, “I shall yet get even
with that villainous sonneteer.”

“But to return to that description of night in act V of the first part
of Tamburlaine,” said Peele, “there, the horses that drag the night,
‘from their nostrils breathe rebellious winds and dreadful thunder
claps;’ while in the second part of Henry VI, the same old horses ‘from
their misty jaws breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.’ The
method of description and the figures of speech are the same, and you
personify the same objects.”

“Well, it is a favorite description of mine for night, and as my
attention is called to it, I now remember that in my Hero and Leander,
‘the night * * * heaved up her head and breathed darkness forth.’[28]
This is the last time that I shall use the figure.”

“Well, that passage from Henry VI,” resumed Peele, “that I have just
alluded to is also like another in Tamburlaine, beginning: ‘Black is
the beauty of the brightest day’” [note 42].

“Possibly they are open to criticism. I shall revise, and in future
labor toward perfection in word condensation,” said Marlowe, “but
I cannot destroy all the well turned lines. For instance, there is
the same spirit breathing through the verses for the friar Laurence,
beginning ‘The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning light;’ but how
can I curtail, how remodel with hope of preserving their beauty? You
may assert that such lines echo with the music of Hero and Leander, and
with them draw a close parallel to the passage in the latter, where
Apollo’s golden harp aroused Hesperus, but I shall not change them. The
critics may have food for thought and they may grow strong enough upon
it to be formidable, but so long as I write of love, the lines must be
cast in the purest mould that I am capable of using.”

“Then destroy thy Ovid and Homer, and go back to Seneca; read Plutarch
and Holinshed. Thou hast written love tragedies and historical plays;
take thy Faustus for the model of a drama of stern and darkened life.”

“Shall it be tragedy?”

“Yes, the darkest picture of thy mind.”

“My own bitter experiences.”

“Have it so if thou wilt,” returned Peele, “it is only he who has
drained the cup of deepest sorrow and felt the tooth of adversity, that
can draw such a picture.”

And so the figure of the melancholy Dane arose, the perfect embodiment
at that period of the oppressed writer. Not at one stroke did it rise
into its present almost palpable form, but under the labor of years in
which the less intense plays were produced.

It was now suggested that the remainder of the evening be spent in
Tamworth’s room, and as it then appeared too late for any of the
lawyer’s friends to seek admittance, the three men passed into the
king’s chamber. It was empty, but the burning lamp showed that Tamworth
had withdrawn for a short time only. After having admitted Peele and
Shakespere, he had gone to a neighboring ordinary for a late repast.
The fire had smoldered to ashes on the hearth, but its recent blaze had
so cut the chill of the room that it was on an even temperature with
that of the fire-lighted oratory. They gathered around the black table
below the suspended lamp.

“Now,” said Marlowe, addressing Shakespere, “what is thy report from
Henslowe upon the two acts of Romeo and Juliet and its proposed
completion?”

“Unfavorable,” answered Shakespere, “he has flatly refused to accept
it.”

“Why, ’tis surely stronger and more dramatic than Titus Andronicus, for
which he paid us ten pounds, and that has now been on the boards of the
Rose for two months. It must be that Henslowe is not only losing the
little ability of criticism he once possessed, but his business sense
as well. What has brought about the change? Hast thou any idea?”

“I went in to him, as heretofore,” began Shakespere, “and in great
easy chairs, where full the blazing light of a crackling chimney-fire
fell upon them, sat Henslowe and the late strolling-player, Jonson. I
know not by what means Jonson hath the ear, and aye, the heart, of the
manager of the Rose; but clear proof of it was shown. Henslowe waved
me to a chair, but Jonson ignored my presence.” ‘Mr. Shakespere,’ said
Henslowe, nodding to Jonson, and then the latter said, ‘I have heard
of him,’ and I, ‘Ben Jonson, late returned from the Low Countries,’
and at that Jonson glared at me as though my presence were scarcely
sufferable and my voice intolerable.

“‘Prut!’ exclaimed Henslowe, noticing the ill manner of his companion
and showing disapproval. Then turning his attention to the servant, he
said, ‘Fill one more. Our friend must crush a cup of wine with us.’
This the servant did from a bottle of finest canary from the sideboard
which blazed with gilded, silver and gold ware.

“Henslowe had a cup of yellow wine close beside him, and so had Jonson.
The face of the former appeared unusually complacent; and nothing,
through the medium of his eyes alone could have disturbed his supreme
felicity, for thou knoweth the richness of the tapestries of that
pleasing den of the opulent manager of the Rose; the works of art upon
its walls; the grand display of his costly libraries of unread books;
the softness of its Turkish carpets and of its upholstered furniture.
The insidious workings of canary wine were for peace and rest.

“I would fain have withdrawn, but being there on thy behalf, I put on a
face of unconcern, and sat with back toward Jonson. Methinks the wine
had stirred his wits and made him keen for controversy.”

“And fairly gifted he is in such line.”

“As I soon discovered, for before I had time to say to Henslowe the
words, ‘To thy good health,’ as I drank, Jonson said, ‘And what cares
he for blood when wine will quench his thirst.’ Thus beginning with a
sly sneer at Tamburlaine.”

“He evidently considers Shakespere an imitator of the dead Marlowe,”
said Peele, looking at Marlowe.

“Not necessarily,” remarked Marlowe, “I hardly think that the passage
from Tamburlaine was in his mind. He had evidently just read the first
scene of Romeo and Juliet, where the prince rebukes his subjects
for quenching their rage ‘With purple fountains issuing from your
veins.’”[29]

“Ah! there it is again,” exclaimed Peele.

“Well, I paid no attention to Jonson, but addressed myself to Henslowe.
The upshot of the matter was that he wanted no more plays with plots
laid in foreign lands.”

“You are right,” interrupted Marlowe, “he is under Jonson’s influence.”

“Jonson had much to say in the conversation. At one time he asked me
if I did not think I was following too closely the ‘mighty lines’ of
Marlowe to ever be deemed anything more than a mere imitator, and
he whipped out this paper, which he said I might keep for future
reference, and as a warning that his eyes were open. He either knew
that what he had read of Romeo and Juliet was written by thee, Marlowe,
or he wanted no thefts to be made from his own plays. This is his
arraignment:

    ‘If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.’

    --Romeo and Juliet, ii, 1.

    Love moderately, long love doth so.

    --Romeo and Juliet, ii, 6.

    Love goes toward love.

    --Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2.

    And what love can do, that dares love attempt.

    --Romeo and Juliet, ii, 2.

    Whoever loved that loved not at first sight.

    --Hero and Leander.

    Love me little, love me long.

    --Jew of Malta, iv.

    With love and patience let your true love die.

    --II Tamburlaine, ii, 4.

    ‘Poor Poet-Ape, that would be thought our chief,
        Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit,
    From brockage is become so bold a thief,
        As we, the robbed, leave rage, and pity it.’

       *       *       *       *       *

    He marks not whose ’twas first; and after-times
        May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
    Fool! as if half eyes will not know a fleece
    From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece!

    --Ben. Jonson.”

“Then following this exhibition, Jonson said, ’Thou hast not yet begun
to put thyself forward publicly as a dramatist, Mr. Shakespere, for I
notice that Titus Andronicus has been printed with no name of author on
the title page. Art thou afraid of acknowledging it? Edward II is also
out, but Marlowe’s name is on it’ [notes 27 and 28]. At this I turned
upon him and said, ‘I like not thy insinuations; and thy questions are
impertinent. It is too plain that this rejection of my play is due to
your influence. Some one is blind to his own interests, and that is
you, Henslowe.’ The latter did not stir, and I continued, ‘I know what
enormous profits have been reaped upon plays of this character, and
there are other theatrical managers, thank God! in London.’”

“Good,” exclaimed Peele.

“And what manager hadst thou in mind,” asked Marlowe.

“Myself,” said Shakespere, quietly.

“Thou!” exclaimed the others.

“Yes. I shall at once lease the Green Curtaine that is now closed, and
produce thy plays there, Marlowe. A fortune can soon be reaped from
such venture” [note 43].

At this moment the sound of a key turning in the lock of the door came
to their ears. It was Tamworth returning, they thought. Then, the door
swung back, and the figures of four men appeared at the open threshold
and crowded into the room.



DEATH TO THY CLIENT OR MINE.

    _Go, wander, free from fear of tyrant’s rage,_
    _Removed from the torments and the hell,_
    _Wherewith he may excruciate thy soul._

    --_I Tamburlaine, iii, 3._

                            _Go cross the seas,_
    _And live with Richmond from the reach of hell._
    _Go, hie thee, hie thee, from this slaughter house_
    _Lest thou increase the number of the dead._

    --_Richard III, iv, 1._


Although the jury had decided against Bame, their verdict had not
swayed his counsel, Eliot, in his opinion that the prisoner was
innocent and that there was still an avenue of escape. But this avenue
must be opened. The key would undoubtedly be found in newly discovered
evidence. None could be produced except that of the mysterious man who
was in the chantry with Bame. It might be that he had lost his life
amid the flames of the church, but Eliot was hopeful of the contrary.

As narrated, the barrister had sought this absent witness before the
trial, but without avail. Now, having procured a stay of the execution
of the sentence, pending proceedings for a new trial, he began an
exhaustive search. The sexton of the church stated that the door to the
burial plot had been locked on the night of the fire, and so had the
front entrance on the Old Jewry. There had been no other outer doors.
The windows had been too high for entrance and most difficult for exit.
Had there been any other passage way? The sexton knew of none. A search
was instituted for the body of the missing man. None was discovered in
the chantry, whose marble floor still remained intact. Here the matter
rested for a short time. What the searching party failed to discover, a
blundering workman brought to light. In clearing the ruins, he broke,
with a blow of his pick, a marble slab into a hundred pieces. This was
in the chancel and was the slab covering the passage to the Prince’s
wardrobe. Eliot was at once informed of the discovery, and he succeeded
in keeping the matter quiet while he placed a sleepless watcher at the
further end of the passage. The report was soon made to Eliot that some
stranger inhabited with Tamworth the apartments wherein the passageway
terminated. The reason of this stranger’s seclusion was not apparent;
but Eliot became fixed in his idea that the witness for Bame was within
reach. He laid his plans accordingly, and one evening he entered
the Red Lion ordinary on Cattes street, where he had been informed
that Tamworth was eating a late supper. Presuming upon a slight
acquaintance, Eliot accosted him and accepted his invitation to sit and
drink. Two men, who had closely followed him in, seated themselves at a
table at some distance directly behind him.

