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ing you to call him to account for it. Your forbearance he took for fear, and vowed he would have none of you for a son. I said what I could to create in him a different opinion; and he continued to put upon you such insults as he thought most offensive and intolerable. I do believe you endured till nature could endure no longer; and now you have convinced him that learning, and taste in apparelling of oneself, can do no hurt to true valor."
"O' my life! I do begin to believe they be not so bad as I have thought," observed the colonel good-humoredly, as he sheathed his rapier.
"One thing more," continued Sir Walter. "You must not suppose, from the harshness of his behavior to you, that your father is of the crabbed nature he hath seemed. I have known him long, and have seen him oft; and do in all sincerity assert there liveth not a kinder, heartier, and more sweetly-disposed gentleman in this world-as far as I know of it."
"O' my life!" exclaimed the colonel. "I do believe he hath taken such offence at my behavior, and knowing once I would have none of him for a son, he will turn the tables, and now have none of me for a father."
Master Francis had no such idea in him. He was lost in a sort of pleasing wonder; and his feelings were overpowered at remembering that the parent he had been so anxious to meet, the ignorance of whom had occasioned him such extreme unhappiness, he was a moment since on the point of running through the body.
Wilt shake hands and be friends, Son Francis?" inquired his father. "Wilt have peace after all this famous fighting? Dost care for owning an old soldier for thy father, thou valiant young villain? Heed not what I have said; care not for what I have done. Thou art of my blood I could swear by the way thou holdst thy weapon. I am proud of thee. I will be hanged if ever I affront thee again, thou desperate little Hercules! Thou hast thy mother's look and thy father's spirit: so if thou wilt, become a son to me in my old age, and I will love thee as well as I loved thy mother."
Master Francis, with a heart too full for utterance did hasten to his father, who, after shaking of him cordially by the hand, presently pressed him in his arms with such show of affection as was delightful for the others to look upon.
"By Gog and Magog, this be the
happiest day of my!" exclaimed Harry Daring, whose honest face beamed with joy at his friend's good fortune; and every one of that party seemed to be as greatly rejoiced.
"And now, Master Francis Harquebus," said Sir Walter Raleigh; "I must needs dismiss you from my service: the colonel will not allow you to remain my secretary. But I part with you with the less regret, as I here place you in a situation of equal confidence, with one whose service I doubt not you will find far more pleasant than mine." Thereupon he took the hand of Alice and placed it in that of her lover.
"And hark you, Master Francis!" cried Master Shakspeare, looking to be in his merriest humor. "If from this time forward I catch you wearing of a melancholy visage, I will do my best to have you smothered in sad-colored taffeta, or sent to become an undertaker's apprentice."
"And look you, Mistress Alice!" exclaimed Raleigh with the like good nature. "If from this time forward I catch you breaking your wicked jests upon mananimals of any sort, I will do my best to have you shut up in a mouse-trap, or put in a cage like a tame raven, and hung where you shall not have sight of a man for the rest of your days."
All laughed at these sallies; and Alice turned away blushing very prettily, still holding her lover by the hand, and they two turned their steps toward the house. Master Shakspeare and Dame Elizabeth followed; then came Sir Walter Raleigh and his companion in arms Colonel Harquebus; and lastly, Harry Daring and the child: and it was no easy matter to say of these which wore the happiest countenance, or who had the gladdest heart.
All the goodly chambers in Durham house were filled with company. Crowds of fine gallants and beautiful dames were moving to and fro. There had been feasting in such prodigality that it was the marvel of all. There had been such delicate sweet music as seemed never to have been heard till then. Dancing had there been of such a sort the oldest there remembered not anything so commenda bly done; and pageants of such wonderful excellent conceits had been performed which eclipsed all things of the like kind that had ever been seen before. So brilliant a company it was thought by all, at no time had met together upon one occasion; for here were all the chiefest
nobles of the land; here were all the most famous commanders of the age; here were all the loveliest ladies of the court; here were all the greatest wits of the time; and such splendor of apparelling, such bountiful show and infinite variety of all manner of rarest fabrics and costliest jewels were there to be seen, that a stranger gazing thereon might have said there would be no occasion for any one going to distant parts in search of an El Dorado, here it was at his hand. But more magnificent than all, on a rich throne placed upon a raised dais, in the fairest chamber of the mansion, sat Queen Elizabeth, looking to be in such sweet content as was the admiration of her loving subjects.
