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How Mabel Escaped From The Cave With Sir Thomas Wyat








The next day Mabel was set at liberty by her gaoler, and the hours flew
by without the opportunity of escape, for which she sighed, occurring to
her. As night drew on, she became more anxious, and at last expressed a
wish to retire to her cell. When about to fasten the door, Fenwolf found
that the lock had got strained, and the bolts would not move, and he was
therefore obliged to content himself with placing a bench against it, on
which he took a seat.

About an hour after Mabel's retirement, old Tristram offered to relieve
guard with Fenwolf, but this the other positively declined, and leaning
against the door, disposed himself to slumber. Tristram then threw
himself on the floor, and in a short time all seemed buried in repose.

By-and-by, however, when Fenwolf's heavy breathing gave token of the
soundness of his sleep, Tristram raised himself upon his elbow, and
gazed round. The lamp placed upon the table imperfectly illumined the
cavern, for the fire which had been lighted to cook the evening meal
had gone out completely. Getting up cautiously, and drawing his
hunting-knife, the old man crept towards Fenwolf, apparently with the
intent of stabbing him, but he suddenly changed his resolution, and
dropped his arm.

At that moment, as if preternaturally warned, Fenwolf opened his eyes,
and seeing the old forester standing by, sprang upon him, and seized him
by the throat.

"Ah traitor!" he exclaimed; "what are you about to do?"

"I am no traitor," replied the old man. "I heard a noise in the passage
leading to Wyat's cell, and was about to rouse you, when you awakened of
your own accord, probably disturbed by the noise."

"It may be," replied Fenwolf, satisfied with the excuse, and
relinquishing his grasp. "I fancied I heard something in my dreams. But
come with me to Wyat's cell. I will not leave you here."

And snatching up the lamp, he hurried with Tristram into the passage.
They were scarcely gone, when the door of the cell was opened by Mabel,
who had overheard what had passed; and so hurriedly did she issue
forth that she over-turned the bench, which fell to the ground with
a considerable clatter. She had only just time to replace it, and to
conceal herself in an adjoining passage, when Fenwolf rushed back into
the cavern.

"It was a false alarm," he cried. "I saw Sir Thomas Wyat in his cell
through the loop-hole, and I have brought the key away with me. But I am
sure I heard a noise here."

"It must have been mere fancy," said Tristram. "All is as we left it."

"It seems so, certes," replied Fenwolf doubtfully. "But I will make
sure."

While he placed his ear to the door, Mabel gave a signal to Tristram
that she was safe. Persuaded that he heard some sound in the chamber,
Fenwolf nodded to Tristram that all was right, and resumed his seat.

In less than ten minutes he was again asleep. Mabel then emerged from
her concealment, and cautiously approached Tristram, who feigned, also,
to slumber. As she approached him, he rose noiselessly to his feet.

"The plan has succeeded," he said in a low tone. "It was I who spoiled
the lock. But come with me. I will lead you out of the cavern."

"Not without Sir Thomas Wyat," she replied; "I will not leave him here."

"You will only expose yourself to risk, and fail to deliver him,"
rejoined Tristram. "Fenwolf has the key of his cell. Nay, if you are
determined upon it, I will not hinder you. But you must find your own
way out, for I shall not assist Sir Thomas Wyat."

Motioning him to silence, Mabel crept slowly, and on the points of her
feet, towards Fenwolf.

The key was in his girdle. Leaning over him, she suddenly and
dexterously plucked it forth.

At the very moment she possessed herself of it, Fenwolf stirred, and she
dived down, and concealed herself beneath the table. Fenwolf, who had
been only slightly disturbed, looked up, and seeing Tristram in his
former position, which he had resumed when Mabel commenced her task,
again disposed himself to slumber.

Waiting till she was assured of the soundness of his repose, Mabel crept
from under the table, signed to Tristram to remain where he was, and
glided with swift and noiseless footsteps down the passage leading to
the cell.

In a moment, she was at the door--the key was in the lock--and she stood
before Sir Thomas Wyat.

A few words sufficed to explain to the astonished knight how she came
there, and comprehending that not a moment was to be lost, he followed
her forth.

In the passage, they held a brief consultation together in a low tone,
as to the best means of escape, for they deemed it useless to apply to
Tristram. The outlet with which Sir Thomas Wyat was acquainted lay
on the other side of the cavern; nor did he know how to discover the
particular passage leading to it.

As to Mabel, she could offer no information, but she knew that the
stable lay in an adjoining passage.

Recollecting, from former experience, how well the steeds were trained,
Sir Thomas Wyat eagerly caught at the suggestion, and Mabel led him
farther down the passage, and striking off through an opening on the
left, brought him, after a few turns, to a large chamber, in which two
or three black horses were kept.

Loosening one of them, Wyat placed a bridle on his neck, sprang upon his
back, and took up Mabel beside him. He then struck his heels against the
sides of the animal, who needed no further incitement to dash along the
passage, and in a few seconds brought them into the cavern.

The trampling of the horse wakened Fenwolf, who started to his feet,
and ran after them, shouting furiously. But he was too late. Goaded
by Wyat's dagger, the steed dashed furiously on, and plunging with its
double burden into the pool at the bottom of the cavern, disappeared.





Next: Of The Desperate Resolution Formed By Tristram And Fenwolf And How The Train Was Laid

Previous: How Sir Thomas Wyat Was Visited By Herne In The Cell



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