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   Chapter 3 LONDON TOWN

By What Authority? By Robert Hugh Benson Characters: 33009

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Isabel's visit to London, which had been arranged to take place the Christmas after Anthony's departure to Cambridge, was full of bewildering experiences to her. Mr. Norris from time to time had references to look up in London, and divines to consult as to difficult points in his book on the Eucharist; and this was a favourable opportunity to see Mr. Dering, the St. Paul's lecturer; so the two took the opportunity, and with a couple of servants drove up to the City one day early in December to the house of Alderman Marrett, the wool merchant, and a friend of Mr. Norris' father; and for several days both before and after Anthony's arrival from Cambridge went every afternoon to see the sights. The maze of narrow streets of high black and white houses with their iron-work signs, leaning forward as if to whisper to one another, leaving strips of sky overhead; the strange play of lights and shades after nightfall; the fantastic groups; the incessant roar and rumble of the crowded alleys-all the commonplace life of London was like an enchanted picture to her, opening a glimpse into an existence of which she had known nothing.

To live, too, in the whirl of news that poured in day after day borne by splashed riders and panting horses;-this was very different to the slow round of country life, with rumours and tales floating in, mellowed by doubt and lapse of time, like pensive echoes from another world. For example, morning by morning, as she came downstairs to dinner, there was the ruddy-faced Alderman with his fresh budget of news of the north;-Lords Northumberland and Westmoreland with a Catholic force of several thousands, among which were two cousins of Mrs. Marrett herself-and the old lady nodded her head dolorously in corroboration-had marched southwards under the Banner of the Five Wounds, and tramped through Durham City welcomed by hundreds of the citizens; the Cathedral had been entered, old Richard Norton with the banner leading; the new Communion table had been cast out of doors, the English Bible and Prayer-book torn to shreds, the old altar reverently carried in from the rubbish heap, the tapers rekindled, and amid hysterical enthusiasm Mass had been said once more in the old sanctuary.

Then they had moved south; Lord Sussex was powerless in York; the Queen, terrified and irresolute, alternately storming and crying; Spain was about to send ships to Hartlepool to help the rebels; Mary Stuart would certainly be rescued from her prison at Tutbury. Then Mary had been moved to Coventry; then came a last flare of frightening tales: York had fallen; Mary had escaped; Elizabeth was preparing to flee.

And then one morning the Alderman's face was brighter: it was all a lie, he said. The revolt had crumbled away; my Lord Sussex was impregnably fortified in York with guns from Hull; Lord Pembroke was gathering forces at Windsor; Lords Clinton, Hereford and Warwick were converging towards York to relieve the siege. And as if to show Isabel it was not a mere romance, she could see the actual train-bands go by up Cheapside with the gleam of steel caps and pike-heads, and the mighty tramp of disciplined feet, and the welcoming roar of the swarming crowds.

Then as men's hearts grew lighter the tale of chastisement began to be told, and was not finished till long after Isabel was home again. Green after green of the windy northern villages was made hideous by the hanging bodies of the natives, and children hid their faces and ran by lest they should see what her Grace had done to their father.

In spite of the Holy Sacrifice, and the piteous banner, and the call to fight for the faith, the Catholics had hung back and hesitated, and the catastrophe was complete.

The religion of London, too, was a revelation to this country girl. She went one Sunday to St. Paul's Cathedral, pausing with her father before they went in to see the new restorations and the truncated steeple struck by lightning eight years before, which in spite of the Queen's angry urging the citizens had never been able to replace.

