Imatges de pÓgina
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as she found it, instead of forming an ornamental appanage to the state of her noble cousin of Ely, where she would have felt as a prisoner of distinction, treated with the highest and most delicate consideration, but with every movement jealously watched and restricted. So the cloister and the bishop were kept carefully in reserve, ready to be brought up in overwhelming force against her lawful guardian in a case of last resort, but by no means to be risked if she could possibly hold her ground without them. It was a monotonous and solitary life which the aunt and niece led within their old stone walls; but at any rate it was rather more lively than a nunnery, and infinitely more reputable than the Manor. Sir Godfrey was almost their only visitor; and for him the rusty drawbridge seemed to creak but an unwilling welcome. Though he was on the best terms with his fair ward, as far as all outward courtesy went, they often betrayed a mutual fear of each other; the girl shrunk from the knight's bold and ungentle bearing, and from what she did not know, rather than from what she knew, of his character; while the lower animal nature of the man was awed and abashed against his will by the pure and high-spirited woman.

Through the oak woodlands of Sattelhanger, and thence over the broad level cornlands of the Leys, the knights and their company pricked merrily on. The crisp leaves rustled under their horses' hoofs, and the dry stubbles were dusty behind them as they rode. De Burgh and Le Hardi kept ahead, side by side, the former pointing out to his guest, from time to time, the main features of the country. At a little distance behind rode the two esquires of Sir Godfrey, and Le Hardi's Gascon esquire, Dubois, holding probably merrier and certainly noisier discourse than their masters. Some paces in the rear again came some dozen men-at-arms, with lackeys and pages; for it was fitting that the Knight of Ladysmede should show all due honour both to the guest whom he was escorting and the lady whose bower they were to visit. Young Raoul, perhaps to give freer vent to the

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overflowing animal spirits which were stirred within him by the fresh autumn air, and perhaps, too, in order to display the better his gay person and gallant riding, galloped occasionally back to the latter group, and exchanged a jest or a light remark with one of the humbler following.

They were riding now on high table-land, and had reached a rising mound from which the tower of Willan's Hope was just visible in the hazy distance. Sir Godfrey drew his rein, and pointed it out to the Crusader.

"Far as your eye can reach," said he, "from that long line of wood there on your right down to the river, sweep the fair manors of Wirth and Earmundslea; the latter, you will please to observe," he added with a smile, "marches for some mile or two with the river-lands of Ladysmede. As far again, on the other side of yon old fortress, which has stood against sterner attacks than our peaceful leaguer to-day, stretches Scaldgrave to the north, and Willansdene to the eastward, nine hundred good acres in the two, besides the mere and woods ;-all are hers, by the king's grace; a fair guerdon, friend, methinks, even for a soldier of the Cross; a richer inheritance I doubt King Richard himself has not to offer better be lord of these good English lands than wear the crown of Jerusalem."

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"You say but the truth," replied Le Hardi, gazing with interest on the fair prospect before him; I once master here, those who lacked lands at home might go win the Sepulchre for me."

"Well," resumed the other, after a few moments' pause, 66 you seem not to mislike the look and quality of the wares-and you know the price."

The Crusader turned round, and looked his friend in the face; but Sir Godfrey's eyes were fixed apparently on a distant point in the landscape; yet a close observer could detect an uneasy consciousness of Le Hardi's searching gaze.

"By all the holy heritages in Palestine, de Burgh, there comes into my mind at this instant a most strange remembrance! I bethink me of a

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picture which an old monk showed me once,-years ago it was, when I was quite a lad; but it comes plain before my eyes again now while I speak-of Satanas himself in royal apparel, standing on a hill, much as we stand here now, and offering to one or other of the blessed saints, I mind not which, all the kingdoms and principalities of the earth to hold in fee, if he would only kneel down and do him liege homage as his lord and seigneur."

"Avaunt with your monkish tales!" said de Burgh, turning round upon him with a glance of anger; "do you resemble me to Satanas? I thank you for your courtesy-and you yourself are the saint, I warrant me?"

"In faith, not I," replied the other with a laugh; "here is my hand upon our contract; I am your true man and vassal upon your own conditions."

