“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.”