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A Monk of Fife by Andrew Lang

Part 2 out of 6

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CHAPTER VI--HOW NORMAN LESLIE ESCAPED OUT OF CHINON CASTLE

Down and down I sank, the water surging up into my nostrils and
sounding in my ears; but, being in water, I was safe if it were but
deep enough. Presently I struck out, and, with a stroke or two,
came to the surface. But no sooner did my head show above, and I
draw a deep breath or twain, looking for my enemy, than an arbalest
bolt cleft the water with a clipping sound, missing me but narrowly.
I had but time to see that there was a tumult on the bridge, and
swords out (the Scots, as I afterwards heard, knocking up the
arbalests that the French soldiers levelled at me). Then I dived
again, and swam under water, making towards the right and the castle
rock, which ran sheer down to the moat. This course I chose because
I had often noted, from the drawbridge, a jutting buttress of rock,
behind which, at least, I should be out of arrow-shot. My craft was
to give myself all the semblance of a drowning man, throwing up my
arms, when I rose to see whereabout I was and to take breath, as men
toss their limbs who cannot swim. On the second time of rising
thus, I saw myself close to the jut of rock. My next dive took me
behind it, and I let down my feet, close under the side of this
natural buttress, to look around, being myself now concealed from
the sight of those who were on the bridge.

To my surprise I touched bottom, for I had deemed that the water was
very deep thereby. Next I found that I was standing on a step of
hewn stone, and that a concealed staircase, cut in the rock, goes
down, in that place, to the very bottom of the moat; for what
purpose I know not, but so it is. {11} I climbed up the steps,
shook myself, and wrung the water out of my hair, looking about the
while for any sign of my enemy, who had blasphemed against my
country and the Maiden. But there was nothing to see on the water
save my own cloth cap floating. On the other side of the fosse,
howbeit, men were launching a pleasure-boat, which lay by a stair at
the foot of the further wall of the fosse. The sight of them made
me glad to creep further up the steps that rounded a sharp corner,
till I came as far as an iron wicket-gate, which seemed to cut off
my retreat. There I stopped, deeming that the wicket must be
locked. The men were now rowing the boat into the middle of the
water, so, without expecting to find the gate open, I tried the
handle. It turned, to my no little amazement; the gate swang
lightly aside, as if its hinges had been newly oiled, and I followed
the stair-case, creeping up the slimy steps in the half-dark. Up
and round I went, till I was wellnigh giddy, and then I tripped and
reeled so that my body struck against a heavy ironed door. Under my
weight it yielded gently, and I stumbled across the threshold of a
room that smelled strangely sweet and was very warm, being full of
the sun, and the heat of a great fire.

"Is that you, Robin of my heart?" said a girl's voice in French;
and, before I could move, a pair of arms were round my neck. Back
she leaped, finding me all wet, and not the man she looked for; and
there we both stood, in a surprise that prevented either of us from
speaking.

She was a pretty lass, with brown hair and bright red cheeks, and
was dressed all in white, being, indeed, one of the laundresses of
the castle; and this warm room, fragrant with lavender, whereinto I
had stumbled, was part of the castle laundry. A mighty fire was
burning, and all the tables were covered with piles and flat baskets
of white linen, sweet with scented herbs.

Back the maid stepped towards the door, keeping her eyes on mine;
and, as she did not scream, I deemed that none were within hearing:
wherein I was wrong, and she had another reason for holding her
peace.

"Save me, gentle maid, if you may," I cried at last, falling on my
knees, just where I stood: "I am a luckless man, and stand in much
peril of my life."

"In sooth you do," she said, "if Robert Lindsay of the Scottish
Archers finds you here. He loves not that another should take his
place at a tryst."

"Maiden," I said, beginning to understand why the gate was unlocked,
and wherefore it went so smooth on its hinges, "I fear I have slain
a man, one of the King's archers. We wrestled together on the draw-
bridge, and the palisade breaking, we fell into the moat, whence I
clomb by the hidden stairs."

