« ZurückWeiter »
be of great estate, and publicly was acknowledged to be his only son and heir, with the great rejoicing of a fine assembly—then, all daintily attired, he was a taking his leisure in a fair pleasance, with his adored Joanna, very lovingly, having his true friend, Harry Daring, in the back ground, after he had being doing of a good office even unto his much misliked acquaintance, Ralph Goshawkagain he was with Master Shakspeare and the players, receiving their congratulations on the success of a tragedy they had brought out for him, which had taken hugely with the spectators--and now he was with Sir Walter Raleigh in some place of office at court, discoursing very prettily on matters of state, and bearing it among the gallants as bravely as the best of them. Thus passed he the time till he was stirred up by the shrill voice of his uncle from below stairs, abusing him soundly for a lie-a-bed; at the which he got up and employed himself at the necessary drudgery of his miserly kinsman, till it was nigh unto the hour he was desired to go to Durham House, when, seeking occasion to be sent of an errand, in the which he succeeded so far as to be required to importune one who lacked the will or the means of paying-a thing he was oft obliged to do, yet never had any heart for-he proceeded on his way.
He had passed beyond the Temple Bar before the anxiousness which he was in allowed him to notice much what happened as he went, or the notable places in his progress: but as he now thought of the necessity of looking out for the place he was in search of, he soon found himself passing Essex House, then Arundel House-goodly mansions both; and then Somerset House (a right handsome pile), and the palace of the Savoy; and keeping along the garden walls attached to Worcester House, he got to Salisbury House; and a very delicate sight it was to notice these and other fine buildings on the banks of the Thames, with famous gardens and grounds (intersected by running streams) that went down to the water's edge; then keeping Covent Garden and the Strand Cross at his right, with the Maypole in the distance, he passed by the Ivy Bridge, and presently stood before a truly noble structure, which the passengers and wayfarers he had questioned of his way,
told him was Durham House. In truth, it must needs be a notable fine building, having been an inn of the bishops of Durham; and, latterly, the residence of the once mighty John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland.
On gaining admittance at the wicket he was sharply questioned of several tall serving men, clad in gay liveries, with silver badges on their left arms, who seemed loathe to let one of his humble appearance have speech with their master.
“ Ho, Roger! Timothy! Gabriel ! Thomas ! what now, I say?" called out old Stephen, as he slowly advanced towards the group, scanning them with a somewhat displeased aspect, “have ye so little respect for our master's house that ye loiter here gossiping together, whilst your duties stand unattended to ? In with ye, idlers !”
“ Here be a stranger, Stephen Shortcake, that seeketh our master," cried Roger.
" And he will have it Sir Walter bade him come,” exclaimed Timothy.
“ And he ventureth to say that he hath business with him," said Gabriel.
“ Worse than all, he will not budge till he hath had speech of him," added Thomas.
“ And who bade you be an hindrance to him?" asked Stephen sharply, after he had sufficiently scrutinised the modest demeanour of Master Francis. “ Have I not told ye, many a time and oft, that when a stranger presented himself seeking Sir Walter, and ye had doubts of his errand, ye were to call me?
Away with ye, knaves, and attend to the wants of our master's guests." Then, as soon as the serving men had disappeared into the house, which they did in marvellous quick time, the old man courteously addressed Master Francis thus: “I pray you, good youth, be not vexed at the churlishness of those varlets; follow me, if it please you, and I will take care that you shall have
opportunity to speak with Sir Walter: but that cannot be at present, for he hath with him a power of noble commanders, sea captains, men of war, and the like, talking upon pressing matters. If your business be not too urgent, doubtless it may tarry awhile and no loss happen.”
“ I would willingly wait Sir Walter Raleigh's leisure,” replied the youth.
“ Then come you with me and welcome,” said Stephen. “But let me tell you, without meaning offence in it, that at the present there be no vacancy for a serving man."
“ I seek no such office,” answered the youth, rather proudly; indeed so little did his ambition relish the idea of being considered only worthy to be a serving man, that he stopped of a sudden, and seemed inclined to turn back and give over all hope of advancement from that quarter.
“ Nay, take it not ill of me, I pray you," exclaimed the old man, who saw, by the confusion in the youth's countenance, that that which he had given utterance to had created some unpleasantness, “ for all that you be not so bountifully garnished as many who come here on such a seeking, I could swear, at a glimpse, you are well worthy better hap. Come on, I entreat of you; and though I be but Stephen Shortcake, yet having served Sir Walter Raleigh a long service, and, I trust, I may add a
faithful, he hath of his excellent goodness thought proper to advance me to his confidence, and to the office of butler; I may without presumption say I have some influence with him; and if I could do aught for you, believe me I shall be well inclined to say a good word in your behalf.”
“I am thankful for your kind offer,” replied Master Francis; and then, with an effort to conquer the disagreeableness of his feelings, he advanced with his companion into the house. The old butler appeared to be vastly taken with the youth ; but his quiet, pensive countenance, and his tall and elegant figure, were enough to have made friends for him wherever he went.
“ Come you with me, good sir," continued Stephen Shortcake, “I will see that your business be attended to at the first fitting time, and”
Here he brake off his speech at once, for coming to the door of the house as Sir Walter Raleigh and some friends were leaving it, he hastened to open the gates, and Master Francis drew aside to let the company pass.
“ I will see that every thing is got ready with proper speed,” said a very valiant looking gentleman, as he walked along.
“ Thanks, Sir John Burgh,” replied Sir Walter, “ I have set my all upon this cast, and so many brave spirits have embarked with me in the ad