The barristers had been talking for some time on town and state
topics, and Tamworth had nearly finished his repast, when Eliot
suddenly dropped their discussion over a late rigorous enactment of
Parliament, and said:

“Who is the man who lives with you in the Prince’s Wardrobe?”

If a cocked pistol had been presented at the head of Tamworth by this
man who sat opposite him across the narrow table, it would have created
in his mind little, if any, more commotion. He lost his grasp on his
knife and fork and gazed fixedly at his fellow barrister. The latter’s
frame was joggled by a low explosion of satisfaction which sounded like
“Huh!”

He returned Tamworth’s gaze, and asked: “Well?”

“Pardon me,” said Tamworth, “I failed to hear your remark or question.
I just noticed the Duke of Essex drive by in his imported carriage.
Hark the cries you now hear are from workingmen cursing the patronage
of foreign manufacturers.”

“Are you sure it was not my question that disconcerted you?” asked
Eliot, with a smile.

“You are amusing,” returned Tamworth. “Do you not notice the open door
behind you? Look, and you will see the link lights borne above the
passing carriage.”

“That is of no importance,” responded Eliot. “There is little need to
ask again who is with thee at the wardrobe, for thy face shows that the
subject is of much concern.”

“There is no one with me there except on occasions when friends drop
in,” answered Tamworth, who had not recovered from the effect of
Eliot’s startling question. Then he asked with composure:

“Why do you ask?”

“Have you ever heard of Richard Bame?” returned Eliot.

“Yes,” answered Tamworth, feeling as though the table were sinking
under his elbows, “as I have heard of his late trial in the Old
Bailey. In what way is that name connected with the subject of our
conversation?”

“I am his counsel,” answered Eliot.

“And!--” ejaculated Tamworth.

“As such I am looking for the sole witness who can testify to his
innocence.”

“From the report of the trial,” said Tamworth, “I suppose that the man
you seek is the one who was within the lighted chantry, as seen by the
boy witness. Is it not more than probable that he did not escape from
the burning church?”

“He did escape,” interrupted Eliot, and with a face upon which a
knowing expression was displayed, he continued looking at Tamworth.

“Then why did the police not capture him?” inquired Tamworth, as though
the question were a poser.

“He did not pass out by the front entrance,” said Eliot.

“Ah, by a window, then? Or by the door into the church-yard.”

“Nay,” said Eliot, “his escape could possibly have been by such means
of exit, but there was another avenue for flight and he used it.”

“So,” exclaimed Tamworth, “this is interesting; go on!”

“Not as interesting as the recital would be to the ignorant,” said
Eliot, with voice which did not, like his expanded nostrils, give
evidence of his superior position in the discussion.

“What do you mean?” demanded Tamworth, indignantly.

“I have already gone too far,” answered Eliot. “May I accompany you to
your lodgings?”

Excellent actor though he was, Tamworth could not prevent his face
displaying the disconcertion of his mind. A pallid hue spread over his
forehead and cheeks. It was evident to him that either the keepers of
the building, of which he was a tenant, had been gossiping concerning
their suspicions that he was not alone in the chamber of the king, or
the workmen amid the ruins of the leveled church had discovered the
secret passage. In either case, was Eliot talking upon actual knowledge
that Marlowe was within the Prince’s Wardrobe, or was he seeking
for such knowledge? There was no doubt that Eliot had well founded
suspicions. In this state of mind, Tamworth answered:

“You say you have proceeded too far. If you mean in talk, it is idle
to dispute such assertion, for there is nothing yet to talk about; if,
on the contrary, you refer to the distance that you have come from your
home to this ordinary, there is still no answer necessary, for in the
latter case you speak truth.”

Eliot returned no answer, but looking over his shoulder, motioned to
the two men who had followed him in and were seated at a distant table.
They seemed on the alert for this signal, for they immediately arose
and came toward him. They were attired in the garb of the police, or
watchmen, only upon this occasion they wore short swords instead of
carrying halberds, and a heavy pistol was strapped to the waist of
each. Tamworth saw them approach, and attempting a smile, he asked
Eliot:

“What does this mean?”

“Oh, not for thee, most assuredly,” answered Eliot. “I asked if I
might go with you to your quarters. The purpose is to find the man who
was with Bame in the church of St. Olave. The secret passageway was
discovered a few days ago, and it has been explored to the heavy door
which closes it, and which I have ascertained is directly below your
windows. I also know that a man answering to Bame’s description of his
companion on that eventful night is one of the occupants of the king’s
ancient chamber. We have fair information as to just how the corridors
run and the rooms are located, and could proceed without thee. You
will come with us, will you not?”

During this recital Tamworth’s face became the picture of despair, and
at the close he exclaimed, decidedly, “Not one step!”

“Then we go alone, and shall use force if necessary.”

“At your peril,” responded Tamworth, “I do not propose to have my home
ransacked on such frivolous pretext. And, again, you have no warrant
for such proposed outrage.”

“Here is the search warrant,” said one of the officers, displaying the
writ.

At this exhibition, Tamworth was taken aback. “So,” he said, losing his
repellent front, and speaking lower, “You have armed yourselves, have
you? Well, we will go.”

There was still a chance that the search would not reveal the presence
of Marlowe. The clock marked the hour of eleven. It was more than
probable that his friend would be securely shut in the oratory, the
existence of which was surely not yet suspected. In any case there was
but one course to avert suspicion, and Tamworth arose and passed out
of the ordinary with the three men. The distance between the Red Lion
and the Prince’s Wardrobe was soon covered. A few moments after, they
had traversed the long upper corridor of the ancient building, and were
standing at the closed entrance to the king’s chamber. A round autumn
moon was riding through the heavens, and its bright light poured
through the near window of the corridor.

Tamworth unlocked the door and threw it open. The brass lamp under the
dragon’s head shed its radiance into every corner of the inviting room.
The three strangers gazed in amazement at the unexpected display of
richness and splendor. Tamworth threw his open hands forcibly against
his head and shut his eyes with their palms, to hide a vision that
filled him with direct apprehension of evil. Peele, Shakespere and
Marlowe were seated under the great lamp and about the massive center
table!

The disturbed occupants of the apartment had arisen at sight of the
strangers, and gazed in astonishment at Tamworth, who now entered in
advance of the others. He said calmly, but distinctly enough for every
one to hear: “These men have forced themselves upon me and into this
room for the purpose of learning if the man is here who entered the
church of St. Olave on the night of its destruction.”

“And there he is,” exclaimed Eliot, pointing at Marlowe.

Several voices gave utterance to conflicting statements, so that it was
impossible to distinguish their substance or force; and then Marlowe
asked: “And what is wanted of me, if I am the man?”

Tamworth turned about, and, reaching the door, slammed it shut. Eliot
regarded this movement with suspicion, and noticing it, Tamworth said:
“This disturbance should be confined to closed walls.”

“There is to be none,” responded Eliot.

“And so I pray,” answered Tamworth; “for is not the purpose of thy
entrance accomplished?”

“Not fully,” answered Eliot, and then addressing Marlowe: “I must have
thy written and sworn statement of the events of the night you stood
with Bame in the chantry of the church.”

“For what purpose?” demanded Marlowe.

“To save an innocent man from the gallows.”

“Of whom dost thou speak?”

“Of Bame,” answered Eliot.

“Never!” came the response of several voices.

“Nay, nay!” exclaimed Marlowe, “if one unjustly accused may be saved by
such simple means, I will give it. Is this all?”

“For the present,” answered Eliot. “Thy affidavit is sufficient for my
immediate purpose; but later thou must appear as a witness upon a new
trial of Bame, if the same shall be granted.”

“And for what has he been tried?” asked Marlowe.

“For the burglary of the church.”

“A false accusation,” exclaimed Marlowe.

“Good!” responded Eliot.

“And who here has authority to take the oath which must be affixed to
the statement of thy proposed witness?” inquired Tamworth.

“That is a matter easily attended to,” answered Eliot. “A justice is
not far distant. We can attend before him; or if you prefer, send one
of your friends for him. Here is the statement.”

Throwing back his heavy cloak with these words, the barrister drew from
his pocket a white roll. He then thrust his gloves under his belt, and
spread out the paper upon the table.

“Have you a quill and ink here?” he asked.

“I have,” answered Tamworth, “but what is the character of this written
statement?”

“See for thyself; and you,” he continued, directing his eyes upon
Peele, “can you not go to the justice at the corner of this street and
the Poultry, and bring him here, or if he refuses to stir abroad at
this late hour, demand that he light his candle and wait our presence?”

“You are in haste,” remarked Tamworth, “and not at all diffident in
making requests of strangers.”

“There is occasion for it.”

“We certainly prefer the justice to attend here,” said Peele, “but why
not send one of these watchmen?”

“They may not be as persuasive as a man of dignified bearing,” returned
Eliot, bowing slightly.

“Well, Peele,” said Tamworth, “a word with you.”

He drew him and Shakespere into the distant alcove.

“Is the situation serious?” asked Peele.

“Not so far as immediate results are concerned, unless the justice
knows and recognizes Marlowe. It is evident that Eliot never saw him
before, but thinks he fills Bame’s description of the man who was with
him in St. Olave. All that he can demand now is an affidavit. They have
no power to take him into custody.”

“Unless by unlawful force,” suggested Peele.

“True,” answered Tamworth, “but the danger lies in the future. The
order, upon Eliot’s motion for a new trial, may be made to-morrow,
and Marlowe would be detained as a witness. Further concealment here,
except for the night, is hopeless. There is no safety for him in
London. He must leave for the continent before twenty-four hours have
passed over his head.”

