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The tone of kindness with which these last sentences were delivered, seemed to have a most powerful effect upon the listener; indeed it had gone direct to his heart, and he sat for some seconds perfectly unable to utter a syllable.
“ Is there anything more I can do for you ?» enquired Master Shakspeare, regarded the changing colour and modest demeanour of his visitor with increasing interest. “ Though I seek not to make a boast of it, I have some powerful friends, to whom, peradventure, my recommendation would do good service, if ventured in behalf of one of your excellent parts and disposition.”
“Oh, Master Shakspeare!" murmured the youth, looking up to him with eyes made humid by his grateful emotions, “ I would I had language to thank you; but my heart is too full.”
Nay, nay, worthy Master Francis,” said the other, encouragingly, “ If you love me you must not think of that. He who looks for thanks deserveth them not. Such a one am not I. I will acknowledge I feel a regard for you, and would wish to be your friend; and if
you will entrust me with your confidence, rest assured it shall not be abused. Tell me, is your way of life agreeable to you?”
6 Indeed it is not,” replied his visitor, with a melancholy expression of countenance that completely attested the truth of the avowal.
66 But why should I take advantage of the goodness of
your disposition? or why trouble you with my complaints? I have already taken up too much of your valuable time.” Then he added, as he rose from his chair to depart, “ I thank you very heartily for your kindness, which, in all times to come, shall be the most delightful of my remembrances; and if it please you to give me my papers, I would gratefully take my leave.”
“We part not thus,” said Master Shakspeare, quickly, as he rose from his seat, and taking hold of Master Francis his shoulders, did affectionately push him back into his chair; then sitting carelessly on the edge of the table adjoining, with one hand of his visitor kindly pressed in his own, and with a most benevolently smiling countenance he proceeded. “ We part not thus. Sit you
down Master Francis-sit you down: and let not the modesty of your disposition be a stumbling block to the advancement of your fortunes. The world hath not used you well, or I mistake countenances hugely. Let me try to make amends for the unkindness of others. I have both the inclination and the power to serve; and it seemeth to me that I should do myself credit by any service I could render. Let me be your friend, Master Francis.
I assure youl, on the honour of a Christian gentleman, and a humble follower of the Muses, that you will do me a great wrong if you allow me not the satisfaction of befriending you.”
Indeed, Master Shakspeare, you are too good,” exclaimed his visitor, warmly returning the pressure of the hand he had received. .66 I know not what to say--I lack words—I am quite overpowered.”
6 What a wittol am I, and one shamefully neglectful of the duties of hospitality !” said Master Shakspeare, suddenly, as he sprung from the table and proceeding to a cupboard in a recess of the chamber, did presently return, bringing a flask and two drinking horns.
“I would you would excuse me, worthy Master Shakspeare,” said the youth, modestly, as soon as he observed the movement of his host.
“ Excuse me no excuses," replied the other, with a smile, as he made room on the little table, and poured out the wine into the vessels. 66 What! shall it be said that Will Shakspeare denied a brother poet a draught of the fountain from which he hath so often drawn inspiration ? Tell it not at the Mermaid. A cup of this excellent sherris will warm both our hearts."
“ You have made my heart warm enough as it is,” observed Master Francis, still hesitating to take the proffered cup.
“ Tush, man!” replied Master Shakspeare, hospitably forcing the cup into his guest's almost reluctant hand, “ will you not drink to my health?” " Ah, that will I, with all true earnestness,” ex
claimed the other, as he immediately raised the wine to his lips.
“ And I most heartily wish, as all England must wish, that your life be long preserved to delight and enrich this island with your right excellent labours."
“ Thank you, worthy Master Francis, thank you,” said his host, shaking his companion cordially by the hand; “it is gratifying to be praised at all, but to be praised by those who can appreciate, is the most exquisite of flattery. And now let me pledge you to our better acquaintance,” added he, as he poured out a brimming cup for himself, “and may success attend you equal to your desertswhich be of no common order.”
“ You are too liberal in your commendation-indeed you are,” observed the youth, as a slight blush appeared upon his countenance.
. “ Not a whit man, not a whit,” replied his host, as he finished his draught.“ There can be no harm in praising a modest man; for if the desert be not equal to the praise, he will not rest till he make it so. But your cup is empty.”
Nay, good Master Shakspeare,” exclaimed the other, as he noticed his host refilling the cup—“if it please you, no more.”
“ But it does not please me, Master Francis,” said his companion, jocosely.
“I am not used to drinking of wine of a morning, and it may chance get in my head.”
“ No vessel can be the worse for containing good wine, Master Francis. So you must e’en drink another cup."
“ I thank you, but I would rather not,” said Master Francis falteringly, as the vessel was handed to him.
“ What, hesitate to drink the queen's health ?” exclaimed Master Shakspeare in seeming astonishment. Why, how now? Surely loyalty hath gone out of the land, if the guest of one of her majesty's poor players refuse to join him in drinking the health of Queen Elizabeth.”
“ I thought not of that;” remarked the other, quietly taking the wine, “ I will join you gladly.” Thereupon, with much sincerity of heart, these two did drink to the queen's majesty. “But I must be going, or my uncle will be angered with me; and he is a man of a most ungracious humour,” said Master Francis.
66 A murrain on him !” cried Master Shakspeare. “ And, if I may make so free as to ask, who is he?”
6 He is Gregory Vellum, the scrivener, of St. Mary Axe,” replied the youth ; "and though report say that he abounds in riches, one would suppose that he hath not sufficient to furnish a beggar's wallet."