"One of the archers!" cried she, as pale as a lily, and catching at
her side with her hand. "Was he a Scot?"

"No, maid, but I am; and I pray you hide me, or show me how to
escape from this castle with my life, and that speedily."

"Come hither!" she said, drawing me through a door into a small,
square, empty room that jutted out above the moat. "The other maids
are at their dinner," she went on, "and I all alone--the season
being Lent, and I under penance, and thinking of no danger."

For which reason, I doubt not, namely that the others had gone
forth, she had made her tryst at this hour with Robin Lindsay. But
he, if he was, as she said, one of the Scottish archers that guarded
the gate, was busy enough belike with the tumult on the bridge, or
in seeking for the body of mine enemy.

"How to get you forth I know not," she said, "seeing that from
yonder room you pass into the kitchen and thence into the guard-
room, and thence again by a passage in the wall behind the great
hall, and so forth to the court, and through the gate, and thereby
there is no escape: for see you the soldiers must, and will avenge
their comrade."

Hearing this speech, I seemed to behold myself swinging by a tow
from a tree branch, a death not beseeming one of gentle blood. Up
and down I looked, in vain, and then I turned to the window,
thinking that, as better was not to be, I might dive thence into the
moat, and take my chance of escape by the stairs on the further
side. But the window was heavily barred. Yet again, if I went
forth by the door, and lurked on the postern stair, there was Robin
Lindsay's dirk to reckon with, when he came, a laggard, to his love-
tryst.

"Stop! I have it," said the girl; and flying into the laundry, she
returned with a great bundle of white women's gear and a gown of
linen, and a woman's white coif, such as she herself wore.

In less time than a man would deem possible, she had my wet hair,
that I wore about my shoulders, as our student's manner was, tucked
up under the cap, and the clean white smock over my wet clothes, and
belted neatly about my middle.

"A pretty wench you make, I swear by St. Valentine," cried she,
falling back to look at me, and then coming forward to pin up
something about my coif, with her white fingers.

I reckoned it no harm to offer her a sisterly kiss.

"'Tis lucky Robin Lindsay is late," cried she, laughing, "though
even were he here, he could scarce find fault that one maid should
kiss another. Now," she said, snatching up a flat crate full of
linen, "carry these, the King's shirts, and sorely patched they are,
on your head; march straight through the kitchen, then through the
guard-room, and then by the door on the left into the long passage,
and so into the court, and begone; they will but take you for a
newly come blanchisseuse. Only speak as little as may be, for your
speech may betray you." She kissed me very kindly on both cheeks,
for she was as frank a lass as ever I met, and a merry. Then,
leading me to the door of the inner room, she pushed it open, the
savoury reek of the kitchen pouring in.

"Make good speed, Margot!" she cried aloud after me, so that all
could hear; and I walked straight up the King's kitchen, full as it
was of men and boys, breaking salads, spitting fowls, basting meat
(though it was Lent, but doubtless the King had a dispensation for
his health's sake), watching pots, tasting dishes, and all in a
great bustle and clamour. The basket of linen shading my face, I
felt the more emboldened, though my legs, verily, trembled under me
as I walked. Through the room I went, none regarding me, and so
into the guard-room, but truly this was another matter. Some
soldiers were dicing at a table, some drinking, some brawling over
the matter of the late tumult, but all stopped and looked at me.

"A new face, and, by St. Andrew, a fair one!" said a voice in the
accent of my own country.

"But she has mighty big feet; belike she is a countrywoman of
thine," quoth a French archer; and my heart sank within me as the
other cast a tankard at his head.

"Come, my lass," cried another, a Scot, with a dice-box in his hand,
catching at my robe as I passed, "kiss me and give me luck," and,
striking up my basket of linen, so that the wares were all scattered
on the floor, he drew me on to his knee, and gave me a smack that
reeked sorely of garlic. Never came man nearer getting a sore
buffet, yet I held my hand. Then, making his cast with the dice, he
swore roundly, when he saw that he had thrown deuces.

