« AnteriorContinua »
Blount was satisfied with his decision.« I knew mine was finest,» he said ; - if that knave Doublestitch had brought me home such a simple doublet as that of Raleigh's, I would have beat his brains out with his own pressing-iron. Nay, if we must be fools, ever let us be fools of the first head, say I.»
« But why gettest thou not on thy braveries, Tressilian? » said Raleigh.
“I am excluded from my apartment by a silly mistake , » said Tressilian, «and separated for the time from my baggage. I was about to seek thee, to beseech a share of thy lodging. »'
« And welcome, » said Raleigh; « it is a noble one. My Lord of Leicester has done us that kindness , and lodged us in princely fashion. If his courtesy be extorted reluctantly, it is at least extended far. I would advise you to tell your streight to the Earl's chamberlain – you will have instant redress. »
« Nay, it is not worth while , since you can spare me room, » replied Tressilian — «I would not be troublesome. - Has any one come hither with you? »
«0, ay, » said Blount; « Varney and a whole tribe of Leicestrians, besides about a score of us honest Sussex folks. —- We are all, it seems, to receive the Queen at what they call the Gallery-tower, and witness some fooleries there; and then we're to remain in attendance upon the Queen in the Great Hall, God bless the mark , while those who are now waiting upon her Grace
get rid of their slough, and doff their ridingsuits. Heaven help me, if her Grace should speak to me, I shall never know what to answer! »
« And what has detained them so long at Warwick ? » said Tressilian, unwilling that their conversation should return to his own affairs.
« Such a succession of fooleries, » said Blount « as were never seen at Bartholomew-fair. We have had speeches and players, and dogs and bears, and men making inonkies, and women moppets of themselves — I marvel the Queen could endureit. But ever and anon came in something of the lovely light of her gracious countenance', or some such trash. Ah! vanity makes a fool of the wisest. But, come, let us on to this same Gallery-tower, – though I see not what thou , Tressilian, canst do with thy ridingdress and boots. »
« I will take my station behind thee, Blount, » said Tressilian, who saw that his friend's unusual finery had taken a strong hold of his imagination; «thy goodly size and gay dress will cover my defects. » : « And so thou shalt , Edmund, » said Blount. « In faith I am glad thou think'st my garb wellfancied, for all Master Wittypate here; for when one does a foolish thing, it is right to do it handsomely. »
So saying, Blount cocked his beaver, threw out his leg , and marched manfully forward, as if at the head of his brigade of pikemen, ever and anon looking with complaisance on his
crimson stockings, and the huge yellow roses which blossomed on his shoes. Tressilian followed, wrapped in his own sad thoughts, and scarce minding Raleigh, whose quick fancy, amused by the awkward vanity of his respectable friend, vented itself in jests, which he whispered into Tressilian's ear.
In this manner they crossed the long bridge, or tilt-yard , and took their station , with other gentlemen of quality, before the outergate of the Gallery or Entrance-tower. The whole amounted to about forty persons, all selected as of the first rank under that of knighthood, and were disposed in double rows on either side of the gate, like a guard of honour, within the close hedge of pikes and partizans, which was formed by Leicester's retainers, wearing his liveries. The gentlemen carried no arms , save their swords and daggers. These gallants were as gaily dressed as imagination could devise ; and as the garb of the time permitted a great display of expensive magnificence, nought was to be seen but velvet and cloth of gold and silver, ribands , feathers , gems, and golden chains. In spite of his more serious subjects of distress , Tressilian could not help feeling , that he , with his riding-suit, however handsome it might be, made rather an unworthy figure among these « fierce vanities, » and the rather because he saw that his dishabille was the subject of wonder among his own friends, and of scorn among the partizans of Leicester.
We could not suppress this fact, though it may seem something at variance with the gravity of Tressilian's character; but the truth is, that aregard for personal appearance is a species of self-love, from which the wisest are not exempt, and to which the mind clings so instinctively, that not only the soldier advancing to almost inevitable death, but even the doomed criminal who goes to certain execution, shews an anxiety to array his person to the best advantage. But this is a digression.
It was the twilight of a summer night, (gth July, 1575,) the sun having for some time set, and all were in anxious expectation of the Queen's immediate approach. The multitude had remained assembled for many hours, and their numbers were still rather on the increase. A profuse distribution of refreshments, together with roasted oxen, and barrels of ale set a-broach in different places of the road, had kept the populace in perfect love and loyalty towards the Queen and her favourite, which might have somewhat abated had fasting been added to watching. They passed away the time, therefore, with the usual popular amusements of whooping, hallooing, shrieking, and playing rude tricks upon each other, forming the chorus of discordant sounds usual on such occasions. These prevailed all through the crowded roads and fields, and especially beyond the gate of the Chace, where the greater number of the common sort were stationed; when, all of a sudden,
single rocket was seen to shoot into the atmosphere, and, at the instant, far-heard over flood and field, the great bell of the Castle tolled.
Immediately there was a pause of dead silence, succeeded by a deep hum of expectation, the united voice of many thousands, none of whom spoke above their breath; or, to use a singular expression, the whisper of an immense multitude.
« They come now, for certain, » said Raleigh. « Tressilian; that sound is grand. We hear it from this distance, as mariners , after a long voyage, hear, upon their night-watch , the tide rush upon some distant and unknown shore.»
«Mass ! » answered Blount; «I hear it rather as I used to hear mine own kine lowing from the close of Wittens-westlowe. »
« He will assuredly graze presently, » said Raleigh to Tressilian; « his thought is all of fat oxen and fertile meadows—he grows little better than one of his own beeves, and only becomes grand when he is provoked to pushing and goring.»
« We shall have him at that presently, »said Tressilian, « if you spare not your wit. »
« Tush, I care not , » answered Raleigh ; « but thou too, Tressilian, hast turned a kind of owl, that flies only by night; hast exchanged thy songs for screechings, and good company for an ivy-tod.»
« But what manner of animal art thou thyself, Raleigh , » said Tressilian, « that thou holdest us all so lightly ? »