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THE KNIGHT-BARONET.

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[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] THE KNIGHT-BARONET. AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE OF OLD-TIME CHESTER. B Y EUSTACE de SALIS. 4 BOOK III. CHAPTER XII. (Continued). The rebels have not ventured to attack us for some considerable time past," Charles Walley rejoined, looking round the table. Mayhap they will soon get tired of sitting outside our gates doing nothing but longing to get in." The baronet sent us a very threatening sum- mons—not that I would place much importance on the tone of his communication-nearly a month ago. After an interval of five days, seeing we took no notice of the demand, he despatched another summons, in reply to which we remitted the answer that we would treat with him if the King did not send us relief within twelve days. At the same time we asked for a pass for a messenger to travel express to his Majesty." Well, my lord, that request was refused," oried Thomas Mottershead, "and despite the threatening tone of Sir William Brereton's mes- sage we still hold out. He will soon get tired of waiting "The rebels will sit outside," Lord Byron re- plied impressively, until we let them in, even if they have to wait till doomsday. They can get everything they want; their quarters are most comfortable. All they need is a little patience, for they know-none better-that we have come to the end of our resources at last, and that it can only be a question of time, of days, how much longer we can oppose them." "Food? Aye, that is the rub," said Thomas Throppe, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "But when you add the want of that to a total lack of ammunition and other warlike stores, why —— there it is," he added in a lame fashion. "Food and ammunition! And the need of both to be our undoing," exclaimed Sir Robert Brerewood. Could we not send a—a—what do you call it?—a search party or whatever else it is to bring in provisions?" Lord Byron smiled and shook his head slowly in reply. Anyone could see that despite his personal acquaintance with the stern necessities of war the learned Recorder still remained the lawyer. No hope in that quarter at all. We could not stir half a mile outside our Walls in any direction you might like to name without tumbling into the arms of some strong body of the enemy, posted in that particular locality for the express purpose of preventing us from obtaining food of any description. Be guided by me, gentlemen; and agree to answer this last summons. I can quite," Lord Byron continued earnestly, understand your reluctance to meet the rebellious baronet. But surely you have now had sufficient experience in these matters to realise that one side must always loso. Unhappily we are that side." Let us try an embassy to his Majesty before we decide to take any steps for treating with Sir William Brereton," Charles Walley urged. "The King can sureiy never consent to our being abandoned. When he learns exactly how matters stand with us he will most certainly send to our assistance." Mr. Mayor," said Lord Byron-for although Charles Walley's term in that office had expired four months previously, still, owing to the dis- ordered and Unsettled condition of the city, attendant on its state of siege, no successor had been appointed, both he and his associates of the previous year being permitted to continue in their respective positions-" Mr. Mayor, I would be the very first to assent to your proposition if I thought it would be productive of the least good. It cannot. We have first to get-I tell you plainly an impossible task—our courier past the rebel lines, and he will then have to find the King. The countrv is swarming with victorioui bodies of the enemy. In sending a fellow-citizen to seek Charles you will be sending him to certain death." Hah," muttered Thomas Cowper. I for one will never take that responsibility on myself— I mean authorising the despatch of a messenger." Remember," the Governor went on, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We have left no stone unturned in our efforts to maintain this city for his Majesty's use. Fate has been too strong for us, and like many others in the past, aye, and many more in years yet to come, we must bow our heads and submit to the decrees of Provi- dence. I have nothing to lose by the adoption of either course. In fact I have everything to gain by continuing the struggle. I am con- strained by no ties either of blood or friendship, and it is this very fact which makes me urge the step I do. I cannot avoid realising that, much ,as you have suffered in the past, if we reject the rebel demands, it will mean that your wives and your little ones will be condemned to a cruel and lingering death. Even then you will eventually have to give in. Then, when ruined, stricken in body, mind, and purse, you will curse me and ask why I did not place this fact plainly before you sa soon as I had foreseen it." "We are fairly well ruined now, if it comes to that," Randle Holme the third remarked quietly. "I have been making a rough calculation as to our losses. Taking everything into account, I find it cannot be less than two hundred thousand pounds. Probably if the figures were minutely examined the total would work out much higher." My God," cried William Ince. Two hundred thousand pounds! How many years of peace and prosperity will it take for us to regain our fotmer position? Chester will never recover herself in our time I fear." And to that you may add the terrible loss of life," said Thomas Throppe. We have not a quarter of our normal population, in spite of the presence of a large number of foreign soldiery in our midst." You see how serious the position really is," the Governor added. "If you yield now I will take care we get the most generous terms. But if you oppose my suggestion, we shall later have to accept any offer that the rebels may see fit to fling at us. You must not think only of your- selves in this matter, gentlemen. Besides your families, there are our gallant troops to be con- sidered. Their discomforts and their hardships- cheerfully and uncomplainingly borne—have been ten times more grievous than yours. If your future looks black, theirs looks hopeless." "Well, what about the terms?" asked William Ince, on whom the Governor's remarks had made a sensible impression. 