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Kenilworth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 550 pages of information about Kenilworth.
your vassals, kinsmen, and dependants, you would be a captive, nay, a sentenced captive, should she please to say the word.  Think upon Norfolk, my lord—­upon the powerful Northumberland—­the splendid Westmoreland;—­think on all who have made head against this sage Princess.  They are dead, captive, or fugitive.  This is not like other thrones, which can be overturned by a combination of powerful nobles; the broad foundations which support it are in the extended love and affections of the people.  You might share it with Elizabeth if you would; but neither yours, nor any other power, foreign or domestic, will avail to overthrow, or even to shake it.”

He paused, and Leicester threw his tablets from him with an air of reckless despite.  “It may be as thou sayest,” he said? “and, in sooth, I care not whether truth or cowardice dictate thy forebodings.  But it shall not be said I fell without a struggle.  Give orders that those of my retainers who served under me in Ireland be gradually drawn into the main Keep, and let our gentlemen and friends stand on their guard, and go armed, as if they expected arm onset from the followers of Sussex.  Possess the townspeople with some apprehension; let them take arms, and be ready, at a given signal, to overpower the Pensioners and Yeomen of the Guard.”

“Let me remind you, my lord,” said Varney, with the same appearance of deep and melancholy interest, “that you have given me orders to prepare for disarming the Queen’s guard.  It is an act of high treason, but you shall nevertheless be obeyed.”

“I care not,” said Leicester desperately—­“I care not.  Shame is behind me, ruin before me; I must on.”

Here there was another pause, which Varney at length broke with the following words:  “It is come to the point I have long dreaded.  I must either witness, like an ungrateful beast, the downfall of the best and kindest of masters, or I must speak what I would have buried in the deepest oblivion, or told by any other mouth than mine.”

“What is that thou sayest, or wouldst say?” replied the Earl; “we have no time to waste on words when the times call us to action.”

“My speech is soon made, my lord—­would to God it were as soon answered!  Your marriage is the sole cause of the threatened breach with your Sovereign, my lord, is it not?”

“Thou knowest it is!” replied Leicester.  “What needs so fruitless a question?”

“Pardon me, my lord,” said Varney; “the use lies here.  Men will wager their lands and lives in defence of a rich diamond, my lord; but were it not first prudent to look if there is no flaw in it?”

“What means this?” said Leicester, with eyes sternly fixed on his dependant; “of whom dost thou dare to speak?”

“It is—­of the Countess Amy, my lord, of whom I am unhappily bound to speak; and of whom I will speak, were your lordship to kill me for my zeal.”

“Thou mayest happen to deserve it at my hand,” said the Earl; “but speak on, I will hear thee.”

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