Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

vexed him.

“ She hath quarrelled with me at primero, only because I did drop something that to her appeared to call in question her skill with the cards; and she hath spoke to me never a word since. 'Sblood! one had need be a beggar's dog as put up with such humours.”

Nay, but the queen is a most bounteous mistress,” observed the other in a tone of apology; “ and though at times she be easily displeased, yet is she quickly moved to make amends if undeserved disadvantage come of it."

6 But she is too prone to such capriciousness, and I'll stomach it no longer;" exclaimed his companion, his brilliant eyes flashing very haughtily as he kept playing with the jewelled pommel of his dagger.

66 What! shall it be said that the Lord Essex is fit for nothing better than to play the pet falcon with, to be whistled to, and driven off, as it suiteth a woman's idle fantasies?

“ Fie on you, my lord !” cried Cecil, with an exceeding grave countenance. 66 I would not the queen should hear of this for as much as your earldom.”

66 Let her-I care not;" said the Lord Essex sharply.

“ Now, look you there, was ever obstinate man so bent on his own destruction ?” exclaimed the other. 66 But I will do you a service as far as my

poor ability goeth; for sure am I, that you have no friend so earnest to advance your interests as Robert Cecil, if you will only look upon him as such.”

“ I thank you, heartily,” replied his companion ; but in no way relaxing the frown that had settled on his brows.

« Nay, I seek no thanks,” rejoined Sir Robert « for, inasmuch as my honoured father hath been your guardian—to say nought of the noble qualities I do behold in you—have I ever felt disposed to do you a service. Believe me, I would do good for the good's sake. Now, my lord, in this matter, be advised by me; for though seek I in no way to push forth my judgment before one that is so ripe as your own, yet, as your lordship is somewhat apt to get heated at these things, being touched by them more nearly than another, I, having more coolness, which is the greatest help to reflection, may be considered better qualified to form an unbiassed opinion; therefore, I do beseech you, in all true friendship, be advised of me.”

“ What counsel you, Sir Robert Cecil?” enquired his lordship.

“ Mark you Sir Walter Raleigh ?” asked the other.

“i What hath he to do with it?” said my Lord Essex, very proudly.

Truly he is a noble gentleman,” replied his

[ocr errors]

VOL. I.

G

companion; "he is one that hath many commendable parts, being in outward shew right manly to look upon; the which he doth put to great advantage, by apparelling himself very daintily. Indeed, though I be no judge of these things, I have heard it said by others, that for the fashioning of a doublet, he hath not his peer. For mine own part, I envy him not such an accomplishment, thinking that it more becometh a tailor than a gentleman. Nevertheless he is doubtless to be praised for it, seeing that it sheweth his great anxiety to please her majesty, who, it is well known to him, taketh exceeding delight in beholding such braveries; the which he continually turneth to his profit. But he hath other gifts that do the more recommend him to the queen's favour; he hath held himself valiantly in the wars, and hath the reputation of the most experienced soldier in the queen's service; though I for one do think there be his betters not far off. Then-so it be said, though I know not how true it be-his knowledge of seamanship is inferior to none; which hath not only enabled him to exhibit his valour against the enemy with great effect; but hath given him marvellous facilities in the discovery of strange lands. Besides which, they that take upon themselves to know this phenix, do give out that he is a very Solomon for wisdom, and is wonderfully quick at penning a stanza."

66 And what hath all this to do with the matter?” haughtily enquired my Lord Essex, who, though he could not help admiring the character of Sir Walter Raleigh, liked not to hear of his praises so conspicuously.

“ Much more, my good lord, than it doth appear to you,” replied Cecil, in a tone, and with a manner of great meaning. “Mark me! I do not blame this valiant gentleman for wishing to make the most of his qualifications, for it is natural for a man to advance his fortunes as well as he can; but if he, standing upon the opinion some have of him, which in all honesty seemeth to me strangely over-rated, seek to gain the first place at court, and poison the queen's ear against the absent"

At this moment my Lord of Essex, who had exhibited signs of great impatience during the speech of his companion-with his handsome countenance hugely disturbed-leaped suddenly upon his feet, and exclaimed,

“By God's wrath, if he hath slandered me, I'll make him rue it.”

“ Nay, I said not that, my good lord,” observed the crafty Cecil, with a shew of sincerity. - Indeed, far be it from me to give you so ill an opinion of one who, beyond all dispute, hath signalized himself very honourably; but your absence doth throw great temptation in his way.--I pray you be

seated, my lord :--and there are some men-such is the perversity of human nature—who think it no discredit to them to build their rise by working at the fall of their betters. I would you would not stand, my lord : -not that I think Sir Walter Raleigh is of such kind, but being the captain of the guard, in constant attendance on the queen, where he hath many opportunities to drop hints to your disadvantage, which in charity I do not think he would:-I would say, perhaps he might, as the only way of dispossessing you of that high seat in the queen’s grace you so worthily fill, be induced to increase her majesty's displeasure against you as much as lay in his power.

But be seated, I pray

you, my lord.”

“ If he attempt it, were he twenty Sir Walter Raleighs, he should have his deserts,” said the proud noble, evidently much disturbed by what he had heard; then, smiling contemptuously, added, 66 but he dare not,” and quickly resumed his seat.

“ There are we of the same opinion,” observed Cecil, who, with an unmoved countenance, had all the time kept a careful scrutiny of the features of his companion. “When I consider that he is nothing better than a simple knight, whilst you, my good lord, are known to be connected with the powerfullest families in the kingdom, and even stand in some relationship with the queen's ma

« ZurückWeiter »