“And now, what?” asked Peele.

“There is no occasion for either of you remaining here, and you must
leave as though in answer to Eliot’s request to call the justice, whom
we do not want here. His presence might be fatal. If you do not depart
on this pretense, a watchman may be sent. In the tedious delay which
will ensue, I shall find time to outwit this presumptuous barrister
and his watchmen. Repair to Shakespere’s quarters and there await our
coming.”

The three came forth from behind the portieres.

“Well,” remarked Eliot, quietly, “what is the result of this
uncalled-for conference?”

His manner of looking at Tamworth, more than his words, showed that
their withdrawal had raised his suspicions.

“Peele will go for the justice,” said Tamworth.

“And I with him,” continued Shakespere.

“So,” said Eliot, “I have no desire to break up this family meeting;
but if you will have it that way, it is well.”

“Midnight is not an early hour for departure,” said one of the group.

The two men had departed when Tamworth began reading aloud for his own
and Marlowe’s benefit the paper unrolled upon the table. At the head
was the customary title of court and cause with venue following. Then
came the pronoun “I,” with a blank space for the insertion of a name.
It was evident that Eliot had not placed any faith in Bame’s statement
that this man was Christopher Marlowe. Cases of mistaken identity were
not of infrequent occurrence, and this was evidently one; but whatever
his name might be, he was none the less the witness upon whom Bame’s
cause depended. Such had been the reasoning of the barrister while
drawing the paper. Tamworth finished his reading. It was the true
recital of the night’s events, but Tamworth shook his head impressively
and then asked:

“Upon this you hope for a re-trial?”

“Most assuredly,” answered Eliot.

“And upon such trial, expect my noble friend to appear?”

“How else could it be accomplished?” answered the other, in amazement,
and then, as though a seed of fear had grown into gigantic form within
him, he straightened himself up and said, sententiously: “And I
demand thy assurance of his presence when required--thy assurance as a
lawyer--or he must be taken into custody.”

“Thy closing threat is a mockery of law,” said Tamworth quietly. “With
neither the warrant for his seizure, nor the justifiable ground of a
crime committed in the presence of an officer, we may laugh at thy
proposed action.”

“Laugh or not,” said Eliot, in measured tones, “we will await the
coming of the justice.” And then, looking at Marlowe, he suddenly
asked: “And now what is thy name?”

“We will wait for the justice, as you suggest,” interrupted Tamworth,
apparently not noticing the question. Then he nodded to Marlowe, who
was showing signs of agitation, and the two moved to the wall beyond
which lay the secret oratory.

“We must strike at once,” whispered Tamworth.

“Aye,” murmured Marlowe, “but how?”

“The oratory is thine only refuge for the present. Later I will tell my
plans.”

“The ink!” demanded Eliot, in loud voice, and then almost inaudibly he
spoke to one of the watchmen: “Guard the stairs. Stand there near the
railing.”

Tamworth whispered once more in the ear of his friend: “Remain here
ready to act.”

At the same time he pointed to the spot where, behind the tapestry, the
entrance to the oratory was concealed. Marlowe nodded his head, and
then Tamworth crossed the room to a desk in the alcove. He returned
with an inkhorn. His plan of action had been clearly conceived and he
was about to attempt its execution. He and his companion could have
adopted violent means, for with their swords they were more than a
match for Eliot and the watchmen; but in the train of such violence,
complete and irretrievable disaster might follow. Such attack was not
to be made unless all other efforts failed.

As Tamworth handed the inkhorn to Eliot, he stepped upon a chair
beside him and then on the table. The movement was so sudden that none
understood his purpose, until he had raised the lamp bodily from its
suspended basket. He was about to extinguish its flame but before it
could be accomplished, Eliot, who was still sitting beside the table,
grabbed with both arms the legs which stood before him. The attempt to
extinguish the flame failed; Tamworth, with a cry, lost his balance,
and as he fell he threw his blazing burden toward the empty fire-place.
A wave of black smoke followed its course across the room and
then--darkness. Not a spark of light shone anywhere. Marlowe would fain
have waited to learn the culmination of the train of action thus set in
motion, but he knew that every move had been for his benefit; and so,
as darkness enveloped him, he drew back the tapestry and pressed upon
a mullion of the walled window. It was not the one he wanted. He felt
again and ran his hands across the entire surface. Ah! he had it, and
the wall moved; but at that instant, which was but the second instant
in the flight of time since darkness had descended, a sword of light
flashed upward from the chimney-place, and instantaneously a violent
explosion shook the room. Flaming oil shot outward from the chimney for
a distance of twenty feet. It ran like snakes with flashing and darting
tongues along every exposed seam of the ancient floor. It curled around
the splendid supports of the mantel. It fastened its destroying fangs
in the scattered pieces of oriental carpet, and crawled over and fed
upon the unconscious form of the man who had met his death in his
efforts to save his friend. There he lay where he had fallen with face
upward on the hearth-stone. How the black smoke was rising from the
burning oil! Everything inanimate and unconscious within the king’s
chamber, nay, within the ancient palace, was doomed.

Eliot and the watchman fled through the open door and the smoke
followed them, as though thus seeing an exit for its increasing volume.
Marlowe, still holding to the folds of the tapestry, which he had
grasped as the explosion swayed his body, cried loudly, “Tamworth,
Tamworth!”

There was no answer. He staggered from his place, reached the center
table, circled it, and the flames leaped at his feet and drove him
backward. His heel struck the raised marble of the first of the
descended steps of the stairway, and the heat filled his nostrils.
He turned and, hiding his face in his hands, groped his way down
the secret stairway, threw open its narrow door and passed into the
darkness.

On that night a despondent and sorrowful man demanded by loud blows
admittance to a room at the Boar’s Head which overlooked Crooked Lane
and the churchyard of St. Michael. But the regular occupant, who was
none less than George Peele, was not then within to hear the summons.
Late, on the following morning, soon after Peele had reached his room,
another knock, this time by a stranger, sounded. Immediately the door
was opened, and a man, whose apparel and hands bespoke contact with
wherries and fish, handed in a sealed letter. Peele broke it open and
read the following:

    “My Dear Peele: Tamworth’s and my apartments were destroyed by fire
    last night, and he, while striving for my safety, perished in the
    flames. Of this I shall write you more fully when time is afforded
    me, and travel has somewhat dispelled the present oppressive gloom.
    I sought entrance at thy door last night to announce my intention
    of departing, but no one answered my knocking. I can no longer risk
    the safety of my few remaining friends, and, knowing of no refuge
    under a government whose hand would be raised against me if my
    existence were known, I leave for Venice to-night. I shall continue
    writing, but, as of late, it must be under the name of Shakespere.
    Vale. Faustus.”

The reading finished, he asked of the man who still stood at the door:
“Where is the person who sent this?”

“On the Thames; aboard ship bound seaward.”

“When did you leave him?”

“Not long since, for I rowed directly up the river after putting him
aboard that ship in midstream. When ashore I came directly here.”

“That is all,” said Peele, and as the door was closed by the departing
wherry man, he continued in audible voice, but solely for his own ear:
“Poor Tamworth! and how much better off are the living? Poor Marlowe!
but still this change is for thy best interests. Thy Jew of Malta is
strong, but the crudeness of detail arises from unfamiliarity with the
scenes where it is laid. The fire burning within thee, O noble friend
and fellow dramatist, must blaze clearer and brighter from new fuel now
to be furnished thee. Barabbas is great, but a greater Jew will arise
from out thy meditations in the City of the Sea. This is the language
of prophecy.”



THE RIDE TO TYBURN.

    --“_And where didst meet him?_
      _Upon mine own freehold within forty feet of the gallows,
          conning his neck verse._”

    --_Jew of Malta._

    --“_Who doth (Time) gallop withal?_
    _With a thief to the gallows; for though he goeth as softly
        as foot can fall, he thinks himself too soon there._”

    --_As You Like It._


At the house of the sheriff in Deptford, Anne waited many long days
for Bame to appear with her father. No news of Bame’s arrest reached
her ears, and no answer came to her message to Marlowe. At length an
opportunity arose to send another messenger to Canterbury, this time
by no circuitous route; but, despite its delivery, Manuel Crossford
did not appear to secure her liberation. The wished-for reconciliation
between father and daughter did not take place until many months
later; but before the month of June had passed, the aid which Anne had
sought from those nearest to her through blood and family ties, came
in the person of a maid in the house of the sheriff. This maid had
been deputized to attend upon the fair prisoner. As might have been
expected she was easily won over, and on a dark night an escape was
effected through unbolted doors, and a boat which lay ready on the
Thames. The maid had enlisted the services of a lad who would have
crossed the sea at her bidding, and by him they were conveyed up the
river to London, where, in a quarter at some distance from her former
home with her aunt, and in ignorance of what was transpiring with Bame
and Marlowe, we must leave her and return to those characters who had
become involved in a web from which there was no possible extrication.

The boy Pence had been set at liberty. His companions, Pento and Badly,
had suffered capital punishment. Bame would have immediately met the
same fate, but an extra effort was made in his behalf.

Eliot’s attempts to learn something of Tamworth, and of his
companion whose name was still unknown, proved fruitless. With their
disappearance, all hope of a new trial for Bame was extinguished. But
a writ of error was taken, and the case, after swinging back and forth
between the courts, was finally determined adversely to the appellant.
Bame was resentenced, and the day fixed was December 6th, 1594. It had
at length dawned in the streets of London.

Bame saw the morning only through bars never gilded by sunlight, and
this was the last daybreak he would ever witness. It had not aroused
him from sleep, for he had walked the cell for eighteen hours without
an intermission of rest, except as he had paused for a bite at the
bread or for a swallow of water handed in by the turnkey. No death
watch had been in the corridor; for prisoners awaiting execution in
those days were too numerous to command any particular attention. Thus
his meditations had been undisturbed, except by the hourly passing
by the guard, whose footsteps only diverted his thoughts of the
approaching last hour, to the momentary apprehension that it was at
hand. At such times he would pause in his walk; glance at the window to
see if the night had passed, and failing to recognize any difference
between the gloom within and the gloom without the bars, would brush
the sudden beads of perspiration from his brow and await the dying away
of the disturbing footsteps.

