Winter, and last, but not least, with Philip Sidney himself, who, with his accustomed courtesy; has given up his rightful place toward the head of the table that he may have a knot of virtuosi all to himself; and has brought with him, of course, his two especial intimates, Mr. Edward Dyer and Mr. Francis Leigh. They too are talking of the North-West passage: and Sidney is lamenting that he is tied to diplomacy and courts, and expressing his envy of old Martin Frobisher in all sorts of pretty compliments; to which the other replies that,

“It’s all very fine to talk of here, a sailing on dry land with a good glass of wine before you; but you’d find it another guess sort of business, knocking about among the icebergs with your beard frozen fast to your ruff, Sir Philip, specially if you were a bit squeamish about the stomach.”

“That were a slight matter to endure, my dear sir, if by it I could win the honor which her majesty bestowed on you, when her own ivory hand waved a farewell ’kerchief to your ship from the windows of Greenwich Palace.”

“Well, sir, folks say you have no reason to complain of lack of favors, as you have no reason to deserve lack; and if you can get them by staying ashore, don’t you go to sea to look for more, say I. Eh, Master Towerson?”

Towerson’s gray beard, which has stood many a foreign voyage, both fair and foul, wags grim assent. But at this moment a Waiter enters, and—

“Please my lord mayor’s worship, there is a tall gentleman outside, would speak with the Right Honorable Sir Walter Raleigh.”

“Show him in, man. Sir Walter’s friends are ours.”

Amyas enters, and stands hesitating in the doorway.

“Captain Leigh!” cry half a-dozen voices.

“Why did you not walk in, sir?” says Osborne. “You should know your way well enough between these decks.”

“Well enough, my lords and gentlemen. But, Sir Walter—you will excuse me”—and he gave Raleigh a look which was enough for his quick wit. Turning pale as death, he rose, and followed Amyas into an adjoining cabin. They were five minutes together; and then Amyas came out alone.

In few words he told the company the sad story which we already know. Ere it was ended, noble tears were glistening on some of those stern faces.

“The old Egyptians,” said Sir Edward Osborne, “when they banqueted, set a corpse among their guests, for a memorial of human vanity. Have we forgotten God and our own weakness in this our feast, that He Himself has sent us thus a message from the dead?”

“Nay, my lord mayor,” said Sidney, “not from the dead, but from the realm of everlasting life.”

“Amen!” answered Osborne. “But, gentlemen, our feast is at an end. There are those here who would drink on merrily, as brave men should, in spite of the private losses of which they have just had news; but none here who can drink with the loss of so great a man still ringing in his ears.”

It was true. Though many of the guests had suffered severely by the failure of the expedition, they had utterly forgotten that fact in the awful news of Sir Humphrey’s death; and the feast broke up sadly and hurriedly, while each man asked his neighbor, “What will the queen say?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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