« ZurückWeiter »
Diggory by the ear—“ Is this the way thou obeyest thy master's orders ? Omy life, I know not which is the most pestilent villain of the two. Now I charge thee stay here till I return; and if there be any more prating, or the least stir to a brawl, at thy peril be it.” So saying, Stephen Shortcake took himself out of the room, leaving the two serving men mightily intent upon their best behaviour, and the rest of the company in a famous marvelling at the strangeness of their conduct. He then proceeded up a winding flight of stairs to the first landing, where there was a door, at the which he knocked, and being bid come in, he did enter accordingly..
66 Well, good Stephen—what news have you ?” enquired the beautiful young wife of Sir Walter Raleigh, who sat leaning on her arm looking out of the casement, attired as if she had but just come off a journey.
“ Indeed, sweet mistress, I have very comfortable news,” replied the old butler respectfully. “ I did make enquiries of divers worshipful captains and men of the sea, and some have told me, that they know for certain, my honoured master is on board a vessel that hath but lately come in.”
66. 'Tis comfortable news indeed, Stephen," said Dame Elizabeth, brightening up exceedingly.
But how looks he? Doth he ail anything?
Hath he prospered in his voyage? When shall I see him ?” she then eagerly enquired.
6. Of his looks I could learn but little," answered Stephen Shortcake.
Seeing that I have met with none that have had speech of him since he left here; and of his voyage know I no more, for there were none who were informed of it. for when you shall see him, sweet mistress ! methinks 'twill not be long first, as I did lose no time in despatching a trusty boatman with your note, who hath promised me to use all speed, and to give it into Sir Walter's own hand.”
“ Thanks, good Stephen !” exclaimed she. “I am glad the information I received, that he was spoke with off the coast, hath proved correct; for the rest, I doubt not, I shall have it from himself. But get you some refreshment, good Stephen, for you have had a hard ride, and doubtless do require something."
Nay, if it please you, I would rather be a getting of some dainty for yourself,” observed the
have scarce tasted bit or sup since we left Aldgate.”
“ I have no heart for anything till I see Sir Walter,” replied the affectionate woman. 66 But I thank you for your painstaking; and do insist upon it, you presently procure for yourself whatever proper thing the house affords."
“ I thank you heartily, sweet mistress !” exclaimed he, “and will haste to do your gracious bidding."
When Stephen Shortcake had left the room, Dame Elizabeth turned again to the casement, and gazed among the vessels as if with a hope of finding out the ship in which was her loved husband. All at once she did behold a boat putting off from one, upon the which she kept her eyes, as it made for the shore, pleasing herself with the fancy, that therein might be him she most wished to see. She could just discern two persons, (besides the boatmen) one of whom, as far as she could make out in the distance, looked the taller and nobler of the two. 66 'Tis he !” she exclaimed joyfully, as she thought she recognised his figure; then added, pressing her hands over her throbbing breast, “ be still, my heart !”
In a few minutes there could be but little doubt of it-for the one she had observed, as if noticing her at the casement, did suddenly stand up in the boat and whirl his hat round and round his head; whereupon, she took her kerchief and waved it in the air ;-her heart all the whilst seemingly being in as great a flutter. Then it was seen, as they made the land, that the two were Sir Walter Raleigh and Master Francis. She watched them very earnestly as they neared the house, and when
she lost sight of them she rose from the casement --then sat herself down again, while her heart seemed so to beat, and her countenance became so pale and agitated she scarce knew what to do; and when Sir Walter's quick step was heard upon the stairs, she could only stand by catching fast hold of the arm of the chair, the which she did not let go till she found herself within the embrace of her loving husband.
66 After all said and done, dear Bess,” said Sir Walter Raleigh, when they had exchanged their affectionate greetings. “I think we shall live as pleasant a life of it as heart can desire.”
“I hope so, dear Walter,” replied his beautiful young wife, “yet have I had my doubts. There have been rumours afloat to your disadvantage, which have given me infinite uneasiness, and I oft times thought that our marriage had come to the queen's ears, and she, in consequence thereof, had resolved on your disgrace. Indeed it made me exceeding sore of heart.”
“ Tush, girl, care not for it !” exclaimed Raleigh. “ I did hear of its being whispered before I left here, and thereat did write Cecil an ambiguous letter which, methinks, should by this time have put an end to all rumours. I know not why it is, yet have I been marvellously ill used in the matter of this expedition, for the queen kept not her faith
with me, and hath put me to a sore trial of my patience. But I doubt not the great success that hath attended this adventure, will not only create in her majesty a desire to make me amends for what unkind things I have endured, but will win her pardon for having married without her approval,”
“ Hast had great success, Walter?” enquired Dame Elizabeth anxiously.
“Ay, that have we, sweet Bess,” he replied. “ 'Tis true I have most unjustly been called from my command, but before I left the fleet I gave orders that one half of it, with one of the queen’s ships under the command of Sir John Burgh, should cruise off the coast of Spain, while Sir Martin Frobisher with the rest, should lay in wait off the Azores; for I had great expectation that there we should have the good hap to intercept the Plate fleet. Well, I have so long been kept back by contrary winds, that as I entered this port, I was overtook by a fast sailing vessel, that hath assured me on credible authority, that Frobisher's squadron fell in with the Indian ships as I expected; and hath taken a carrack of the burthen of 1,600 tons, valued at half a million sterling-which, most assuredly, is the largest and richest prize ever had from the enemy."
“ Indeed that doth give me exceeding comfort," cried she very joyfully.