Amid all the thoughts of the coming ordeal, there was one consolation
that remained. It was in the mode of his prescribed death. The victims,
of whose untimely fates he had been the prime spring, had met death in
bitter agony at the stake; he was to be hung. While he had not gloated
over the tortures of the condemned free-thinkers, he had deemed these
tortures merited, and, as a late witness of the agonies of martyrs, he
had at times fairly smiled at his own sentence.

There was one man amid the dense crowd, thronging the front of Newgate
on that morning, who waited with something more than vulgar curiosity
to see the condemned felon come forth. At an early hour, this man
had mounted the stone block which stood on the edge of the street
directly before the gates of the prison; and neither the threats of
the approaching storm, nor its furious presence had driven him under
shelter. Under the livid colored clouds, which still obscured the
sky after the passing of the tempest, he maintained his position of
vantage. It gave him a commanding view on all sides, and likewise made
him a conspicuous figure. The tumbril bearing Bame would pass close
before him. He could not fail in his accost of the condemned to secure
his attention, and for this purpose he held this position. What was
his ultimate design could not be read in the expression of his face
or his demeanor. It might be that he intended by the fervor of devout
utterance to strengthen the tried soul of the man entering the valley
of shadow, or, on the contrary, to exhibit to the latter a gloating
visage and hurl an execration in his face.

Whoever in the idle crowd questioned the design of this heavy man in
leathern doublet who stood above them, remained only a short time
in ignorance. The heavy gates swung open, and three men flourishing
halberds cleared the way for a horse and open cart. Behind the cart
came four armed riders, and the hangman in rough cassock and black
hat. The cart bore two men. One was the driver. The other was a man
in manacles who stood erect for the moment while the wheels run over
the smooth pavement. As evidence of innocence, he wore a white cockade
in his hat, and an expression of forced resignation appeared on his
face. The crowd was silent for a moment, and then cheered him as they
noticed his erect posture and the white cockade.

The horse had been reined in at the edge of the street for a moment
while the crowd was being thrust back by the guard. Bame silenced
the cheering by his effort to be heard above this demonstration. He
repeated his words twice, and then they heard him.

“I have committed no crime,” he cried, “My death will be a judicial
murder.”

Contrary to his expectations, the words did not revive the applause
that had preceded them. This was occasioned by another voice that rang
out in clear and louder accents:

“The dog lies. He should be strangled before he reaches the gallows. A
public accuser! a public informer!”

Bame turned his head, and on his elevated perch he saw Gyves, the
ex-constable. The crowd saw him too, and in its fickleness cheered
him and then hooted and threw mud and stones at Bame. The latter was
knocked into a sitting posture by the missiles where he remained
trembling from fear of a more violent assault being made. Up to that
moment he had prayed for death in any form, except at the hands of the
hangman; but in the sudden and unexpected presence of mob violence,
fierce and strong enough to crush out all life, he forgot the incentive
of his prayers.

The driver’s hat had been knocked from his head, and this angered him
so that he swore loudly and called vile names even at the man who
picked the fallen hat from the ground and threw it into the cart. At
the same time he sent the long lash of his whip cracking and smarting
into the faces of the front row of the crowd. They fell back, jeering
at him.

“Kill him, too!” they yelled.

“A fit mate for the felon!”

“He handles his reins like Tyburn hemp!”

“An apprentice for the hangman!”

“Take that!”

“And that!”

Another volley of stones and mud followed. Bame lay flat in the cart
and escaped injury, but the driver fell back stunned, with the reins in
his nerveless hands. Then there was a discharge of firearms. The guards
had leveled their blunderbusses and puffs of smoke curled upwards from
the wide mouths. The mob turned and broke away precipitately on all
sides, leaving two who had fallen with the report of the firearms, and
now lay outstretched on the stone pavement. One of them was Gyves. His
late prominence and appearance as the leading spirit of the mob had
made him the mark for more than one of the guards, and his body was
riddled with balls. Thus was the beginning of the ride marked with
death, and the end was to be no less a tragedy.

While London was under the rule of the Plantagenets, the penalty
pronounced against capital offenders was inflicted amid the elms in
Smithfield; but under the piteous eyes of children from the windows
of the encroaching dwellings of a rapidly increasing populace, the
executioner bungled so badly in his frequent task, that early in the
reign of the Tudors, the distant bank of the Tyburn was selected as
a more suitable spot for carrying the death sentence into effect.
Here, for a few years following, the surrounding fields remained open,
and none but the constant mob from Faringdon ward looked upon the
unsightly object under the “Tyburn tree.” This mob followed the cart
of the condemned in all seasons and under all skies. On dry roads it
was enveloped in dust; the mud was beaten down by its untiring feet in
stormy seasons, and while it was compact in body upon leaving Newgate
it was a scattered procession in its retreat from Tyburn.

The Tyburn road started amid thick clustering buildings, but soon
shaking itself free from these, it ran on, wide and firm, by bordering
dwellings, tippling houses and inns, into the open country, where it
straggled and seemed aimless in its purpose. But this seeming was only
to quiet the thousands of wretches who were carried over its surface
on their last ride. For them there were three miles of hard travel,
and at the end of each intermediate mile, hope could kindle in their
breasts that the ride might be only the beginning of a journey into
exile. In summer they saw broad fields of grain; felt the cool shade of
forests; heard the songs of birds; or, in the dead season of the year,
reaped from the vision of white hills a temporary respite from brooding
melancholy.

The crowd that followed the cart bearing Bame was boisterous to a
degree suggestive of immediate violence. They had, with blanched
faces, seen the death meted out to two of their members; and while
this scene had for a time appalled and silenced them, as they drew
away from the close buildings in the outer ward of the city, their ill
will against the guard and its prisoner became manifest through their
murmurs and demeanor. They did not blame the guard so much as they
did the prisoner. The guard had done its duty, undoubtedly; it was a
mere instrument, but Bame had been the cause. The result lay at his
door. The driver must press forward speedily, and the hangman must be
unusually expeditious if the crowd was to be pacified.

Bame realized the situation, and contrary to the usual desire of Tyburn
passengers, prayed for a speedy ride. There was the inn of the White
Ox on ahead. Would it ever be reached? The wheels of the cart sunk so
deep in the mud that it seemed as though at every yard they would stop
turning. The guard flourished its weapons at the restless mob behind
it, and still the procession moved. Here was the White Ox at last,
and there at the front edge of its wide porch stood the man who had
actually counted seven hundred and four condemned felons ride by the
White Ox during that year. He thought that he had marked them on the
inner edge of the white railing against which he was leaning, but he
had missed at least two score driven by on several early hours while
he was sleeping off the effect of some late-at-night potations. He
had reason to count, for he was the tapster, and here the executioner
always stopped for a drink. It was not to steady his nerves, for
apparently he had none. The tapster had it ready when the cart stopped.

The man in the cassock and black hat rode close to the edge of the
railing and took the glass from the tapster’s hand. As he raised it to
his lips, he bowed in mock cheer to the sad-faced man in the tumbril as
though to say, “This is to your good health.” However, he said nothing,
except to the driver whom he admonished to drive more rapidly.

About three miles from the west wall of London, on what is now Oxford
street, close at the foot of a small declivity, there stood at the
time of our narrative a solitary building of two stories. Near this
structure was a cluster of elm trees, and from them the place had
received the title of “The Elms.” The building had been designed for
an inn, but the locality was in such ill favor that very few occasions
arose for its landlord to welcome the coming, and speed the parting
guest. One side of the steep mossed roof sloped toward the muddy road;
the other side touched the top of a lofty board fence. This fence
surrounded the “triple tree of Tyburn,” as the gallows was called. The
obnoxious structure whereon felonies were expiated was invisible to
all travelers except those coming down the hill from where the bourne
of Tye found its source; but the enclosing fence was such a subject of
notice and inquiry, that strangers, as well as neighboring farmers,
were glad to pass quickly by it. The tenant of the Elms, however, did
not depend for livelihood upon the profits of the inn bar, its table
or its beds. The key to the great gates of the fence hung within
the tap-room, and there was revenue to the landlord for being its
custodian. In the enclosure were raised seats and on “state” occasions
these were in demand at fair prices, all of which were collected and
retained by the keeper. This keeper was a woman, nicknamed Mother Peter.

As usual, Mother Peter had the gates open long before the procession
arrived; and so, without a pause, into the enclosure passed the stern,
compact and mounted body, representative of order, and after it the
loose and disorderly mob. The latter filled the space between the
widely separated gate posts as it poured in, a body of ill-clad flesh,
of all ages and of both sexes, with brutal and repulsive faces, and
audible from jeers, curses and loud laughter.

The enclosure was one of three acres with a flat open space in the
center around whose edges rose tiers of seats sloping upward and
backward to the fence’s top. In the center was a triangular platform,
raised twenty feet above the ground, and having at each of its three
corners an upright post each with a beam extending horizontally from
its top. Broad steps led up to this platform, and on it was a bench and
a table. On the table was an earthen jug and beside it an earthen bowl.
In the table was a Bible. From the three horizontal arms, black ropes
suspended, and every breeze swayed them.

The tumbril had stopped at the foot of the broad steps. Its footboard
was let down and Bame descended from it. He stood there with a guard
on each side, and the crowd drawn backward to standing places on the
encircling seats. A feeling of weakness pervaded him as he glanced
upward at the posts and their suspended ropes so ominous of evil
to himself. He partially recovered his control while the guard and
executioner were attending to their horses, and then, with them, he
ascended the steps to the platform.

