“I am glad you have come early, Wilton,” said Green. “The King returns from the chapel at a quarter past twelve, and expects us to be in waiting at that hour, when he will see us. This is no slight favour, I find, Wilton,” he added, “for the palace is full of courtiers, all eager and pressing for royal attention. Let us go immediately, then, and ride slowly up to the palace.”
They mounted their horses accordingly, and rode on, speaking a few words from time to time, but not, indeed, absolutely conversing, for both were far too thoughtful, and too much impressed with the importance of the act they were about to perform, to leave the tongue free and unfettered.
On their arrival at the palace, they found that the King had not yet returned from the chapel; but on being asked whether they came by appointment or not, and giving their names, they were admitted into a waiting-room where two or three other people were already assembled. The moments passed slowly, and it seemed as if the King would never return.
At length, however, a distant flourish of drums and trumpets was heard, together with the sounds of many people passing to and fro in the courts and passages. Buzzing conversation, manifold footfalls, gay laughter, announced that the morning service was over, and the congregation of the royal chapel dispersed.
In the royal closet, at the palace of Hampton Court, stood King William III. leaning against a gilt railing, placed round some ornamental objects, near one of the windows. The famous Lord Keeper Somers stood beside him, while, at a little distance behind appeared Keppel, Lord Albemarle, and before him, a tall, fine-looking man, somewhat past the middle age, slight, but dignified in his person, and with an air of ease and grace in his whole position and demeanour, which bespoke long familiarity with courts. William gazed at him with a smile, and heard him speak evidently with pleasure.
“Well, my lord,” he said, “I am very glad of the news you give me. With the assistance of yourself, and my Lord Keeper here, together with that of our good friend the Duke of Shrewsbury, I doubt not now my affairs will go well. I am happy to see your health so well restored, my lord; for you know my friendship for you well enough, to be aware, that I was seriously afflicted at your illness, for your own sake, as well as because it deprived me of the counsel and assistance of one, who, as I thought he would, has proved himself the only person sufficiently loved by all men, to reconcile the breaches between some of my best friends.”
“Most grateful I am, sir,” replied the Earl of Sunbury, to this unusually long speech, “that Heaven has made me an instrument for that purpose, and I can never sufficiently express my gratitude, for your not being angry at my long absence from your majesty’s service. The arrangements thus being made, sire, I will humbly take my leave, begging your majesty not to forget the interests of my young friend, according to your gracious promise.”