The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

With my back to the fire and my paunch to

the table,

Let me eat, let me drink as long as

I am able:

Let me eat, let me drink whate’er I set my

whims on,

Until my nose is blue, and my jolly

visage crimson.

The doctor preaches abstinence, and

threatens me with dropsy,

But such advice, I needn’t say, from

drinking never stops ye:

The man who likes good liquor is of nature

brisk and brave, boys,

So drink away! drink while you may!

there’s no drinking in the grave,


“Well sung, my roystering Ribald,” cried Magog, striding up to him, and delivering him a sounding blow on the back, “thou art ever merry, and hast the most melodious voice and the lustiest lungs of any man within the Tower.”

“And thou hast the heaviest hand I ever felt on my shoulder, gigantic Magog,” replied Ribald; “so we are even. But come, pledge me in a brimmer, and we will toss off a lusty measure to the health of our sovereign lady, Queen Jane. What say you, Master Trusbut? and you, good Hairun? and you, most melancholic Mauger? a cup of claret will bring the colour to your cheeks. A pot of wine, good dame, to drink the queen’s health in. But whom have we yonder? Is that gallant thy companion, redoubted Magog?”

The giant nodded an affirmative.

“By my faith he is a well-looking youth,” said Ribald; “but he seems to have eyes for no one excepting fair Mistress Cicely.”

Aroused by this remark, the young damsel looked up and beheld the passionate gaze of Cholmondeley fixed upon her. She started, trembled, and endeavoured to hide her confusion by industriously pursuing her occupation of netting. But in spite of her efforts to restrain herself, she could not help stealing a sidelong glance at him; and emboldened by this slight encouragement, Cholmondeley ventured to advance towards her. It is scarcely necessary to detail the common-place gallantries which the youth addressed to her, or the monosyllabic answers which she returned to them. The language of love is best expressed by the look which accompanies the word, and the tone in which that word is uttered; and this language, though as yet neither party was much skilled in it, appeared perfectly intelligible to both of them. Satisfied, at length, that she was not insensible to his suit, Cholmondeley drew nearer, and bending his head towards her, poured the most passionate protestations in her ear. What answer she made, if she made answer at all to these ardent addresses, we know not, but her heightened complexion and heaving bosom told that she was by no means insensible to them. Meanwhile, Og and Gog, together with the heralds and one or two men-at-arms, had entered the chamber with the prisoner. Much bustle ensued, and Dame Potentia was so much occupied with the new-comers and their wants, that she had little time to bestow upon her adoptive daughter. It is true that she thought the handsome stranger more attentive than was needful, or than she judged discreet, and she determined to take the earliest opportunity of putting a stop to the flirtation; but, just then, it happened that her hands were too full to allow her to attend to minor matters. As to Peter Trusbut, he was so much entertained with the pleasantries of his friend Ribald, and so full of the banquet he had provided for the queen, the principal dishes of which he recapitulated for the benefit of his guests, that he saw nothing whatever that was passing between the young couple. Not so a gloomy-looking personage shrouded behind the angle of the chimney, who, with his hand upon his dagger, bent eagerly forward to catch their lightest whisper. Two other mysterious individuals had also entered the room, and stationed themselves near the doorway. As soon as Dame Trusbut had provided for the wants of her numerous guests, she turned her attention to the prisoner, who had excited her compassion, and who sat with his arms folded upon his breast, preserving the same resolute demeanour he had maintained throughout. Proffering her services to the sufferer, she bade her attendant, Agatha, bring a bowl of water to bathe his wounds, and a fold of linen to bind round his head. At this moment, Xit, the dwarf, who was by no means pleased with the unimportant part he was compelled to play, bethought him of an expedient to attract attention. Borrowing from the herald the scroll of the proclamation, he mounted upon Og’s shoulders, and begged him to convey him to the centre of the room, that he might read it aloud to the assemblage, and approve their loyalty. The good-humoured giant complied. Supporting the mannikin with his left hand, and placing his large two-handed sword over his right shoulder, he walked forward, while the dwarf screamed forth the following preamble to the proclamation:—”Jane, by the grace of God Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England, and also of Ireland, under Christ on earth the supreme head. To all our loving, faithful, and obedients, and to every of them, greeting.” Here he paused to shout and wave his cap, while the herald, who had followed them, to humour the joke raised his embroidered trumpet to his lips, and blew a blast so loud and shrill, that the very rafters shook with it. To this clamour Og added his stunning laughter, while his brethren, who were leaning over a screen behind, and highly diverted with the incident, joined in lusty chorus. Almost deafened by the noise, Dame Trusbut, by way of putting an end to it, raised her own voice to its utmost pitch, and threatened to turn Xit, whom she looked upon as the principal cause of the disturbance, out of the house. Unfortunately, in her anger, she forgot that she was engaged in dressing the prisoner’s wounds, and while her left hand was shaken menacingly at the dwarf, her right convulsively grasped the poor fellow’s head, occasioning him such exquisite pain, that he added his outcries to the general uproar. The more Dame Trusbut scolded, the more Og and his brethren laughed, and the louder the herald blew his trumpet, so that it seemed as if there was no likelihood of tranquillity being speedily restored; nor, in all probability would it have been so without the ejectment of the dwarf, had it not been for the interference of Ribald, who at length, partly by cajolery, and partly by coercion, succeeded in pacifying the angry dame. During this tumult, the two mysterious personages, who, it has been stated, had planted themselves at the doorway, approached the young couple unobserved, and one of them, after narrowly observing the features of the young man, observed in an under-tone to his companion, “It is Cuthbert Cholmondeley. You doubted me, my Lord Pembroke, but I was assured it was Lord Guilford’s favourite esquire, who had conveyed the note to his master, warning him of our scheme.”

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