'Tis a bit early to discuss that matter. You may, however, leave it to me. I can with safety assure you that we shall obtain conditions far in exoess of what even the most sanguine of you probably look for." If there is any disagreement on either side," cried Thomas Mottershead, as we have a lawyer in our midst, I propose he be retained to arbitrate. Robert Brerewood," the ex-Sheriff went on, turning to the Recorder, if you are appointed you hold the brief for us, mind. Bnng all your legal tricks and wiles into play, and I have not the slightest doubt but that the baronet's victory will be shorn of half its glory." Your decision, gentlemen, please. There is no time to be lost." We will leave the matter there, my lord," said Charles Walley. You are empowered to treat with Sir William Brereton. Let the latter nominate his Commissioners and we will do like- wise. When the terms have been agreed upon between the two parties, let them be placed before a representative meeting of the inhabitants, to be either confirmed or refused. What say you?" appealing to the assembly generally. "I am quite agreeable," was Lord Byron's reply, although I would remind your Worship that I can treat without reference to any parties or decisions, unfavourable or otherwise. I merely mention this fact to shew that I am not taking the high hand. I am acting in your best interests, and you will do me the credit to believe that nothing but the hopelessness of our situation would induce me to so much as discuss this matter—even amongst ourselves. I had his Majesty's instructions on the point long ago. Charles said ten days "Aye, so he did. We need not, however, pay much attention to what he said," Thomas Motter- shead interrupted. "If I remember aright, he also made some promises of sending us assistance without loss of time. Where is it, I should like to know?" There are a good many things one way and another we should all like to know! For instance, I formerly heard a deal of Thomas Mottershead and Thomas Mottershead's unswerving loyalty," said the Recorder. Was it such a pitiful senti- ment that the first breath of adversity swept it a way Y" I claim my right to speak out my mind. All can bear witness that I have never shirked my duty, nor been behindhand when dangerous work had to be performed. You are safe enough, Robert Brerewood, with your knighthood, your Recordership and your Welsh Judgeship—not to mention your Common-Pleaa appointment." Come, come, Thomas Mottershead; I spoke but in jest. Nothing was further from my thoughts than to wound your feelings. But for heaven's sake remember we are deep enough in trouble without your adding to our worries by perpetual railings against his I opine Charles cares very little for my com- mendation. It is also very certain my strictures will not affect him in the slightest degree, and ao -You claim the right to grumble to your heart's content? Be it so then. You do not mean what you say. To my mind 'tis a great pity that stout-in more senses than one-old Thomas Mottershead should lay himself open to being regarded, by those who are imperfectly acquainted with his failings, as a malcontent." The negotiations," Lord Byron interposed, looking up from some memoranda he had been making, will doubtless take some days. We must not shew our hands, or appear to be too anxious to come to terms, else the rebels will certainly raise their demands." The remark comes opportunely. Do we keep quiet concerning the resolution we have come to," asked Thomas Cowper, or are we at liberty to let it be known throughout the city?" "I would recommend the greatest secrecy being observed," was Lord Byron's reply. "I think it is fairly well known we have some very discontented rascals amongst us, and if these latter get to hear of our projected step there is no saying but, with a desire to curry favour with Sir William Brereton, they might not open the gates before our arrangements had been completed." You are a stranger, my lord," cried Charles Walley hotly, nettled at the Governor's significant intimation that the city authorities had in reality no lacu. standi in the question of negotiating with the rebel commander. You are a stranger to our people, and view them from rather a low standpoint." Perhaps," was the dry rejoinder. But, remembering the riot of three and a half years back; remembering also that two of your most influential aldermen are amongst the baronet's warmest supporters; remembering again that only a very short while back some of your people spread a report, and others believed it, that I was living in luxury whilst they themselves starved, and not oontent with the bare statement, pro- ceeded to raise a tumult-remembering these facts and many others, I think you will allow that, although your Cestrian flock may be as white as driven snow, yet it contains more than one black sheep. I have not the slightest desire to disparage either your city or her denizens. I have the highest opinion of both. But this does not in any way convince me that I have libelled either in stating my conviction that in your midst you have some very dangerous ruffians." Understand me plainly, my lord," the Mayor exclaimed, now thoroughly angered at the Governor's cutting remarks. I pledge myself in no way until I see the terms of the capitula- tion. If-" "Your worship may rest perfectly at ease in your mind. I will see that your honour is in no way outraged. As to your assent or refusal to accept the conditions: I take it that in this, as in all other cases, the wishes of the majority will obtain." What is the use of your carrying on like that, Charles Walley?" Thomas Mottershead asked with some surprise. Man alive, Lord Byron has done his utmost to assist us out of this hobble; and yet you fly at him as if you thought he was acting in a dishonourable fashion. Dear me," the ex-Sheriff added regretfully, apparently quite oblivious of his own failing in that respect, some men appear never to know when they have said sufficient. We must throw down our arms, and there, to my mind, is an end of the matter." (To be continued.) COMMENCED IN No. 11,372, AUGUST 2ND, 1899.

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