There was a good congregation at the early morning prayer; and the organs and the singing were to Isabel as the harps and choirs of heaven. The canticles were sung to Shephard's setting by the men and children of St. Paul's all in surplices: and the dignitaries wore besides their grey fur almuces, which had not yet been abolished. The grace and dignity of the whole service, though to older people who remembered the unreformed worship a bare and miserable affair, and to Mr. Norris, with his sincere simplicity and spirituality, a somewhat elaborate and sensuous mode of honouring God, yet to Isabel was a first glimpse of what the mystery of worship meant. The dim towering arches, through which the dusty richly-stained sunbeams poured, the far-away murmurous melodies that floated down from the glimmering choir, the high thin pealing organ, all combined to give her a sense of the unfathomable depths of the Divine Majesty-an element that was lacking in the clear-cut personal Puritan creed, in spite of the tender associations that made it fragrant for her, and the love of the Saviour that enlightened and warmed it. The sight of the crowds outside, too, in the frosty sunlight, gathered round the grey stone pulpit on the north-east of the Cathedral, and streaming down every alley and lane, the packed galleries, the gesticulating black figure of the preacher-this impressed on her an idea of the power of corporate religion, that hours at her own prayer-desk, or solitary twilight walks under the Hall pines, or the uneventful divisions of the Rector's village sermons, had failed to give.

It was this Sunday in London that awakened her quiet soul from the lonely companionship of God, to the knowledge of that vast spiritual world of men of which she was but one tiny cell. Her father observed her quietly and interestedly as they went home together, but said nothing beyond an indifferent word or two. He was beginning to realise the serious reality of her spiritual life, and to dread anything that would even approximate to coming between her soul and her Saviour. The father and daughter understood one another, and were content to be silent together.

Her talks with Mrs. Marrett, too, left their traces on her mind. The Alderman's wife, for the first time in her life, found her views and reminiscences listened to as if they were oracles, and she needed little encouragement to pour them out in profusion. She was especially generous with her tales of portents and warnings; and the girl was more than once considerably alarmed by what she heard while the ladies were alone in the dim firelit parlour on the winter afternoons before the candles were brought in.

"When you were a little child, my dear," began the old lady one day, "there was a great burning made everywhere of all the popish images and vestments; all but the copes and the altar-cloths that they made into dresses for the ministers' new wives, and bed-quilts to cover them; and there were books and banners and sepulchres and even relics. I went out to see the burning at Paul's, and though I knew it was proper that the old papistry should go, yet I was uneasy at the way it was done.

"Well," went on the old lady, glancing about her, "I was sitting in this very room only a few days after, and the air began to grow dark and heavy, and all became still. There had been two or three cocks crowing and answering one another down by the river, and others at a distance; and they all ceased: and there had been birds chirping in the roof, and they ceased. And it grew so dark that I laid down my needle and went to the window, and there at the end of the street over the houses there was coming a great cloud, with wings like a hawk, I thought; but some said afterwards that, when they saw it, it had fingers like a man's hand, and others said it was like a great tower, with battlements. However that may be, it grew nearer and larger, and it was blue and dark like that curtain there; and there was no wind to stir it, for the windows had ceased rattling, and the dust was quiet in the streets; and still it came on quickly, growing as it came; and then there came a far-away sound, like a heavy waggon, or, some said, like a deep voice complaining. And I turned away from the window afraid; and there was the cat, that had been on a chair, down in the corner, with her back up, staring at the cloud: and then she began to run round the room like a mad thing, and presently whisked out of the door when I opened it. And I went to find Mr. Marrett, and he had not come in, and all the yard was quiet. I could only hear a horse stamp once or twice in the stable. And then as I saw calling out for some one to come, the storm broke, and the sky was all one dark cloud from side to side. For three hours it went on, rolling and clapping, and the lightning came in through the window that I had darkened and through the clothes over my head; for I had gone to my bed and rolled myself round under the clothes. And so it went on-and, my dear-" and Mrs. Marrett put her head close to Isabel's-"I prayed to our Lady and the saints, which I had not done since I was married; and asked them to pray God to keep me safe. And then at the end came a clap of thunder and a flash of lightning more fearful than all that had gone before; and at that very moment, so Mr. Marrett told me when he came in, two of the doors in St. Denys' Church in Fanshawe Street were broken in pieces by something that crushed them in, and the stone steeple of Allhallow Church in Bread Street was broken off short, and a part of it killed a dog that was beneath, and overthrew a man that played with the dog."