From the raised platform Bame could see across the top of the gates
of the enclosure toward London. He looked absently in that direction,
and at first saw nothing because of the tumult in his mind. Suddenly
the scene swept into his field of consciousness, and under a dark
canopy of smoke and cloud, he saw the distant city. No sunlight lay
upon the myriad of walls that formed the picture. No gilded dome, nor
window in visible towers, flashed to him a welcome or a warning. In
the gloom, it seemed a city of death or sleep, and he felt it to be
a vision, impalpable and evanescent. The broken steeple of St. Paul,
the crumbling Roman wall, the fronts of familiar buildings, brought a
rush of tender memories and a flood of tears. He could not brush this
evidence of weakness aside, for his hands were bound; and so with outer
vision blurred, the inner, or spiritual, became the real. The fields of
morning appeared, and he passed through them as with the rapid wings of
an angel, catching their scents and a sweetness of life like that known
only to the barefooted boy when the grass is green and the day perfect
and no duties confront him. Then the fire of the period of ambition
filled him, and he saw his home, the deserted bench at which he once
labored, the patient face of his wife and then the figure of Marlowe
as he appeared to him under the blazing lights of the chantry. Ah! was
it he? Yes. “And are not the charges false?” rises the question from a
thousand voices.

He recognizes them all, and he attempts to say, “Yes, and let it be
so recorded!” but he finds himself without voice. There is a darkness
that is never to be lifted about him. He has a faint comprehension of
the reason, but it grows into no verity. Verities are beyond him, so is
the world with all its falseness. There is a close cloth over his face
which stifles him. He feels bungling fingers about his neck, then the
scraping of a rough substance in the same place. He imagines he cries:

“Unloose! Air, air! My God, save me!”

But in fact he had said nothing, and with these unuttered words upon
his burning lips, he feels a terrific jar that seems an explosion
in his own brain. All the world is aflame. Was there ever such an
illumination? But, O God! what thrust was that through the center of
life itself? This is pain in its purity. But, wait, hold but a moment,
O ye fires! It groweth dark and darker. An absolute blackness is
gathering with a swiftness incomprehensible; and a roar, as mighty and
continuous as the ocean at steep headlands, fills his ears, increases
and then dies utterly.

Bame was hanging under the Tyburn gallows.



FINIS CORONAT OPUS.

    _No bounds, but heaven, shall bound his empery,_
    _Whose azured gates, enchased with his name,_
    _Shall make the Morning haste her grey uprise_
    _To feed her eyes with his engraven fame._

    --_Dido, i._

    _Methinks ’tis pride enough to be his son._
    _See how the morning opes her golden gates,_
    _And takes her farewell of the glorious sun._

    --_Third Part of Henry VI, ii, 1._


In 1597 the Privy Council commanded that the playhouses in Finbury
Fields be leveled to their foundations, but the command had not been
executed. It is one thing to decree, it is another to enforce. The
indignant spirit of reform that prevailed upon the administrative
body appeared to have exhausted its power with the procurance of the
mandate, for even on the Sabbath, the annunciatory trumpets before the
Curtain and Theater continued to proclaim the daily stage performance.

The last trumpet for the day had blown before the Curtain on a winter
afternoon in 1598, and a packed audience already filled its pit and
galleries, when a solitary foot traveler, leaving the Shore-ditch
highway, entered the narrow lane leading toward the fields. The air
was cold and frosty, and that may have caused the traveler to keep
the cape of his cloak raised high around his face. At any rate, on
such a day, there was nothing in the fact that the low-drawn hat and
high-raised cape left visible only a pair of eyes, to raise suspicion
that the man desired to avoid identification.

A heavy snow had fallen during the previous night, but a wide,
firmly-beaten path led over it across the fields. As he noted this
condition of the way, he calculated that several thousand people had
preceded him. Was it to hear Alleyn at the Theater, or Burbage at
the Curtain? He thought that it was to hear Burbage, and possibly
his knowledge of what that great actor was to perform forced this
conclusion. The play of Hamlet had already been performed at White Hall
before the Queen, but this was to be its first presentation before the
public. The praise bestowed upon it by the titled few who had assembled
in the banqueting house at the palace had reached the public ear, and
its effect was here demonstrated. It was the prospect of seeing this
play that led this man across the fields which he had not entered for
several years.

If he had been at all interested in his surroundings, he would have
noticed that in the short space of time which had elapsed since the
last day he had passed through the break in the field wall, many
changes had taken place. The ruins of the old church of Holywell
(demolished in the reign of Henry VIII) had been removed, or
appropriated for the walls of dwellings arising above the ancient
foundations. Much solid ground had been made where the sedge had sprung
from shallow marsh water, and houses here and there dotted the white
expanse. An assembly house for the worship of Brownists stood within
the brick boundary wall of the fields. Although a low structure, it
covered a large area and appeared a menace against the playhouses.
These theaters, of height equivalent to three stories, were resplendent
with lively-colored fronts and painted windows. A single red flag
fluttered above the top of each. There had been no changes in their
exteriors since the observer last saw them. Hundreds of horses, many
richly caparisoned, and others bearing rude saddles only, stood in
groups before both houses, while shivering boys and men held them. Only
a few of the dismounted riders were standing at the entrances of the
theaters.

The late comer passed around one of these groups, and at the entrance
of the Curtain presented a letter to the doorkeeper, who, without
betraying his inability to read, passed it into a square window, within
which was a room with cheerful fire and a man who broke open the letter
and read it, saying:

“It is the man for whom a box has been reserved.”

“Who is he?” asked the other.

“The note sayeth not.”

“Strange that a whole box should have been reserved for one person on
such a day,” growled the doorkeeper.

“Well, those were Shakespere’s orders, and as he holds much of the
stock of the company, his request must be respected. The note is signed
by him. Admit him to box 4.”

The man passed in and followed a boy up a winding flight of stairs
to the lower gallery. It was a small compartment at one end of, and
overlooking, the stage. The boy unlocked it [note 44]. Although the
round pit, into which one could look from this box, was open to the
clear sky, the floor of the upper gallery projected so far over this
box that the light was dim within it; and heavy curtains at its front,
although drawn apart, augmented its constant dimness. The boy started
to light a lamp in a wall bracket, but the man stopped him and directed
him as he left to lock the frail door. There was room for ten people in
the box, and as the boy turned the key upon his temporary prisoner, and
wormed his way through the packed gallery, he wondered how one could be
so selfish as to appropriate an entire box for one’s sole use.

Finding himself alone, the man threw off his hat and cloak; but
immediately the chill of the winter day penetrated his doublet and
he replaced the discarded garments. The interval in which his head,
countenance and shoulders were uncovered was scarcely a minute; but it
was quite long enough to reveal that his beard and hair were false,
and the doublet so arranged as to misrepresent the form beneath it.
Having seated himself so as to be out of the view of the audience, he
peered through the space between the wall and the edge of one of the
curtains. A pleased expression showed on his face as he noticed the
immensity of the audience.

There was no standing room in the pit, which was so clamorous for the
play to begin that the orchestra, in its box within the center wall
above the stage, could scarcely be heard above the tumult. The front
row of standing spectators was crowded so close to the stage that
their chins rested upon it; and the press was so great that several of
the more active groundlings had crawled up and lay upon the rushes at
the feet of the favored portion of the audience which occupied every
chair upon the ends of the stage. There were black hangings upon all
the posts and the lofty canopy above the boards was of like color,
indicating that the play to be presented was a tragedy. A sign bearing
the word “Denmark” hung close to the canopy, and was an announcement
of the place where the scenes of the drama were laid. Neither curtain
nor foot-lights graced the stage, but the rude painting of a castle
partially concealed the barn-like wall. A raised platform at the back
showed that there was to be a play within a play.

The music of the orchestra died away, and the groundlings and
scaffolders held breath. Francisco had taken his post, and Bernardo
entered. It seemed that the first question, “Who’s there?” was uttered
by the man in Box 4, for at that moment the door to the box was burst
open with a crash, and several persons pushed in. The gross-looking
man, whose broad shoulders had been used to force an entrance, was in
the lead. He whispered so that the quiet man against the railing heard
him, “Beg your pardon, but it was either this forcible intrusion, or
the sweat of the mob for us and these ladies, and no sight of the play.
You can’t blame us.”

The man to whom the words were addressed disdained to turn his head,
but sunk it lower within his ruff and kept his eyes on the stage, but
it is not likely that he saw it any more than he did the intruders.
He kept his peace, but his face was white from rage or fright. He had
recognized the speaker as Ben Jonson, and the voice of one of the other
two men with him had sounded so familiar that even before the ghost
stalked across the stage, he knew that one of his companions was Nash.
Feminine voices proclaimed that at least two of the fair sex were of
the party. Their whispers conveyed no further intelligence to him. He
again became absorbed in the play, while the intruders took possession
of the chairs behind him. They thought him a dull boor; he either
should have shown enough spirit to resent their rude entrance with
fierce words or a drawn sword; or, with resignation to the inevitable,
have murmured a welcome at least to the ladies. Thus ran their
thoughts; but he had forgotten the disturbance and his situation. Even
at the close of the act, the ecstasy of his mind continued as his eyes
swept over the audience, and from pleased countenances gleaned the
opinion of a favorable reception of the play. Why did this please him?

The conversation behind him caught his ears. It was between Jonson and
Nash and ran on uninterrupted for an interval. It held his attention.

“Who plays the ghost?”

“Shakespere” [note 45].

“’Tis said he wrote the play.”

“I question it.”

“Why so?”

“He knoweth little Latin.”

“We have heard no Latin.”

“True; but the speech of Horatio is descriptive of the events preceding
Cæsar’s death as set forth in Lucan’s Pharsalia” [note 46].

“Doth no translation of the Pharsalia exist?” [note 47]

“Yes, but only in manuscript.”

“Perchance he hath had access to the manuscript.”

“There is but one copy, and that is in my possession.”

“Translated by thyself?”

“No.”

“By whom?”

“Marlowe.”

“And the description of the tenantless graves, the sheeted dead
gibbering in the streets of Rome and the stars with trains of fire is
like Marlowe’s translation?”

