“Get on with your work,” Essex grumbled, as he headed towards the door. Southampton followed like a puppy. At the end of the aisle, Essex turned and shouted.
“Well, playwright? Are you coming with us?”
It took a moment for Shaxper to realize that Essex was talking to him. “My lord,” he stammered, “I thought I’d stay and see if my play needed any last minute changes.”
“Nonsense, it’s perfect, especially with the old Deposition Scene added back in. That’ll certainly strike a blow in our favor. The old crone on the throne won’t know what’s happened until it’s too late. Don’t waste your time here any longer. There’s more work to be done.”
“That’s right,” Southampton added. “Just follow along. You’re one of us now.”
Shaxper waited for Lord Oxford to say something that would require him to stay, but the Earl held his ridiculous pose, hoping to annoy Essex. Caught in the midst of their peevish nonsense, Shaxper shook his head, put on his cloak and followed the young noblemen outside.
A short distance away, Robert Poley covered his face to avoid being seen. He leaned against the fence behind The Globe and watched as the irate men entered the tiring house. He hurried to the door and listened.
“Who does that ill-mannered busker think he is?” Essex roared, pounding his first on the table. “Imagine, a common player taking the liberty to insult courtiers with such impunity!”
“Browne is a very strange fellow,” Southampton said.
Essex waved the air to indicate that the subject was of no further interest to him.
“I’d withdraw my backing from your play this very instant, Shakespeare, if my whole plan did not depend on using it to arouse the commoners to support us.”
“In what way, my lord? I don’t understand.”
“It sounds like my friend Southampton has failed to explain our plan.
You are helping us choose the next King of England.”
“The next king!” Shaxper gasped. “What are you saying, my lord?
The Queen still lives! God save the Queen!”
“Let God save her then – we have no intention of doing it.”
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