* * * * *
The distance to Lewes was about fourteen miles, and it was not until they had travelled some two of them, and had struck off towards Burgess Hill that Chris turned his head for Mr. Morris to come up.
It was very strange to him to ride through that familiar country, where he had ridden hundreds of times before, and to know that this was probably the last time that he would pass along those lanes, at least under the same circumstances. It had the same effect on him, as a death in the house would have; the familiar things were the same, but they wore a new and strange significance. The few men and children he passed saluted him deferentially as usual, and then turned fifty yards further on and stared at the young gentleman who, as they knew, was riding off on such an errand, and with such grave looks.
Mr. Morris came up with an eager respectfulness at Chris’s sign, keeping a yard or two away lest the swinging luggage on his own horse should discompose the master, and answered a formal question or two about the roads and the bags, which Chris put to him as a gambit of conversation. The servant was clever and well trained, and knew how to modulate his attitude to the precise degree of deference due to his master and his master’s relations; he had entered Ralph’s service from Cromwell’s own eight years before. He liked nothing better than to talk of London and his experiences there, and selected with considerable skill the topics that he knew would please in each case. Now he was soon deep on the subject of Wolsey, pausing respectfully now and again for corroboration, or to ask a question the answer to which he knew a good deal better than Chris himself.
“I understand, sir, that the Lord Cardinal had a wonderful deal of furniture at York House: I saw some of it at Master Cromwell’s; his grace sent it to him, at least, so I heard. Is that so, sir?”
Chris said he did not know.
“Well, I believe it was so, sir; there was a chair there, set with agates and pearl, that I think I heard Mr. Ralph say had come from there. Did you ever see my lord, sir?”
Chris said he had seen him once in a narrow street at Westminster, but the crowd was so great he could not get near.
“Ah! sir; then you never saw him go in state. I remember once seeing him, sir, going down to Hampton Court, with his gentlemen bearing the silver pillars before him, and the two priests with crosses. What might the pillars mean, sir?”
Again Chris confessed he did not know.
“Ah, sir!” said Morris reflectively, as if he had received a satisfactory answer. “And there was his saddle, Mr. Christopher, with silver-gilt stirrups, and red velvet, set on my lord’s mule. And there was the Red Hat borne in front by another gentleman. At mass, too, he would be served by none under the rank of an earl; and I heard that he would have a duke sometimes for his lavabo. I heard Mr. Ralph say that there was more than a hundred and fifty carts that went with the Lord Cardinal up to Cawood, and that was after the King’s grace had broken with him, sir; and he was counted a poor man.”