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Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.

“I have heard of such things in Germany,” said Leicester.

“Ay, and the most learned doctors in foreign universities justify the practice from the Old Testament,” said Varney.  “And after all, where is the harm?  The beautiful partner whom you have chosen for true love has your secret hours of relaxation and affection.  Her fame is safe her conscience may slumber securely.  You have wealth to provide royally for your issue, should Heaven bless you with offspring.  Meanwhile you may give to Elizabeth ten times the leisure, and ten thousand times the affection, that ever Don Philip of Spain spared to her sister Mary; yet you know how she doted on him though so cold and neglectful.  It requires but a close mouth and an open brow, and you keep your Eleanor and your fair Rosamond far enough separate.  Leave me to build you a bower to which no jealous Queen shall find a clew.”

Leicester was silent for a moment, then sighed, and said, “It is impossible.  Good night, Sir Richard Varney—­yet stay.  Can you guess what meant Tressilian by showing himself in such careless guise before the Queen to-day?—­to strike her tender heart, I should guess, with all the sympathies due to a lover abandoned by his mistress and abandoning himself.”

Varney, smothering a sneering laugh, answered, “He believed Master Tressilian had no such matter in his head.”

“How!” said Leicester; “what meanest thou?  There is ever knavery in that laugh of thine, Varney.”

“I only meant, my lord,” said Varney, “that Tressilian has taken the sure way to avoid heart-breaking.  He hath had a companion—­a female companion—­a mistress—­a sort of player’s wife or sister, as I believe—­with him in Mervyn’s Bower, where I quartered him for certain reasons of my own.”

“A mistress!—­meanest thou a paramour?”

“Ay, my lord; what female else waits for hours in a gentleman’s chamber?”

“By my faith, time and space fitting, this were a good tale to tell,” said Leicester.  “I ever distrusted those bookish, hypocritical, seeming-virtuous scholars.  Well—­Master Tressilian makes somewhat familiar with my house; if I look it over, he is indebted to it for certain recollections.  I would not harm him more than I can help.  Keep eye on him, however, Varney.”

“I lodged him for that reason,” said Varney, “in Mervyn’s Tower, where he is under the eye of my very vigilant, if he were not also my very drunken, servant, Michael Lambourne, whom I have told your Grace of.”

“Grace!” said Leicester; “what meanest thou by that epithet?”

“It came unawares, my lord; and yet it sounds so very natural that I cannot recall it.”

“It is thine own preferment that hath turned thy brain,” said Leicester, laughing; “new honours are as heady as new wine.”

“May your lordship soon have cause to say so from experience,” said Varney; and wishing his patron good night, he withdrew. [See Note 8.  Furniture of Kenilworth.]

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