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to laugh at the idea ; “ nay, if they be not made of the most notorious tallow, I am a heathen.”
“ Tush! I forgot,” replied Gregory Vellum, striking his stick violently against the floor. “But it availeth thee nothing. Thou art a thief.”
“ I am no thief, sir," said the youth, reddening in the face; “ I do consess that I took what you have in your hand, that I might have light to assist me in my studies; but if the loss grieve you, they cannot be worth more than a halfpenny, and you may either keep them, or I will pay you for them.”
“Pay, pay! why, how now? who talks of paying? where dost get the money from, fellow ?'' rapidly enquired the old man, fixing on his nephew a searching and inquisitive look; " and how camest thou by those heathenish books of which thou hast such goodly store ?".
“I had them from a friend,” replied Master Francis, “ and I am obliged to be indebted to the same quarter for such assistance as my necessities require—which are caused by those who should have taken care that I lack nothing.”
“ Lack !—what dost lack ? thou ungrateful vagabond !" demanded his uncle angrily, yet not ill pleased that such things were not done at his cost, “ do I not find thee a most comfortable home?-do I not keep thee in excellent wearing apparel ?—and as for eating, didst thou not eat right heartily yesterday at dinner of a most princely dish of cabbage and bacon ?”
“ As for the home, uncle,” said the youth, “ your penuriousness and ill-temper make it anything but comfortable. For the clothing —when you have worn your doublet threadbare, you think it good enough for me;—and as for my dinner yesterday, it consisted of a piece of rusty bacon, scarcely big enough for the baiting of a rattrap, with about as much cabbage as might serve for a caterpillar's breakfast.”
os Oh, thou unnatural prodigal !” exclaimed Master Vellum, lifting up his hands and eyes in amazement. " This comes of writing verses ! this comes of singing love songs ! O' my life, I have a monstrous inclination to beat thee.”
“ You had better not, uncle,” said the other calmly. 57 “ Nay, but I will, caitiff !” replied he, lifting up his stick and approaching his nephew threateningly.
“ If you do,” said Master Francis, his face now as pale as it a moment since was rubicund, “ if you do, I'll give you such a shaking you never had since you were born.”
" Hub—bub—boo!" exclaimed the old man, starting back, stammering, several paces, as if the threat had taken his breath away; and there he stood, with stick uplifted and mouth open, looking the very picture of horror and surprise. In fact, the conduct of his nephew had come upon him with a most perfect astonishment; for the natural modesty of the youth's disposition had hitherto made him bear his uncle's ill humours with meekness; but possibly the wine he had drunk with Master Shakspeare had put a bolder spirit into his nature. There, however, did he stand, pale and melancholy, yet
resolute; with arms folded, and eyes with an unmoved fisedness resting upon his terrified kinsman.
“Oh, the monstrousness of the age!" at last ejaculated Gregory Vellum, “ Oh, the horrid villany! But thou shalt troop for it. I will get rid of thee straight. Thou shalt find other uncles to give thee house room, and feed and clothe thee, thou pestilent varlet! for I'll have none of thee. Was it not enough that thou shouldst rob me of fifty crowns—tush! what was I a saying ?-of so much excellent candle-but that thou shouldst threaten to give me a shaking of right exquisite Venetian workmanship—Alas! these villanies have undone mel I know not what I say.” Then wildly knocking the palm of his hand against his forehead, the old man rushed out of the room, shouting “ Oh, my fifty crowns ! my fifty crowns!” leaving Master Francis in as great a wonder as Master Francis had a moment since put his miserly kinsman.
Love me not for comely grace,
And thus our love shall sever;
It was in a private closet in the queen's palace of Whitehall, that two of her majesty's maids of honour were assisting each other in attiring, and were conversing with that confidence that denoteth perfect friendship. The one, the taller of the two, was of a most majestic shape, with a countenance of exquisite softness, impressed with a touch of reflection, that at times made her seem somewhat of a reserved and melancholy disposition: but in truth she was a most handsome woman, and of an excellent fair complexion. The other appeared both shorter and younger; her face was dark, yet did the roses bloom in it most becomingly; an arched mouth she had, dimpled on one cheek, and as for her eyes, they were the most laughing, roguish, brilliant pair of twinklers that ever pretty wench was blessed withal. Of these fair damsels, the first was Elizabeth Throckmorton, and the latter, her cousin Alice.
