Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

66

1

where he had left her, wearing the most pitiful face that

eye ever beheld, he was about to make his exit, when Mistress Elizabeth rushed before him.

Stop, Walter,” cried she, hastily, “till I see if the coast be clear for thee," as she opened the door, and looking out cautiously, immediately added, in a more subdued voice,—“tis as it should be; and now, dear Walter, let me once more entreat of thee to keep on good terms with the queen.”

" I will strive all I can, dear Bess," replied her lover, affectionately raising her hand to his lips, “and be sure that thou make proper and speedy preparations for thy departure from this place.”

“ I will not fail,” said the beautiful woman; and, in the next moment, she was watching the noble form of her affianced husband retreating with hasty strides along the corridor.

Sir Walter Raleigh proceeded onwards, passing several doors on each side of him, and various passages that led to divers parts of the palace, till he came to a staircase of fair proportions, the balastrades of which were finely carved, having at their extremities rampant lions, most ingeniously wrought out of the solid wood. At the bottom of this flight of steps he passed sundry of the yeomen of the guard, placed there upon duty, who gave him instant salutation; and still advancing, met with pages, grooms, and ushers, hastening on their busi

ness, who, with great show of respect, did do him reverence. With these were sometimes mingled the higher officers of the palace, and gentlemen and noblemen of the court, either intent upon their duties, or discoursing with one another, as they walked carelessly along; and with them he did exchange abundance of courtesies.

As he was turning sharply round a corner, he came suddenly against a courtier of a very notable aspect, and of right commendable habiliments; his face was fair to look upon, and dressed with a constant smile. An observer might suppose him of an ingenuous nature, and of a remarkable honesty; gentle in his behaviour, upright in his conduct, and chivalrous in his disposition: yet was he a thorough courtier, as will anon be made manifest to the reader. He was young; that is to say, of some thirty years or so; and being of a handsome figure and countenance, his apparel, though it lacked the splendour of Sir Walter Raleigh's, was evidently worn to set them off to the best advantage.

“Odds pittikins, Sir Walter,” exclaimed he, laughingly, as he recovered himself from the shock, “ dost take me for a Spanish galleon, that thou runnest me down in this pitiless fashion ?”

Thy pardon, my good lord,” replied Sir Walter, as he held out his hand, which the other shook with all the fervour of old friendship, “Lord Henry

66

Iloward hath so proved himself the queen’s good soldier, as to make it impossible for any one to take him for a Spaniard."

“ Nay, thou flatterest me there," said the Lord Howard, with an appearance of considerable modesty, " I did but follow the example of that worthy and approved good knight, Sir Walter Raleigh,and but at a humble distance, as all must who would tread in his valiant footsteps. But, confess --confess thee, man! wert thou not dreaming of another armada, and wert intent on boarding the biggest ship of them all, when thou didst bear down upon me with thy whole broadside so courageously?"

“ Indeed, my lord, I was thinking of a different matter,” replied his companion.

“I doubt thee hugely,” responded the other, shaking his head, “ for ’tis so much in thy fashion. Then wert thou busying thy most fruitful imagination in search of new discoveries, and, instead of steering into some delectable bay, full of all enticing prospects, thou of a sudden didst drop thy anchor upon my new doublet:- was it not so ?”

Thou art again in the wrong, my lord,” replied Sir Walter, smiling; “I was on no such voyage. I am bound to her majesty, where my attendance is required. If nothing better await thy pleasure, will it please thee walk with me, my

lord?”

“ I am infinitely gratified by thy courtesy,” said Lord Henry, with a most courtier-like inclination of his head, as he proceeded alongside of his companion, “and will do myself that honour. The queen is expected in the presence chamber, on her return from the council; and I was but making a stroll in the mean while, when thou didst me the especial favour of nearly running me down. But what a superlative taste thou hast in thy appointments,” suddenly exclaimed he, as he noticed the splendid attire of Sir Walter; “'tis most exquisitely fashioned, and of a very dainty conceit.”

6 Dost like it, my lord ?” enquired Raleigh, carelessly.

« On mine honour, I admire it hugely,” responded his lordship, with a vast shew of admiration. "I marvel not that thou shouldst be the very model of dress amongst us, for thou art truly delicate in the choice of thy fabrics, and infinitely curious in the manner in which they are to be

I do know a certain lord who would give his ears, had he thy apprehension of these things.”

“ Be his ears so long then, that he would get rid of them for so trifling a result?” asked his companion, with some affectation of seriousness.

“In truth thou hast hit it," exclaimed the Lord Howard, with a hearty laugh. “Between ourselves, he is marvellously apt to play Midas to thy Apollo."

worn.

By what name goeth he?” enquired Sir Walter; “for as far as my penetration sufficeth, I know of none such."

“ Dost not know the Earl of Essex ?” whispered the other.

“ Most assuredly do I, for a gentleman of many noble qualities,” replied Raleigh.

“ I tell thee, out of friendship, he doth affect thee not at all,” said his lordship, in the same low voice.

“ Then hath some villain slandered me to him," observed his companion, quickly; “for, although he hath his faults--as who hath not? I do believe him to be of a right honourable nature.”

“ I have ofttimes heard him speak slightingly of thee, Sir Walter-by this hand have I,” continued his lordship, with increased emphasis, yet still in a subdued tone.

- Thou must have mistaken his meaning, surely," responded the other, “ I have done him no offence. But he may speak slightingly of me without disparagement, my good lord, for possibly I may not have done sufficient to deserve his eulogy.”

“ I tell thee, in friendship and in secresy, noble Raleigh-for it be dangerous to say anything against one so high in favour—that he hath disparaged thee villainously, ever since thy quarrel with that ruffianly follower of his, Sir Roger Williams."

« ZurückWeiter »