“He will do well to follow your advice, young mistress,” said the deep voice which had previously sounded in Dick’s ears; “if he had taken mine, he would not have voluntarily thrust himself into the fangs of the tiger, from which it is well for him that he has escaped with a whole skin.”
As this was said, Dick and his mistress turned towards the speaker, and beheld a tall man, masked, and muffled in a black cloak.
“Heaven shield us! ’tis the Enemy!” exclaimed Gillian, trembling.
“Not so, fair damsel,” replied the disguised personage; “I am not the arch-enemy of man, neither am I enemy of yours, nor of Dick Taverner. Your froward lover neglected my previous caution, but I will give him another, in the hope that you may induce him to profit by it. Let him keep out of the reach of Sir Giles Mompesson’s emissaries, or his wedding-day will be longer in coming than you both hope for. Nay, it may not come at all.”
With these words, the man in the mask mingled with the crowd, and almost instantly disappeared, leaving the young couple, especially Gillian, in much consternation. So earnest was the maiden for instant departure, that Dick was obliged to comply; and as the whole of the thoroughfares about Whitehall were impassable, they proceeded to the river side, and took boat for London Bridge, at a hostel near which old Greenford had put up his horse.
Meanwhile, the procession was pursuing its slow course towards the tilt-yard. It returned by the route it had taken in coming; but it now kept on the north side of King Street, which thoroughfare was divided in the midst by a railing, and deeply sanded.
Here, as in the area before Westminster-hall, not a wall, not a window, not a roof, but had its occupants. The towers of the two great gates were thronged—so were the roofs of the tennis-court and the manege, and the summit of the cock-pit; the latter, indeed, was a capital position inasmuch as it not only afforded an excellent view of the procession, but commanded the interior of the tilt-yard. No wonder, therefore, that great efforts should be made to obtain a place upon it, nor is it surprising that our old friend, Madame Bonaventure, who had by no means lost her influence among the court gallants, though she lacked, the support of Lord Roos, owing to the absence of that young nobleman upon his travels,—it is not surprising, we say, that she should be among the favoured individuals who had secured a position there. Undoubtedly, she would have preferred a seat amongst the court dames in the galleries of the tilt-yard, but as this was unattainable, she was obliged to be content; and, indeed, she had no reason to complain, for she saw quite as much as those inside, and was more at her ease.