Elizabeth again looked towards Leicester, and said, with a degree of condescension which could only arise out of the most heartfelt interest, “Discord, as the Italian poet says, will find her way into peaceful convents, as well as into the privacy of families; and we fear our own guards and ushers will hardly exclude her from courts. My Lord of Leicester, you are offended with us, and we have right to be offended with you. We will take the lion’s part upon us, and be the first to forgive.”
Leicester smoothed his brow, as by an effort; but the trouble was too deep-seated that its placidity should at once return. He said, however, that which fitted the occasion, “That he could not have the happiness of forgiving, because she who commanded him to do so could commit no injury towards him.”
Elizabeth seemed content with this reply, and intimated her pleasure that the sports of the morning should proceed. The bugles sounded, the hounds bayed, the horses pranced—but the courtiers and ladies sought the amusement to which they were summoned with hearts very different from those which had leaped to the morning’s REVIELLE. There was doubt, and fear, and expectation on every brow, and surmise and intrigue in every whisper.
Blount took an opportunity to whisper into Raleigh’s ear, “This storm came like a levanter in the Mediterranean.”
“VARIUM et MUTABILE,” answered Raleigh, in a similar tone.
“Nay, I know nought of your Latin,” said Blount; “but I thank God Tressilian took not the sea during that hurricane. He could scarce have missed shipwreck, knowing as he does so little how to trim his sails to a court gale.”
“Thou wouldst have instructed him!” said Raleigh.
“Why, I have profited by my time as well as thou, Sir Walter,” replied honest Blount. “I am knight as well as thou, and of the earlier creation.”
“Now, God further thy wit,” said Raleigh. “But for Tressilian, I would I knew what were the matter with him. He told me this morning he would not leave his chamber for the space of twelve hours or thereby, being bound by a promise. This lady’s madness, when he shall learn it, will not, I fear, cure his infirmity. The moon is at the fullest, and men’s brains are working like yeast. But hark! they sound to mount. Let us to horse, Blount; we young knights must deserve our spurs.”
Thou first of virtues! let no mortal leave
Thy onward path, although the earth should gape,
And from the gulf of hell destruction cry,
To take dissimulation’s winding way. —Douglas.