How Mabel Was Received By The Party In The Kitchen

Addressing himself to a stout-built yeoman of the guard, who was

standing within the doorway, Nicholas Clamp demanded admittance to the

kitchen, and the man having detained them for a few moments, during

which he regarded Mabel with a very offensive stare, ushered them into

a small hall, and from thence into a narrow passage connected with it.

Lighted by narrow loopholes pierced through the walls, which were of

immense thickness, this passage described the outer side of the whole

upper quadrangle, and communicated with many other lateral passages and

winding stairs leading to the chambers allotted to the household or

to the state apartments. Tracking it for some time, Nicholas Clamp at

length turned off on the right, and, crossing a sort of ante-room, led

the way into a large chamber with stone walls and a coved and groined

roof, lighted by a great window at the lower end. This was the royal

kitchen, and in it yawned no fewer than seven huge arched fireplaces,

in which fires were burning, and before which various goodly joints were

being roasted, while a number of cooks and scullions were congregated

round them. At a large table in the centre of the kitchen were seated

some half-dozen yeomen of the guard, together with the clerk of the

kitchen, the chief bargeman, and the royal cutler, or bladesmith, as he

was termed.

These worthies were doing ample justice to a chine of beef, a wild-boar

pie, a couple of fat capons, a peacock pasty, a mess of pickled

lobsters, and other excellent and inviting dishes with which the board

was loaded. Neither did they neglect to wash down the viands with

copious draughts of ale and mead from great pots and flagons placed

beside them. Behind this party stood Giovanni Joungevello, an Italian

minstrel, much in favour with Anne Boleyn, and Domingo Lamellino, or

Lamelyn--as he was familiarly termed--a Lombard, who pretended to some

knowledge of chirurgery, astrology, and alchemy, and who was a constant

attendant on Henry. At the head of the bench, on the right of the table,

sat Will Sommers. The jester was not partaking of the repast, but was

chatting with Simon Quanden, the chief cook, a good-humoured personage,

round-bellied as a tun, and blessed with a spouse, yclept Deborah, as

fond of good cheer, as fat, and as good-humoured as himself. Behind

the cook stood the cellarman, known by the appellation of Jack of the

Bottles, and at his feet were two playful little turnspits, with long

backs, and short forelegs, as crooked almost as sickles.

On seeing Mabel, Will Sommers immediately arose, and advancing towards

her with a mincing step, bowed with an air of mock ceremony, and said in

an affected tone, "Welcome, fair mistress, to the king's kitchen. We are

all right glad to see you; are we not, mates?"

"Ay, that we are!" replied a chorus of voices.

"By my troth, the wench is wondrously beautiful!" said Kit Coo, one of

the yeomen of the guard.

"No wonder the king is smitten with her," said Launcelot Rutter, the

bladesmith; "her eyes shine like a dagger's point."

"And she carries herself like a wafter on the river," said the bargeman.

"Her complexion is as good as if I had given her some of my sovereign

balsam of beauty," said Domingo Lamelyn.

"Much better," observed Joungevello, the minstrel; "I shall write a

canzonet in her praise, and sing it before the king."

"And get flouted for thy pains by the Lady Anne," said Kit Coo.

"The damsel is not so comely as I expected to find her," observed Amice

Lovekyn, one of the serving-women, to Hector Cutbeard, the clerk of the


"Why, if you come to that, she is not to be compared to you, pretty

Amice," said Cutbeard, who was a red-nosed, red-faced fellow, with a

twinkling merry eye.

"Nay, I meant not that," replied Amice, retreating.

"Excuse my getting up to receive you, fair mistress," cried Simon

Quanden, who seemed fixed to his chair; "I have been bustling about

all day, and am sore fatigued--sore fatigued. But will you not take

something? A sugared cate, and a glass of hypocras jelly, or a slice of

capon? Go to the damsel, dame, and prevail on her to eat."

"That will I," replied Deborah. "What shall it be, sweetheart? We have a

well-stored larder here. You have only to ask and have."

"I thank you, but I am in want of nothing," replied Mabel.

"Nay, that is against all rule, sweetheart," said Deborah; "no one enters

the king's kitchen without tasting his royal cheer."

"I am sorry I must prove an exception, then," returned Mabel, smiling;

"for I have no appetite."

"Well, well, I will not force you to eat against your will," replied the

good dame "But a cup of wine will do you good after your walk."

"I will wait upon her," said the Duke of Shoreditch.' who vied with

Paddington and Nick Clamp in attention to the damsel.

"Let me pray you to cast your eyes upon these two dogs, fair Mabel,"

said Will Sommers, pointing to the two turn-spits, "they are special

favourites of the king's highness. They are much attached to the cook,

their master; but their chief love is towards each other, and nothing

can keep them apart."

"Will Sommers speaks the truth," rejoined Simon Quanden. "Hob and Nob,

for so they are named, are fast friends. When Hob gets into the box to

turn the spit, Nob will watch beside it till his brother is tired, and

then he will take his place. They always eat out of the same platter,

and drink out of the same cup. I once separated them for a few hours to

see what would happen, but they howled so piteously, that I was forced

to bring them together again. It would have done your heart good to

witness their meeting, and to see how they leaped and rolled with

delight. Here, Hob," he added, taking a cake from his apron pocket,

"divide this with thy brother."