"Lucky in love, unlucky in gaming. Lug out your losings," said his
adversary with a laugh; and the man left hold of my waist and began
fumbling in his pouch. Straightway, being free, I cast myself on
the floor to pick up the linen, and hide my face, which so burned
that it must have seemed as red as the most modest maid might have
deemed seemly.

"Leave the wench alone; she is new come, I warrant, and has no
liking for your wantonness," said a kind voice; and, glancing up, I
saw that he who spoke was one of the gentlemen who had ridden with
the Maiden from Vaucouleurs. Bertrand de Poulengy was his name;
belike he was waiting while the King and the nobles devised with the
Maiden privately in the great hall.

He stooped and helped me to pick up my linen, as courteously as if I
had been a princess of the blood; and, because he was a gentleman, I
suppose, and a stranger, the archers did not meddle with him, save
to break certain soldiers' jests, making me glad that I was other
than I appeared.

"Come," he said, "my lass, I will be your escort; it seems that
Fortune has chosen me for a champion of dames."

With these words he led the way forth, and through a long passage
lit from above, which came out into the court at the stairs of the
great hall.

Down these stairs the Maiden herself was going, her face held high
and a glad look in her eyes, her conference with the King being
ended. Poulengy joined her; they said some words which I did not
hear, for I deemed that it became me to walk forward after thanking
him by a look, and bending my head, for I dared not trust my foreign
tongue.

Before I reached the gateway they had joined me, which I was glad
of, fearing more insolence from the soldiers. But these men held
their peace, looking grave, and even affrighted, being of them who
had heard the prophecy of the Maiden and seen its fulfilment.

"Have ye found the body of that man?" said Poulengy to a sergeant-
at-arms.

"Nay, sir, we deem that his armour weighed him down, for he never
rose once, though that Scot's head was seen thrice and no more.
Belike they are good, peaceful friends at the bottom of the fosse
together."

"Of what man speak you?" asked the Maiden of Poulengy.

"Of him that blasphemed as we went by an hour ago. Wrestling with a
Scot on some quarrel, they broke the palisade, and--lo! there are
joiners already mending it. 'Tis old and frail. The gentle Dauphin
is over poor to keep the furnishings of his castle as a king should
do."

The Maiden grew wan as sun-dried grass in summer when she heard this
story told. Crossing herself, she said -

"Alas! I warned him, but he died unconfessed. I will do what I may
to have Masses said for the repose of his soul, poor man: and he so
young!"

With that she wept, for she wept readily, even for a less thing than
such a death as was that archer's.

We had now crossed the drawbridge, whereat my heart beat more
lightly, and the Maiden told Poulengy that she would go to the house
where she lodged, near the castle.

"And thence," she said, "I must fare into the town, for I have
promised to visit a damsel of my friends, one Heliote Poulvoir, if I
may find my way thither. Know you, gentle damsel," she said to me,
"where she abides? Or perchance you can lead me thither, if it lies
on your way."

"I was even going thither, Pucelle," I said, mincing in my speech;
whereat she laughed, for of her nature she was merry.

"Scots are Heliote and her father, and a Scot are not you also,
damsel? your speech betrays you," she said; "you all cling close
together, you Scots, as beseems you well, being strangers in this
sweet land of France"; and her face lighted up as she spoke the name
she loved, and my heart worshipped her with reverence.

"Farewell," she cried to Poulengy, smiling graciously, and bowing
with such a courtesy as a queen might show, for I noted it myself,
as did all men, that this peasant girl had the manners of the Court,
being schooled, as I deem, by the greatest of ladies, her friends
St. Margaret and St. Catherine.

Then, with an archer, who had ridden beside her from Vaucouleurs,
following after her as he ever did, the Maiden and I began to go
down the steep way that led to the town. Little she spoke, and all
my thought was to enter the house before Elliot could spy me in my
strange disguise.

