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beth, smiling at the exceeding oddity of her cousin's humour.
- Thou art not held so poorly in my esteem, believe me; for thou hast ever been to me a very dear good creature," and thereat she stooped and kissed her rosy dimpled cheek with an admirable affection.
Ay, if I am to be bought, I'll be a dear creature to him that buys me, depend on’t,” laughingly answered she, as she returned her cousin's caress. “ But hark-here comes a footstep!” Saying this, she hastened to the door, the which she opened as some one approached it, and noticing that it was one of the yeomen of the guard, she exclaimed, “ Ha, Master Annesley, what news?”
“ Please you, my lady,” replied he very respectfully, " there be certain of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton's serving men down below, who say that the barge is ready at the water-side for Mistress Elizabeth and yourself, to the which they wait to conduct you."
“ See that they be entertained; and say we will be with them anon, Master Annesley,” said Alice.
“ I will, my lady," answered he; and departed quickly to do her bidding.
“ Bess! Bess! why how thou dost tremble !" exclaimed the other, when she had returned to her kinswoman. 66 Dost tremble at a man ?-Psha!
Fifty men should not make me wag a hair of my head. Now on with thy mantle !”
56 Alas ! he will be ruined !” cried Mistress Elizabeth very piteously.
“ Then the more goose he !” replied her cousin. “ But I apprehend he hath more wit than to suffer it. Dost think I would be ruined ?— Nay, I'd eat my head off first! Come, here is thy hat. Alack, thou lookest as pale as a Shrovetide pancake. Courage, sweetheart! If it were not that I have no inclination that way, I would marry all the bachelors between this and Muscovy, and not be frightened a whit. Nay, shake not so, I prythee, for thou wilt have shaking enough soon, I doubt not-seeing that when we get to London Bridge thou wilt have to mount on the pillion on uncle's brown Bess, whilst I must ride before Diggory on the grey mare: and then we shall go trot, trot, trot, to Aldgate, till neither of us have more bowels than a flea. And now thou art ready at last.”
Then, after some few minutes employed in finishing her own attire--for her beautiful kinswoman seemed in such a strait that she could assist her none at all-she drew her arm through that of the other, cheering her all the time with many droll
yings; and they passed together out of the room in their travelling equipments, giving notice as they went to one of the yeomen that the men
should meet them near the gates; thereat when they arrived, they found the serving men in their best liveries (proper stout varlets, each with a goodly rapier at his girdle), and with abundance of respectful salutations from them, answered kindly and without haughtiness by their fair mistresses, thus attended, they left the palace of Whitehall, and proceeded across the Queen's Garden to the Privy Bridge.
“ Step in quick,” said a voice that came from one muffled up close in a large cloak, who sat in the barge at the water-side.
66 Father !” exclaimed Mistress Elizabeth. 66 Uncle !” cried Alice in the same breath.
Nay, there be no time for fathers or uncles either,” replied Sir Nicholas, “ I be not to speak nor disclose myself for fear of watchers and praters, —so in, wench, and quickly. And now, Diggory, push off from the shore, and help ply the oars well."
“ That will I, your worship,” replied one with a famous dull honest face and yellow beard, who with a long pole sought to push the barge into deep water; "and as your worship desireth that your name shall not be mentioned, will take care it pass not my lips. Truly 'twould be a shame were I not to do the bidding of so excellent a master as Sir Nicholas Throck-"
“ Hang thee, villain, thou wouldst betray me upon the instant !” exclaimed the old knight. “ Take to thy oar, and let thy tongue wag on thy peril."
“ I am dumb, Sir Nichol __"
“ Take that, for a prating varlet !" said his master, interrupting the mentioning of his name by a blow with an ashen stick he had under his cloak, that not only made Diggory wince mightily, but had the effect of silencing him without another word.
Nay, father!” “Hurt him not, good uncle !” cried the cousins quickly, as they saw the weapon descending.
66 'Sblood ! one might as well be proclaimed at Paul's !” exclaimed Sir Nicholas impatiently. 6. I tell thee I am now neither thy father, nor thy uncle, nor thy ox, nor thy ass, nor anything that is thine.”
They now glided slowly and in silence along the river, keeping pretty nigh unto the left bank-the serving men straining at the oars with all their strength-Mistress Elizabeth trembling exceedingly, and her beautiful countenance marked with
great paleness; and Alice with her arm round her waist, whispering excellent consolation, with now and then such droll conceits as entered into her head.
“Who be those getting into a pair of oars from the very spot where we took water?” enquired Sir Nicholas, pointing to two persons closely wrapped in large cloaks, who were then stepping into a boat.
“ Methinks they are men of some sort,” replied Diggory, with a monstrous gravity, who fancying the question had been addressed to him, had plucked up courage to answer it.
“ Mine eyes can tell me that,” said his master, drily.
“And wear they goodly coptanck hats, out of all question,” continued the man.
“ That also I can see without thy assistance," answered the old knight. “I hope they be not coming after us.”
“ They are pulling across the river," observed Alice.
66 That is evident to me likewise," responded Sir Nicholas; and for some minutes not a word more was spoken, till he cried out,—“but see, they are creeping along the shore on the other side. Odds my life! but I think they be spies.”
“If it please you, shall we run across ?” said Diggory, “and Peter and I will draw upon them, and spoil their spying straight.”
“ Ay, that would we, with a vengeance, if it please you, master,” exclaimed another, whose patch