De Burgh gave his hand with a sullen and half- offended air; and he scarcely opened his lips beyond a syllable in answer to his companion's attempts to renew the conversation as they rode forward; until, as they were about entering one of the dwarf oak coppices which flanked the corn-stubbles, a single horseman made his appearance from the cover, and was within a few yards of them before they were aware of his approach. He was young-it might be two or three and twenty-with features well cut and intelligent, though somewhat pale. His costume formed as strong a contrast as possible with the glancing steel armour, and gay cloaks and plumes fluttering in the wind, which made the Knight's cavalcade a gallant sight to look upon. He wore a closefitting tunic of olive green, displaying to some advantage a well-built active form, with a short scarf of murrey-colour over the right shoulder, and low boots of undressed leather. But for the short sword or hunting-knife that hung in his girdle, he would have borne about him no token of the warlike age in which he lived.

Sir Godfrey had but just time to say to his companion in an undertone," This is young Waryn Foliot,

of whom you have heard," when their horses almost met in the narrowing track at the entrance of the wood; and the young stranger, reining gracefully aside his powerful chestnut horse, which was rather impatient at seeing so much good company, raised his cap with a courteous but distant greeting.

"Well met, Master Waryn," said the Knight of Ladysmede, returning his salutation; "that is, if you will graciously permit me to say so; for indeed, if it should please you to judge us strictly, we shall be found but trespassers on good Sir Marmaduke's lands; but we do but take the shortest path, as you know, to Willan's Hope."

"The trespass is pardoned, Sir Knight," replied the youth, with another cold bow-"so far as I may speak for my father."

"Sir Nicholas le Hardi," said de Burgh, addressing his companion, "let me here present to you, under your joint favour, the son of as renowned a knight of the Cross as any in King Richard's army, and one who must be well known to you, doubtless, by repute if not in person

-Sir Marmaduke Foliot of the Leys hard by some time my good friend and neighbour, but it is long since we have seen him here."

"I know the good knight's banner well," said the Crusader, bending towards the young stranger; "his face is better known, I am sorry to say it, to the Paynims than to myself—that is, what they may see of it through the bars of his visor, for he has borne it close enough into their ranks at Jaffa and at Ascalon."

"The Foliot's lion was seldom far behind," said the young man quietly; "may I ask if you have come hither straight from the king's army, Sir Knight, so that I may chance to hear, of your courtesy, some later tidings of my father?"

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alone; it were surely a gallant chance, for one of your knightly lineage, to strike a fair blow for his spurs upon the fields of Palestine.

"My brother is with the king," replied Foliot coldly; "the honour of our house is safe enough with him."

"No doubt, fair sir, no doubt; still there is work enough, and honour enough, for all to take their share; and unless my eye deceives me and it has been used to measure men-I see the metal before me which Coeurde-Lion loves better than gold; and both are scarce with him now."

"You see me such as I am, and such as I please to be, Sir Knight," replied the youth, colouring; "I thank you for your courteous tidings, and so farewell."

He put his horse to the gallop, and left the party to continue their way.

"A proper youth enough," said the Crusader, looking after him as he rode off, "and ready with his words; he has thews and points of manhood about him, ay, and a spirit too, if I mistake not, that seem hardly needed in a scholar."

"Faith," said Sir Godfrey, with a coarse laugh, "you chafed the lad's temper when you bantered him about taking service in the Holy Land: old Sir Marmaduke and he have had some rough words on that matter. You should have hit him harder with my good-will,-I have no love for him; he will take part neither in joust nor in feast, and holds himself aloof from his neighbours in a way that misbecomes his years. He counts us in his heart for little better than churls and boors, I dare be sworn, because we have studied the customs of knighthood more than musty parchments. He will talk, they tell me, to Father Giacomo by the hour together.

"His father, Sir Marmaduke, is a stout knight," said Le Hardi, who did not hold letters in such disfavour as his companion.

"I hate the whole breed of them," said Sir Godfrey, who had found it difficult to live in peace and charity with such near neighbours.

