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68. Cromwell's House. (continued)
"I thought your excellence considered the death of Charles I. as a misfortune necessary to the welfare of England."
"Yes, his death; but it would have been more seemly not upon the scaffold."
"Why so?" asked Mordaunt.
Cromwell smiled. "Because it could have been said that I had had him condemned for the sake of justice and had let him escape out of pity."
"But if he had escaped?"
"Impossible; my precautions were taken."
"And does your honor know the four men who undertook to rescue him?"
"The four Frenchmen, of whom two were sent by the queen to her husband and two by Mazarin to me."
"And do you think Mazarin commissioned them to act as they have done?"
"It is possible. But he will not avow it."
"Because they failed."
"Your honor gave me two of these Frenchmen when they were only guilty of fighting for Charles I. Now that they are guilty of a conspiracy against England will your honor give me all four of them?"
"Take them," said Cromwell.
Mordaunt bowed with a smile of triumphant ferocity.
"Did the people shout at all?" Cromwell asked.
"Very little, except `Long live Cromwell!'"
"Where were you placed?"
Mordaunt tried for a moment to read in the general's face if this was simply a useless question, or whether he knew everything. But his piercing eyes could by no means penetrate the sombre depths of Cromwell's.
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