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As twilight was giving place to night Angele was roused from the reverie
into which she had fallen, by the Duke's Daughter, who whispered to her
that if she would have a pleasure given to but few, she would come
quickly. Taking her hand the Duke's Daughter--as true and whimsical a
spirit as ever lived in troubled days and under the aegis of the
sword-led her swiftly to the Queen's chamber. They did not enter, but
waited in a quiet gallery.
"The Queen is playing upon the virginals, and she playeth best when
alone; so stand you here by this tapestry, and you shall have pleasure
beyond payment," said the Duke's Daughter.
Angele had no thought that the Queen of her vanity had commanded that she
be placed there as though secretly, and she listened dutifully at first;
but presently her ears were ravished; and even the Duke's Daughter showed
some surprise, for never had she heard the Queen play with such grace and
feeling. The countenance of the musician was towards them, and at last,
as though by accident, Elizabeth looked up and saw the face of her lady.
"Spy, spy," she cried. "Come hither--come hither, all of you!"
When they had descended and knelt to her, she made as if she would punish
the Duke's Daughter by striking her with a scarf that lay at her hand,
but to Angele she said:
"How think you then, hath that other greater skill--Darnley's wife I
"Not she or any other hath so delighted me," said Angele, with worship in
her eyes--so doth talent given to majesty become lifted beyond its
The Queen's eyes lighted. "We shall have dancing, then," she said. "The
dance hath charms for me. We shall not deny our youth. The heart shall
keep as young as the body."
An instant later the room was full of dancers, and Elizabeth gave her
hand to Leicester, who bent every faculty to pleasing her. His face had
darkened as he had seen Angele beside her, but the Queen's graciousness,
whether assumed or real, had returned, and her face carried a look of
triumph and spirit and delight. Again and again she glanced towards
Angele, and what she saw evidently gave her pleasure, for she laughed and
disported herself with grace and an agreeable temper, and Leicester lent
himself to her spirit with adroit wit and humility. He had seen his
mistake of the morning, and was now intent to restore himself to favour.
He succeeded well, for the emotions roused in Elizabeth during the day,
now heightened by vanity and emulation, found in him a centre upon which
they could converge; and, in her mind, Angele, for the nonce, was
disassociated from any thought of De la Foret. Leicester's undoubted
gifts were well and cautiously directed, and his talent of assumed
passion--his heart was facile, and his gallantry knew no bounds--was put
to dexterous use, convincing for the moment. The Queen seemed all
complaisance again. Presently she had Angele brought to her.
"How doth her dance compare-she who hath wedded Darnley?"
"She danceth not so high nor disposedly, with no such joyous lightness as
your high Majesty, but yet she moveth with circumspection."
"Circumspection--circumspection, that is no gift in dancing, which should
be wilful yet airily composed, thoughtless yet inducing.
Circumspection!--in nothing else hath Mary shown it where she should.
'Tis like this Queen perversely to make a psalm of dancing, and then
pirouette with sacred duty. But you have spoken the truth, and I am well
content. So get you to your rest."
She tapped Ange'le's cheek. "You shall remain here to-night. 'Tis too
late for you to be sent abroad." She was about to dismiss her, when there
was a sudden stir. Cecil had entered and was making his way to the Queen,
followed by two strangers. Elizabeth waited their approach.
"Your gracious Majesty," said Cecil, in a voice none heard save
Elizabeth, for all had fallen back at a wave of her hand, "the Queen of
Scots is the mother of a fair son."
Elizabeth's face flushed, then became pale, and she struck her knee with
her clinched hand. "Who bringeth the news?" she inquired in a sharp
"Sir Andrew Melvill here."
"Who is with him yonder?"
"One who hath been attached to the Queen of Scots."
"He hath the ill look of such an one," she answered, and then said below
her breath bitterly: "She hath a son--and I am but a barren stock."
Rising, she added hurriedly: "We will speak to the people at the May Day
sports to-morrow. Let there be great feasting."
She motioned to Sir Andrew Melvill to come forward, and with a gesture of
welcome and a promise of speech with him on the morrow she dismissed
Since the two strangers had entered, Angele's eyes had been fastened on
the gentleman who accompanied Sir Andrew Melvill. Her first glance at him
had sent a chill through her, and she remained confused and disturbed. In
vain her memory strove to find where the man was set in her past. The
time, the place, the event eluded her, but a sense of foreboding
possessed her; and her eyes followed him with strained anxiety as he
retired from the presence.
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