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whining. Father Clement, it seems thou hast witnessed such and such things. Speak on, in the fiend's name!"

Thus rudely adjured, the other gave his testimony with some haste and tremor. Yet in his tone there was a bitterness scarcely dissembled. Plainly the priest owed Fitzwarenne an ancient grudge, and was right ready to pay it. He averred that, reading his breviary in his chamber, he had been disturbed by a great outcry, and by the baying of the sleuthhound bitch chained in the base-court below; that, looking forth, he had seen his young Lord Oliver haled along, not without violence, by Messire Ralph, and finally flung under an archway, where, some moments later, he, Father Clement, descending in haste, found the child making piteous moan. But the door leading into the base-court was shut and barred, and Messire Ralph had gone he knew not whither.

Then for the first time Sir Simon Dynevor's sullen glance lighted on the accused. As that youth shall be the hero of this our tale, it may be well to set down here his outward seeming.

Though his features were neither coarse nor ignoble, they were too strongly marked and roughly-hewn for beauty. It was a quiet resolute face; far too grave and stern indeed for his years, even when his brows were not bent in thought or anger. His head-fringed with short crisp hair, some shades darker than his eyes, where a reddish tinge mingled with the brown-was well set on a short clean-cut neck, and looked smaller than it really was, from his great breadth and squareness of shoulder. Though only in his twentieth spring, his joints seemed already set, and with each careless movement of the long sinewy limbs, the coils of hardened muscle showed themselves under his close huntingdress. There was little of culprit or penitent, indeed, about the demeanour of Ralph Fitzwarenne, as he stood there haughtily erect; sceming to dwarf every other figure in that group.

"Thou hast heard," Dynevor said. "Hast aught of excuse or denial to urge; or speaks the priest truth ?"

"Truth, after the fashion of his order," the youth answered. "That is-half truth, or so much as suits him to tell: yet, may be, he saw not all. He saw not yonder pretty poppet, goading Fay with a steel-shod hunting-pole, till her muzzle was all a-gore. Rare sport, i' faith: though it well-nigh came to bitter earnest. He held himself safe beyond the sweep of her chain; but, when I came, the staple was dragging from the post. Yet another minute, and Fay had avenged herself in her own fashion. This runs in her blood: when fairly wode they will turn on him that feeds them, if he come betwixt them and their wrath.

Would'st have had me dally, when I saw that the brache hearkened no more to my voice than to the voice of a stranger? Marry, when I hied back, not without ado got I leave to drive the staple home: she left her marks on me ere we were friends again."

Drawing up his doublet sleeve, he showed, a little above the left wrist, a deep row of fang marks; already black and swollen, though the skin was not broken: they were plainly the traces of a hasty chance snap, not of a gripe given in pure malice.

Had the sleuthhound's fangs been on her darling's throat, the Lady Ursula could scarce have raised louder outery, than she did, hearing of his danger. But her husband hushed her again with his hand; and in his tone, as he made reply, there was a calm more ominous than passion.

"Whence gottest thou yonder hound? And since when hast thou licence to keep, under this roof of mine, brutes from whom there comes peril of life and limb? Had harm come to yonder child, thinkest thou amends had been made by the throttling of a score like thee ?"

The young man's face began to darken; and that evil light, before spoken of, came into his bright brown eyes.


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"She was Philip Kemeys' last gift to me. He travelled many a league to fetch her, when his mortal sickness was upon that day he sate never in saddle again. There is not her match -as all thy foresters know-betwixt Thames and the narrow seas. Moreover, she is the only thing that ever I owned, for which I was not beholden to thy charity. Her food and kennel-room she hath fairly earned: she hath saved thee many a deer. I had been right sorry had harm happened to the child; and I wot well that my life against his is, in thine eyes, like a cinder from the furnace against fine gold. Yet were it scant justice to demand of me the blood-price-seeing that for his own sport he put his neck in peril."

"The brache dies by the halter ere noon," Sir Simon said. "And now I will speak of thine own matters. Lo! I approve not what the boy hath done: but he hath been more than punished by the rough treatment he got at thine hands. Hadst thou no more reverence for him who, if he live, shall one day rule here in my stead, than to cast him aside like a mangy cur? Didst thou forget that thou, whose beard is well-nigh grown, wert dealing with a weakling child? Ay-more. Hadst thou forgotten that, what is but petulance in the heir, is mere outre-quittance in"

With all his cynicism, he hesitated over the last brutal word. But the other took up the broken thread of speech quite unconcernedly.

-In the bastard.

'Tis a simple name, and soon said: I wot not, why thou didst draw second breath over it. Nay, sir, my father, I have not forgotten; neither am I like to forget. I have heard the tale often enough to tell it without halting. I know how thou didst sit

with folded hands, whilst others wrought shame to thy wedded wife— 'wedded,' I say, in the teeth of monks and schoolmen-and wrong to thine unborn child. I have been bred up by thy bounty-for what purpose of thine own I may not guess; since hitherto it hath not pleased thee to send me where honour or wealth is to be won, nor even to raise me to esquire's estate. Wert thou as weary of giving, as I am of eating, the bread of idlesse, thou wouldst let me fare forth to the wars, were it only as a mounted archer. It should go hard, but I would one day repay thee the charges thou hast been put to for me."

Once more Sir Simon's eyes-this time rather pensively than angrily-rested on his firstborn's face.

