“Ah!” said Antony, with a long breath, as though making a discovery, “sits the wind in that quarter?”
“Antony,” exclaimed she, in her eagerness calling him by the familiar name of childhood, “you are in error. I declare most solemnly that it is quite another matter that stands in your way.”
“And you will not tell me wherefore you are thus cruel?”
“I cannot, sir. You will understand in time that what you call cruelty is true kindness.”
This was the gist of the interview. All the rest only repeated it in one form or another; and when Cis returned, it was with a saddened heart, for she could not but perceive that Antony was well-nigh crazed, not so much with love of her, as with the contemplation of the wrongs of the Church and the Queen, whom he regarded with equally passionate devotion, and with burning zeal and indignation to avenge their sufferings, and restore them to their pristine glory. He did, indeed, love her, as he professed to have done from infancy, but as if she were to be his own personal portion of the reward. Indeed there was magnanimity enough in the youth almost to lose the individual hope in the dazzle of the great victory for which he was willing to devote his own life and happiness in the true spirit of a crusader. Cicely did not fully or consciously realise all this, but she had such a glimpse of it as to give her a guilty feeling in concealing from him the whole truth, which would have shown how fallacious were the hopes that her mother did not scruple, for her own purposes, to encourage. Poor Cicely! she had not had royal training enough to look on all subjects as simply pawns on the monarch’s chess-board; and she was so evidently unhappy over Babington’s courtship, and so little disposed to enjoy her first feminine triumph, that the Queen declared that Nature had designed her for the convent she had so narrowly missed; and, valuable as was the intelligence she had brought, she was never trusted with the contents of the correspondence. On the removal of Mary to Chartley the barrel with the false bottom came into use, but the secretaries Nau and Curll alone knew in full what was there conveyed. Little more was said to Cicely of Babington.
However, it was a relief when, before the end of this summer, Cicely heard of his marriage to a young lady selected by the Earl. She hoped it would make him forget his dangerous inclination to herself; but yet there was a little lurking vanity which believed that it had been rather a marriage for property’s than for love’s sake.