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such doings, and shewing him how like it was to lose him Sir Walter's favour, at the which the boy expressed such great contrition, with so very innocent a face, that the old steward was charmed with him, and gave him a cup of choice old wine to warm his young heart, as he said. Nevertheless, his contrition lasted not long, for the very next day Gabriel and Roger, two of the serving, men, fell into the brook, because of the plank going across
ing been sawn nearly through; and although upon close investigation it was found out nobody had done it, that it was a trick of Harry Daring's contrivance none doubted. During this time he discoursed frequently with Master Francis and others upon
what he would do when he was a venturing of himself in foreign parts; for the intended adventure in search of El Dorado suited his humour to a nicety, and he spoke of the exquisite fine fun he should have in the killing of Spaniards, with a wonderful degree of pleasantness, as if all other pastimes were as nought to it.
Now that preparations for the expedition were so far advanced, there was a large party of the gentlemen adventurers and the principal officers met at Sherborne, and with them a many of Sir Walter's choicest friends, to take leave of him. For two or three days these, his guests, were kept in the constant enjoyment of such pleasures as the country afforded. There was hunting and hawk
ing for some, and others seemed to take most delight in going a fishing: the dainty walks, the delicate orchards, the flowery gardens, and the solitary groves, did invite many to a stroll, where, as the gallants with their ladies passed along, mayhap they would come to a party of country people, dressed up very famously, dancing of a morrice to the pipe and tabor, or on a sudden their ears should be ravished with a concert of concealed music from all manner of sackbuts, cornets, flutes, and the like pleasant instruments. Then, when they got into the solitary groves, they should hear voices singing of a roundelay, and none could tell whence they cane, which made them all marvel exceedingly.
the evening there was dancing and singing of madrigals among the guests; and some did act in masques marvellous well devised, and others played them on the lute, the virginals, and the theorbo, to the complete enrapturing of the whole company: besides which there were some of the best musicians who could be had for money, and they were placed in different rooms, and, when desired, struck up most excellent sweet music.
Among the company there came the merry Alice and her lovers, and she being desirous of vexing them as much as possible for her own especial amusement, did dance oft and very lovingly with Master Francis, and appear wonderfully taken with him; and he, with a courteousness that was natural
to him, though his heart was not in it, at her requesting, did play the lover to her in jest, paying her such close attention as moved them all into a wondrous jealousy. Dr. Bashful sat himself in a corner, and would have speech of no one, he was so disturbed at the sight; others looked on exceeding melancholy and dejected; and Sir Narcissus Wrinkles, my Lord Wiseacre, and Master Aniseed, did get into such a rage, that after remarking unto each other the strange familiarities of the young heiress with Master Francis, it was resolved amongst them, that each should send him a challenge, not doubting that one or other should kill him, and so the survivors have the better chance. The next question was, who was to take the challenge; and whilst they were debating upon it, who should come up to them but Master Shakspeare, whom they all knew; and they instantly agreed it should be no other.
“ By Tartarus !” exclaimed Sir Narcissus, to him, "you are come in the very nick of time to do us three a marvellous piece of service."
“ Then have I come at the properest time I could have chosen," replied Master Shakspeare, very merrily. “What want you of me, my masters ? Hast got ever a message for a pretty woman? if so, I will do my best she shall like either the message or the messenger, so that she should be well pleased to hear more by the same conveyance."
Nay, it be a graver matter, I do assure you," said my Lord Wiseacre, with a monstrous serious countenance.
"Jest not at Death, else he may make your wit come to a sorry ending. You must know that a lady of no indifferent comeliness” —
“By this sword !” cried Master Aniseed, interrupting of the other, “ she be of such wonderful blessed condition that the enamoured air feedeth on the delicacy of her most absolute beauty, as”.
“ By Charon, she be the very sort of creature for any of us youth to love !” exclaimed Sir Narcissus. “ And she hath given me such abundance of her favour as to tell me she could not abide men in general, but that a young fellow of
my years was more entertaining to her than many others of riper age."
66 And of me she hath said that the very look of my face maketh her smile," observed my lord. 66. And it must be known unto
that women only smile upon those they most affect. They that be pleased shall have reason for smiling."
« Smile!” cried Master Aniseed, in a seeming ecstacy, “never did the cerulean heavens in sapphire beauteousness shine out on this terráqueous globe, as did this paragon of prodigal attractions smile on me, while to her ever attentive ear I poured out the infinite eloquence of my unfathomable affection. Nay, I would take upon me to swear, by the very everlastingness of my fantasy
that she hath as great regard for the many inconceivable fine qualities I have made manifest to her,
you shall find in a rat for a piece of rusty bacon that has been a little roasted at the fire.”
“Well, I dispute not what hath been said,” observed the old knight, “ but by Cerberus and all his heads ! if she loved not me as any pretty woman might regard one so young and active as am I, then know I not what loving be. However, up comes this pestilent varlet, Master Francis”-
“ Master Francis !” exclaimed Master Shakspeare, in some surprise.
“A paltry secretary,” added the retired ratcatcher, with a look of monstrous contempt.
“ A mere boy,” said my Lord Wiseacre, disdainfu, although he was not many years his senior.
gloomy Styx !” cried Sir Narcissus, “ If he be a boy then am I one likewise, for methinks we are much of an age: but whether or no, he hath had the abominable effrontery to thrust himself into the notice of Mistress Alice”
Speak you of Mistress Alice Throckmorton, my masters?” enquired Master Shakspeare, who now began to have some insight into the matter.
- You have her name of a surety," replied my Lord Wiseacre, very gravely.
* A good memory misnameth nothing."
** Ah, 'tis the delectable she herself,” added Master Aniseed, with a great earnestness. “The