The Sheriff Tells Mrs. Lewis She Has But One Hour to Live
Now when the time drew near for her death (the writ for her burning having been brought down from London), Mrs. Lewis asked certain of her friends to come to her prison chamber, that she might talk with them for the last time. All the night before her execution she was wonderfully cheerful, and yet withal showed a certain gravity, spending the time talking with them and in prayer.
At about eight o'clock in the morning, the sheriff came to the cell without warning, and said, "Mistress Lewis, I am come to bring you tidings of the queen's command, which is, that you have but one hour more to live in this would,--therefore prepare yourself."
These harsh words, being so suddenly spoken, by such a personage, alarmed and startled the poor prisoner for a moment, but one of her friends standing by her side said, "Thank God that He will so speedily take thee out of this wicked world, and make thee a witness of Hid truth." Then Mrs. Lewis, recovering herself, said to the sheriff, "Master Sheriff, your message is welcome to me, and I thank God that He has thought me worthy to venture my life in His cause." Then the sheriff left her; and when the hour was up he came again, with men bearing swords and pikes. And when he came into her chamber, some of her friends begged leave of him to go with the prisoner to the stake, to comfort her. This request the sheriff granted, after considering for a moment, but he was much blamed for it by the queen's commissioners.
Now, Mrs. Lewis was led through the town, and a great crowd of people surrounded her. She was accompanied by two of her friends, who walked with her all the way to the place of burning. And because the place was far off, and the throng of people great, and she not accustomed to the fresh air--having been so long in prison--one of her friends sent a messenger to the sheriff's house for some drink to give her--for which kind act they were like to have been arrested afterward, but escaped punishment.
Then the woman was fastened to the stake with a chain, but all the while showed such cheerfulness, that it passed men's understanding; being so devoid of fear, and so patient, that every one with a heart in his breast lamented, and even with tears bewailed the cruelty of her judges. When the fire was lighted, she neither struggle nor stirred, but only lifted up her hands toward heaven, and was dead very speedily; for the under-sheriff, at the request of her friends, had provided such a quantity of dry wood and straw that she was very quickly dispatched out of this evil world.
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