Placing his paws upon his master's knees, the nearest turnspit took the

cake in his mouth, and proceeding towards Nob, broke it into two pieces,

and pushed the larger portion towards him.

While Mabel was admiring this display of sagacity and affection a

bustling step was heard behind her, and turning, she beheld a strange

figure in a parti-coloured gown and hose, with a fool's cap and bells

on his head, whom she immediately recognised as the cardinal's jester,

Patch. The new-comer recognised her too, stared in astonishment, and

gave a leering look at Will Sommers.

"What brings you here, gossip Patch?" cried Will Sommers. "I thought you

were in attendance upon your master, at the court at Blackfriars."

"So I have been," replied Patch, "and I am only just arrived with his


"What! is the decision pronounced?" cried Will Sommers eagerly. "Is the

queen divorced? Is the king single again? Let us hear the sentence."

"Ay, the sentence!--the sentence!" resounded on all hands.

Stimulated by curiosity, the whole of the party rose from the table;

Simon Quanden got out of his chair; the other cooks left their joints to

scorch at the fire; the scullions suspended their work; and Hob and Nob

fixed their large inquiring black eyes upon the jester.

"I never talk thirsting," said Patch, marching to the table, and filling

himself a flagon of mead. "Here's to you, fair maiden," he added,

kissing the cup to Mabel, and swallowing its contents at a draught. "And

now be seated, my masters, and you shall hear all I have to relate, and

it will be told in a few words. The court is adjourned for three days,

Queen Catherine having demanded that time to prepare her allegations,

and the delay has been granted her."

"Pest on it!--the delay is some trick of your crafty and double-dealing

master," cried Will Sommers. "Were I the king, I know how I would deal

with him."

"What wouldst thou do, thou scurril knave?" cried Patch angrily.

"I would strip him of his ill-gotten wealth, and leave him only thee--a

fitting attendant--of all his thousand servitors," replied Will.

"This shall to his grace's ears," screamed Patch, amid the laughter of

the company--"and see whether your back does not smart for it."

"I fear him not," replied Will Sommers. "I have not yet told the king my

master of the rare wine we found in his cellar."

"What wine was that, Will?" cried Jack of the Bottles.

"You shall hear," replied Will Sommers, enjoying the disconcerted

look of the other jester. "I was at the palace at Hampton, when this

scant-witted knave invited me to taste some of his master's wine, and

accordingly to the cellar we went. 'This wine will surprise you,' quoth

he, as we broached the first hogshead. And truly it did surprise me, for

no wine followed the gimlet. So we went on to another, and another,

and another, till we tried half a score of them, and all with the same

result. Upon this I seized a hammer which was lying by and sounded

the casks, but none of them seeming empty, I at last broke the lid of

one--and what do you think it contained?"

A variety of responses were returned by the laughing assemblage, during

which Patch sought to impose silence upon his opponent. But Will Sommers

was not to be checked.

"It contained neither vinegar, nor oil, nor lead," he said, "but gold;

ay, solid bars of gold-ingots. Every hogshead was worth ten thousand

pounds, and more."

"Credit him not, my masters," cried Patch, amid the roars of the

company; "the whole is a mere fable--an invention. His grace has no such

treasure. The truth is, Will Sommers got drunk upon some choice Malmsey,

and then dreamed he had been broaching casks of gold."

"It is no fable, as you and your master will find when the king comes

to sift the matter," replied Will. "This will be a richer result to

him than was ever produced by your alchemical experiments, good Signor

Domingo Lamelyn."

"It is false!--I say false!" screamed Patch, "let the cellars be

searched, and I will stake my head nothing is found."

"Stake thy cap, and there may be some meaning in it," said Will,

plucking Patch's cap from his head and elevating it on his truncheon.

"Here is an emblem of the Cardinal of York," he cried, pointing to it.

A roar of laughter from the company followed this sally, and Hob and Nob

looked up in placid wonderment.

"I shall die with laughing," cried Simon Quanden, holding his fat sides,

and addressing his spouse, who was leaning upon his shoulder.

In the meantime Patch sprang to his feet, and, gesticulating with rage

and fury, cried, "Thou hast done well to steal my cap and bells, for

they belong of right to thee. Add my folly to thy own, and thou wilt

be a fitting servant to thy master; or e'en give him the cap, and then

there will be a pair of ye."

"Who is the fool now, I should like to know?" rejoined Will Sommers

gravely. "I call you all to witness that he has spoken treason."

While this was passing Shoreditch had advanced with a flagon of Malmsey

to Mabel, but she was so interested in the quarrel between the two

jesters that she heeded him not; neither did she attend to Nicholas

Clamp, who was trying to explain to her what was going forward. But just

as Patch's indiscreet speech was uttered an usher entered the kitchen

and announced the approach of the king.

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