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needful that I hold this, your castle, for a certain space; yet this shall be done with no great damage to your goods, and with as little constraint on person as may be. Also, shall ye be put to speedy ransom on no hard terms; and thereto I, Walter Breckenridge, pledge my faith."
"I am beholden to you, gentle knight"-the castellan answered. "Also in evil fortune do I esteem myself fortunate to have fallen into the hands of so worthy a captain: for, credit me, your renown has reached even these remote parts-so remote, i'faith, that I foolishly held them safe from your forayers. There is little enough to tempt them, God wot for our country breeds few cattle, and the hands that should have tilled the cornlands are busy far away with spear and crossbow. Nathless, our ransom shall be paid, an we melt down the last of our silver hanaps. I am the gladder to deal with one of your courtesy and breeding, because there are now abiding with mine own children the Demoiselles De Brissac-daughters of the Vicompte Geoffrey, my good friend, and sometime companion-in-arms. They know naught as yet who are their captors; and, I warrant there is sore flutter in their dovecot yonder."
Following upward the other's glance, Breckenridge saw at a window on the second story of the keep, three girlish faces-differing in type, but all fair specimens of fresh southern beauty-looking down in evident terror on the courtyard, now well nigh full of armed men. From a narrower casement, rather to the left, another face showed itself alone; a face of rare and royal loveliness even now, though brilliancy of colour had faded into ivory whiteness, and the proud dark eyes looked somewhat weary, as though from long watching or weeping. In those eyes there was neither curiosity nor fear; and the lady gazed down on the turmoil beneath, seemingly with no more disquietude than, in other times, she might have watched the tilting, where blunted lances were shivered in her honour. The Englishman could not forbear a smile; but he bent his head once more in lowlier courtesy. Hasten, I pray you, to assure those fair and noble demoiselles that no harm is intended them beyond brief duresse in their own chambers. I will take counsel with yonder good knight, who rides with me, and be with you in your presence-chamber above anon."
With these words Breckenridge beckoned to Sir John Hawkwood, who dismounted at once, and the two conferred apart.
Now Ralph Brakespeare, sitting in saddle there, and bearing all that was spoken, had glanced upwards with the rest. His eye, after
sweeping carelessly over the bright beauty that filled one casement, lighted on the sad pale face framed in the other; and dwelt there as though fascinated. One of the quick instincts that never lie told him, that he looked upon her to whom, unwittingly, he had done such mortal harm; the Marguerite, whose name was on Loys de Chastelnaye's lips as he fought, and as he died-told him, moreover, that the girl was worthy of her knight's homage; inasmuch as she had chosen, for his dear sake, to live on alone with her sorrow.
Ralph shrank within himself, as he thought of the horror that would surely break the calm of those solemn eyes, if the lady could guess that she was there set face to face with the man on whose hand was her lover's blood, albeit it was shed in loyal combat: that same excuse never yet healed grief, though it has saved many a feud.
Whilst the esquire mused thus discontentedly, said Breckenridge to Hawkwood
"Good Sir John, I have ever heard thee reputed cool and wary of wit; also I know that thou art well esteemed by my lord of Stafford: wherefore I would hear your counsel, that I may see if it march with Lo, thus it stands with us. By happy adventure, and without loss of one life, we have gotten into a fair castle, and one that, meseems, with no great garrison, may easily be held. Yet may I not tarry here there may be fortalices more vantageous within our swoop; and Earl Ralph, in his present mood, is hard to please. This am I minded to do; leaving here some scanty force, we will push forward yet a dozen leagues to the eastward. Then, if we shall find naught worthier of occupance, we will fall back on Hacquemont, and strengthen its garrison; if otherwise, the spears left here can easily join us as we pass by homeward. More than a score I cannot spare; for I fear no treachery from within, after the old lord hath given parole: furthermore, none, save our men, shall be allowed to keep their arms. Likest my plan, or can'st find me better ?"
"By the Mass, very hardly"-the other answered-"it is both boldly and prudently devised. Doubtless, a score-well chosen-might easily hold the place against tenfold their number, till we of the main body brought them help; for we shall scarce be beyond a long day's ride, and signal from yon keep might be seen from afar."
"Well chosen"-the other returned-" truly, there is much in that. Now, Sir John, I were loath to lose your own company, so I pray you to set forward with me; but there are none of my spears to whom I would so readily commit this charge, as those who have of late served
under your own immediate training. They number, methinks, something under the score we named. Will it please you to leave them here under command of your esquire yonder? Than him, though he looks somewhat dreamily to-day, I wot we have no starker man-at-arms." "Your pleasure is mine," the other replied, in his curt, decisive
"I will give instant orders to that effect."
