Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.
and thou, like a purblind mole, must needs believe in ghosts and goblins, and such like.  Now, there is, besides, a great man—­that is, a great little man, or a little great man, my dear Lawrence—­and his name begins with V, and what believes he?  Why, nothing, honest Lawrence—­nothing in earth, heaven, or hell; and for my part, if I believe there is a devil, it is only because I think there must be some one to catch our aforesaid friend by the back ‘when soul and body sever,’ as the ballad says; for your antecedent will have a consequent—­RARO ANTECEDENTEM, as Doctor Bircham was wont to say.  But this is Greek to you now, honest Lawrence, and in sooth learning is dry work.  Hand me the pitcher once more.”

“In faith, if you drink more, Michael,” said the warder, “you will be in sorry case either to play Arion or to wait on your master on such a solemn night; and I expect each moment to hear the great bell toll for the muster at Mortimer’s Tower, to receive the Queen.”

While Staples remonstrated, Lambourne drank; and then setting down the pitcher, which was nearly emptied, with a deep sigh, he said, in an undertone, which soon rose to a high one as his speech proceeded, “Never mind, Lawrence; if I be drunk, I know that shall make Varney uphold me sober.  But, as I said, never mind; I can carry my drink discreetly.  Moreover, I am to go on the water as Orion, and shall take cold unless I take something comfortable beforehand.  Not play Orion?  Let us see the best roarer that ever strained his lungs for twelve pence out-mouth me!  What if they see me a little disguised?  Wherefore should any man be sober to-night? answer me that.  It is matter of loyalty to be merry; and I tell thee there are those in the Castle who, if they are not merry when drunk, have little chance to be merry when sober—­I name no names, Lawrence.  But your pottle of sack is a fine shoeing-horn to pull on a loyal humour, and a merry one.  Huzza for Queen Elizabeth!—­for the noble Leicester!—­for the worshipful Master Varney!—­and for Michael Lambourne, that can turn them all round his finger!”

So saying, he walked downstairs, and across the inner court.

The warder looked after him, shook his head, and while he drew close and locked a wicket, which, crossing the staircase, rendered it impossible for any one to ascend higher than the story immediately beneath Mervyn’s Bower, as Tressilian’s chamber was named, he thus soliloquized with himself—­“It’s a good thing to be a favourite.  I well-nigh lost mine office, because one frosty morning Master Varney thought I smelled of aqua vitae; and this fellow can appear before him drunk as a wineskin, and yet meet no rebuke.  But then he is a pestilent clever fellow withal, and no one can understand above one half of what he says.”

CHAPTER XXX.

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Kenilworth from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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