The wits had come out of respect for Master Francis, by whom he was considered one of themselves; and famous compliments he received, and heartily was his good fortune hailed by them. And who so proud as he, at sight of so gallant a company, all met to do him honor; but I doubt not, when his eye glanced toward the dimpled rosy cheek of his exquisite sweet bride, he was also more happy than proud. The courtiers came because the queen was there, and they now rivalled each other in showing of their devotion to the reigning favorite, and marvelled any one should ever have thought ill of so princely a gentleman. My Lord Essex was not of the party, he had excused himself on the score of illAnd for what occasion had this noble ness; but some did say he was only incompany been brought together?-To disposed to come. The new secretary do honor to the marriage of Master of state was there, with others of the Francis Harquebus to Mistress Alice queen's chief officers, and all were wonThrockmorton. The nobles had come derful courteous to the captain of the out of respect to Sir Walter Raleigh, queen's guard. None seemed more friendwho, since his return from the expedition to Cadiz, had grown to be wonderfully popular amongst them, and was now in greater favor with the queen than ever he was. And who so proud as he-who, having just danced with her majesty a coranto, to her infinite delight, stood close at her side, arrayed with that exquisite taste and costliness she so much admired, ever and anon breathing into her ear such courtly phrases as he knew she most affected; and she answering him with smiles and pretty words, and tapping him playfully with her fan, and doing a hundred things that proved on what excellent terms he was with her.
The commanders came out of respect to their gallant associate, Colonel Harquebus, who was in great reputation with them for his approved good soldiership: and who so proud as he, as he received the congratulations of the Howards and the Veres—the Monsons-the Carewsthe Cliffords-and scores of the like brave spirits, who thronged around him. The fair dames and lovely young gentlewomen had come out of respect to Dame Elizabeth and her pretty cousin, who had received such gracious behavior from her majesty as no ladies of her court had ever been known to be honored with before. And who so proud as Dame Elizabeth, seeing her husband, after being disgraced for her sake, now in such estimation with her sovereign and all England, as he had never reached till now. Alice was proud of her husband also, but she was more happy than proud.
ly than did Sir Robert Cecil; but an observer, had he paid strict attention to him as he was in earnest conversation with his coadjutor and parasite, Lord Henry Howard, in a corner of the chamber of state, where were her majesty and Sir Walter Raleigh, might have noticed in the sneer upon his lip, as he eyed the two, that Master Secretary was devising of some crafty scheme to mar the good feeling that existed between them.
Master Francis was in one of the rooms in the midst of a circle of cheerful friends, amongst whom were Master Bacon, Ben Jonson, and divers of his old acquaintances of the Mermaid, diffusing around him such pleasant wit and courteous good humor, it was delightful to look upon the scene, when he was accosted by Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, stating that the queen was desirous of seeing him on the instant; thereupon he hurried away in company with the old knight, who amused himself as they passed along, by informing his young friend that her majesty was in a very monstrous passion, and having got hold of the sword of her captain of the guard, was about performing of some bloody tragedy upon one Master Francis Harquebus and his father-they having been proved to be exceeding traitorous and disloyal subjects. Master Francis could easily perceive, from his merry countenance, that the old knight was jesting; but still he could not help entering upon some speculation on the cause of the queen's sending for him. As he proceeded through the splendid crowd
that thronged the rooms, the eyes of all turned in admiration upon his right handsome countenance and gallant figure. He was clothed in a peach-colored velvet doublet, ornamented with pearls; and trunk hose of delicate white satin, with white rosettes in his shoes. Many a fair damsel of rank envied Alice her good fortune. In truth, though Sir Walter Raleigh might have been the nobler-looking, Master Francis was the very handsomest man in the whole company; and as he moved along, he won the gracious opinion of all, by his courteous behavior and modest deportment.
Upon entering the royal chamber and passing through a circle of nobles, gallants, and lovely dames, who gladly made way for him, he heard a buz of admiration, and noticed his father rising from a kneeling position, with the queen holding of a sword in her hand, by his side, having Sir Walter Raleigh and all the chiefest of her court about her. "Master Francis!" exclaimed her majesty, evidently scanning the perfections of his graceful person with a famous admiration, "we do remember putting on you some affront, the which you deserved not; and we are now anxious to make you some slight amends for it, which we do with the greater pleasure, having heard wonderful commendation of you from our captain of the guard. We command you to kneel." Master Francis knelt on one knee at the queen's feet, in a strange tumult of proud and happy feelings. He felt something touch his shoulder, and her majesty say, "Rise up, Sir Francis Harquebus!" and then followed some courteous speech from the queen, and congratulations from the splendid circle around him; though of what was said he had but an indistinct knowledge; he felt in so great a surprise and wonder, and admiration.
A short time after this, as he was turning from the proud and happy Alice, and the equally delighted Dame Elizabeth, with a pleasure equal to their own, and proceeding out at the door, lost in the sweet bewilderment of his own thoughts, he was roused from his ambitious revery by a well-known voice.
