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Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.

There is no period at which men look worse in the eyes of each other, or feel more uncomfortable, than when the first dawn of daylight finds them watchers.  Even a beauty of the first order, after the vigils of a ball are interrupted by the dawn, would do wisely to withdraw herself from the gaze of her fondest and most partial admirers.  Such was the pale, inauspicious, and ungrateful light which began to beam upon those who kept watch all night in the hall at Sayes Court, and which mingled its cold, pale, blue diffusion with the red, yellow, and smoky beams of expiring lamps and torches.  The young gallant, whom we noticed in our last chapter, had left the room for a few minutes, to learn the cause of a knocking at the outward gate, and on his return was so struck with the forlorn and ghastly aspects of his companions of the watch that he exclaimed, “Pity of my heart, my masters, how like owls you look!  Methinks, when the sun rises, I shall see you flutter off with your eyes dazzled, to stick yourselves into the next ivy-tod or ruined steeple.”

“Hold thy peace, thou gibing fool,” said Blount; “hold thy peace.  Is this a time for jeering, when the manhood of England is perchance dying within a wall’s breadth of thee?”

“There thou liest,” replied the gallant.

“How, lie!” exclaimed Blount, starting up, “lie! and to me?”

“Why, so thou didst, thou peevish fool,” answered the youth; “thou didst lie on that bench even now, didst thou not?  But art thou not a hasty coxcomb to pick up a wry word so wrathfully?  Nevertheless, loving and, honouring my lord as truly as thou, or any one, I do say that, should Heaven take him from us, all England’s manhood dies not with him.”

“Ay,” replied Blount, “a good portion will survive with thee, doubtless.”

“And a good portion with thyself, Blount, and with stout Markham here, and Tracy, and all of us.  But I am he will best employ the talent Heaven has given to us all.”

“As how, I prithee?” said Blount; “tell us your mystery of multiplying.”

“Why, sirs,” answered the youth, “ye are like goodly land, which bears no crop because it is not quickened by manure; but I have that rising spirit in me which will make my poor faculties labour to keep pace with it.  My ambition will keep my brain at work, I warrant thee.”

“I pray to God it does not drive thee mad,” said Blount; “for my part, if we lose our noble lord, I bid adieu to the court and to the camp both.  I have five hundred foul acres in Norfolk, and thither will I, and change the court pantoufle for the country hobnail.”

“O base transmutation!” exclaimed his antagonist; “thou hast already got the true rustic slouch—­thy shoulders stoop, as if thine hands were at the stilts of the plough; and thou hast a kind of earthy smell about thee, instead of being perfumed with essence, as a gallant and courtier should.  On my soul, thou hast stolen out to roll thyself on a hay mow!  Thy only excuse will be to swear by thy hilts that the farmer had a fair daughter.”

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