Isabel could hardly restrain a shiver and a glance round the dark old room, so awful were Mrs. Marrett's face and gestures and loud whispering tone, as she told this.

"Ah! but, my dear," she went on, "there was worse happened to poor King Hal, God rest him-him who began to reform the Church, as they say, and destroyed the monasteries. All the money that he left for masses for his soul was carried off with the rest at the change of religion; and that was bad enough, but this is worse. This is a tale, my dear, that I have heard my father tell many a time; and I was a young woman myself when it happened. The King's Grace was threatened by a friar, I think of Greenwich, that if he laid hands on the monasteries he should be as Ahab whose blood was licked by dogs in the very place which he took from a man. Well, the friar was hanged for his pains, and the King lived. And then at last he died, and was put in a great coffin, and carried through London; and they put the coffin in an open space in Sion Abbey, which the King had taken. And in the night there came one to view the coffin, and to see that all was well. And he came round the corner, and there stood the great coffin-(for his Grace was a great stout man, my dear)-on trestles in the moonlight, and beneath it a great black dog that lapped something: and the dog turned as the man came, and some say, but not my father, that the dog's eyes were red as coals, and that his mouth and nostrils smoked, and that he cast no shadow; but (however that may be) the dog turned and looked and then ran; and the man followed him into a yard, but when he reached there, there was no dog. And the man went back to the coffin afraid; and he found the coffin was burst open, and-and-"

Mrs. Marrett stopped abruptly. Isabel was white and trembling.

"There, there, my dear. I am a foolish old woman; and I'll tell you no more."

Isabel was really terrified, and entreated Mrs. Marrett to tell her something pleasant to make her forget these horrors; and so she told her old tales of her youth, and the sights of the city, and the great doings in Mary's reign; and so the time passed pleasantly till the gentlemen came home.

At other times she told her of Elizabeth and the great nobles, and Isabel's heart beat high at it, and at the promise that before she left she herself should see the Queen, even if she had to go to Greenwich or Nonsuch for it.

"God bless her," said Mrs. Marrett loyally, "she's a woman like ourselves for all her majesty. And she likes the show and the music too, like us all. I declare when I see them all a-going down the water to Greenwich, or to the Tower for a bear-baiting, with the horns blowing and the guns firing and the banners and the barges and the music, I declare sometimes I think that heaven itself can be no better, God forgive me! Ah! but I wish her Grace 'd take a husband; there are many that want her; and then we could laugh at them all. There's so many against her Grace now who'd be for her if she had a son of her own. There's Duke Charles whose picture hangs in her bedroom, they say; and Lord Robert Dudley-there's a handsome spark, my dear, in his gay coat and his feathers and his ruff, and his hand on his hip, and his horse and all. I wish she'd take him and have done with it. And then we'd hear no more of the nasty Spaniards. There's Don de Silva, for all the world like a monkey with his brown face and mincing ways and his grand clothes. I declare when Captain Hawkins came home, just four years ago last Michaelmas, and came up to London with his men, all laughing and rolling along with the people cheering them, I could have kissed the man-to think how he had made the brown men dance and curse and show their white teeth! and to think that the Don had to ask him to dinner, and grin and chatter as if nought had happened."

And Mrs. Marrett's good-humoured face broke into mirth at the thought of the Ambassador's impotence and duplicity.

Anthony's arrival in London a few days before Christmas removed the one obstacle to Isabel's satisfaction-that he was not there to share it with her. The two went about together most of the day under their father's care, when he was not busy at his book, and saw all that was to be seen.