“The one is drawn from the other; for in Marlowe’s translation ‘Sylla’s
ghost was seen to walk singing sad oracles:’ ‘Souls quiet and appeased
sighed from their graves;’ ‘and ghosts encountered men;’ and ‘sundry
fiery meteors blazed in Heaven.’”

“’Tis strange.”

“Most strange!”

“And how do you account for such a coincidence?”

“Wait; the play goes on.”

The second scene of Act I was in progress, and at its close Nash, who
appeared to be the better posted, said:

“Didst ever hear Marlowe’s play of Edward II?”

“Yes, years ago at this theater.”

“Dost thou remember the character of Spencer?”

“I do,” answered Jonson.

“Where he says:

    ‘’Tis not a black coat and a little band,
     A velvet caped cloak faced before with serge?’”

“And what of that?” interrupted the other.

“What! why have you not just heard Hamlet say:

    ‘’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
     Nor customary suits of solemn black’?”

“Examine at thy leisure the entire passages.”

“’Tis plagiarism!” ejaculated Jonson, ever ready to decry the works of
another.

“Or--” began Nash.

“Hamlet was written by Marlowe,” interrupted Jonson.

“True,” answered Nash, nodding his head excitedly, “And much additional
evidence exists confirmatory of your hastily given statement; but
this time is all too short to compare the precepts of Polonius with
Spencer’s ‘to stab when occasion serves,’ or with the meditations of
Barabbas; or to note how Marlowe’s metaphysical musings concerning
‘This frail and transitory flesh,’ ‘the aspiring mind,’ ‘the
incorporeal spirit,’ ‘the buzzing fear’ of what comes after death, have
been joined and compacted in this play of Hamlet. Note in your study
how smoothly the polished lines of Marlowe’s acknowledged works can
be run in between the lines of this play without the slightest jar or
impairment; note how many of the speeches wind up with the last two
lines rhyming; note the tendency in all toward bombast where excess of
passion is expressed.”

This conversation, while it pleased and amused the listener, awakened
in him a fear of no trifling character. He would have made his exit
from the box, but he dared not arise and pass before the eyes of those
behind him. They might recognize him, and such recognition was to
be avoided. Act III was in progress, and Burbage, as Hamlet, held
the audience spell-bound. Ophelia, played by the boy, Thomas Deak,
of the children of the Chapel, had awakened the sympathy of every
auditor; and in praise and honor of the creative genius of the drama an
inexhaustible cup was filling for the lips of all his lovers through
the coming centuries.

No sooner had the act closed than the conversation was resumed between
the two dramatists who had carried on the former discussion:

“‘The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns,’”
whispered Nash, “is much like the expression of Mortimer, who, upon
contemplation of death, says, in Edward II:

    ‘Weep not for Mortimer,
     That scorns the world, and, as a traveler,
     Goes to discover countries yet unknown.’”

“An apt parallelism,” remarked Jonson, and then slyly added, “But what
think you of the lines put in the mouths of the players?”

“In Scene II of Act II, of this Hamlet?” inquired Nash.

“Yes, Æneas’ tale to Dido.”

“I know not what to think of them.”

“Did not Marlowe begin the drama of Dido?”

“He did.”

“And you completed it, did you not?” questioned Jonson.

“I did,” answered Nash [note 37].

“Now, is not this speech of the players in ridicule of thy work?”

“Possibly,” answered Nash, somewhat nettled by the question. “I had no
love for the subject and pushed the work without inspiration; but no
one but Marlowe, methinks, would have taken offense at my weak closing
of his strong and poetic opening.”

“And the story of Troy was a fond one of his.”

“True, the famous Helen is the subject of conjuration in Faustus and is
spoken of in Tamburlaine.”

“And is not the same fondness displayed in Titus Andronicus, The
Merchant of Venice, King Henry IV, King Henry VI, Troilus and Cressida,
and the Tempest?”

“It is.”

“Well, then if thy supposition is correct that Marlowe instead of
Shakespere wrote this play of Hamlet, why is not my theory correct that
he is holding up thy extravagant lines in Dido to ridicule?” [note 48]

“But, how can that be possible?” retorted Nash, “while I may be
inclined to believe that Marlowe wrote this play, it could not have
been since I completed his unfinished drama of Dido; for did he not die
in 1593?”

“Is there not good reason to dispute that death?”

“By what?”

“The internal evidence of this play.”

“And by what else?”

“The contradictory reports of his death.”

“And to what conclusion does all this tend?”

“That Marlowe still lives, an outcast, a fugitive from justice.”

“But why an outcast; why a fugitive?”

“What else would cause him to keep concealed?”

“Thou hast not answered the question.”

“Did he not offend the church? Were not direct charges made against
him? Was not the Queen apprised? Was not this but three days before his
disappearance? You know the charge?”

“Aye, blasphemy.”

“And see what the play reveals, bitter remembrances, personal griefs
and doubts, misanthropy in strongest sort. ‘The suits of woe,’ the
‘weary, stale, flat and unprofitable uses of this world,’ ‘contagious
blastments,’ the losing of ‘all mirth,’ ‘we fools of nature,’ ‘the
sleep of death,’ ‘the blister on the forehead of the once innocent
love,’ These are but the outpourings of one sick of the vanities of
life, hopeless of fame, bereft of all joys, and unsolaced by religion.”

“Bah! one in love can write of murder and madness.”

“True, as it may fit the story that he writes; but this is a drama
in which the light and dark could well mingle to the interest of the
auditors; but no, ’tis heavy with the fruit of gloomy philosophical
meditations provoked in a sensitive mind from brooding over some crime
more dark than that of blasphemy.”

“So! and possibly what?” asked Nash.

“The slaying of a human being,” answered Jonson.

“Murder by Marlowe?” ejaculated Nash.

A feminine cry arose in the box. It was stifled instantly, but it
stopped the conversation. The man at the front of the box shuddered,
and covered his face with his hands. He had almost turned his head at
this outcry, but he restrained himself for the moment. This inclination
to turn had been induced solely by the effect upon his ears, but
following it came a force to turn him that was irresistible. The cry
had shaken a chord that had been vibrated before, it seemed by the same
voice in similar outcry. It did not immediately flash upon him where
or under what circumstances he had heard it. No words had risen from
the lips of this woman, as yet to him unseen, to give character to the
cry she had just uttered, or to explain its occasion. But the one chord
that it vibrated within him trembled until the surrounding network of
memory became animated, and the tavern duel scene at the point where
Anne had thrown herself at the feet of her combative husband arose in
the mind of the man at the box’s edge. The woman behind him was Anne!
His head turned involuntarily with the thought. He saw her; and she,
with gaze centered upon his face, recognized him as Marlowe despite
the change he had effected in his natural appearance. He also saw the
eyes of Nash and Jonson fastened upon him, and in self preservation he
resumed the position which he had been faithfully maintaining until
this late moment.

The outcry had been induced by two causes, one was the climax
reached in the conversation of the two men which had been running on
disjointedly during the progress of the play, and the other was the
wounding of Laertes by Hamlet in the duel scene. They had occurred
simultaneously. She had caught the name of Marlowe in the conversation
near her and knew that the talk was of him; the contest with foils
between the two actors on the stage had absorbed her so that again she
seemed the helpless spectator of a duel to death. It was the old scene
over again in all its vivid reality. Laertes, of kindlier aspect than
Burbage, as Hamlet, had awakened her sympathies, and she saw him as an
embodied Marlowe. Then came the struggle, the exchange of rapiers and
the thrust through the doublet of Laertes that staggered him. At the
same time she heard the final words of Nash, and the cry had passed her
lips.

It is a wonder that a second cry had not escaped her when, closely
following this exhibition, the man in front had fastened his eyes upon
her, and she recognized the person whom for five years she had sought,
until, with heart fairly eaten out with the changeless subject of her
thoughts and the dejection of an apparently fruitless quest, she had
numbered him among the voiceless unreturning. But the vision of his
face seemed but the natural concomitant of what had just transpired.
Why should the Fates drag any other visage within the field either of
reality or illusion? If God worketh for a purpose, what else could
all the events transpiring within the Curtain on that day lead up to,
except the meeting of the lovers?

Controlled by an irresistible impulse, Anne left her chair, and coming
forward to where Marlowe was seated, fell on her knees beside him. The
closing peal of ordnance had sounded, and amid the prolonged applause
of the great house, the play had ended. The enthusiasm continued,
despite the recognition of it by the leading actors, who bowed again
and again from the stage’s front. It was more than this acknowledgment
of its demonstrative praise that the audience wanted. Only a portion of
the applause was for the actors, the rest was for the genius who had
raised the tremendous tragedy.

“Where is the author?”

“Let him come forth!”

Such were the cries that arose. But no one answered the appeal. From
his place behind one wing of the stage, Shakespere looked out upon
the tumult, and then his eyes wandered to the box wherein sat the
unknown creator of the drama. Was the latter not impelled toward public
recognition of the multitude’s applause?

He, Marlowe, was possessed with temporary elation over the enthusiasm
of the audience, and with the further knowledge that the one whom he
loved was now beside him. In his ecstasy, it seemed that he mingled
with the gods. The darkness in which he dwelt, and the mighty world,
voiceless as to himself and his merit, were as naught. The same spirit
that had filled and fired him in the production of the eternal drama,
again possessed him, and for once, but not again, he felt the crown of
laurel about his brows.



APPENDIX.


1 “A second Shakespere, not only because he rose like him from an actor
to be a maker of plays, * * * but also because * * * he seems to have a
resemblance to that clear unsophisticated wit that is natural to that
incomparable poet.”

    --Phillips in Theatrum Poetarum, p. 24, Ed. 1680.

2 “Collier considers that Marlowe would in this case (i. e. had he
lived) have become a formidable rival to Shakespere.”

    --Gervinus’ Shakespere Commentaries, p. 78.

3 “But the department of tragedy was dominated by a writer of superb
genius, Christopher Marlowe. Shakespere, whose powers ripened slowly,
may at the time when he wrote the ‘Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Love’s
Labor Lost,’ have well hesitated to dispute with Marlowe his special
province. Imitators and disciples had crowded around the master.”