"Thy speech lacks not reason," he said, after a long pause: though, like thy demeanour of late, 'tis something masterful and over-bold. Grievous wrong was done before thy birth; though, by Mary's truth, I plotted it not, and would have stayed it had I been able. Moreover, I have been in fault for keeping thee in paresse here: but I cared not, by setting thee amongst mine esquires, to breed in thee hopes which might not be fulfilled; and I was something loath to send forth thy mother's son as a simple man-at-arms. These things shall be mended, and that speedily. Either, thou shalt ride among my lances that are boune to France under my kinsman of Montacute's banner, and win advancement according as he shall report of thy deserts; or thou shalt go forth this day alone, with coin enow to purvey thee a stout horse and armour of proof, and some bezants to boot. But mark thou me. If this last be thy choice-thou hast thy portion. Whether thy fortunes be made or marred, thou comest back hither no more; for I and mine shall be held quit of thy maintenance for ever."

The blood flushed up in Ralph Fitzwarenne's cheek, as he made prompt reply:

"Sir, my father, the choice is soon made. I care not greatly to ride under my lord of Montacute's banner, or to win his good word; neither hoped I better hap, than to carve mine own road to honour. I trust not to misuse thy bounty, for the which I here render duteous thanks. Give me such portion as seemeth to thee good; and let us part in peace. Thus much I dare aver-from this day, unless at

thine own express behest, thou shalt look on my face no more, whether in life or death."

Whilst his son was speaking, Dynevor's hand was laid on the silver bell that stood beside him: at the last words he rung it sharply.

"Go thou to my chamber," he said to the page who answered the summons, "and fetch me hither the steel-wrought coffer that stands near my bed's head. And bid the seneschal assemble me here mine household, and such others as chance to be within the castle, whether vassals or villeins: it is my pleasure to speak with them presently."

Sir Simon unlocked the coffer with a key he wore under his doublet on a thin silver chain, and from amongst certain leathern bags of coin chose out one-the heaviest. Then he drew from the fourth finger of his left hand a chased gold ring, wherein was set a balas ruby; and laid ring and bag on the table before him.

"There is thy portion," he said. "Take it with my good leave; and may God and our patron saint prosper it to thee. Yon ring was thy mother's only jewel; she willed that I should wear it, the night we were wedded: it hath never left me till now."

Ralph Fitzwarenne came near; thrust the bag unopened into his gipsire; and drew the ring on his finger, speaking never a word. At that moment he liked his father better than he had ever before done; for his quick ear had caught a certain tremor in the other's measured tones, and his own heart was fuller than he cared to show.

By this time the body of the hall was filling fast with the numerous household, amongst whom were mingled not a few dwelling beyond the castle walls, who chanced to be within them that morning for business or pleasure. In front of these, marshalling them into something like orderly ranks, stood the ancient seneschal, bearing his chain and wand of office, while the squires and pages gathered in a knot by themselves just below the dais. The Lady Ursula-somewhat overawed, albeit not displeased by the turn matters had taken-had withdrawn herself further into the deep embrasure, whither her child and the chapellan followed. Then Dynevor arose and came forward, till he stood full in front of his retainers. His gait was slow, and his figure, even before the mishap which crippled and bowed him, had been somewhat ungainly: nevertheless, his bearing was not devoid of a certain grave dignity, as he made his brief oration.

"Good friends, and liegemen, and servitors of mine, whether free or bond; I have called ye here this day, to be witnesses betwixt myself and this youth, whom ye all know to be my son, born in wedlock-albeit

in wedlock which Holy Church saw fit to disallow. Ye know, too, how, up to this hour he hath been nourished and trained at my charge -if not with such honour as would befit mine heir, at least with such tendance as is not unworthy of my blood. And what I have given I have given, the Saints wot, not grudgingly; nevertheless, he goeth forth this day-having received such a portion as contenteth him-of his own free will, not driven by me. Now, I hold all ye here present to wit, that, even as I discharge him of all duty and fealty to me, so do I hold myself quit of all claim and clear of all duty towards him for ever. Furthermore, if any man here present, beneath esquire's rank-being of sound mind and able body-shall choose to bear him company, he shall do this with my free leave. If such an one be villein, I will enfranchise him here before you; if he be free, he shall carry with him the full wages of a foot-archer for a year and a day."

There was a sway and a stir in the little crowd that filled the body of the hall; and one came to the front who, after making obeisance, waited, as it seemed, to be questioned.

He was a short, thick-set man, with an honest heavy face, imperfectly lighted up by two pale grey eyes, and scarcely relieved by hair of the lightest flaxen, cut square across his low forehead, and close round his bull's neck. His double joints and deep chest gave promise of vast, though, perchance clumsy, strength; and as he stood there, his brawny bow-legs were planted, naturally, in the posture of a practised wrestler watching for the grip.

On him Sir Simon looked with some surprise. “How now, Will Lanyon?" he said. "Comes the grist so slowly to thy father's mill, that thou must needs seek fortune by wandering thou knowest not whither? I warrant that before a week is past thou wilt be homesick and wearying for the clack of the hopper. Moreover, I guess thy father would scarce approve this venture of thine."

The other made answer in slow, sententious fashion, like one who, having few ideas to spare, is chary of their utterance. His voice was strangely deep and gruff for his years, which might have numbered some five-and-twenty.

"I thank your worship, trade thrives apace. Nevertheless, if he will endure my company, I am minded to go forth with Messire Ralph this day; and if I have your worship's good leave, of my father I will crave none. For his own pleasure he brought home Cloudesley's shrewish widow before my mother's grave was green; and I purpose to do mine own pleasure now, whether it like him or no. If I miss the

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