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- St. George and St. Michael Vol. III - 5/34 -
thereto an hundred times.'
Rowland was silent. He began to fear her.
'Or what love thou hadst was of such sort that thou didst encourage in her that which was evil, and then let her go like a haggard hawk. Thou marvellest, forsooth, that I should be so careless of thy merits! Tell me, cousin, what is there in thee that I should love? Can there be love for that which is nowise lovely? Thou wilt doubtless say in thy heart, "She is but a girl, and how then should she judge concerning men and their ways?" But I appeal to thine own conscience, Rowland, when I ask thee--is this well? And if a maiden truly loved thee, it were all one. Thou wouldst but carry thyself the same to her--if not to-day, then to-morrow, or a year hence.'
'Not if she were good, Dorothy, like thee,' he murmured.
'Not if thou wert good, Rowland, like Him that made thee.'
'Wilt thou not teach me then to be good like thee, Dorothy?'
'Thou must teach thyself to be good like the Rowland thou knowest in thy better heart, when it is soft and lowly.'
'Wouldst thou then love me a little, Dorothy, if I vowed to be thy scholar, and study to be good? Give me some hope to help me in the hard task.'
'He that is good is good for goodness' sake, Rowland. Yet who can fail to love that which is good in king or knave?'
'Ah! but do not mock me, Dorothy: such is not the love I would have of thee.'
'It is all thou ever canst have of me, and methinks it is not like thou wilt ever have it, for verily thou art of nature so light that any wind may blow thee into the Dead Sea.'
From a saint it was enough to anger any sinner.
'I see!' cried Scudamore. 'For all thy fine reproof, thou too canst spurn a heart at thy feet. I will lay my life thou lovest the round-head, and art but a traitress for all thy goodness.'
'I am indeed traitress enough to love any roundhead gentleman better than a royalist knave,' said Dorothy; and turning from him she sought the grand staircase.
The winter passed, with much running to and fro, in foul weather and fair; and still the sounds of war came no nearer to Raglan, which lay like a great lion in a desert that the hunter dared not arouse. The whole of Wales, except a castle or two, remained subject to the king; and this he owed in great measure to the influence and devotion of the Somersets, his obligation to whom he seemed more and more bent on acknowledging.
One day in early summer lady Margaret was sitting in her parlour, busy with her embroidery, and Dorothy was by her side assisting her, when lord Herbert, who had been absent for many days, walked in.
'How does my lady Glamorgan?' he said gaily.
'What mean you, my Herbert?' returned his wife, looking in his eyes somewhat eagerly.
'Thy Herbert am I no more; neither plume I myself any more in the spare feathers of my father. Thou art, my dove, as thou deservest to be, countess of Glamorgan, in the right of thine own husband, first earl of the same; for such being the will of his majesty, I doubt not thou wilt give thy consent thereto, and play the countess graciously. Come, Dorothy, art not proud to be cousin to an earl?'
'I am proud that you should call me cousin, my lord,' answered Dorothy; 'but truly to me it is all one whether you be called Herbert or Glamorgan. So thou remain thou, cousin, and my friend, the king may call thee what he will, and if thou art pleased, so am I.'
It was the first time she had ever thou'd him, and she turned pale at her own daring.
'St. George! but thou hast well spoken, cousin!' cried the earl. 'Hath she not, wife?'
'So well that if she often saith as well, I shall have much ado not to hate her,' replied lady Glamorgan. 'When didst thou ever cry "well spoken" to thy mad Irishwoman, Ned?'
'All thou dost is well, my lady. Thou hast all the titles to my praises already in thy pocket. Besides, cousin Dorothy is young and meek, and requireth a little encouragement.'
'Whereas thy wife is old and bold, and cares no more for thy good word, my new lord of Glamorgan?'
Dorothy looked so grave that they both fell a-laughing.
'I would thou couldst teach her a merry jest or two, Margaret,' said the earl. 'We are decent people enough in Raglan, but she is much too sober for us. Cheer up, Dorothy! Good times are at hand: that thou mayest not doubt it, listen--but this is only for thy ear, not for thy tongue: the king hath made thy cousin, that is me, Edward Somerset, the husband of this fair lady, generalissimo of his three armies, and admiral of a fleet, and truly I know not what all, for I have yet but run my eye over the patent. And, wife, I verily do believe the king but bides his time to make my father duke of Somerset, and then one day thou wilt be a duchess, Margaret. Think on that!'
Lady Glamorgan burst into tears.
'I would I might have a kiss of my Molly!' she cried.
She had never before in Dorothy's hearing uttered the name of her child since her death. New dignity, strange as it may seem to some, awoke suddenly the thought of the darling to whom titles were but words, and the ice was broken. A pause followed.
'Yes, Margaret, thou art right,' said Glamorgan at length; 'it is all but folly; yet as the marks of a king's favour, such honours are precious.'
As to what a king's favour itself might be worth, that my lord of Glamorgan lived to learn.
'It is I who pay for them,' said his wife.
'How so, my dove?'
'Do they not cost me thee, Herbert--and cost me very dear? Art not ever from my sight? Wish I not often as I lay awake in the dark, that we were all in heaven and well over with the foolery of it? The angels keep Molly in mind of us!'
'Yes, my Peggy, it is hard on thee, and hard on me too,' said the earl tenderly, 'yet not so hard as upon our liege lord, the king, who selleth his plate and jewels.'
'Pooh! what of that then, Herbert? An' he would leave me thee, he might have all mine, and welcome; for thou knowest, Ned, I but hold them for thee to sell when thou wilt.'
'I know; and the time may come, though, thank God, it is not yet. What wouldst thou say, countess, if with all thy honours thou did yet come to poverty? Canst be poor and merry, think'st thou?'
'So thou wert with me, Herbert--Glamorgan, I would say, but my lips frame not themselves to the word. I like not the title greatly, but when it means thee to me, then shall I love it.'
'Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers? O sweet content!'
--sang the earl in a mellow tenor voice.
'My lord, an' I have leave to speak,' said Dorothy, 'did you not say the diamond in that ring Richard Heywood sent me was of some worth?'
'I did, cousin. It is a stone of the finest water, and of good weight, though truly I weighed it not.'
'Then would I cast it in the king's treasury, an' if your lordship would condescend to be the bearer of such a small offering.'
'No, child; the king robs not orphans.'
'Did the King of Kings rob the poor widow that cast in her two mites, then?'
'No; but perhaps the priests did. Still, as I say, the hour may come when all our mites may be wanted, and thine be accepted with the rest, but my father and I have yet much to give, and shall have given it before that hour come. Besides, as to thee, Dorothy, what would that handsome roundhead of thine say, if instead of keeping well the ring he gave thee, thou had turned it to the use he liked the least?'
'He will never ask me concerning it,' said Dorothy, with a faint smile.
'Be not over-sure of it, child. My lady asks me many things I never thought to tell her before the priest made us one. Dorothy, I have no right and no wish to spy into thy future, and fright thee with what, if it come at all, will come peacefully as June weather. I have not constructed thy horoscope to cast thy nativity, and therefore I speak as one of the ignorant; but let me tell thee, for I do say it confidently, that if these wars were once over, and the
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