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“ I must first request your kind offices in favour of
my young friend here, who is a youth of excellent parts and”
6 Let him come to me at Durham House tomorrow, at eleven o'clock,” said he, “ for, in truth, I have not a minute to lose now. Her majesty hath desired that thou shouldst be presented to her, and if we make not prodigious haste she will be gone."
“Be sure and go to Durham House, as Sir Walter Raleigh hath required, and thou wilt find thy advantage in it,” whispered Master Shakspeare; and in a moment afterwards Master Francis found himself alone. For a minute or two it seemed to him that all had passed as a dream. It appeared scarcely possible that he should have stood in the presence of the far-famed Sir Walter Raleigh-have been recommended to his patronage, and desired of him to call at his mansion: and it could not but be (so he thought) that the stately looking gentleman, so richly clad, who a moment since stood before him, was a mere delusion of the fancy. These reflections threw him into a profound reverie, in the which he was so completely lost, that he saw and heard nothing around him.
“ Prythee tell me, what have they offered thee a week?” was asked him a third time before he noticed that the ill-favoured and inquisitive knave, Gib the call-boy, with his enormous mouth upon the stretch,
and his eyes squinting more abominably than ever, was at his elbow, wondering that he could get no
“ Hold thy prate-I know not," was the reply.
Nay, if thou knowest not, thou canst not tell, of a surety," observed the call-boy. 66 But thou canst think without knowing, and therefore say, I prythee, what thou dost think they have offered thee?"
“ What matters it to thee," replied the other, in spite of himself, amused at the coaxing, wheedling manner in which the bandy-legged urchin attempted to win the important secret from him.
" In honest truth, I am curious to know if they are inclined to give thee as much as a whole shilling a week and find thyself out on't,” said the boy, holding up his head with such an affectation of conceit that the other could not help laughing in his face.
“ Then, in honest truth, I believe they are not," responded Master Francis.
" I thought so," said Gib, with an air of satisfaction that increased the mirth of his companionthen added, in a tone of consolation, “Be not cast down at it. I do assure thee, that if thou wilt abide by my advice, and do the women, thou shalt get as much as that in good time; for truly thou art well fitted for playing in such parts, seeing that
thou wilt have no call for a beard yet awhile, and when it doth appear in any sort of prodigality, I have an honest barber of my acquaintance who shall pluck each individual hair out by the roots, and charge thee little or nothing for it.”
66 I am obliged to thee infinitely,” seriously observed the youth, who winced under the very idea of such torture. “ I tell thee, once for all, I never had any desire of becoming a player, and all the service I require of thee, is to lead me out of this place as quickly as thou canst.”
“ Desirest thou not to become a player?” thundered out the astonished call-boy. « Well, here is a fortune thrown away! And I did hope thou wouldst have supplanted our Juliet, who, no later than yesterday, gave me a villainous kick i the breech for offering to shew him how to die more graceful than is his wont.”
6 And I will give thee another if thou dost not instantly lead me into the street,” added Master Francis, looking as seriously as he could. At this the eyes of the call-boy seemed directed in every way at the same time; and without saying a word more, he began to shuffle his mis-shapen legs away as fast as he could,-closely followed by the other.
While those two were leaving the playhouse, Sir Walter Raleigh was hurrying Master Shakspeare along, and they arrived at the queen’s room
just as her majesty was moving to depart, with all her noble train of lords and ladies around her.
“ Please your majesty, here is Master William Shakspeare,” said Sir Walter Raleigh, as he pushed through the throng.
“ Let him enter," said the queen. Thereupon, Master Shakspeare advanced towards the queen and knelt before her; and her majesty and many of her courtiers-especially the ladies, did look upon him very curiously.
“ Master Shakspeare," exclaimed the queen, 66 We do commend the excellence of your wit, whereof the application hath pleased us much, on more occasions than the present; and will take care you suffer no hindrance in your calling, so long as you continue as you have done, to attempt not to meddle with matters of state. Of all your performances, that fat knight hath delighted us in the greatest measure; and it seemeth that we should find an additional satisfaction could we see the rogue in love. Think of it, Master Shakspeare, and if your conceit jump that way, send word to the palace, and we will give you the first fitting opportunity to read to us whatever you may write upon the subject.” Then graciously giving him her ungloved hand all brilliant with jewels, to which he respectfully bent his lips, her majesty passed him by, followed by her maids of honour,