had neither ears nor eyes for what went on about her. Mechanically
"For cats, which God, since He had no more cat-skin, stuck into a smooth hide!"
"Take care, John, that we do not show you our claws!" cried the duchess, laughing.
"Do it anyhow, my lady! I will then make a cross, and ye will disappear. For devils, you well know, cannot endure the sight of the holy cross, and ye are devils."
John Heywood, who was a remarkably fine singer, seized the mandolin, which lay near him, and began to sing.
It was a song, possible only in those days, and at Henry's voluptuous and at the same time canting court--a song full of the most wanton allusions, of the most cutting jests against both monks and women; a song which made Henry laugh, and the ladies blush; and in which John Heywood had poured forth in glowing dithyrambics all his secret indignation against Gardiner, the sneaking hypocrite of a priest, and against Lady Jane, the queen's false and treacherous friend.
But the ladies laughed not. They darted flashing glances at John Heywood; and Lady Richmond earnestly and resolutely demanded the punishment of the perfidious wretch who dared to defame women. The king laughed still harder. The rage of the ladies was so exceedingly amusing.
"Sire," said the beautiful Richmond, "he has insulted not us, but the whole sex; and in the name of our sex, I demand revenge for the affront."
"Yes, revenge!" cried Lady Jane, hotly.
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