Susan breathed a thanksgiving as her husband read, and he forbore to tell her of the sharks, the tornadoes, and the fevers which might make the tropical seas more perilous than the Arctic. No Elizabethan mariner had any scruples respecting piracy, and so long as the captain was a godly man who kept up strict discipline on board, Master Richard held the quarterdeck to be a much more wholesome place than the Manor-house, and much preferred the humours of the ship to those of any other feminine creature; for, as to his Susan, he always declared that she was the only woman who had none.
So she accepted his decision, and saw the wisdom of it, though her tender heart deeply felt the disappointment. Tenderly she packed up the shirts which she and Cis had finished, and bestrewed them with lavender, which, as she said, while a tear dropped with the gray blossoms, would bring the scent of home to the boy.
Cis affected to be indifferent and offended. Master Humfrey might do as he chose. She did not care if he did prefer pitch and tar, and whale blubber and grease, to hawks and hounds, and lords and ladies. She was sure she wanted no more great lubberly lads—with a sly cut at Diccon—to tangle her silk, and torment her to bait their hooks. She was well quit of any one of them.
When Diccon proposed that she should write a letter to Humfrey, she declared that she should do no such thing, since he had never attempted to write to her. In truth Diccon may have made the proposal in order to obtain a companion in misfortune, since Master Sniggius, emulous of the success of other tutors, insisted on his writing to his brother in Latin, and the unfortunate epistle of Ricardus to Onofredus was revised and corrected to the last extremity, and as it was allowed to contain no word unknown to Virgilius Maro, it could not have afforded much delectation to the recipient.
But when Mrs. Susan had bestowed all the shirts as neatly as possible, on returning to settle them for the last time before wrapping them up for the messenger, she felt something hard among them. It was a tiny parcel wrapped in a piece of a fine kerchief, tied round with a tress of dark hair, and within, Susan knew by the feeling, a certain chess rook which had been won by Cis when shooting at the butts a week or two before.
CHAPTER X. THE LADY ARBELL.
After several weary months of languishing, Charles Stewart was saved from the miseries which seemed the natural inheritance of his name by sinking into his grave. His funeral was conducted with the utmost magnificence, though the Earl of Shrewsbury declined to be present at it, and shortly after, the Countess intimated her purpose of returning to Sheffield, bringing with her the little orphan, Lady Arabella Stewart. Orders came that the best presence chamber in the Manor-house should be prepared, the same indeed where Queen Mary had been quartered before the lodge had been built for her use. The Earl was greatly perturbed. “Whom can she intend to bring?” he went about asking. “If it were the Lady Margaret, it were be much as my head were worth to admit her within the same grounds as this Queen.”