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"At first he would not see me. He's as proud as Ajax, Cecyl! Then I sent him word the Captain o' the Guard would be admitted. Angrily, for I heard him, he cried, 'Bid him begone!' and a surly fellow, heavily armed, held his partizan near enough, I promise ye. ''Tis o' the Queen's affairs,' said I. ''Tis false !' he answered. My blood could brook no more. Straightway I entered past his Cerberus. 'Zounds, how he stormed! His hand on the pommel of his tuck. 'Begone, Sir Knave, or I shall thrust your unhappy carrion out o' window!' Be sure I let him wag: losers have some privilege; and, while he fanned his fury by upbraiding me, I cooled my indignation, thinking what a poor thing is an angry man."
"Oh—on, Sir Walter!"
"Well, he drew breath at last. I doffed my hat. 'Sir Earl,' quoth I, making a leg—' Sir Earl, an you like not the messenger, belike you'll not love the message.' 'Spare your compliments, sirrah!' he shouted—an he had not been over-wrought with over-riding, half asleep, and, as I take it, pursued by a diarrhœa, believe me, but he'd ha' broken the Snuff. 213
statute and have drawn on me. I never saw man so exquisitely enraged."
"You gave her Grace's word?"
"Ay, marry, trust me for that! 'Twas not worth worrying him farther; and in few I told him her Grace was pleased to order his strict confinement to his lodgings."
"How was that borne—eh?"
"Patiently enow. He was perplexed and calmed o' the instant, like a hot iron cast into cold water. I spake not. He waved me forth silently, and cast himself within."
"'Tis well—all well, Sir Walter!"
"In my conceit, Sir Robert, 'tis on more ticklish ground than ever! 'Twas not 'long o' your whining her Grace clapped him up. You would have toiled in't in vain."
"How know'st that?"
"Oh, no matter!"
"I thought, Sir Walter, we were at one in this"
"Then let me know how this came about—'tis only . fair."
"You have not told me yet what passed in Council."
"That I may not by my oath"
"Oath me no oaths! An two saw together, one must needs be o' top: yet both have hold o' the tool."
"Well, would you, Sir Walter, wrench the instrument from my hands?"
"Nay—nay! But thus it stands, either we shall work at cross-purposes, and so undermine and explode each other's plots, or we must undertake together; your motives and your acts and mine must be in consent. The Earl's a knot we must cut through, or give over our trade; and, for my part, I care not who guides the weapon, so"
"Stay, good Sir Walter!"
"I am not the man to halt. With you, or without you, Cecyl, my brain is capable: I have, and can hold her Grace's favour. I am as fit, or fitter for the highest offices as you, or any. None but Essex is in my way. I am ill content to justle under the wheels of Fortune when I should ride in her car."
"Good Sir Walter, I am your friend"
"I know't not—I know't not! I'll not dwell i' the purlieus of any man's good-will. Hand and glove, say I."
"Then hand and glove, Sir Walter!"
"There's a flag for you. Sir!" The Humorous Lieutenant, act in. sc. vi.
O Sir William Cheney gat him home, for his heart yearned towards his parents and his little ones; and the sense that he had left dear Helen sighing. till his return, had made the Irish' war as irksome to his feelings as it was wanting in those chivalrous exploits which were wont to excite his adventurous spirit. He came, having passed dangers many and great in that campaign; nay, more and fiercer than he had met on the Spanish Main, or yet in Portingale. He came, having gained his spurs honourably on a well-foughten field—having, at his life's peril, served his friend at dearest need; and he would now hang up in the Old Church of Chenies his Azure flag, its bright silver Cross-flory untarnished, as erst had been the trophies of his ancestors.
And there were glad greetings in the porch, and tears of joy fell fast. Sir Thomas, having experience, had dreaded the climate, and Dame Elizabeth remembered tales of Salvage massacres. Fond Helen! Who but a wife can ken those throbs which her forlorn breast sustained? But all was peace now! And, with a thankfulness for mercies which matched their patience under grief, the pious family again knelt together.
And the pretty sweetings—those little love-knots that tie the parents to each other—those flowering creepers, which in one affection bind up generations, the hard old oak and the tender sapling—those little visible cherubim of God, which ever perch upon that dreary ladder which rests on Earth, but hath its top in Heaven: your Robin, Tom, and Nell, how they did frolick, and cheer, and nestle around their happy father! But, oh! you must have come back to your own home, ere you shall know the motions of William's heart; and you must have had some anxious cares for those afar, ere you mail feel what the good folk of Chenies felt that day!