“Thanks, good Master Serving-man,” said the boy, and was out of sight in an instant.
Leicester and Varney returned with hasty steps to the Earl’s private apartment, by the same passage which had conducted them to Saintlowe’s Tower.
I have said
This is an adulteress—I have said with whom:
More, she’s a traitor, and Camillo is
A federary with her, and one that knows
What she should shame to know herself. —WINTER’S tale.
They were no sooner in the Earl’s cabinet than, taking his tablets from his pocket, he began to write, speaking partly to Varney, and partly to himself—“There are many of them close bounden to me, and especially those in good estate and high office—many who, if they look back towards my benefits, or forward towards the perils which may befall themselves, will not, I think, be disposed to see me stagger unsupported. Let me see—Knollis is sure, and through his means Guernsey and Jersey. Horsey commands in the Isle of Wight. My brother-in-law, Huntingdon, and Pembroke, have authority in Wales. Through Bedford I lead the Puritans, with their interest, so powerful in all the boroughs. My brother of Warwick is equal, well-nigh, to myself, in wealth, followers, and dependencies. Sir Owen Hopton is at my devotion; he commands the Tower of London, and the national treasure deposited there. My father and grand-father needed never to have stooped their heads to the block had they thus forecast their enterprises.—Why look you so sad, Varney? I tell thee, a tree so deep-rooted is not so easily to be torn up by the tempest.”
“Alas! my lord,” said Varney, with well-acted passion, and then resumed the same look of despondency which Leicester had before noted.
“Alas!” repeated Leicester; “and wherefore alas, Sir Richard? Doth your new spirit of chivalry supply no more vigorous ejaculation when a noble struggle is impending? Or, if alas means thou wilt flinch from the conflict, thou mayest leave the Castle, or go join mine enemies, whichever thou thinkest best.”
“Not so, my lord,” answered his confidant; “Varney will be found fighting or dying by your side. Forgive me, if, in love to you, I see more fully than your noble heart permits you to do, the inextricable difficulties with which you are surrounded. You are strong, my lord, and powerful; yet, let me say it without offence, you are so only by the reflected light of the Queen’s favour. While you are Elizabeth’s favourite, you are all, save in name, like an actual sovereign. But let her call back the honours she has bestowed, and the prophet’s gourd did not wither more suddenly. Declare against the Queen, and I do not say that in the wide nation, or in this province alone, you would find yourself instantly deserted and outnumbered; but I will say, that even in this very Castle, and in the midst of