So the two parted; Breckenridge going straight to the presencechamber on the first floor of the keep, where the old castellan awaited him.
"Fair lord "- the Englishman said-"it is my desire to put no more than needful constraint on yourself or your household, while I perform my own duty. I purpose to leave here a certain number of my spears till I pass by again, which I trust will be on the fourth day at furthest. Till then, you shall pledge me your knightly word to countenance no attempt at recoverance from within, and allow none, either by signal or otherwise, to solicit rescue from without: also, your said retainers shall abide unarmed within their lodging; whilst you, and the noble demoiselles, inhabit your own chambers in the upper part of this same keep. There is no inlet or outlet-so I opine-save through the door at yon stairhead, and of that ye may hold the key; and ye shall have tendance from your handmaidens, and any two of your servitors it may please you to choose. I, on my part, will engage-if, on my return hither, I am minded to hold this castle-to see you convoyed to some near place of safety in French hand, or I will leave you at peace again here. And, whichever befall, if your ransoms are not paid down instantly, I will accept your parole for their discharge. Have I said well ?"
A gleam of pleasure lighted up the baron's worn face.
"Right well and mercifully"-he answered. "To all that your knighthood has required I will cheerfully pledge myself; and, should any vassal of mine practice treachery, he shall swing on yonder justiceoak so soon as I can deal with mine own again. And, gentle sir, you should not lack my daughters' thanks besides mine own: but the younger is still something bewildered with her fright; and the elder, since she donned mourning for her betrothed, will come into no stranger's company."
So, with many courteous words and the emptying a cup of Gascon wine, the two parted in great amity; and, after man and horse had been moderately refreshed, and orders given for the safe custody of the prisoners, Breckenridge's trumpets sounded the route; and the narrow line of spears wound down the hillside, passing eastward through the defile.
The Secret Name.
THERE is a maiden whom I know,
The home I love so well
Her name ?-ah! that I'll never tell
She knows not that I love her face,
The wind ne'er passed a sweeter place,
Wave-like adown her shoulders rolled.
I see her in the garden walk,
And watch each step she takes; I'd give the world to hear her talk,
For love rich music makes
Like tones of lutes on moonlit lakes!
I think betimes I hear her sing,
That tells me of some holy thing,
At evening when the stars are faint!
I see her 'mong the roses hide,
For I could whisper by her side,
And all love's stainless beauties see!
Her face is calm, her eyes are brown,
Like drops of rain a blossom wears!
I'd be the band that clasps her waist,
The mirror by her beauty graced,
The path her feet have prest,
The thing where most her glances rest.
But I must wait and linger near
This home beside a dell;
I may not ever enter there,
Win her I love so well,
Whose name I'll never, never tell.
S. H. BRADBURY (" Quallon.")
Miseries of Dramatic Authorship.
BY A DRAMATIC AUTHOR.
THERE is no kind of literary fame which is so dazzling in the eyes of the aspirant as that which throws a halo of (lime) light upon the name of the "Popular Dramatic Author." The young scribbler of a heavy or serious turn almost invariably begins by trying his unfledged quill on a tragedy; the comically-inclined youth as invariably begins by addressing himself to the composition of a farce. The fascination which the theatre exercises upon every kind and quality of mind is almost phenomenal-phenomenal, because there is nothing so unreal as the theatre, nothing, in literature, so unnatural as a play.
When I say that there is nothing in literature so unnatural as a play, I have in view such artificialities as soliloquys and asides. Man is not born to deliver soliloquys, and make aside speeches; there is nothing in his nature which disposes him to that odd manner of expressing his thoughts, and yet there is nothing which he so readily accepts and adopts. This seems to prove that there is in every human being an innate love for the drama, which blinds him to all the defects and deformities of the idol he adores. There are, as is well known, many persons who object to the drama, and to theatres, but I venture to assert that no one naturally entertains that objection. The ingenuus puer always loves a play, and he never hates it until some misguided person teaches him to do so. I am disposed to believe, however, that in very few instances is the liking for, or the interest in, the drama ever wholly eradicated. I have known many stern objectors to the theatres who were always ready to listen to theatrical talk with the tail of their ears. Over and over again I have been catechized by pious clergymen, who were never in a theatre in their lives, with regard to actors, and actresses, and plays, and green-room doings. I have seen the faces of theatre-abhorring, tract-distributing old ladies involuntarily brighten at the recital of some theatrical triumph. I have known them gradually melt so far as to ask about a pretty actress, and I have seen in their eyes a wistful desire to hear and know more. It requires very little indeed to reconcile a pious person to the theatre. How many good chapel-going mothers have been reconciled to the sons whom they discarded for going on the stage, when the said sons returned from a triumph to pour golden sovereigns into their