“That sister of thine, Wayland,” he said, “has a fair neck to have been born in a smithy, and a pretty taper hand to have been used for twirling a spindle—faith, I’ll believe in your relationship when the crow’s egg is hatched into a cygnet.”
“Go to,” said Wayland, “thou art a prating boy, and should be breeched for thine assurance.”
“Well,” said the imp, drawing off, “all I say is—remember you have kept a secret from me, and if I give thee not a Roland for thine Oliver, my name is not Dickon Sludge!”
This threat, and the distance at which Hobgoblin kept from him for the rest of the way, alarmed Wayland very much, and he suggested to his pretended sister that, on pretext of weariness, she should express a desire to stop two or three miles short of the fair town of Warwick, promising to rejoin the troop in the morning. A small village inn afforded them a resting-place, and it was with secret pleasure that Wayland saw the whole party, including Dickon, pass on, after a courteous farewell, and leave them behind.
“To-morrow, madam,” he said to his charge, “we will, with your leave, again start early, and reach Kenilworth before the rout which are to assemble there.”
The Countess gave assent to the proposal of her faithful guide; but, somewhat to his surprise, said nothing further on the subject, which left Wayland under the disagreeable uncertainty whether or no she had formed any plan for her own future proceedings, as he knew her situation demanded circumspection, although he was but imperfectly acquainted with all its peculiarities. Concluding, however, that she must have friends within the castle, whose advice and assistance she could safely trust, he supposed his task would be best accomplished by conducting her thither in safety, agreeably to her repeated commands.
Hark, the bells summon,
and the bugle calls,
But she the fairest answers not—the tide
Of nobles and of ladies throngs the halls,
But she the loveliest must in secret hide.
What eyes were thine, proud Prince, which in the gleam
Of yon gay meteors lost that better sense,
That o’er the glow-worm doth the star esteem,
And merit’s modest blush o’er courtly insolence?
—The glass slipper.
The unfortunate Countess of Leicester had, from her infancy upwards, been treated by those around her with indulgence as unbounded as injudicious. The natural sweetness of her disposition had saved her from becoming insolent and ill-humoured; but the caprice which preferred the handsome and insinuating Leicester before Tressilian, of whose high honour and unalterable affection she herself entertained so firm an opinion—that fatal error, which ruined the happiness of her life, had its origin in the mistaken kindness; that had spared her childhood the painful but most necessary lesson of submission and self-command. From the same indulgence it followed that she had only been accustomed to form and to express her wishes, leaving to others the task of fulfilling them; and thus, at the most momentous period of her life, she was alike destitute of presence of mind, and of ability to form for herself any reasonable or prudent plan of conduct.