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for it was smothered under another sound which was still nearer, in his own
breast, in his accusing conscience-a voice which kept repeating those shameful
words, ‘I do not know you, woman!’ The words smote upon the king’s soul as
the strokes of a funeral bell smite upon the soul of a surviving friend when they
remind him of secret treacheries suffered at his hands by him that is gone.
New glories were unfolded at every turning; new wonders, new marvels,
sprung into view; the pent clamors of waiting batteries were released; new
raptures poured from the throats of the waiting multitudes; but the king gave no
sign, and the accusing voice that went moaning through his comfortless breast
was all the sound he heard.
By and by the gladness in the faces of the populace changed a little, and became
touched with a something like solicitude or anxiety; an abatement in the volume
of applause was observable too. The Lord Protector was quick to notice these
things; he was as quick to detect the cause. He spurred to the king’s side, bent
low in his saddle, uncovered, and said: ‘My liege, it is an ill time for dreaming.
The people observe thy downcast head, thy clouded mien, and they take it for an
omen. Be advised; unveil the sun of royalty, and let it shine upon these boding
vapors, and disperse them. Lift up thy face, and smile upon the people.’ So
saying, the duke scattered a handful of coins to right and left, then retired to his
place. The mock king did mechanically as he had been bidden. His smile had no
heart in it, but few eyes were near enough or sharp enough to detect that.
The noddings of his plumed head as he saluted his subjects were full of grace
and graciousness; the largess which he delivered from his hand was royally
liberal; so the people’s anxiety vanished, and the acclamations burst forth again
in as mighty a volume as before.
Still once more, a little before the progress was ended, the duke was obliged to
ride forward, and make remonstrance. He whispered: ‘O dread sovereign! shake
off these fatal humors; the eyes of the world are upon thee.’ Then he added with
sharp annoyance, ‘Perdition catch that crazy pauper! ‘twas she that hath
disturbed your Highness.’ The gorgeous figure turned a lusterless eye upon the
duke, and said in a dead voice: ‘She was my mother!’ ‘My God!’ groaned the
Protector as he reined his horse backward to his post, ‘the omen was pregnant
with prophecy. He is gone mad again!’