"Remember you not, when we two were at Master Tickletoby's, and we talked of what we should do when we grew to be men, how I said that you should be a famous gallant knight, and I your esquire ?"
"I remember it well, Harry!" replied Sir Francis, cheerfully, as he gazed
By Gog and Magog, I could not help it !" exclaimed his companion, “I loved you; that is the honest truth; and you were always of so excellent sweet a disposition, it was clean impossible I could do aught else."
"Desire you to go to the wars again, Harry ?” inquired Sir Francis.
What, against those villanous caitiffs, the Spaniards?" asked Harry Daring, quickly. "Ah, that should I, MasterSir Francis, I mean."
"And what say you to the having, some short time hence, a goodly ship of your own?" added his friend.
"O' my life, I should like nothing so well!" replied the other, with increasing animation. "Then would I go cruising in the Spanish Main after those same rich galleons and argosies, and I doubt not I would make prize of some."
"That you shall do, Harry," answered Sir Francis.
The conversation was here broken in upon by the coming up of divers persons of worship, to congratulate Sir Francis upon the distinction just conferred upon him.
But of all this noble company there was not one so greatly noticed as was Master Shakspeare. This was owing, in some part, to his own excellent reputation, and partly to the respect and friendliness shown toward him by Sir Walter Raleigh and his young friend, Sir Francis Harquebus. The queen having spied him among the throng, had been exceeding gracious in her behavior to him, keeping him for a considerable time engaged in agreeable converse; and then, after much courteous speech, she removed a ring from her finger and gave him to wear in token of her admiration of his genius and character. This being whispered from one to another, and much talk ensuing concerning of the many wonderful fine plays and poems he had writ, wherever he went he was regarded with
a singular curiousness and respect; and the chiefest of the nobles thronged up to him as though they were proud to be considered among the number of his friends.
"All is settled, sweet Master Shakspeare," whispered the young Lord Southampton to his friend, as they stood together toward the close of the evening in a corner of the room. "I have prevailed on her at last to risk a marriage with me."
"I wish you joy, my good lord," said the other with a very earnest sincerity. "I do believe Mistress Varnon to be in every way worthy of you, and I hope you will be as happy as both your hearts desire."
"I thank you, with all my hearts," replied his patron with a look of exceeding affection. "And there liveth none to whom I feel myself so deeply indebted. Indeed, I know not what I should have done had you not stepped in so opportunely to my rescue, and with your excellent rare wit set at naught the tyrannical devices of those who would put asunder two young hearts that love had joined. Surely no man ever had such true friend as I have found in you."
Nay, my good lord, you overvalue my poor service," observed Master Shakspeare in a kindred spirit.
"That can never be," exclaimed my Lord Southampton. "But I can not trust myself to say more on that head now. I will wait a better time."
"I'faith I am right glad to find I could turn the singing of madrigals to such good account," said his friend merrily. "Yet, I must say, 'twas not without infinite painstaking, I acquired the dignified approbation of Aunt Deborah; nevertheless, I have been so well repaid by the amusement I have had in noticing of her antiquated humor, I would cheerfully go through the same trouble to procure me the like sport."
"Alack, what a very absolute rage she will be in when she discovereth her niece hath given her the slip!" said the young noble. "But I do shrewdly suspect her greatest grief will be for the loss of her gallant. I have heard it said that she doth continually sigh for Master Dulcimer in a manner so profound, that it is quite pitiful to hear her; and when she doth fancy herself unseen of any, she will pace up and down her chamber, putting her embroidered handkerchief to her eyes, and turning up her eyes to the ceiling, and clasping of her hands together, and ever
and anon singing snatches of madrigals in the most delicate moving manner ever known."
"O'my life, 'tis wonderfully pathetic!" cried the other, laughing heartily, "but as I have no taste for antiquarian matters, methinks 'twould be as well were I to turn her over to Master Cotton, who, I doubt not, will make much of her, as he holds nothing in such estimation as ancient pictures and the like, and I will warrant her as old a piece of paintingjudging from her complexion-as he shall find anywhere out of a frame."
"Ha, sweet Will!" exclaimed Master Burbage coming up with Ben Jonson, as the other two were indulging themselves with their mirth. "Of what jest hast thou just been delivered? for I see there hath another been born of thy most multitudinous family."
Mayhap, it shall be nothing better than a new version of the old story," observed Ben Jonson. "Mons parturiens, nascitur mus."
"Nay, good Ben, I will not have it that way," said my Lord Southampton. mountain he may be-Olympus itself was scarce such another, but what is born of him hath nothing of the insignificance of a mouse."
