‘Sir,’ returned the marquis, ’it shall never be said that I forsook my friend to pleasure my enemy.’
The king’s face grew dark, for ever since the lecture for which he had made Gower the textbook, he had been ready to see a double meaning of rebuke in all the marquis said. He made no answer, avoided his attendants who waited for him in the fountain court, expecting him to go by the bell-tower, and, passing through the hall and the stone court, ascended to his room alone, and went into the picture-gallery, where he paced up and down till supper-time.
The marquis rejoined the little company of his own friends who had left the bowling-green after him, and were now in the oak parlour. A little troubled at the king’s carriage towards him, he entered with a merrier bearing than usual.
‘Well, gentlemen, how goes the bias?’ he said gayly.
‘We were but now presuming to say, my lord,’ answered Mr. Prichard, ’that there are who would largely warrant that if you would you might be duke of Somerset.’
‘When I was earl of Worcester,’ returned the marquis, ’I was well to do; since I was marquis, I am worse by a hundred thousand pounds; and if I should be a duke, I should be an arrant beggar. Wherefore I had rather go back to my earldom, than at this rate keep on my pace to the dukedom of Somerset.’
The secret interview.
Between the third of July, when he first came, and the fifteenth of September, when he last departed, the king went and came several times. During his last visit a remarkable interview took place between him and his host, the particulars of which are circumstantially given by Dr. Bayly in the little book he calls Certamen Religiosum: to me it falls to recount after him some of the said particulars, because, although Dorothy was brought but one little step within the sphere of the interview, certain results were which bore a large influence upon her history.
‘Though money came from him,’ that is, the marquis, ’like drops of blood,’ says Dr. Bayly, ’yet was he contented that every drop within his body should be let out,’ if only he might be the instrument of bringing his majesty back to the bosom of the catholic church—a bosom which no doubt the marquis found as soft as it was capacious, but which the king regarded as a good deal resembling that of a careless nurse rather than mother—frized with pins, and here and there a cruel needle. Therefore, expecting every hour that the king would apply to him for more money, the marquis had resolved that, at such time as he should do so, he would make an attempt to lead the stray sheep within the fold—for the marquis was not one of those who regarded a protestant as necessarily a goat.
But the king shrank from making the request in person, and having learned that the marquis had been at one point in his history under the deepest obligation to Dr. Bayly, who having then preserved both his lordship’s life and a large sum of money he carried with him, by ’concealing both for the space that the moon useth to be twice in riding of her circuit,’ had thereafter become a member of his family and a sharer in his deepest confidence, greatly desired that the doctor should take the office of mediator between him and the marquis.