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"Anent such matters, good counsel is often found under a monk's cowl. I will ride to the Abbey, ere I carry these news to Tyringham. It is ill, talking with Ivo, while his wits are flooded with yester-even's drink. The Abbot is naught; but Hildebrand, the Sub-prior, bears a subtle brain. I would fain have his aid in this strait, though I wis it will cost no mean fee."
Early on the morrow Dyne vor went forth, without communing with any of his household, attended only by one ancient esquire whom he specially trusted; and lighted down under the porch of Haultvaux, when matins were newly done.
He was sure of welcome there, were it only for his wife's sake; for the name of that devout lady was a password to priestly favour throughout the country-side; he himself, too, had somewhat amended his ill ways of late; paid all church dues regularly; and showed courtesy, if not reverence, to frock and hood. The monks might have had many a worse neighbour. Thus, when he had told his errand, he was not bidden to wait; but the lay brother brought him into the presence of the man he sought, who chanced to be walking in the convent-garden alone.
The Sub-prior was tall and spare of frame, with a face far more careworn and deeply-lined than was warranted by his forty years.
He - had a swift, restless glance, and the curt, decisive manner of one who cares not to waste time in idle speech. It was not the first time that these two had conferred together, though never on matter of such grave import; and each had conceived a certain respect for the other's sagacity, even if between them there were not perfect trust.
While Dynevor told his brief tale, Hildebrand walked on silently, his head bent upon his breast; but, at the last words, he halted and looked up, with a glitter in his keen black eyes
"This comes of showing charity to beggarly cousins."
"It is ill repenting any charity whatsoever," the churchman said. "And to whom should alms be given, if not to a man's own kin? Yet I knew not the damsel was of your blood."
"Neither is she," the other answered; "but a far-off kinswoman of my dame, who must needs befriend her when the Scots slew her father; albeit, there were others whom the charge better became." "A far-off kinswoman, sayest thou? Near enough, perchance, were her lincage heedfully looked into, to be within the degrees forbidden to wed, unless by special licence of the Church. There hath been loose observance of such rules of late by many godless laymen; but, I
mind me, these matters were much spoken of at the last Council; and our Holy Father averred that order should be taken with such as occasion shall serve. Thus much I know of a surety, from a near kinsman of mine, who hath long been high in trust with our Holy Father; though he wears the cardinal's hat but newly."
Seldom, indeed, had Dynevor's well-trained face betrayed so much emotion as disturbed it then. His voice was unsteady as he made answer; and the fingers that griped the priest's sleeve shook with a fierce, nervous emotion.
"By Christ's body! I did well in seeking thee in this my strait. Thou canst give good help, no less than good counsel, here. I wot well such service is costly; for each door at Avignon must be unlocked with a golden key. Now, good father Hildebrand, say what thou requirest. I will not stand a-chaffering, though I have to give bond on the half of my possessions to Longobard or Jew."
The monk's restless eyes grew steady, as though they had been carved in jet, as they settled on the other's face.
"For myself I require nothing," he said, very coldly. "And, it may be, my kinsman will take no guerdon for serving me or mine : yet were it shame, if I let pass a chance of profiting mine Order. Lo, I will deal plainly and roundly with thee. In our chartulary there lies, as thou may'st see, a map of the lands wherewith this Abbey was endowed by the first Henry, our pious founder. Our limits are narrower now, by many a rood, than there set forth. Wottest thou why? Thou hast heard of the troubles in King Stephen's time, when those that sat in high places waxed so stubborn in their guilt, that Theobald, the Archbishop, was constrained to lay all this fair realm under ban? In those dark and evil days, many quarrels arose betwixt clerk and layman. Taking vantage of one of such, and, perchance, of some faint uncertainty in bounds, thine ancestor, Oliver Dynevor, violently ousted our vassals from all our lands lying westward of the streamlet men call the Neme; and held them ever after by the strong hand. This iniquity King Stephen did manifestly countenance and approve; for which misdeed, and many others, may God assoilzie him! All these things are set down in our chronicles, not without dolour and something of self-reproach, by Ingilram, our then-time abbot-a godly man, and of tender conscience-albeit, scarce made of martyr's stuff. Now should I place in thine hand our Holy Father's rescript, utterly annulling this, thy son's marriage-wilt thou make amends for the sins of thy fathers, and restore to the Church her own? If this
please thee, it is well. With the good leave of my Superior, I will aid thee to the uttermost of my power. Neither do I fear but that we shall compass our ends. If otherwise-let there be no further words betwixt us; but go thy way in peace; being assured that I will not bewray thy
Whilst Sir Giles stood silent, his brows were ominously overcast. Yet was the frown rather of thought than of anger. He knew-none better-the length and breadth of each acre he was asked to resign; the hanging woods holding so many oaks and beeches ripe for felling; the fair corn lands sloping to the south-cast, so as to miss no gleam of morning and noonday suns; the fat meadows, where the herbage hid the hocks of browsing kine. But, fairer and broader and richer yet, stretched before his mind's eye the domains of which one standing on Tyringham Keep, could scarce see the ending. His choice was not long a-making.