"I would say here as many a tender housewife hath said before-let the mouse go," answered Master Shakspeare goodhumoredly. "Perchance my jests are but mice. Yet are they such as have too much wit in them to go into a trap. As for any disparaging words that may be spoken of this facetious varlet, mind them not, my good lord. Ben is like unto one of the heathen gods-he hath grown famous for devouring his own offspring."
"Go to!" exclaimed Ben Jonson, joining in the laugh of the others. "Thou hast done nothing of the sort I will be bound for't, with regard to thy words, for thou knowest well enough what poor eating they would make."
""Tis hard to say what hunger would do," remarked Master Burbage in the same merry humor. "Bears suck their own paws for lack of better victual; and if Will was reduced to a like strait, may hap he should be found driven to his wit's end' for a meal."
"Good, by my troth," cried Master Shakspeare.
"He would not be the first that had come to the extremity of living by his wits," said my Lord Southampton.
"I wish him no such bad fortune," remarked Ben Jonson. "Doubtless famine
is a great evil; but to get starved to death so rapidly as he must needs be, having come to so sorry a shift, is pitiable to think of."
"Save thy sympathy for thyself, Ben," replied his opponent. "Wert thou in such want, I have a huge suspicion thou wouldst discover that there could be no jesting with an empty stomach; for it is allowed I have wits to live upon, albeit there be no great provision-but that thou canst find diet of however poor a kind in a like circumstance, I have no such assurance."
most distinguished in the land—and as Master Shakspeare had ever ready some excellent fine conceit or another which did infinitely tickle the fancies of such as were within hearing, the mirth became louder, and the throng about him increased so prodigiously he could scarce move for the crowd.
"It is Master Shakspeare!" said one; and as soon as it got whispered about that he was uttering his notable witty sayings, the singers, and the musicians, and even the masquers and dancers were left unheeded; and these, beginning to You are merry, my masters!" ex-know the cause they were so abandoned, claimed my Lord Howard of Walden, with as absolute a curiosity as any, who, with two or three noblemen of his thronged as quickly as they might, towacquaintance, now came up, attracted by ard the same scene of attraction. It hapthe evident mirth of Master Shakspeare pened when the crowd was at its thickand his companions. "I warrant me you est, a message came from the queen's have said some choice conceit or anoth- majesty, who had noted the flocking of er. I pray you tell us what was the jest." the company to one place and had been "Indeed, it was scarce worth repeat- told the cause of it, for Master Shaking," observed Master Shakspeare, now speare to appear before her forthwith. with a monstrous grave countenance. "We were but admiring the infinite conscientiousness of a certain prudent gentlewoman, who, having in a fit of anger, called her husband 'a brute'-the which at that time she knew he was not, did as speedily as might be, verify the accusation because she would on no account acknowledge to the telling of an untruth." Upon this the laugh became louder than ever, and my Lord Howard did join in it as heartily as any, with a perfect innocency of the jest having been directed at him, although it was well known of the others to what it alluded.
"If we may judge of the firing of the report there must needs be a sharp engagement here," said Colonel Sir Francis Harquebus, joining the circle with several of his friends, who had also been drawn there by the seeming good humor of the group. "I trust there may not be many wounded on your side?"
"Nay, good colonel, stay you with us but a brief space you will find there be no need of any serious apprehension," replied Master Shakspeare in the same pleasant mood, whereupon the mirth broke out afresh. "Our ordnance doeth the clean contrary of that you have been used to. Perchance we shall keep up a constant fire when we enter the field, yet instead of lessening the forces engaged, we shall be continually adding to our numbers." And so it proved-for the frequent loud laughing of these few, every moment brought to them others of the company-many of whom were the
We charge you, Master Shakspeare, with high treason!" exclaimed Queen Elizabeth, when he presented himself according to her bidding, whereupon he began to be somewhat alarmed, and others nigh unto the presence were exceeding curious to know what he had done to bring upon himself so weighty an accusation.
"Please your majesty, I"
'The offence hath been proved to us," said the queen, interrupting of him very quickly, and then the courtiers looked marvellous serious. "You have drawn away divers of the subjects of this realm from their duty to their lawful sovereign, which is treason of the very greatest magnitude. Is it not so, Master Bacon?" inquired Queen Elizabeth, seeing that excellent fine lawyer in the circle before her.
'Please your majesty, there can be no doubt of it," replied he with a smile, for he saw into her majesty's humor-though few of the others were so quick witted.
"You have by sundry sorts of jests and other pointed weapons," continued the queen, "very dangerous when not in discreet and lawful hands, excited numberless of our nobles, and officers, besides others of lower quality, into violent disturbances against the peace of the realm. We charge you on your allegiance, confess what hath led you into this notorious misbehaving." As soon as they heard this speech, the courtiers seemed struck with a wonderful admiration of her majesty's conceit, and with very different