“Tread on their tails and even worms will turn,” soliloquized Jacob, while Emlyn burst into tears.
Cicely ran to console her, and Bolle made as though he would leave the room.
Just then there came a great knocking on the street door, and the sound of a voice crying—
“In the King’s name! In the King’s name, open!”
“That’s Commissioner Legh,” said Thomas. “I learned the cry from him, and it is a good one at a pinch, as some of you may remember.”
Emlyn dried her tears with her sleeve; Cicely sat down and Jacob shovelled the parchments into his big pockets. Then in burst the Commissioner, to whom some one had opened.
“What’s this I hear?” he cried, addressing Cicely, his face as red as a turkey cock’s. “That you have been working behind my back; that you have told falsehoods of me to his Grace, who called me knave and thief; that I am commanded to pay my fees into the Treasury? Oh, ungrateful wench, would to God that I had let you burn ere you disgraced me thus.”
“If you bring so much heat into my poor house, learned Doctor, surely all of us will soon burn,” said Jacob suavely. “The Lady Harflete said nothing that his Highness did not force her to say, as I know who was present, and among so many pickings cannot you spare a single dole? Come, come, drink a cup of wine and be calm.”
But Dr. Legh, who had already drunk several cups of wine, would not be calm. He reviled first one of them and then the other, but especially Emlyn, whom he conceived to be the cause of all his woes, till at length he called her by a very ill name. Then came forward Thomas Bolle, who all this while had been standing in the corner, and took him by the neck.
“In the King’s name!” he said, “nay, complain not, ’tis your own cry and I have warrant for it,” and he knocked Legh’s head against the door-post. “In the King’s name, get out of this,” and he gave him such a kick as never Royal Commissioner had felt before, shooting him down the passage. “For the third time in the King’s name!” and he hurled him out in a heap into the courtyard. “Begone, and know if ever I see your pudding face again, in the King’s name, I’ll break your neck!”
Thus did Visitor Legh depart out of the life of Cicely, though in due course she paid him her first year’s rent, nor ever asked who took the benefit.
“Thomas,” said Emlyn, when he returned smiling at the memory of that farewell kick, “the King was right, I am quick-tempered at times, no ill thing for it has helped me more than once. Forget, and so will I,” and she gave him her hand, which he kissed, then went to see about the supper.
While they ate, which they did heartily who needed food, there came another knock.
“Go, Thomas,” said Jacob, “and say we see none to-night.”
So Thomas went and they heard talk. Then he re-entered followed by a cloaked man, saying—