As indifferent to her words as to the angry carriage of the Cavaliers, Evander stepped tranquilly back to his place between his warders. "I have no more words to waste," he said, with a scorn in his voice that stung Brilliana's cheeks to crimson.
But if Evander trod the air, there was another who pressed the earth with leaden feet and carried a heart of lead. Halfman read Evander's happiness with hostile eyes; he read, too, very clearly, Brilliana's content in Evander's company, and he raged at it.
Still looking into the gratified eyes of Brilliana, he lifted the cup. "I drink," he cried, loud and clear, "to the best man in England. I drink to Colonel Cromwell." He drained the glass and sent it crashing into the fireplace. Then he folded his arms and faced his antagonists. Brilliana's heart seemed for a second to stand still. So beauty had not triumphed, after all.
Like many another humorless fellow, he prided himself upon a gift of mimicry signally denied to him. Even Brilliana's detestation of the Puritan party could not compel her to admire her neighbor's performance.
And, therefore, I resolved that so far as in me lay I would show those who scorned my people and my creed that a Puritan might compete with his enemies in all the arts and graces they held most dear, and not come off the worst in all encounters." "That was a brave resolve!" Brilliana's eyes and voice applauded him. He flushed a little as he went on. "It was a kind of oath of Hannibal.
"What of Master Peter Rainham?" Brilliana shrugged again. "A dull, sullen skinflint waiting on event." Halfman's inventory was not complete. "You have yet a third neighbor," he said, "and, as I heard, a prodigal in protestation. What of Sir Blaise Mickleton?" Brilliana's lips twitched with a derisive smile. "Sir Blaise, honest gentleman, loves good cheer and good ease.
His rich if somewhat rough voice came booming through the partitions, carolling a ballad to which the Puritan listened with a perfectly unmoved countenance, while the Lady Brilliana's eager face expressed every signal of the liveliest delight.
"Sir Rufus," he ordered, "send to our presence the prisoner, the Parliament officer." Rufus glanced at Brilliana's stern, averted face; he read something like mockery on the thin, royal lips. For an instant he ventured to protest. "But, your Majesty " he began, but he got no further. The King checked him with a frown and a raised hand. It was easy to make him obstinate in crossing a follower.
I came hither from Cambridge by order of Colonel Cromwell." Brilliana's lips tightened at the sound of the name which the envoy pronounced with so much reverence. "The rebel member for Cambridge," she sneered "the mutinous brewer. Are you a vassal of the man of beer?" There was a quiet note of protest in the reply of the envoy.
Charles looked at her fixedly, touching his chin with the feather of his quill. "Thuswise only thuswise. You will persuade Captain Cloud to return to his allegiance." Brilliana's gratitude ebbed and her voice hardened. "I know he will never change sides." An enigmatic smile passed over the fretful face of the King. "I think so, too," he agreed, and turned again to his papers.