"This youth has been a student at Paris, said you not?" resumed the Crusader; it is a school, Sir Godfrey, which has sent forth good lances

as well as learned clerks: a right gallant kinsman of mine was fellowstudent there with Thomas of Canterbury, and I remember when I was a youth at Poictiers, two of the noblest Angevin knights that served King Henry-I rode as esquire to one of them, Henri de Xaintonge-were said to have learned the humanities there under Peter Abailard. I was but a poor judge what credit they did their master in rhetoric, but I may answer for it he had not spoiled their fighting."

"Abailard?" said the other, "I have heard of him; he could teach other things beside rhetoric, or they much belied him. Our kings of England have more need of loyal liegemen than of scholars; the blow that made a saint of Thomas did the king better service than the longesttongued priest or lawyer that ever wasted breath. I would the fiend had found men some other mischief to do than to be busying their brains and their fingers to make any other marks than what sword and lance can make; they write deep enough, and plain enough, and leave little room for dispute."

"But is this younger Foliot,— Waryn, do they call him?-intended for the priesthood?"

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Marry, I know not, nor care; they come of a clerkly family; Hugh, Bishop of Durham, is his mother's brother, and the youth is much in favour with him, and it was so, I reckon, he came by his taste for learning; for old Sir Marmaduke can write himself knight better with his sword than his pen any day. But we had best prick on, Sir Nicholas, with your good leave-the sun is low already."

"And lovers are impatient," replied the Crusader.

Half an hour's brisk riding brought them to the foot of the hill on which stood the ancient fortress of Willan's Hope, the object of their present expedition. As they breathed their horses up the ascent, which wound gradually along the hill-side, the stranger had time to remark the peculiarities of the building. It was certainly more remarkable for solidity and apparent strength than for beauty of outline. The entrance-gate, with

picture which an old monk showed me once,-years ago it was, when I was quite a lad; but it comes plain before my eyes again now while I speak-of Satanas himself in royal apparel, standing on a hill, much as we stand here now, and offering to one or other of the blessed saints, I mind not which, all the kingdoms and principalities of the earth to hold in fee, if he would only kneel down and do him liege homage as his lord and seigneur."

"Avaunt with your monkish tales!" said de Burgh, turning round upon him with a glance of anger; do you resemble me to Satanas? thank you for your courtesy-and you yourself are the saint, I warrant me?"

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"In faith, not I," replied the other with a laugh; "here is my hand upon our contract; I am your true man and vassal upon your own conditions."

De Burgh gave his hand with a sullen and half-offended air; and he scarcely opened his lips beyond a syllable in answer to his companion's attempts to renew the conversation as they rode forward; until, as they were about entering one of the dwarf oak coppices which flanked the_corn-stubbles, a single horseman made his appearance from the cover, and was within a few yards of them before they were aware of his approach. He was young-it might be two or three and twenty-with features well cut and intelligent, though somewhat pale. His costume formed as strong a contrast as possible with the glancing steel armour, and gay cloaks and plumes fluttering in the wind, which made the Knight's cavalcade a gallant sight to look upon. He wore a closefitting tunic of olive green, displaying to some advantage a well-built active form, with a short scarf of murrey-colour over the right shoulder, and low boots of undressed leather. But for the short sword or hunting-knife that hung in his girdle, he would have borne about him no token of the warlike age in which he lived.

Sir Godfrey had but just time to say to his companion in an undertone, "This is young Waryn Foliot,

of whom you have heard," when their horses almost met in the narrowing track at the entrance of the wood; and the young stranger, reining gracefully aside his powerful chestnut horse, which was rather impatient at seeing so much good company, raised his cap with a courteous but distant greeting.

"Well met, Master Waryn," said the Knight of Ladysmede, returning his salutation; "that is, if you will graciously perinit me to say so; for indeed, if it should please you to judge us strictly, we shall be found but trespassers on good Sir Marmaduke's lands; but we do but take the shortest path, as you know, to Willan's Hope."

"The trespass is pardoned, Sir Knight," replied the youth, with another cold bow-"so far as I may speak for my father."

"Sir Nicholas le Hardi," said de Burgh, addressing his companion, "let me here present to you, under your joint favour, the son of as renowned a knight of the Cross as any in King Richard's army, and one who must be well known to you, doubtless, by repute if not in person -Sir Marmaduke Foliot of the Leys hard by-some time my good friend and neighbour, but it is long since we have seen him here."