One afternoon as they were just leaving the courtyard of the Tower, which they had been visiting with a special order, a slight reddish-haired man, who came suddenly out of a doorway of the White Tower, stopped a moment irresolutely, and then came towards them, bare-headed and bowing. He had sloping shoulders and a serious-looking mouth, with a reddish beard and moustache, and had an air of strangely mingled submissiveness and capability. His voice too, as he spoke, was at once deferential and decided.

"I ask your pardon, Mr. Norris," he said. "Perhaps you do not remember me."

"I have seen you before," said the other, puzzled for a moment.

"Yes, sir," said the man, "down at Great Keynes; I was in service at the Hall, sir."

"Yes, yes," said Mr. Norris, "I remember you perfectly. Lackington, is it not?"

The man bowed again.

"I left about eight years ago, sir; and by the blessing of God, have gained a little post under the Government. But I wished to tell you, sir, that I have been happily led to change my religion. I was a Papist, sir, you know."

Mr. Norris congratulated him.

"I thank you, sir," said Lackington.

The two children were looking at him; and he turned to them and bowed again.

"Mistress Isabel and Master Anthony, sir, is it not?"

"I remember you," said Isabel a little shyly, "at least, I think so."

Lackington bowed again as if gratified; and turned to their father.

"If you are leaving, Mr. Norris, would you allow me to walk with you a few steps? I have much I would like to ask you of my old master and mistress."

The four passed out together; the two children in front; and as they went Lackington asked most eagerly after the household at the Hall, and especially after Mr. James, for whom he seemed to have a special affection.

"It is rumoured," said Mr. Norris, "that he is going abroad."

"Indeed, sir," said the servant, with a look of great interest, "I had heard it too, sir; but did not know whether to believe it."

Lackington also gave many messages of affection to others of the household, to Piers the bailiff, and a couple of the foresters: and finished by entreating Mr. Norris to use him as he would, telling him how anxious he was to be of service to his friends, and asking to be entrusted with any little errands or commissions in London that the country gentleman might wish performed.

"I shall count it, sir, a privilege," said the servant, "and you shall find me prompt and d


One curious incident took place just as Lackington was taking his leave at the turning down into Wharf Street; a man hurrying eastwards almost ran against them, and seemed on the point of apologising, but his face changed suddenly, and he spat furiously on the ground, mumbling something, and hurried on. Lackington seemed to see nothing.

"Why did he do that?" interrupted Mr. Norris, astonished.

"I ask your pardon, sir?" said Lackington interrogatively.

"That fellow! did you not see him spit at me?"

"I did not observe it, sir," said the servant; and presently took his leave.

"Why did that man spit at you, father?" asked Isabel, when they had come indoors.

"I cannot think, my dear; I have never seen him in my life."

"I think Lackington knew," said Anthony, with a shrewd air.

"Lackington! Why, Lackington did not even see him."

"That was just it," said Anthony.

Anthony's talk about Cambridge during these first evenings in London was fascinating to Isabel, if not to their father, too. It concerned of course himself and his immediate friends, and dealt with such subjects as cock-fighting a good deal; but he spoke also of the public disputations and the theological champions who crowed and pecked, not unlike cocks themselves, while the theatre rang with applause and hooting. The sport was one of the most popular at the universities at this time. But above all his tales of the Queen's visit a few years before attracted the girl, for was she not to see the Queen with her own eyes?

"Oh! father," said the lad, "I would I had been there five years ago when she came. Master Taylor told me of it. They acted the Aulularia, you know, in King's Chapel on the Sunday evening. Master Taylor took a part, I forget what; and he told me how she laughed and clapped. And then there was a great disputation before her, one day, in St. Mary's Church, and the doctors argued, I forget what about, but Master Taylor says that of course the Genevans had the best of it; and the Queen spoke, too, in Latin, though she did not wish to, but my lord of Ely persuaded her to it; so you see she could not have learned it by heart, as some said. And she said she would give some great gift to the University; but Master Taylor says they are still waiting for it; but it must come soon, you see, because it is the Queen's Grace who has promised it; but Master Taylor says he hopes she has forgotten it, but he laughs when I ask him what he means, and says it again."

