“Think, but think, dear sir,” pleaded Susan, “how the poor lady is pressed, and how much she has to fear on all sides.”
“Ay, because lies have been meat and drink to her, till she cannot speak a soothfast word nor know an honest man when she sees him.”
“What would she have ?”
“That Cis should remain with us as before, and still pass for our daughter, till such time as these negotiations are over, and she recover her kingdom. That is—so far as I see—like not to be till latter Lammas—but meantime what sayest thou, Susan? Ah! I knew, anything to keep the child with thee! Well, be it so—though if I had known the web we were to be wound into, I’d have sailed for the Indies with Humfrey long ago!”
Cicely was well enough the next day to leave her room and come out on the summer’s evening to enjoy the novel spectacle of Trowle Madame, in which she burned to participate, so soon as her shoulder should be well. It was with a foreboding heart that her adopted mother fell with her into the rear of the suite who were attending Queen Mary, as she went downstairs to walk on the lawn, and sit under a canopy whence she could watch either that game, or the shooting at the butts which was being carried on a little farther off.
“So, our bonnie maiden,” said Mary, brightening as she caught sight of the young girl, “thou art come forth once more to rejoice mine eyes, a sight for sair een, as they say in Scotland,” and she kissed the fresh cheeks with a tenderness that gave Susan a strange pang. Then she asked kindly after the hurt, and bade Cis sit at her feet, while she watched a match in archery between some of the younger attendants, now and then laying a caressing hand upon the slender figure.
“Little one,” she said, “I would fain have thee to share my pillow. I have had no young bed-fellow since Bess Pierrepoint left us. Wilt thou stoop to come and cheer the poor old caged bird?”
“Oh, madam, how gladly will I do so if I may!” cried Cicely, delighted.
“We will take good care of her, Mistress Talbot,” said Mary, “and deliver her up to you whole and sain in the morning,” and there was a quivering playfulness in her voice.
“Your Grace is the mistress,” answered Susan, with a sadness not quite controlled.
“Ah! you mock me, madam. Would that I were!” returned the Queen. “It is my Lord’s consent that we must ask. How say you, my Lord, may I have this maiden for my warder at night?”
Lord Shrewsbury was far from seeing any objection, and the promise was given that Cis should repair to the Queen’s chamber for at least that night. She was full of excitement at the prospect.
“Why look you so sadly at me, sweet mother?” she cried, as Susan made ready her hair, and assisted her in all the arrangements for which her shoulder was still too stiff; “you do not fear that they will hurt my arm?”