    --Edward Dowden.

4 “If Marlowe had lived to finish his ‘Hero and Leander’ he might
perhaps have contested the palm with Shakespere in his ‘Venus and
Adonis’ and ‘Rape of Lucrece.’”

    --Malone.

5 “In his first stage Shakespere had dropped his plummet no deeper into
the sea of the spirit of man than Marlowe had sounded before him, and
in the channel of simple emotion no poet could cast surer line with
steadier hand than he.”

    --Swinburne’s “A Study of Shakespere,” p. 77.

“It [Richard III] is doubtless a better piece of work than Marlowe ever
did; I dare not say than Marlowe ever could have done. It is not for
any man to measure * * * what it is that Christopher Marlowe could not
have done; but dying as he did and when he did, etc.”

    --“A Study of Shakespere,” Swinburne 43.

6 “For my own part, I feel a strong persuasion, that with added years
and well directed efforts, he would have made a much nearer approach to
Shakespere than has yet been made by any of his countrymen.”

    --Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 55.

    7 Raise cavalieros higher than the clouds,
      And with the cannon break the frame of heaven;
      Batter the shining palace of the sun,
      And shiver all the starry firmament.

    --Second Part Tamburlaine II, 4.

      “Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,
      Till of this flat a mountain you have made,
      To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head
      Of blue Olympus.”

    --Hamlet III, 3.

      “Streams of blood
      As vast and deep as Euphrates or Nile.”

    --Tamburlaine V, 2.

    “Not tomb enough and continent
    To hide the slain.”

    --Hamlet IV, 4.

    8 “Weep Powles, thy Tamburlaine voutsafes to dye.
        * * * * * * * * *
       He and the plague contended for the game.
        * * * * * * * * *

       The graund disease disdained his Toade Conceit
       And smiling at his Tamburlaine contempt
       Sternly struck home the peremptory stroke.”

    --Harvey’s New Letter, September, 1593.

9 “It so fell out that in London streets, as he (Marlowe) proposed to
stab one, whom he owed a grudge unto, with his dagger, * * * he stabbed
his owne dagger into his owne head, etc.”

    --Thomas Beard’s “Theater of God’s Judgments,”
                        Edition First, 1597.

10 “As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a certain rivall of his,
so Christopher Marlow was stabbed to death by a bawdy servingman, a
rivall of his in his lewde love.”

    --Meres “Palladis Tamia,” etc., 1598.

11 “Not inferior to these was one Christopher Marlow, by profession
a playmaker, who, as it is reported, about 14 years ago wrote a book
against the Trinitie. It so happened that at Deptford, a little village
about 3 miles from London, as he meant to stab with his ponyard one
named Ingram, etc.”

    --Vaughan’s Golden Grove, etc., 1600.

    12 “As for the Worthies on his hoste’s wall,
       He knows three worthy drunkards pass them all;
       The first of them in many a tavern tried,
       At last subdued by Aquavitæ died.”

    --Sam’l Rowland (published 1600).

13 “He (Ben Jonson) killed Mr. Marlow, ye poet, on Bunhill, coming from
the Green Curtain play house.”

    --Aubrey’s “Lives of Eminent Men,” citing Sr. Ed. Sherburne, p. 415.

14 “Christopher Marlow, slaine by Francis Frazer; sep. 1 of June,
1593.” This entry from the burial register of the church of St.
Nicholas, Deptford, was kindly furnished me by the present pastor, Rev.
William Chandler. The surname “Frazer” had been given to the world
by Dyce and others as “Archer” and is so printed in the Encyclopedia
Britannica, but such is a misreading.

    --The Author.

15 “Idiote art masters that intrude themselves to our ears as the
alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think
to outbrave better pens with the swelling bumbast of a bragging blank
verse.”

    --Nash’s Introduction to Greene’s Menaphon, 1587 (Grosart’s
        Nashe I, XX).

“And he that cannot write true English without the help of clerks of
parish churches, will needs make himself the father of interludes. O,
’tis a jolly matter when a man hath a familiar style, and can endite a
whole year, and not be beholden to art.”

    --Greene’s Farewell to Folly (1587).

“It’s a common practice now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting
companions, that run through every art and thrive at none, to leave the
trade of noverint whereto they were born and busy themselves with the
endeavors of art, that could scarcely Latinize their neck-verse, if
they should have need. Yet English Seneca, read by candle light, yields
many good sentences, etc.”

    --Nash (1587).

    16 “From jigging veins of rhyming mother wits,
        And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,
        We’ll lead you to the stately tent of war.”

    --Prologue to Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Part First.

17 “Before him there was neither genuine blank verse nor a genuine
tragedy in our language.”

    --Article on Marlowe, Ency. Britannica, vol. XV, p. 556.

“That fiery reformer who wrought on the old English stage no less a
miracle than Hernani on the French stage in the days of our fathers.”

    --Swinburne’s “Study of Shakespere,” p. 31.

    18 “Quicke-sighted spirits,--this supposed Appolo,--
        Conceit no other, but the admired Marlo;
        Marlo admired, whose honney-flowing vein
        No English writer can as yet attaine.”

    --Henry Petowe, Second Part, “Hero and Leander,” 1598.

    19 “Now (as swift as Time
        Doth follow Motion) find th’ eternal clime
        Of his free soul, whose living subject stood
        Up to the chin in the Pierian flood,
        And drunk to me half this Musean story
        Inscribing it to deathless memory.”

    --Chapman’s Third Sestiad to Marlowe’s Hero and Leander.

    20 “Unhappy in thine end,
        Marley, the Muses’ darling for thy verse,
        Fit to write passions for the souls below,
        If any wretched souls in passion speak.”

    --George Peele “Prologue to the Honour of the Garter.”

21 “The impression of the man that hath been dear unto us, living an
after life in our memory, etc.”

    --Blunt’s Dedication of Hero and Leander, 1598.

    22 “Is it a dream? or is the Highest minde
        That ever haunted Pauls, or haunted winde
        Bereft of that same sky-surmounting breath,
        That breath that taught the Timpany to swell?”

    --“Sonet Gorgon,” Gabriel Harvey, 1593.

    23 “Dead Musæus’ gracious song.”

    --Henry Chettle.

    24 “Next Marlow, bathed in the Thespian springs,
        Had in him those brave translunary things
        That the first poets had; his raptures were
        All air and fire which made his verses clear.”

    --Michael Drayton’s Epistle, etc.

25 Ben Jonson’s commendatory verses prefixed to the Folio Edition of
1623, cannot be included among the contemporary notices. They were
not written until seven years after Shakespere’s death. Ben Jonson
failed to write aught about Shakespere while the latter lived. His
sneers at the early “Shakespere plays,” as shown in the Prologue
to “Every Man In His Humor” and his sonnet “On Poet-Ape,” are too
well known to need quotation; and, being a “contemner and scorner of
others,” one must look to self interest as being the motive for the
production of those commendatory lines to his “beloved, the author,
Master William Shakespere.” Was not this self interest a financial
one in the Shakespere plays? Shakespere died in 1616. The first folio
edition appeared in 1623. The address, therein, attributed by Malone
and many other commentators, to Jonson, recited that the plays are now
offered to “view cured and perfect of their limbs,” and “we have scarce
received from him a blot in his papers.” If these statements were true
of manuscripts, unmentioned in the will of Shakespere, and “collected”
by Heminge and Condell from the playhouses, it must be that some master
mind arranged, revised and recopied them during the seven years between
Shakespere’s death and this publication. From the date of the death
of Shakespere (1616) to 1625, “Jonson did not write one line for the
stage!” It was this revision that kept him silent, and as editor of the
folio edition he sought for reimbursement for his labors in its sale.
“But whatever you do, buy,” reads the address in that edition; and the
commendatory verses are praise enough to excite purchases.

Quarto editions of what are now termed the genuine, and also of what
are now termed the spurious plays, had been appearing for an interval
of twenty-five years, with the announcement on their title pages
of being “newly arranged by,” or “written by” William Shakespere.
The claims announced on these title pages appear never to have been
disputed by Shakespere. “A Yorkshire Tragedy,” “The London Prodigal,”
and “The First Part of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle” were so
published as his work. Then followed the collection of dramas in the
edition of 1623. Jonson may, or may not, have known the real facts of
the authorship. If he knew that some persons, other than Shakespere,
were the authors, he went only a step further than he did in his
address in “Sejanus,” where he fails to mention the name of the “happy
genius” who wrote that tragedy with him; but his own molding of the
play has not destroyed the trace of Marlowe’s elemental wit therein.
We would rather attribute to Jonson ignorance of the authorship of
the plays, and in this ignorance assigning them to the Manager of the
Globe, than to place him on the level of the Archbishop who ordered
Marlowe’s translation of the “Amores” burnt, or of Richard Bame,
who wrote the accusation of blasphemy, or of those unknown and more
powerful persons, either of Church or State, who labored to blot out of
memory the daring and impious Marlowe.

The copy of the second folio edition (1632), containing emendations
of the original text, as given to the world by Mr. Collier, if
genuine, contains evidence of my theory of Ben Jonson’s editing the
earliest edition of the plays. This copy contained interlineations
and corrections of text which could have been made only by an editor
with the manuscript before him, or by a student deeply versed. The
handwriting displayed in these emendations is a facsimile of Ben
Jonson’s.

    --The Author.

For comparison, a portion of a facsimile page of emendations in
Collier’s volume, and some of the writing of Jonson, are here printed:

[Illustration:

  Enter Charles, Alanson, Burgundie, Bastard,
  and Pucell

  _Char._ Had Yorke and Somerset brought rescue in,
  We should have found a bloody day of this.

  _Bast._ How the yong welpe of _Talbots_ raging wood,
  Did flesh his punie-sword in Frenchmens blood.

  _Puc._ Once I encountred him, and thus I said:
  Thou Maiden youth, be vanquisht by a Maide.
  But with a proud Majesticall high scorne
  He answer’d thus: Yong _Talbot_ was not borne
  To be the pillage of a Giglot Wench,
  He left me proudly, as unworthy fight.