"Thou art a shrewd bargainer, Sub-prior," he said, with a short, sullen laugh. "But I blame thee not for making good terms for thine Order; especially since its advancement may, one day, be thine own. 'Tis a heavy venture and a perilous: I am even as a merchant, who sends forth his mightiest argosy to trade in unknown seas. Only chances of life and death are harder to reckon than hazard of wind or waves. Nevertheless, as I said afore, I will not chaffer with thee. Do thou engage that this matter shall be managed, at thine own cost and risk, should it miscarry. On my part, I will cause to be prepared a gift-deed of every acre whereof thou hast spoken. This will I exchange with the rescript, that shall leave my son free to wed again."
On this compact without more ado, the priest and the knight struck hands; and presently, after it had been approved by the Abbot, each swore to perform his part therein faithfully, on the most precious of the many reliquaries for which Haultvaux was famed-that enclosing a veritable morsel of the Holy Scourge.
Then, with heart and brain somewhat lightened, Sir Giles set forward to tell his tale at Tyringham.
THE WORKING OF THE RESCRIPT.
On hearing the news, Malpas fell at the first into great wonderment and wroth; but soon sank into his wonted sullen acquiescence in his comrade's will: swearing, with a grisly oath, that—"it would do the wench no harm to wait; and that, if she wedded not Dynevor's son, she might, for aught he cared, die a maid."
So the runaways dwelt for awhile, in great peace and content, in a lonely hostel without the skirts of Southwark; subsisting on moneys taken up at heavy interest by Simon Dynevor, from certain Hebrews who were ready to pleasure the heir of Bever; never dreaming that doctors learned in Church-law were even then busy with their names and lineage, and that the highest, if not the wisest, head in Christendom had been disquieted with their matters.
They began by being very timid and wary; keeping always their chamber by day, and only venturing forth after nightfall to take the air; but as time went on, bringing no answer to Simon's letter, and yet no further cause for alarm, they waxed bolder, and crept further a-field; though they ever shunned open street or frequented highway. Of a truth, caution was utterly wasted. In the very month of their flight, the cunning hunter whom they both so dreaded had harboured his game; and could afford to bide quiet till the fitting time came for loosing his gazehounds. Fettered in one of his own dungeons, Simon would scarce have been a safer prisoner, than where his goings out and comings in were never unwatched by his father's spies.
The Sub-prior had not over-rated his kinsman's authority or goodwill; and fear or favour wrought more potently at Avignon than even at Rome. Before the summer was far spent, the Pope's rescript came, making utterly null and void Simon Dynevor's marriage, and bidding him put away his wife, under pain of Church's ban.
One evening, in that same week, Simon walked forth along the river-side alone; for Maude's failing health did not suffer her to go often abroad. Passing through a coppice, he was suddenly beset and overcome before he could make a show of resistance. When the mantle which both blindfolded and gagged him was removed, he found himself set in saddle in the midst of a clump of spears. None of those horsemen bore badge on helmet, or blazon on shield; but, as they sped swiftly through the summer night, the youth recognized the burly