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his mouth, and specked his well-formed limbs as if with spots of snow. The rider well became the high place which he held, and the proud steed which he bestrode ; for no man in England, or perhaps in Europe, was more perfect than Dudley in horsemanship and all other exercises belonging to his quality. He was bare-headed, as were all the courtiers in the train ; and the red torchlight shone upon his long curled tresses of dark hair, and on his noble features, to the beauty of which even the severest criticism could only object the lordly fault, as it may be termed, of a forehead somewhat too high. On that proud evening, those features wore all the grateful solicitude of a subject, to show himself sensible of the high honour which the queen was conferring on him, and all the pride and satisfaction which became so glorious a moment. Yet, though neither eye nor feature betrayed aught but feelings which suited the occasion, some of the Earl's personal attendants remarked that he was unusually pale, and they expressed to each other their fear that he was taking more fatigue than consisted with his health.
Varney followed close behind his master, as the principal esquire in waiting, and had charge of his lordship's black velvet bonnet, garnished with a clasp of diamonds, and surmounted by a white plume. He kept his eye constantly on his master; and, for reasons with which the reader is not unacquainted, was, among Leicester's numerous dependants, the one who was most anxious that his lord's strength and resolution should carry him successfully through a day so agitating. For although Varney was one of the few—the very few moral monsters, who contrive to lull to sleep the remorse of their own bosoms, and are drugged into moral insensibility by atheism, as men in extreme agony are lulled by opium, yet he knew that in the breast of his patron there was already awakened the fire that is never quenched, and that his lord felt amid all the pomp and magnificence we have described, the gnawing of the worm that dieth not. Still, however, assured as Lord Leicester stood, by Varney's own intelligence, that his Countess laboured under an indisposition which formed an unanswerable apology to the Queen for her not appearing at Kenilworth, there was little danger, his wily retainer thought, that a man so ambitious would betray himself by giving way to any external weakness.
The train, male and female, who attended immediately upon the queen's person, were, of course, of the bravest and the fairest,--the highest born nobles, and the wisest counsellors of that distinguished reign, to repeat whose names were but to weary the reader. Behind came a long crowd of knights and gentlemen, whose rank and birth, however distinguished, were thrown into shade, as their persons into the rear of a procession, whose front was of such august majesty.
Thus marshalled, the cavalcade approached the gallery-tower, which formed, as we have often observed, the extreme barrier of the Castle.
It was now the part of the huge porter to step forward; but the lubbard was so overwhelmed with confusion of spirit,--the contents of one immense black jack of double ale, which he had just drunk to quicken his memory, having treacherously confused the brain it was intended to clear, —that he only groaned piteously, and remained sitting on his stone seat; and the queen would have passed on without greeting, had not the gigantic warder's secret ally, Flibbertigibbet, who lay perdu behind him, thrust a pin into the rear of the short femoral garment which we elsewhere described.
The porter uttered a sort of yell, which came not amiss into his part, started up with his club, and dealt a sound douse or two on each side of him; and then, like a coach-horse pricked by the spur, started off at once into the full career of his address, and by dint of active prompting on the part of Dickie Sludge, delivered in sounds of gigantic information, a speech which may be thus abridged ;the reader being to suppose that the first lines were addressed to the throng who approached the gateway; the conclusion, at the approach of the queen, upon sight of whom, as if struck by some heavenly vision, the gigantic warder dropped his club, resigned his keys, and gave open way to the Goddess of the night and all her magnificent train.
“What stir, what turmoil, have we for the nones ? 4
Yet soft-nay stay-what vision have we here?
as this !"
Elizabeth received most graciously the homage of the herculean porter, and, bending her head to him in requital, passed through his guarded tower, from the top of which was poured a clamorous blast of warlike music, which was replied to by other bands of minstrelsy placed at different points on the castle walls, and by others again stationed in the chase; while the tones of the one, as they yet vibrated on the echoes, were caught up and answered by new harmony from different quarters.
Amidst these bursts of music, which, as if the work of enchantment, seemed now close at hand, now softened by distant space, now wailing so low and sweet as if that distance were gradually prolonged until only the last lingering strains could reach the ear, Queen Elizabeth crossed the gallerytower, and came upon the long bridge, which extended from thence to Mortimer's Tower, and which was already as light as day, so many torches had been fastened to the palisades on either side. Most of the nobles here alighted, and sent their horses to the neighbouring village of Kenilworth, following the queen on foot, as did the gentlemen
who had stood in array to receive her at the gallery-tower.
On this occasion, as at different times during the evening, Raleigh addressed himself to Tressilian, and was not a little surprised at his vague and unsatisfactory answers; which, joined to his leaving his apartment without any assigned reason, appearing in an undress when it was likely to be offensive to the .queen, and some other symptoms of irregularity which he thought he discovered, led him to doubt whether his friend did not labour under some temporary derangement.
Meanwhile, the queen had no sooner stepped on the bridge than a new spectacle was provided ; for as soon as the music gave signal that she was so far advanced, a raft, so disposed as to resemble a small floating island, illuminated by a great variety of torches, and surrounded by floating pageants formed to represent sea-horses, on which sat Tritons, Nereids, and other fabulous deities of the seas and rivers, made its appearance upon the lake, and issuing from behind a small heronry where it had been concealed, floated gently towards the farther end of the bridge.
On the islet appeared a beautiful woman, clad in a watchet-coloured silken mantle, bound with a broad girdle, inscribed with characters like the phylacteries of the Hebrews. Her feet and arms were bare, but her wrists and ankles were adorned with gold bracelets of uncommon size. Amidst her long silky black hair, she wore a crown or chaplet of artificial mistletoe, and bore in her hand a rod