“Nay, Master Antony, you are not old enough to remember that the durance began not until the Queen of Scots tried to form a party for herself among the English liegemen. And didst thou know, thou simple lad, what the letter bore, which thou didst carry, and what it would bring on this peaceful land?”
Antony looked a little startled when he heard of the burning of the kennel, but he averred that Don John was a gallant prince.
“I have seen more than one gallant Spaniard under whose power I should grieve to see any friend of mine.”
All the rest of the way Richard Talbot entertained the young gentleman with stories of his own voyages and adventures, into which he managed to bring traits of Spanish cruelty and barbarity as shown in the Low Countries, such as, without actually drawing the moral every time, might show what was to be expected if Mary of Scotland and Don John of Austria were to reign over England, armed with the Inquisition.
Antony asked a good many questions, and when he found that the captain had actually been an eye-witness of the state of a country harried by the Spaniards, he seemed a good deal struck.
“I think if I had the training of him I could make a loyal Englishman of him yet,” said Richard Talbot to his wife on his return. “But I fear me there is that in his heart and his conscience which will only grow, while yonder sour-faced doctor, with whom I had to leave him at Cambridge, preaches to him of the perdition of Pope and Papists.”
“If his mother were indeed a concealed Papist,” said Susan, “such sermons will only revolt the poor child.”
“Yea, truly. If my Lord wanted to make a plotter and a Papist of the boy he could scarce find a better means. I myself never could away with yonder lady’s blandishments. But when he thinks of her in contrast to yonder divine, it would take a stronger head than his not to be led away. The best chance for him is that the stir of the world about him may put captive princesses out of his head.”
CHAPTER VIII. THE KEY OF THE CIPHER
Where is the man who does not persuade himself that when he gratifies his own curiosity he does so for the sake of his womankind? So Richard Talbot, having made his protest, waited two days, but when next he had any leisure moments before him, on a Sunday evening, he said to his wife, “Sue, what hast thou done with that scroll of Cissy’s? I trow thou wilt not rest till thou art convinced it is but some lying horoscope or Popish charm.”