CHAPTER XXXI. EVIDENCE.
In the meantime the two Richard Talbots, father and son, had safely arrived in London, and had been made welcome at the house of their noble kinsman.
Nau and Curll, they heard, were in Walsingham’s house, subjected to close examination; Babington and all his comrades were in the Tower. The Council was continually sitting to deliberate over the fate of the latter unhappy men, of whose guilt there was no doubt; and neither Lord Talbot nor Will Cavendish thought there was any possibility of Master Richard gaining permission to plead how the unfortunate Babington had been worked on and deceived. After the sentence should be pronounced, Cavendish thought that the request of the Earl of Shrewsbury might prevail to obtain permission for an interview between the prisoner and one commissioned by his former guardian. Will was daily attending Sir Francis Walsingham as his clerk, and was not by any means unwilling to relate anything he had been able to learn.
Queen Elizabeth was, it seemed, greatly agitated and distressed. The shock to her nerves on the day when she had so bravely overawed Barnwell with the power of her eye had been such as not to be easily surmounted. She was restless and full of anxiety, continually starting at every sound, and beginning letters to the Queen of Scots which were never finished. She had more than once inquired after the brave sailor youths who had come so opportunely to her rescue; and Lord Talbot thought it would be well to present Diccon and his father to her, and accordingly took them with him to Greenwich Palace, where they had the benefit of looking on as loyal subjects, while her Majesty, in royal fashion, dined in public, to the sound of drums, trumpets, fifes, and stringed instruments. But though dressed with her usual elaborate care, she looked older, paler, thinner, and more haggard than when Diccon had seen her three weeks previously, and neither her eye nor mouth had the same steadiness. She did not eat with relish, but almost as if she were forcing herself, lest any lack of appetite might be observed and commented upon, and her looks continually wandered as though in search of some lurking enemy; for in truth no woman, nor man either, could easily forget the suggestion which had recently been brought to her knowledge, that an assassin might “lurk in her gallery and stab her with his dagger, or if she should walk in her garden, he might shoot her with his dagg, or if she should walk abroad to take the air, he might assault her with his arming sword and make sure work.” Even though the enemies were safe in prison, she knew not but that dagger, dagg, or arming sword might still be ready for her, and she believed that any fatal charge openly made against Mary at the trial might drive her friends to desperation and lead to the use of dagg or dagger. She was more unhinged than ever before, and commanded herself with difficulty when going through all the scenes of her public life as usual.