The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

“I will have no interference,” he roared, “old Max and I understand each other perfectly.”

As if he comprehended what was said, the bear replied by a hoarse growl, and displayed his enormous fangs in a formidable manner. Dame Placida renewed her cries, and besought Ribald to come to her assistance.

“Stay where you are,” thundered Magog, “I will settle this matter in my own way.”

“Help! for mercy’s sake, help!” shrieked Dame Placida—”never mind him!—help! good Hairun—dear Ribald—help! or I shall be torn in pieces.”

Thus exhorted, Ribald and Hairun would have obeyed. But they were prevented by Og and Gog, who began to see through their brother’s design.

“Leave him alone,” they cried, laughing loudly. “He is about to give his dame a lesson.”

“Is that all?” replied Hairun. “Then he shall have no interruption from me.”

“Barbarian!” cried Dame Placida, appealing to her husband. “Do you mean that I should be devoured! Oh! if ever I do get out, you shall bitterly repent your cruel conduct.”

“You never shall get out, unless you promise to amend your own conduct,” rejoined Magog.

“I will die sooner than make any such promise,” replied Placida.

“Very well, then,” rejoined Magog, “I shall give free passage to Max.”

And he slightly moved his person, while the animal uttered another growl. The giants laughed loudly, and encouraged their brother to proceed.

“Make her promise, or let Max take his course,” they shouted.

“Fear it not,” answered Magog.

“Monster!” shrieked Dame Placida, “you cannot mean this —help! help!”

But no one stirred. And above the roaring of the animals and the angry growling of Max, which Magog had provoked with a sly kick or two, was heard the loud laughter of the gigantic brethren.

“I give you two minutes to consider,” said Magog. “If you do not resolve to amend in that time, I leave you to your fate.”

And he again goaded Max into a further exhibition of fury. Dame Placida became seriously alarmed, and her proud spirit began to give way.

“I promise,” she uttered faintly.

“Speak up!” bellowed Magog. “I can’t hear you for the noise.”

“I promise,” replied Placida, in a loud and peevish voice.

“That won’t do,” rejoined her husband. “Speak as you used to do before I married you, and let the others hear you.”

“Yes, yes,” cried Og, drawing near with the rest. “We must all hear it, that we may be witnesses hereafter. You promise to amend your conduct, and let our brother live peaceably?”

“I do, I do,” replied Placida, in a penitential tone.

“Enough,” replied Magog. And putting out his arm behind to his wife he covered her retreat, and then suddenly turning upon Max, kicked him into the cage, and fastened the door.

Much laughter among the male portion of the company ensued. But Dame Potentia looked rather grave, and privately intimated to her husband her desire, or rather command, that he should go home. As Peter Trusbut took his departure, he whispered to Hairun, “If ever you think of marrying, I advise you to take good care of old Max. I wish I could borrow him for a day or two.”

“You shall have him, and welcome,” returned the bearward, laughing.

“Thank you, thank you,” answered the pantler, dejectedly. “Mine is a hopeless case.”

Dame Placida appeared so much subdued, that at last Magog took compassion upon her, and led her away, observing to the bearward, “For my sake bestow a plentiful supper on Max. He has done me a good turn, and I would fain requite it.”

The rest of the party speedily followed their example, and as Xit took his leave, he remarked to his host, “Nothing but Magog’s desire to terrify his dame prevented me from attacking Max. I am certain I could master him.”

“Say you so?” replied Hairun; “then you may have an opportunity of displaying your prowess before the queen tomorrow.”

“I will certainly avail myself of it,” replied Xit. “Give him a good supper, and he will be in better condition for the fight.”

Early on the following day, Mary arrived at the Tower. She came by water, and was received at the landing-place by Sir Henry Bedingfeld, who conducted her with much ceremony to the palace, where a sumptuous banquet was prepared, at which the knight assisted as chief sewer, presenting each dish to the queen on his bended knee, and placing a silver ewer filled with rose-water, and a napkin, before her between the courses. Mary looked grave and thoughtful, nor could the liveliest sallies of De Noailles, who was one of the guests, call a smile to her lips. Renard, also, was present, and looked more gloomy than usual. The banquet ended, Sir Henry Bedingfeld approached, and laid a parchment before the queen.

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