“She should consider,” said Varney, smiling, “the true faith I owed my lord and master prevented me at first from counselling marriage; and yet I did counsel marriage when I saw she would not be satisfied without the—the sacrament, or the ceremony—which callest thou it, Anthony?”
“Still she has you at feud on another score,” said Foster; “and I tell it you that you may look to yourself in time. She would not hide her splendour in this dark lantern of an old monastic house, but would fain shine a countess amongst countesses.”
“Very natural, very right,” answered Varney; “but what have I to do with that?—she may shine through horn or through crystal at my lord’s pleasure, I have nought to say against it.”
“She deems that you have an oar upon that side of the boat, Master Varney,” replied Foster, “and that you can pull it or no, at your good pleasure. In a word, she ascribes the secrecy and obscurity in which she is kept to your secret counsel to my lord, and to my strict agency; and so she loves us both as a sentenced man loves his judge and his jailor.”
“She must love us better ere she leave this place, Anthony,” answered Varney. “If I have counselled for weighty reasons that she remain here for a season, I can also advise her being brought forth in the full blow of her dignity. But I were mad to do so, holding so near a place to my lord’s person, were she mine enemy. Bear this truth in upon her as occasion offers, Anthony, and let me alone for extolling you in her ear, and exalting you in her opinion—Ka me, Ka thee—it is a proverb all over the world. The lady must know her friends, and be made to judge of the power they have of being her enemies; meanwhile, watch her strictly, but with all the outward observance that thy rough nature will permit. ’Tis an excellent thing that sullen look and bull-dog humour of thine; thou shouldst thank God for it, and so should my lord, for when there is aught harsh or hard-natured to be done, thou dost it as if it flowed from thine own natural doggedness, and not from orders, and so my lord escapes the scandal.—But, hark—some one knocks at the gate. Look out at the window—let no one enter—this were an ill night to be interrupted.”
“It is he whom we spoke of before dinner,” said Foster, as he looked through the casement; “it is Michael Lambourne.”
“Oh, admit him, by all means,” said the courtier; “he comes to give some account of his guest; it imports us much to know the movements of Edmund Tressilian.—Admit him, I say, but bring him not hither; I will come to you presently in the Abbot’s library.”
Foster left the room, and the courtier, who remained behind, paced the parlour more than once in deep thought, his arms folded on his bosom, until at length he gave vent to his meditations in broken words, which we have somewhat enlarged and connected, that his soliloquy may be intelligible to the reader.