Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.
felt much compassion at beholding so lovely a creature as the Countess, and whom he had first seen in the bosom of domestic happiness, exposed to the machinations of such a gang of villains.  His indignation, too, had been highly excited by hearing the voice of his old master, against whom he felt, in equal degree, the passions of hatred and fear.  He nourished also a pride in his own art and resources; and, dangerous as the task was, he that night formed a determination to attain the bottom of the mystery, and to aid the distressed lady, if it were yet possible.  From some words which Lambourne had dropped among his ravings, Wayland now, for the first time, felt inclined to doubt that Varney had acted entirely on his own account in wooing and winning the affections of this beautiful creature.  Fame asserted of this zealous retainer that he had accommodated his lord in former love intrigues; and it occurred to Wayland Smith that Leicester himself might be the party chiefly interested.  Her marriage with the Earl he could not suspect; but even the discovery of such a passing intrigue with a lady of Mistress Amy Robsart’s rank was a secret of the deepest importance to the stability of the favourite’s power over Elizabeth.  “If Leicester himself should hesitate to stifle such a rumour by very strange means,” said he to himself, “he has those about him who would do him that favour without waiting for his consent.  If I would meddle in this business, it must be in such guise as my old master uses when he compounds his manna of Satan, and that is with a close mask on my face.  So I will quit Giles Gosling to-morrow, and change my course and place of residence as often as a hunted fox.  I should like to see this little Puritan, too, once more.  She looks both pretty and intelligent to have come of such a caitiff as Anthony Fire-the-Fagot.”

Giles Gosling received the adieus of Wayland rather joyfully than otherwise.  The honest publican saw so much peril in crossing the course of the Earl of Leicester’s favourite that his virtue was scarce able to support him in the task, and he was well pleased when it was likely to be removed from his shoulders still, however, professing his good-will, and readiness, in case of need, to do Mr. Tressilian or his emissary any service, in so far as consisted with his character of a publican.

CHAPTER XXI.

     Vaulting ambition, that o’erleaps itself,
     And falls on t’other side. —­MACBETH.

The splendour of the approaching revels at Kenilworth was now the conversation through all England; and everything was collected at home, or from abroad, which could add to the gaiety or glory of the prepared reception of Elizabeth at the house of her most distinguished favourite, Meantime Leicester appeared daily to advance in the Queen’s favour.  He was perpetually by her side in council—­willingly listened to in the moments of courtly recreation—­favoured with approaches even to familiar intimacy—­looked up to by all who had aught to hope at court—­courted by foreign ministers with the most flattering testimonies of respect from their sovereigns,—­the alter Ego, as it seemed, of the stately Elizabeth, who was now very generally supposed to be studying the time and opportunity for associating him, by marriage, into her sovereign power.

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Kenilworth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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