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may I crave of your courtesy to answer me two brief questions? First, I would know how far is this spot from the English camp, from which doubtless you have lately sallied forth ?"

"Hard upon three leagues, as I should guess"-3rakespeare answered, with a look of some surprise.

"Not near enough by half"-the Frenchman muttered, biting his handsome lip. "Unless worse chance befall him, Raoul hath gotten within sight of the trenches ere now. So I am constrained to ask further, do ye two hold this pass alone, or are there other of your lances near in force ?"

Brakespeare hesitated, doubting whether he were right thus to parley with an enemy; but something in the French knight's manner forbade suspicion of treachery. So he answered after a while

"It is even so. There are none of our folk that I wot of nearer than half a league, where Sir John Hawkwood, whom I follow, halts with the residue of his lances."

The other smiled, as though well pleased.

"It is as I thought, then. And now, beau sire, lest my questions appear to you unseemly, I have you to wit that yester-even I, Loys de Chastelnaye, did devise, with Raoul de Mericourt, my brother-in-arms, concerning certain matters which, in fair Provence, are judged only in the court of love; and, in all amity, there was great debate betwixt us; so that at the last we agreed to ride forth this day-each with a single esquire-and, unless put back by a force of four at the least, to prove which of us could carry his lady's gage closest to Calais gates. 'Las, my destrier cast a shoe, and with sore trouble, after hours' seeking, did we light on a smith; for you brave English have frightened Jean Picard, till he hath become shy as a field-rat. Wherefore if, as I guess from your bearing, ye purpose not to yield me passage peaceably, it is needful that I pass on in your despite. This place, too, is marvellously well fitted for running a course. But, good youth, under thy favour, I had rather than a hundred crowns that thy spurs, if not golden, had been silver at the least; for perchance thou hast had scant tournay practice, and so can little honour accrue to me from the encounter. If thus it be with thee, avow it frankly. Lo, I will forego the lance, and engage with mace and sword."

Brakespeare's temper was rising fast under the Frenchman's selfconfidence and easy condescension; but he curbed it, and answered very calmly.

"This is no tilt-yard, where none can joust unless of lineage

approved by the heralds; and in these times none can say how soon he shall change the metal of his spurs. Beau sire, your nobility must e'en abase itself to contend with one of my degree; for an' ye were wing to turn bridle, I, for my part, am not willing to let you go in be I have better skill with my weapon than ye pc. It may deem. So, set on and spare not, looking for the like measure from me."

The Frenchman's face never lost its gay good humour, as he bowed his head courteously.

"I am fitly reproved "-he said-" for I spake over presumptuously. De pardieu, all true men are equal under shield. Let us take ground speedily; for the light is waning fast, and one of us will have a moonlight ride. Call on your patron saint when ye are ready to do your devoir, and I will answer with the name of my fair lady. Marguerite, ma Marguerite!"

Long afterwards, Ralph Brakespeare remembered how lovingly the speaker's lips lingered over that last word as though-all familiar as it must have been-they were loath to let it pass. Within a few moments each had regained his own station. The Frenchman, seeing that his adversary bore no shield, drew off his own, and handed it to his esquire, saying something the while with a light laugh; Ralph, too, as he clasped his vizor and settled himself firmer in the saddle, driving his feet well home in the sautoirs, found time to say some hurried words over his shoulder to his follower, who was in a state of unwonted excitement.

"Honest Will, I trust well to lower yonder gay plume; for I have vantage in weight if not in skill; but, if it be otherwise, since I purpose not to take mercy, thy tarrying here will naught avail. So I charge thee, in such case, to hie thee back to Sir John Hawkwood at speed; and tell him that I thanked him heartily for this chance of approving myself, though it pleased God that I should fail."

Then Ralph Brakespeare laid lance in rest; and getting his horse well in hand, cried lustily, "St. George Guienne!" and drove the sharp rowels in; clear and mellow through the still air, came the answering war-cry, "Marguerite, ma Marguerite!" The dust flew far and wide under the savage plunge of the roan destrere and bound of the swifter Limousin; and just about midway the two hurtled together.

At the first shock both horses sunk on their haunches, but one only recovered himself. The Limousin, fairly overborne, rolled over sideways and backwards, till he lay helpless athwart the roadway,


crushing his rider against the bank. Nor was this all; the Frenchman's lance struck full and fair on Ralph's breast, and was shivered to the vamplate; but the Southwark armourer had put better metal into his spear-head; it pierced sheer through the gay corselet and the habergeon beneath, just above the gorget, and the tough English ash only broke off at last close to the embedded steel. Before the sand-cloud had cleared away, Ralph had sprung from saddle, and holding his misericorde to the throat of his fallen foe, bade him "Yield, rescue or no rescue!"

No answer came, save a low moan of intense, half-conscious agony, as dark red drops oozed not only from the breast-wound but through the bars of the vizor. A strange chill horror overcame Brakespeare as he felt himself for the first time in presence of death- death, too, dealt by his own hand. Enmity of race, the fierce delight of battle, the flush of a maiden triumph, were all swallowed up in a deep pity nearly akin to remorse. He beckoned, first to Will Lanyon, then to the French squire, to come to aid the fallen knight; while he himself held down the Limousin's head, lest in struggling to rise he should do his lord further hurt. Slowly and painfully the three succceded in disentangling the dying man-for that he was dying none doubted; and propping him against the road bank, they loosened helmet and gorget. Ralph would have given much to have undone his work, as he gazed on the countenance whose marvellous beauty he had marred. The features were alrealy pinched and drawn; the rich colour of the cheeks had faded to dull ashen grey; and through the rigid lips a thin dark stream was welling. The Gascon squire showed his grief after his impassioned southern fashion; wringing his hands, and speaking fast in a dialect that Ralph could scarcely comprehend. Even on Lanyon's rugged face were manifest signs of compassion, as he stood holding the bridles of the loose horses; for by this time the Limousin had scrambled up, seemingly none the worse for his fall.

"Bring water"-Ralph said to the French squire; and, kneeling down, he rested the knight's head on his own shoulder. The pool was not three roods off; but, before the water came, Loys de Chastelnaye had begun to revive. The flow of blood from his mouth abated; and, as he looked up and saw who supported him, his lips relaxed into a faint semblance of their old pleasant smile; when his face had been laved, and he had drunken twice or thrice, he spoke-almost in a whisper, but quite calmly and clearly

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