6. What dost sigh for, Bess ?” suddenly enquired the youngest. 66 O’ my troth, thou hast appeared very woeful of late.”
“ Did I sigh, Alice ?” asked the other dejectedly.
“ Sigh, Coz!” repeated Alice. “No old bellows with fifty holes in it ever breathed with so undone a sadness. This comes of being in love, Bess. Art sighing for Sir Walter Raleigh ? I see by thy blushing I have hit it. Well, Heaven help thy five wits, that can find matter for sadness in things that give me such infinite matter for mirth. And what be this same animal, called man? A thing to laugh at-a joke that goes upon two legs—a walking piece of provocation for women to break a jest upon. Is he not a most absurd creature ? I'faith, us poor maids would have all died of melancholy long since, if the men had not kept us alive by affording us such exquisite subjects for sport. And then the airs they give themselves. Didst ever see a peacock in the sun ? he spreads himself out just like your man animal; and struts about, and looks as preposterously fine and proud. Poor fool! a goose would look as well had it the same feathers. And, like the clown in the play, he taketh a world of pains to get well laughed at by his audience. Well, I think I lack not gratitude. I owe a bountiful load of thanks to these our estimable benefactors, and all that my poor wit can do to render them as ridiculous as they seek to be, they shall have. They call themselves lords of the creation too, when they have about as much omnipotence as a cockle shell. Whatever lords they may be of, they shall never be lords of my bedchamber, I promise you; for, before I marry a man, I'll give my virginity to an owl.'
“Alice, Alice! how thou dost run on," exclaimed Mistress Throckmorton.
“Ay, forsooth, had I no legs I could run on with such a subject,” replied her cousin, laughing merrily. “ But how dost like the setting of this sleeve ?”
" It is of a pretty fashion, and of most dainty fabric,” said the other, with a careless glance at the dress.
“ That all thou canst say about it ?” responded her companion archly. “ Had I asked thee concerning the captain of the. queen's guard, wouldst thou have merely said, “ It is of a pretty fashion, and of a most dainty fabric ?'” here the merry little creature mimicked her companion. « O’ my word, no-I should never have heard the last of him. Thou wouldst have given me whole chapters upon every hair of his head.”
“ But is he not a wise and most noble gentleman ?" asked her cousin earnestly.
“ Wise, quotha !” exclaimed Alice, with a smile of peculiar meaning. Wise man ?-wise fiddlestick! In what is he wise? Doth he not talk admirably? So dotb a parrot if it be well taught. Wise oyster! And there is but little difference betwixt your oyster and your man. Your oyster hath a beard, so hath your man;-so he need not brag so much on that account. But the difference be all in favour of your oyster; for your oyster is delicate eating, but your man is for no Christian stomach, cook him how you will. Wise calf! Why, there is more philosophy in a forked radish than ever you will find in your wise man."
“ In truth, Alice, if I did not know thee to be a most kind-hearted wench and a merry, I should think thee very malicious,” observed the eldest.
“I bear no malice against the poor creatures,” replied the other, with pretended meekness. “ It would be a right shameful return for the unceasing efforts they make to amuse me. Well it be not their fault that they have not more sense; and considering how foolish they are by nature, I must do them the justice to say, that they do as well as they can.”
“But I cannot love thee, if thou wilt not love Walter,” said Mistress Throckmorton, looking with much seriousness in the face of her witty relative.
“Love him, coz!” exclaimed Alice, affectionately kissing her forehead. “I will do anything to pleasure thee.”
And thereupon the two cousins did caress one another with a lovingness that was most touching to behold.
“ But if he make thee melancholy, I'll be hanged if I love him," continued she with much emphasis.
“ It be not his fault, dear Alice," replied her companion. “ He is always good and kind and noble. I alone am to blame-I am very much to blame." And, saying this, she suddenly did throw herself upon the neck of her kinswoman, in an uncontrollable agony of hysteric sobs and tears; and wept outright.
