“I have given him,” she said, “all that woman has to give. Name and fame, heart and hand, have I given the lord of all this magnificence at the altar, and England’s Queen could give him no more. He is my husband—I am his wife—whom God hath joined, man cannot sunder. I will be bold in claiming my right; even the bolder, that I come thus unexpected, and thus forlorn. I know my noble Dudley well! He will be something impatient at my disobeying him, but Amy will weep, and Dudley will forgive her.”
These meditations were interrupted by a cry of surprise from her guide Wayland, who suddenly felt himself grasped firmly round the body by a pair of long, thin black arms, belonging to some one who had dropped himself out of an oak tree upon the croup of his horse, amidst the shouts of laughter which burst from the sentinels.
“This must be the devil, or Flibbertigibbet again!” said Wayland, after a vain struggle to disengage himself, and unhorse the urchin who clung to him; “do Kenilworth oaks bear such acorns?”
“In sooth do they, Master Wayland,” said his unexpected adjunct, “and many others, too hard for you to crack, for as old as you are, without my teaching you. How would you have passed the pursuivant at the upper gate yonder, had not I warned him our principal juggler was to follow us? And here have I waited for you, having clambered up into the tree from the top of the wain; and I suppose they are all mad for want of me by this time.”
“Nay, then, thou art a limb of the devil in good earnest,” said Wayland. “I give thee way, good imp, and will walk by thy counsel; only, as thou art powerful be merciful.”
As he spoke, they approached a strong tower, at the south extremity of the long bridge we have mentioned, which served to protect the outer gateway of the Castle of Kenilworth.
Under such disastrous circumstances, and in such singular company, did the unfortunate Countess of Leicester approach, for the first time, the magnificent abode of her almost princely husband.