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Historical Tales, Vol. 4 (of 15) by Charles Morris

And two more of the proscribed escaped


"Who

are the six? And what have they done that they should be beyond mercy?"

"They were concerned in the death of Rainsborough. I do not desire their death, but Cromwell is incensed against them."

He named the six. They were Colonel Morrice, Sir John Digby, and four others who had been in the party of twelve.

"These must be delivered up without conditions," he continued. "The rest of you may return to your homes, and apply to the Parliament for release from all prosecution. In this I will lend you my aid."

The leaders of the garrison debated this proposal, and after a short time returned their answer.

"We acknowledge your clemency and courtesy," they said, "and would be glad to accept your terms did they not involve a base desertion of some of our fellows. We cannot do as you say, but will make this offer. Give us six days, and let these six men do what they can to deliver themselves, we to have the privilege of assisting them. This much we ask for our honor."

"Do you agree to surrender the castle and all within it at the end of that time?" asked Lambert.

"We pledge ourselves to that."

"Then I accept your proposal. Six days' grace shall be allowed you."

Just what they proposed

to do for the release of their proscribed companions did not appear. The castle was closely and strongly invested, and these men were neither rats nor birds. How did they hope to escape?

The first day of the six passed and nothing was done. A strong party of the garrison had made its appearance two or three times, as if resolved upon a sally; but each time they retired, apparently not liking the outlook. On the second day they were bolder. They suddenly appeared at a different point from that threatened the day before, and attacked the besiegers with such spirit as to drive them from their posts, both sides losing men. In the end the sallying party was driven back, but two of the six--Morrice being one--had broken through and made their escape. The other four were forced to retire.

Two days now passed without a movement on the part of the garrison. Four of the six men still remained in the castle. The evening of the fourth day came. The gloom of night gathered. Suddenly a strong party from the garrison emerged from a sally-port and rushed upon the lines of the besiegers with such fire and energy that they were for a time broken, and two more of the proscribed escaped. The others were driven back.

The morning of the fifth day dawned. Four days had gone, and four of the proscribed men were free. How were the other two to gain their liberty? The method so far pursued could scarcely be successful again. The besiegers would be too heedfully on the alert. Some of the garrison had lost their lives in aiding the four to escape. It was too dangerous an experiment to be repeated, with their lives assured them if they remained in the castle. What was to be done for the safety of the other two? The matter was thoroughly debated and a plan devised.


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