“ Bess! Bess! Cousin! Elizabeth I” cried the now alarmed and anxious Alice. " What meaneth this? Why are these tears—and for what art thou to blame? Nay, this is mere folly. If the queen find out that Sir Walter love thee, she may be wrath with him and thee for a time, but it will all blow over harmlessly, I'll be bound for it; and there is no occasion to fret thyself till it happen. Come dry up thy tears, or I'll not let thee see him for a month.”
“I must see him this morning, dear Alice!” remarked her cousin earnestly. “ Thou must contrive to let me have speech with him here; for it is of the utmost importance.”
“ Here, cousin !”
“Ay, here, Alice,” replied she; “my life, all that is dear to me, depends upon it.”
“Well, if that be the case, I'll strive whatever my love can do to bring it about,” responded the other. “ But see how monstrously thou hast rumpled my ruff. If the queen see it she will swear I have been romping.” At this they both strove to smooth the creases as well as they could. “And now let me help thee on with thy robe,” she continued, as she assisted in attiring her. “ Ah, love's a sad thing, and therefore I like it not, dear Bess; for I like merry things."
" Thou wilt change thy tune anon, depend on't," said the elder.
“Change my tune ? I'll change my nature first,” replied the other. " By my troth, if the sky were to rain lovers, I'd keep under shelter. Save in the way of sport, if ever I have anything to do with these man animals—why then pickle me. And what a set I have around me at this present! Noah's ark contained pot such another. First, I have my Lord Burghley, who looks as virtuous as small beer, and is just as sour upon occasion. He taketh upon him to commend my beauty, when the lord treasurer desireth to make himself agreeable to the maid of honour; then sayeth he, with a very infinite gravity, • Be chary of thy smiles, mistress; butter melts i’ the sun! butter melts i’ the sun!'” And here she mimicked the voice and manner of that most worshipful and profound statesman, of glorious memory, and then proceeded imitating, in the same ludicrous way, the different individuals she named. “ Then comes young gravity, his son, Sir Robert Cecil, who hath a smile for every one, and nothing else; and as he happens to be possessed of a person in no way flattering to the eye, he chooseth to make use of a tongue in every way flattering to the ear. “Sweet Alice,' saith he, in a whisper, if he happen to stand by me in the throng, “ Indeed, I cannot help but think thee the flower of the whole court. After him we have Lord Henry Howard—or rather with him—for they generally hunt in couples, like hounds of better breed ; and he is somewhat of a soldier -somewhat of a sailor-somewhat of a gallant, and a great deal of a courtier ;-and he kisseth my hand cavalierly, and looketh into my eyes as if he saw there something he had lost-his own modesty, mayhap, if he ever had any—and sweareth me one of the newest oaths, saying, ' I could stand the enemy, but not those lustrous orbs!!"
“ Alice, thy wit will be the ruin of thee.”
" Then cometh my Lord Pembroke, the hopeful pupil of that marvellous scholar and exquisite specimen of chivalry, Sir Philip Sidney." continued the laughing girl. “And he readeth me an essay an hour long on the surpassing virtues of the dames of antiquity; and looking the very pink of courtesy, telleth me, “ Thou wouldst make an admirable Arcadian shepherdess, only the infinite roguery that lurks in the dimple of thy cheek would create a world of mischief among the swains.' Then comes my lord chamberlain, the bluff and martial Earl of Sussex, with guns and pistols in his looks, and cannon balls in his conversation; and he salutes me most soldierly, with an · Hullo, mistress! were I for kissing, I know the pair of lips I'd choose out of a thousand. After him we have the proud and impetuous Essexall splendour-all gallantry—all impulse--and all nothing: and he cometh to me alone with an irresistible air, protesting, ‘By this hand, an' I love thee not I am a Turk.'”
" Alice! Alice!” exclaimed her cousin seriously, “if thou art heard saying this, thou art utterly undone.”
" Then cometh the gallant, gay, the learned, witty, brave, and handsome-in fact the very thing—Sir Walter Raleigh.”
“ Alice!” cried Mistress Elizabeth Throckmorton, reproachfully.
" Well, dear Bess, I will say nothing of him, since it doth not please thee,” replied her companion. “And now, because thou art quite ready, and I have teased thee in some measure, I will go and seek the noble captain; for, if I mistake not, he must by this time be in attendance.
“ There's a good wench!” exclaimed her cousin, kissing her affec