"Who is this Master Taylor?" asked his father.

"Oh! he is a Fellow of King's," said Anthony, "and he told me about the Provost too. The Provost is half a Papist, they say: he is very old now, and he has buried all the vessels and the vestments of the Chapel, they say, somewhere where no one knows; and he hopes the old religion will come back again some day; and then he will dig them up. But that is Papistry, and no one wants that at Cambridge. And others say that he is a Papist altogether, and has a priest in his house sometimes. But I do not think he can be a Papist, because he was there when the Queen was there, bowing and smiling, says Master Taylor; and looking on the Queen so earnestly, as if he worshipped her, says Master Taylor, all the time the Chancellor was talking to her before they went into the chapel for the Te Deum. But they wished they had kept some of the things, like the Provost, says Master Taylor, because they were much put to it when her Grace came down for stuffs to cover the communion-tables and for surplices, for Cecil said she would be displeased if all was bare and poor. Is it true, father," asked Anthony, breaking off, "that the Queen likes popish things, and has a crucifix and tapers on the table in her chapel?"

"Ah! my son," said Mr. Norris, smiling, "you must ask one who knows. And what else happened?"

"Well," said Anthony, "the best is to come. They had plays, you know, the Dido, and one called Ezechias, before the Queen. Oh! and she sent for one of the boys, they say, and-and kissed him, they say; but I think that cannot be true."

"Well, my son, go on!"

"Oh! and some of them thought they would have one more play before she went; but she had to go a long journey and left Cambridge before they could do it, and they went after her to-to Audley End, I think, where she was to sleep, and a room was made ready, and when all was prepared, though her Grace was tired, she came in to see the play. Master Taylor was not there; he said he would rather not act in that one; but he had the story from one who acted, but no one knew, he said, who wrote the play. Well, when the Queen's Grace was seated, the actors came on, dressed, father, dressed"-and Anthony's eyes began to shine with amusement-"as the Catholic Bishops in the Tower. There was Bonner in his popish vestments-some they had from St. Benet's-with a staff and his tall mitre, and a lamb in his arms; and he stared at it and gnashed his teeth at it as he tramped in; and then came the others, all like bishops, all in mass-vestments or cloth cut to look like them; and then at the end came a dog that belonged to one of them, well-trained, with the Popish Host in his mouth, made large and white, so that all could see what it was. Well, they thought the Queen would laugh as she was a Protestant, but no one laughed; some one said something in the room, and a lady cried out; and then the Queen stood up and scolded the actors, and trounced them well with her tongue, she did, and said she was displeased; and then out she went with all her ladies and gentlemen after her, except one or two servants who put out the lights at once without waiting, and broke Bonner's staff, and took away the Host, and kicked the dog, and told them to be off, for the Queen's Grace was angered with them; and so they had to get back to Cambridge in the dark as well as they might."

"Oh! the poor boys!" said Mrs. Marrett, "and they did it all to please her Grace, too."

"Yes," said the Alderman, "but the Queen thought it enough, I dare say, to put the Bishops in prison, without allowing boys to make a mock of them and their faith before her."

"Yes," said Anthony, "I thought that was it."

When the Alderman came in a day or two later with the news that Elizabeth was to come up from Nonsuch the next day, and to pass down Cheapside on her way to Greenwich, the excitement of Isabel and Anthony was indescribable.

Cheapside was joyous to see, as the two, with their father behind them talking to a minister whose acquaintance he had made, sat at a first-floor window soon after mid-day, waiting to see the Queen go by. Many of the people had hung carpets or tapestries, some of taffetas and cloth-of-gold, out of their balconies and windows, and the very signs themselves,-fantastic ironwork, with here and there a grotesque beast rampant, or a bright painting, or an escutcheon;-with the gay, good-tempered crowds beneath and the strip of frosty blue sky, crossed by streamers from side to side, shining above the towering eaves and gables of the houses, all combined to make a scene so astonishing that it seemed scarcely real to these country children.

