The Earl of Kildare made peace between O’Neill and England, for O’Neill had a great regard for him, and they both travelled over to London at the end of the year, taking a guard of gallowglasses with them.
It was said to Shane that he would never come back, because Elizabeth had the axe and the block in readiness for him; but he had confidence in his own keen and ready tongue, and he thought that he had never failed in any difficulty.
Elizabeth was a vain woman. She was handsome; she had red hair and grey eyes, and she wore the most beautiful and the most expensive clothes, and she had more than enough of them to decorate herself many times in the day. She was like a peacock to look at; but she had the heart of a wild beast, without pity or compassion, and more intellect and mind than any other woman in the world.
“Will you speak English to her?” said somebody to Shane.
“Indeed I will not,” said he, “for that rugged, ugly language would sprain my jaw.”
Shane had French and Spanish and Latin as well as his own sweet musical tongue. Elizabeth was a linguist too, and it is said that Shane outdid her in French, and that she refused to converse with him in that language.
On Little Christmas Day in the year 1562 he walked into the royal room of Elizabeth. There were valiant men of six feet and more around her, especially young Herbert; but it was seen at once that they were but insignificant men beside Shane the Proud. English history gives an account of his visit, and of his appearance.
“He had a yellowish-red mantle of fine material flowing down behind him to the ground, and light red hair, crisp and curly, falling over his shoulders to the middle of his back; he had wild grey eyes that looked out at you as bright as sunbeams; a well-knit, active frame, and haughty features.”
There were hundreds of people trying to get a sight of himself and of his gallowglasses. This account says that these latter were bare-headed, with fair heads of hair, wearing shirts of mail from the neck to the knee, each man having a wolf-skin across his shoulders and a sharp battle-axe in his hand. One would not trust the consequences of provoking the like of those fellows. It is probable that they were in the fight at Armagh.
“Make your obeisance!” said Shane in a sonorous voice, and the word was not out of his mouth when the gallowglasses were on one knee.
He stood close to the throne where Elizabeth was, dressed like a peacock; he bent his head, he bent his knee, and then he stood up as straight as a rod. He and Elizabeth looked at each other between the eyes. She spoke to him in Latin, and he answered her in sweet-sounding words. He praised her greatness, and he said that her beauty and her form dazzled him, for he had a smooth tongue with women. Elizabeth’s eye had never rested on a man like him, and she liked to hear him flattering her. She showed him, in spite of her advisers, that he pleased her, though those same advisers were ready to shed his blood. They said to themselves that they had a grip of him now or never; and although they had agreed to the condition that no one should molest him on his journey, they thought, as was their custom, to close the lock upon him.
“Ye intend to break the conditions,” said Shane boldly.
“You will be allowed to go back some time,” said Cecil to him; “but there is no particular time decided upon in that agreement.”
“They have deceived me,” said Shane to himself, and he walked in to the presence of Elizabeth and demanded her protection.
“They will not dare to do you any injury,” said she to him; “but you will have to remain with us for a while.”
There is no knowing how Shane persuaded her. She liked him to be about her, and it is supposed that she had a kind of animal affection for him, and every reader is surprised that she let him go away from her at last on his promising that he would obey herself alone, and that her Deputy in Ireland should have nothing to do with him. It is said that she was afraid also that if he were put in fetters the O’Neills would make Turlough Luineach O’Neill prince in his stead, and she preferred Shane to him. Sussex was gnawing his tongue with rage because they had not taken Shane’s head from his body in London, and he sent word to Elizabeth that it was spread abroad through Ireland that Shane had deceived her, great as was her intelligence, and that she had made him King over Ulster. He asked her permission to decoy Shane to Dublin in order to get a grip of him; but Shane was too suspicious, and he did not go near Dublin, although Sussex promised him his sister for a wife if he would only go to see her.