The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

Intelligence of the queen’s change of feeling was soon conveyed to Courtenay, who had been concealed in an obscure lodging in London, and on the second day he presented himself before her. Mary received him graciously but coldly, and in such a manner as to convince him and his friends, if they still indulged any such hopes, that a restoration to the place he had once held in her affections was out of the question.

“If you are disposed to travel, my lord,” she said, sarcastically, “I will take care you have such appointments to foreign courts as will best suit your age and inclination.”

“Your majesty has perchance some delicate mission at the court of Madrid, which you desire me to execute,” replied the earl, significantly.

“Had I any mission to that court,” replied the queen, repressing her emotion, “it is not to your hands I should entrust it. You have offended me once, Courtenay. Beware how you do so a second time. Abandon all hopes of Elizabeth. She never can be—never shall be yours.”

“That remains to be seen,” muttered Courtenay as he quitted the presence.

The interview over, Courtenay was joined by De Noailles, and, from that moment, he surrendered himself unresistingly to the designs of the artful ambassador.

Mary had now removed her court to Whitehall. But she frequently visited the Tower, and appeared to prefer its gloomy chambers to the gorgeous halls in her other palaces. One night, an order was received by Hairun, the bearward, who had charge of the wild animals, that, on the following day, the queen would visit the menagerie. Preparations were accordingly made for her reception; and the animals were deprived of their supper, that they might exhibit an unusual degree of ferocity. But though Hairun starved the wild beasts, he did not act in like manner towards himself. On the contrary, he deemed it a fitting occasion to feast his friends, and accordingly invited Magog, his dame, the two other giants, Xit, Ribald, and the pantler and his spouse, to take their evening meal with him. The invitation was gladly accepted; and about the hour of a modern dinner, the guests repaired to the bearward’s lodgings, which were situated in the basement chamber of the Lions’ Tower. Of this structure, nothing but an arched embrasure, once overlooking the lesser moat, and another subterranean room, likewise boasting four deep arched recesses, but constantly flooded with water, now remain. A modern dwelling-house, tenanted by the former keeper of the menagerie in the fortress, occupies the site of the ancient fabric.

Aware of the appetites of his friends, and being no despicable trencherman himself, Hairun had provided accordingly. The principal dish was a wild boar, a present to the bearward from Sir Henry Bedingfeld, which having been previously soaked for a fortnight, in a mixture of vinegar, salt, bruised garlic, and juniper-berries, was roasted whole under the personal superintendence of Peter Trusbut, who predicted it would prove delicious eating, and the result proved him no false prophet. On the appearance of this magnificent dish, which succeeded the first course of buttered stock-fish, and mutton pottage, a murmur of delight pervaded the company. The eyes of the giants glistened, their mouths watered, and they grasped their knives and forks like men preparing for a combat to the utterance. Magog had seated himself as far from his wife as possible. But she was too much engrossed by the assiduous attention of Ribald to take any particular notice of him.

Peter Trusbut, as usual, officiated as carver. And the manner in which he distributed slices of the savoury and juicy meat, which, owing to the preparation it had undergone, had a tenderness and mellowness wholly indescribable, with modicums of the delicate fat, elicited the host’s warmest approbation. The giants spoke not a word; and even the ladies could only express their delight by interjections. Reserving certain delicate morsels for himself, Peter Trusbut, with a zeal worthy of the cause in which he was engaged, continued to ply his knife so unremittingly, that no one’s plate was for a moment empty, and yet with all this employment, he did not entirely forget himself. Hairun was in ecstasies; and while the giants were still actively engaged, he placed before them enormous goblets filled with bragger, a drink composed of strong ale sweetened with honey, spiced and flavoured with herbs. At the first pause, the gigantic brethren drained their cups; and they were promptly replenished by the hospitable bearward. By this time, the greater part of the boar had disappeared. Its well-flavoured back and fattened flanks were gone, and the hams and head alone remained. Seeing that the other guests were satisfied, the pantler, with some little labour, hewed off the two legs, and giving one to each of the unmarried giants, assigned the head to Magog.

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