It was yet some time before she was expected; but there came a sudden stir from the upper end of Cheapside, and then a burst of cheering and laughter and hoots. Anthony leaned out to see what was coming, but could make out nothing beyond the head of a horse, and a man driving it from the seat of a cart, coming slowly down the centre of the road. The laughter and noise grew louder as the crowds swayed this way and that to make room. Presently it was seen that behind the cart a little space was kept, and Anthony made out the grey head of a man at the tail of the cart, and the face of another a little way behind; then at last, as the cart jolted past, the two children saw a man stripped to the waist, his hands tied before him to the cart, his back one red wound; while a hangman walked behind whirling his thonged whip about his head and bringing it down now and again on the old man's back. At each lash the prisoner shrank away, and turned his piteous face, drawn with pain, from side to side, while the crowd yelled and laughed.

"What's it for, what's it for?" inquired Anthony, eager and interested.

A boy leaning from the next window answered him.

"He said Jesus Christ was not in heaven."

At that moment a humorist near the cart began to cry out:

"Way for the King's Grace! Way for the King's Grace!" and the crowd took the idea instantly: a few men walking with the cart formed lines like gentlemen ushers, uncovering their heads and all crying out the same words; and one eager player tried to walk backwards until he was tripped up. And so the dismal pageant of this red-robed king of anguish went by; and the hoots and shouts of his heralds died away. Anthony turned to Isabel, exultant and interested.

"Why, Isabel," he said, "you look all white. What is it? You know he's a blasphemer."

"I know, I know," said Isabel.

Then suddenly, far away, came the sound of trumpets, and gusts of distant cheering, like the sound of the wind in thick foliage. Anthony leaned out again, and an excited murmur broke out once more, as all faces turned westwards. A moment more, and Anthony caught a flash of colour from the corner near St. Paul's Churchyard; then the shrill trumpets sounded nearer, and the cheering broke out at the end, and ran down the street like a wave of noise. From every window faces leaned out; even on the roofs and between the high chimney pots were swaying figures.

Masses of colour now began to emerge, with the glitter of steel, round the bend of the street, where the winter sunshine fell; and the crowds began to surge back, and against the houses. At first Anthony could make out little but two moving rippling lines of light, coming parallel, pressing the people back; and it was not until they had come opposite the window that he could make out the steel caps and pikeheads of men in half-armour, who, marching two and two with a space between them, led the procession and kept the crowds back. There they went, with immovable disciplined faces, grounding their pike-butts sharply now and again, caring nothing for the yelp of pain that sometimes followed. Immediately behind them came the aldermen in scarlet, on black horses that tossed their jingling heads as they walked. Anthony watched the solemn faces of the old gentlemen with a good deal of awe, and presently made out his friend, Mr. Marrett, who rode near the end, but who was too much engrossed in the management of his horse to notice the two children who cried out to him and waved. The serjeants-of-arms followed, and then two lines again of gentlemen-pensioners walking, bare-headed, carrying wands, in short cloaks and elaborate ruffs. But the lad saw little of them, for the splendour of the lords and knights that followed eclipsed them altogether. The knights came first, in steel armour with raised vizors, the horses too in armour, moving sedately with a splendid clash of steel, and twinkling fiercely in the sunshine; and then, after them (and Anthony drew his breath swiftly) came a blaze of colour and jewels as the great lords in their cloaks and feathered caps, metal-clasped and gemmed, came on their splendid long-maned horses; the crowd yelled and cheered, and great names were tossed to and fro, as the owners passed on, each talking to his fellow as if unconscious of the tumult and even of the presence of these shouting thousands. The cry of the trumpets rang out again high and shattering, as the trumpeters and heralds in rich coat-armour came next; and Anthony looked a moment, fascinated by the lions and lilies, and the brightness of the eloquent horns, before he turned his head to see the Lord Mayor himself, mounted on a great stately white horse, that needed no management, while his rider bore on a cushion the sceptre. Ah! she was coming near now. The two saw nothing of the next rider who carried aloft the glittering Sword of State, for their eyes were fixed on the six plumed heads of the horses, with grooms and footmen in cassock-coats and venetian hose, and the great gilt open carriage behind that swayed and jolted over the cobbles. She was here; she was here; and the loyal crowds yelled and surged to and fro, and cloths and handkerchiefs flapped and waved, and caps tossed up and down, as at last the great creaking carriage came under the window.