  _Bur._ Doubtlesse he would have made a noble Knight:
  See where he lyes inherced in armes
  Of the most bloody Nursser of his harmes.

  Hos ego versiculos feci.
  Ben: Jonson.]

26 “This view was embraced by Frederic Schlegel in his history of
Literature. He perceived in Shakespere a nature deeply sensitive and
austerely tragic, a disposition isolated, reserved and solitary.”

    --Gervinus, 480.

27 Editions appeared during these years of Edward II, The Massacre of
Paris, and Dido, all bearing the name of Marlowe on their title pages.

    --Bullen’s Marlowe.

28 Titus Andronicus was published in 1594; Romeo and Juliet, 1597;
Richard II, 1597; Richard III, 1597. No name of author was on their
title pages.

    --Fleay’s Life and Character of Shakespere.
        Halliwell-Phillipps Outlines chap. “Life
        Time Editions.”

29 The first published drama bearing Shakespere’s name was Love’s Labor
Lost, 1598. “Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere,” were the
words on the title page.

    --Fleay’s Life and Character of Shakespere.--Outlines,
        chapter “Life Time Editions.”

30 “Like Sir Walter Raleigh, and a few less memorable men of the
same generation, he was attacked in his own time, not merely as a
free-thinker, but as a propagandist or apostle of atheism; nor was the
irregularity of his life thought worthier of animadversion than the
uncertainty of his livelihood.”

    --Article “Marlowe,” Encyclopedia Britannica.

31 This accusation is among the Harleian MSS., 6853, fol. 320, and is
entitled “A note containing the opinion of one Christopher Marlye,
concerning his damnable opinions and judgment of relygion and scorne of
God’s worde.” On it is also a memorandum that within three days after
its delivery, Marlowe “came to a soden and fearfull end of his life.”
It is endorsed “Copy of Marlowes blasphenyes as sent to her Highness.”
A great portion of it is too abominable to be printed.

    --Dyce’s Marlowe.
    --Bullen’s Marlowe.

32 There are only five known signatures of Wm. Shakespere, and no other
written words or manuscript known to be by his hand. The scrawls are
scarcely decipherable and strongly at variance with the statement made
by Heminge and Condell in the First Folio Edition of the Plays: “His
mind and hand went together, and what he thought he wrote with that
easiness, that we have scarce received from him a blot in his papers.”

33 “His face was like a rotten russet apple when it is bruised,” and he
was described by himself as remarkable for

    “His mountain belly and his rocky face.”

He was “wont to wear a coat with slits under the armpits.”

    --Knight’s London, vol. I, 367.

34 This Act of 1593 “enacted the penalty of imprisonment against any
person above the age of 16 who should forbear for the space of one
month to repair to some church, etc. Those who refused to submit to
these conditions were to abjure the realm, and if they should return
without the queen’s license, to suffer death as felons.”

    --Hallam’s Constitutional History, vol. I, 215. 35 Elizabeth, c. 1.

35 All the commentators have taken it for an indisputable fact that
Green in his Groatsworth of Wit meant Shakespere when he attacked
some unnamed dramatist as one whose “Tyger’s heart” was “wrapt in a
player’s hide.” Dyce says that no one can hesitate to believe that
Green was speaking of Shakespere. Then he demonstrates that the
play wherein the above words first appeared (“The True Tragedie of
Richard Duke of York”) was written by Marlowe, and so says Hallam;
and even Halliwell-Phillipps asserts that the line above quoted has
the true Marlowean ring. Taking that fact as proven, it is difficult
to believe that the writer whom Green thus attacked as “able to
bumbast out a blanke verse,” was any other than the dramatist whom
Nashe, in his epistle in Greene’s Menaphone, attacked in 1587, for the
“swelling bumbast of a bragging blank verse” (See note 15 herein).
The trouble with all these commentators seems to be that, seeing the
word “Shake-scene,” in Green’s lines, as descriptive of this bombastic
writer, they are unable to understand why the syllable “Shake” should
have been used unless Shakespere was meant. “Shakescene” means no more
than an actor who “shook the stage,” and the complaint against him was
the same as the earlier one of Nashe’s above alluded to. This earlier
one appeared during the year that Shakespere, just arrived from his
country home, was holding horses before the Green Curtaine theater. The
commentators agree that the first attack (note 15) was directed against
Marlowe. See Gervinus (p. 77), who speaks of the “general uproar of
envy and ridicule raised” against Marlowe’s “drumming decasyllabons.”
(Also see Bullen’s Marlowe, p. 17). I contend that the later attack was
also upon Marlowe.

    --The Author.

36 Stratford on Avon was in the time of Shakespere’s youth “a bookless
neighborhood.”

    --Halliwell-Phillipps Outlines, p. 88.
        See also Id. p. 1 and 2.

37 “I consider myself bound to believe, till some positive proof be
produced to the contrary, that Dido was completed for the stage by Nash
after the decease of Marlowe.”

    --Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 36.

“But Chapman had also been busy with a continuation of Marlowe’s
‘half-told tale.’”

    --Dyce’s Marlowe, p. 42.

38. “It is a comfort to know that the ruffian who drew up the charges,
a certain ‘Rychard Bame’, was hanged at Tyburn on 6th December, 1594.
Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and
position. It was a deliberate attempt on the part of some fanatics to
induce the public authorities to institute a prosecution for blasphemy
against the poet.”

    --Bullen’s Marlowe, p. 69.

39 The passage which, upon being read by the condemned, would entitle
him to liberation. See Benefit of Clergy.

40 In Watts v. Brains, 2 Croke, 778, the jury returned a verdict of
not guilty, but were sent back and brought in a verdict of guilty. The
defendant was hanged and the jury fined.

41. For evidence of similarity in rhythm, diction and thought read the
parallel passages at the heads of each chapter of this book.

    42 “Black is the beauty of the brightest day;
        The golden ball of Heaven’s eternal fire,
        That danced with glory on the silver waves,
        Now wants the fuel that inflamed his beams;
        And all for faintness and for foul disgrace,
        He blinds his temples with a frowning cloud,
        Ready to darken earth with endless night.”

    --II Tamburlaine, II, 5.

       “The gaudy, babbling and remorseful day
        Is crept into the bosom of the sea,
        And now long howling wolves arouse the jades
        That drag the tragic melancholy night;
        Who with their drowsy slow and flagging wings
        Clip dead men’s graves, and from their misty jaws
        Breathe foul contagious darkness in the air.”

    --Second Part Henry VI.

    Aut Christopherus Marlowe, aut diabolus, “A study of Shakespere,”
    by Swinburne, p. 52.

43 “Mr. Fleay believes him [the writer of the plays] to have been a
partner of Shakespere, whose name so far is undiscoverable.”

    --Morgan’s “Shakespere In Fact and In Criticism,”  p. 18.

44 “There were tiers of galleries or scaffolds; beneath these, the
boxes or rooms intended for persons of the higher class, and which at
the private theaters were secured with locks, the keys being given to
the individuals who engaged them.”

    --Dyce’s Shakespere, p. 41.

45 “The top of his performance was the ghost in Hamlet.”

    --Rowe’s Life of Shakespere.

46. “I wonder that the commentators should have overlooked so obvious
an origin of this passage as Lucan’s description (Pharsalia lib. 1) of
the prodigies which preceded the death of Cæsar.”

    --Note in Furness’ Variorum, vol. 3, p. 17 (Hunter II, 214).

47 Marlowe’s translation of Lucan’s Pharsalia was first published in
1600. “Lucan’s First Booke Translated Line for Line by Chr. Marlow, at
London, 1600.”

    --Bullen’s Marlowe, vol. 3, p. 250.

48 “I hold then, that the object which Shakespere had in view in
introducing this speech into Hamlet was to expose the weakness of his
opponent Nash as a playwright.”

    --Fleay, Macmillan’s Magazine, Dec., 1874.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] “Study of Shakespere,” by Swinburne, p. 52.

[2] Thomas Beard’s, the Puritan, Account of Marlowe’s Death in Bullen’s
Marlowe, p. 63.

[3] The performance commenced at 3 o’clock.--Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1,
p. 45.

[4] A nest of alleys near the bottom of St. Martin’s Lane, so called by
Jonson.--Knight’s London, vol. 1, p. 369.

[5] Stow’s Survey, Ed. 1633, p. 470.

[6] Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1, p. 40.

[7] Taine’s History of English Literature, Book II, chap. 2.

[8] Induction to Cynthia’s Revels. Ben Jonson.

[9] Dyce’s Shakespere, vol. 1, p. 40.

[10] See note 15.

[11] See note 15.

[12] Swinburne’s Study of Shakespere, p. 24.

[13] “He trod the stage with applause.”--Langbaine.

[14] See notes 18 to 24.

[15] Hallam and Lamb.

[16] See note 35.

[17] Dyce’s Marlowe, Bullen’s Marlowe.

[18] “Doubtless Bame was backed by some person or persons of power and
position.”--Bullen’s Marlowe, Introduction, lxix.

[19] “The Atheist’s Tragedie,” vol. iii.--Bullen’s Marlowe.

[20] Jew of Malta, Act. I.

[21] Halliwell-Phillipp’s Outlines, 105.

[22] Bullen’s Marlowe, Introduction, 58.

[23] 14 Eliz. c. 5 (1572).

[24] Id.

[25] “The earliest legitimate theater south of the Thames; opened early
in 1592”--Halliwell-Phillipp’s Outlines, p. 79.

[26] So held in the case of the Dean of Asaph as the law; but the
doctrine was vigorously attacked by Erskine in his great speech on the
“Rights on Juries.” See British Eloquence by Goodrich, pp. 655-683.

[27] Chamber’s Enc. Eng. Lit., vol 1, 176.

[28]

    And hell itself breathes out contagion to this world.

    --Hamlet, ii, 2.


[29]

    “Now could I drink hot blood.”

    --Hamlet iii, 2.

“That you may drink your fill and quaff in blood.”

    --Edward II., iii, 2.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.





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