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THE king sat musing a few moments, then looked up and said: ‘’Tis strange-
most strange. I cannot account for it.’ ‘No, it is not strange, my liege. I know him,
and this conduct is but natural.
He was a rascal from his birth.’ ‘Oh, I spake not of him, Sir Miles.’ ‘Not of him?
Then of what? What is it that is strange?’ ‘That the king is not missed.’ ‘How?
Which? I doubt I do not understand.’ ‘Indeed! Doth it not strike you as being
passing strange that the land is not filled with couriers and proclamations
describing my person and making search for me? Is it no matter for commotion
and distress that the head of the state is gone?- that I am vanished away and
lost?’ ‘Most true, my king, I had forgot.’ Then Hendon sighed, and muttered to
himself. ‘Poor ruined mind-still busy with its pathetic dream.’ ‘But I have a plan
that shall right us both. I will write a paper, in three tongues-Latin, Greek, and
English-and thou shall haste away with it to London in the morning. Give it to
none but my uncle, the Lord Hertford; when he shall see it, he will know and
say I wrote it. Then he will send for me.’ ‘Might it not be best, my prince, that we
wait here until I prove myself and make my rights secure to my domains? I
should be so much the better able then to-’ The king interrupted him
imperiously: ‘Peace! What are thy paltry domains, thy trivial interests,
contrasted with matters which concern the weal of a nation and the integrity of a
throne!’ Then he added, in a gentle voice, as if he were sorry for his severity,
‘Obey and have no fear; I will right thee, I will make thee whole-yes, more than
whole. I shall remember, and requite.’ So saying, he took the pen, and set
himself to work. Hendon contemplated him lovingly awhile, then said to
himself: ‘An it were dark, I should think it was a king that spoke; there’s no
denying it, when the humor’s upon him he doth thunder and lighten like your
true king-now where got he that trick? See him scribble and scratch away
contentedly at his meaningless pot-hooks, fancying them to be Latin and Greek-
and except my wit shall serve me with a lucky device for diverting him from his
purpose, I shall be forced to pretend to post away to-morrow on this wild errand
which he hath invented for me.’
The next moment Sir Miles’s thoughts had gone back to the recent episode.
So absorbed was he in his musings, that when the king presently handed him
the paper which he had been writing, he received it and pocketed it without
being conscious of the act. ‘How marvelous strange she acted,’ he muttered. ‘I
think she knew me-and I think she did not know me. These opinions do conflict,
I perceive it plainly; I cannot reconcile them, neither can I, by argument, dismiss
either of the two, or even persuade one to outweigh the other. The matter
standeth simply thus: she must have known my face, my figure, my voice, for
how could it be otherwise? yet she said she knew me not, and that is proof
perfect, for she cannot lie.