This is what they saw in it.

A figure of extraordinary dignity, sitting upright and stiff like a pagan idol, dressed in a magnificent and fantastic purple robe, with a great double ruff, like a huge collar, behind her head; a long taper waist, voluminous skirts spread all over the cushions, embroidered with curious figures and creatures. Over her shoulders, but opened in front so as to show the ropes of pearls and the blaze of jewels on the stomacher, was a purple velvet mantle lined with ermine, with pearls sewn into it here and there. Set far back on her head, over a pile of reddish-yellow hair drawn tightly back from the forehead, was a hat with curled brims, elaborately embroidered, with the jewelled outline of a little crown in front, and a high feather topping all.

And her face-a long oval, pale and transparent in complexion, with a sharp chin, and a high forehead; high arched eyebrows, auburn, but a little darker than her hair; her mouth was small, rising at the corners, with thin curved lips tightly shut; and her eyes, which were clear in colour, looked incessantly about her with great liveliness and good-humour.

There was something overpowering to these two children who looked, too awed to cheer, in this formidable figure in the barbaric dress, the gorgeous climax of a gorgeous pageant. Apart from the physical splendour, this solitary glittering creature represented so much-it was the incarnate genius of the laughing, brutal, wanton English nation, that sat here in the gilded carriage and smiled and glanced with tight lips and clear eyes. She was like some emblematic giant, moving in a processional car, as fantastic as itself, dominant and serene above the heads of the maddened crowds, on to some mysterious destiny. A sovereign, however personally inglorious, has such a dignity in some measure; and Elizabeth added to this an exceptional majesty of her own. Henry would not have been ashamed for this daughter of his. What wonder then that these crowds were delirious with love and loyalty and an exultant fear, as this overwhelming personality went by:-this pale-faced tranquil virgin Queen, passionate, wanton, outspoken and absolutely fearless; with a sufficient reserve of will to be fickle without weakness; and sufficient grasp of her aims to be indifferent to her policy; untouched by vital religion; financially shrewd; inordinately vain. And when this strange dominant creature, royal by character as by birth, as strong as her father and as wanton as her mother, sat in ermine and velvet and pearls in a royal carriage, with shrewd-faced wits, and bright-eyed lovers, and solemn statesmen, and great nobles, vacuous and gallant, glittering and jingling before her; and troops of tall ladies in ruff and crimson mantle riding on white horses behind; and when the fanfares went shattering down the street, vibrating through the continuous roar of the crowd and the shrill cries of children and the mellow thunder of church-bells rocking overhead, and the endless tramp of a thousand feet below; and when the whole was framed in this fantastic twisted street, blazing with tapestries and arched with gables and banners, all bathed in glory by the clear frosty sunshine-it is little wonder that for a few minutes at least this country boy felt that here at last was the incarnation of his dreams; and that his heart should exult, with an enthusiasm he could not interpret, for the cause of a people who could produce such a queen, and of a queen who could rule such a people; and that his imagination should be fired with a sudden sense that these were causes for which the sacrifice of a life would be counted cheap, if they might thereby be furthered.

Yet, in this very moment, by one of those mysterious suggestions that rise from the depth of a soul, the image sprang into his mind, and poised itself there for an instant, of the grey-haired man who had passed half an hour ago, sobbing and shrinking at the cart's tail.

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