“See you, sir!” said he, “I have changed my garb from that of a farrier to a serving-man; but were it still as it was, look at my moustaches. They now hang down; I will but turn them up, and dye them with a tincture that I know of, and the devil would scarce know me again.”
He accompanied these words with the appropriate action, and in less than a minute, by setting up, his moustaches and his hair, he seemed a different person from him that had but now entered the room. Still, however, Tressilian hesitated to accept his services, and the artist became proportionably urgent.
“I owe you life and limb,” he said, “and I would fain pay a part of the debt, especially as I know from Will Badger on what dangerous service your worship is bound. I do not, indeed, pretend to be what is called a man of mettle, one of those ruffling tear-cats who maintain their master’s quarrel with sword and buckler. Nay, I am even one of those who hold the end of a feast better than the beginning of a fray. But I know that I can serve your worship better, in such quest as yours, than any of these sword-and-dagger men, and that my head will be worth an hundred of their hands.”
Tressilian still hesitated. He knew not much of this strange fellow, and was doubtful how far he could repose in him the confidence necessary to render him a useful attendant upon the present emergency. Ere he had come to a determination, the trampling of a horse was heard in the courtyard, and Master Mumblazen and Will Badger both entered hastily into Tressilian’s chamber, speaking almost at the same moment.
“Here is a serving-man on the bonniest grey tit I ever see’d in my life,” said Will Badger, who got the start—“having on his arm a silver cognizance, being a fire-drake holding in his mouth a brickbat, under a coronet of an Earl’s degree,” said Master Mumblazen, “and bearing a letter sealed of the same.”
Tressilian took the letter, which was addressed “To the worshipful Master Edmund Tressilian, our loving kinsman—These—ride, ride, ride—for thy life, for thy life, for thy life.” He then opened it, and found the following contents:—
“Master Tressilian, our good friend and cousin,
“We are at present so ill at ease, and otherwise so unhappily circumstanced, that we are desirous to have around us those of our friends on whose loving-kindness we can most especially repose confidence; amongst whom we hold our good Master Tressilian one of the foremost and nearest, both in good will and good ability. We therefore pray you, with your most convenient speed, to repair to our poor lodging, at Sayes Court, near Deptford, where we will treat further with you of matters which we deem it not fit to commit unto writing. And so we bid you heartily farewell, being your loving kinsman to command,
“Ratcliffe, earl of Sussex.”