"I know the good knight's banner well," said the Crusader, bending towards the young stranger; "his face is better known, I am sorry to say it, to the Paynims than to myself-that is, what they may see of it through the bars of his visor, for he has borne it close enough into their ranks at Jaffa and at Ascalon."

"The Foliot's lion was seldom far behind," said the young man quietly; "may I ask if you have come hither straight from the king's army, Sir Knight, so that I may chance to hear, of your courtesy, some later tidings of my father?"

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"I parted from King Richard in the last days of May," replied Le Hardi; sea travel is long and tedious; but at that time I can say that the good knight was well. Marry, gentle sir," he continued, "I could almost wonder, if I might dare be so bold with a stranger, that you leave your noble father to win his honours

alone; it were surely a gallant chance, for one of your knightly lineage, to strike a fair blow for his spurs upon the fields of Palestine.

"My brother is with the king," replied Foliot coldly; "the honour of our house is safe enough with him.” "No doubt, fair sir, no doubt; still there is work enough, and honour enough, for all to take their share; and unless my eye deceives me- -and it has been used to measure men-I see the metal before me which Coeurde-Lion loves better than gold; and both are scarce with him now."

"You see me such as I am, and such as I please to be, Sir Knight," replied the youth, colouring; "I thank you for your courteous tidings, and so farewell."

He put his horse to the gallop, and left the party to continue their way.

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A proper youth enough," said the Crusader, looking after him as he rode off, "and ready with his words; he has thews and points of manhood about him, ay, and a spirit too, if I mistake not, that seem hardly needed in a scholar."

"Faith," said Sir Godfrey, with a coarse laugh, you chafed the lad's temper when you bantered him about taking service in the Holy Land: old Sir Marmaduke and he have had some rough words on that matter. You should have hit him harder with my good-will,—I have no love for him; he will take part neither in joust nor in feast, and holds himself aloof from his neighbours in a way that misbecomes his years. He counts us in his heart for little better than churls and boors, I dare be sworn, because we have studied the customs of knighthood more than He will talk, musty parchments. they tell me, to Father Giacomo by the hour together.

"His father, Sir Marmaduke, is a stout knight," said Le Hardi, who did not hold letters in such disfavour as his companion.

"I hate the whole breed of them," said Sir Godfrey, who had found it difficult to live in peace and charity with such near neighbours. "This youth has been a student at not?" resumed the Paris, said you it is a school, Sir GodCrusader frey, which has sent forth good lances

as well as learned clerks: a right gallant kinsman of mine was fellowstudent there with Thomas of Canterbury, and I remember when I was a youth at Poitiers, two of the noblest Angevin knights that served King Henry-I rode as esquire to one of them, Henri de Xaintonge-were said to have learned the humanities there under Peter Abailard. I was but a poor judge what credit they did their master in rhetoric, but I may answer for it he had not spoiled their fighting."

“Abailard?" said the other, “I have heard of him; he could teach other things beside rhetoric, or they much belied him. Our kings of Eng land have more need of loyal liegemen than of scholars; the blow that made a saint of Thomas did the king better service than the longesttongued priest or lawyer that ever wasted breath. I would the fieur. had found men some other miscue to do than to be busying their brains and their fingers to make any other marks than what sword and lane can make; they write deep enouge. and plain enough, and leave inte room for dispute."

But is this younger FoliotWaryn, do they call him outer for the priesthood?"

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Marry, I know not, nor te they come of a clerkly family, He Bishop of Durham, is his brother, and the youth is vi favour with him, and it was, 1 reckon, he came by his taste fur learning; for old Sir Marmaduke car write himself knight better with us sword than his pen any day. bu we had best prick on, Sir Nich with your good leave the sun is u already."

"And lovers are impatient," the Crusader.

Half an hour's brisk riding brorat them to the foot of the hil on stood the ancient fortress of "W Hope, the object of their preeem a pedition. As they breathe horses up the ascent, when I s gradually along the hi stranger had time to rear culiarities of the buildin certainly more remarkable and apparent streng of outline. The entrance

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