CHAPTER VII--CONCERNING THE WRATH OF ELLIOT, AND THE JEOPARDY OF
NORMAN LESLIE

The while we went down into the city of Chinon, a man attired as a
maid, a maiden clad as a man--strange companions!--we held but
little converse. Her mind, belike, was on fire with a great light
of hope, of which afterwards I learned, and the end of the days of
trouble and of men's disbelief seemed to her to be drawing near. We
may not know what visions of victory and of auxiliary angels, of her
King crowned, and fair France redeemed and at peace, were passing
through her fancy. Therefore she was not fain to talk, being at all
times a woman of few words; and in this, as in so many other
matters, unlike most of her sex.

On my side I had more than enough to think of, for my case and
present jeopardy were enough to amaze older and wiser heads than
mine. For, imprimis, I had slain one of the King's guards; and,
moreover, had struck the first blow, though my adversary, indeed,
had given me uttermost provocation. But even if my enemies allowed
me to speak in my own defence, which might scarcely be save by
miracle, it was scantly possible for me to prove that the other had
insulted me and my country. Some little hope I had that Sir Patrick
Ogilvie, now constable of the Scottish men-at-arms in France, or Sir
Hugh Kennedy, or some other of our knights, might take up my
quarrel, for the sake of our common blood and country, we Scots
always backing each the other when abroad. Yet, on the other hand,
it was more probable that I might be swinging, with a flock of crows
pecking at my face, before any of my countrymen could speak a word
for me with the King.

It is true that they who would most eagerly have sought my life
deemed me already dead, drowned in the fosse, and so would make no
search for me. Yet, as soon as I went about my master's affairs, as
needs I must, I would be known and taken; and, as we say in our
country proverb, "my craig would ken the weight of my hurdies." {12}
None the less, seeing that the soldiers deemed me dead, I might
readily escape at once from Chinon, and take to the roads again, if
but I could reach my master's house unseen, and get rid of this
foolish feminine gear of cap and petticoat which now I wore to my
great shame and discomfort.

But on this hand lay little hope; for, once on the road, I should be
in a worse jeopardy than ever before, as an apprentice fled from my
master, and, moreover, with blood on my hands. Moreover, I could
ill brook the thought of leaving Elliot, to whom my heart went forth
in love, and of missing my chance to strike a blow in the wars for
the Maiden, and against the English; of which reward I had the
promise from my master. Fortune, and fame, and love, if I were to
gain what every young man most desires, were only to be won by
remaining at Chinon; but there, too, the face of death was close to
mine--as, indeed, death, or at least shame and poverty, lay ambushed
for me on all sides.

Here I sadly remembered how, with a light heart, I had left St.
Andrews, deeming that the story of my life was now about to begin,
as it did for many young esquires of Greece and other lands,
concerning whom I had read in romances. Verily in the tale of my
adventures hitherto there had been more cuffs than crowns, more
shame than honour; and, as to winning my spurs, I was more in point
to win a hempen rope, and in my end disgrace my blood.

Now, as if these perils were not enough to put a man beside himself,
there was another risk which, even more than these, took up my
thoughts. Among all my dangers and manifold distresses, this raised
its head highest in my fancy, namely, the fear that my love should
see me in my outlandish guise, clad in woman's weeds, and carrying
on my head a woman's burden. It was not so much that she must needs
laugh and hold me in little account. Elliot laughed often, so that
now it was not her mirth, to which she was ever ready, but her wrath
(whereto she was ready also) that I held in awful regard. For her
heart and faith, in a marvellous manner passing the love of women,
were wholly set on this maid, in whose company I now fared. And, if
the Maid went in men's attire (as needs she must, for modesty's
sake, who was about men's business, in men's company), here was I
attending her in woman's gear, as if to make a mock of her, though
in my mind I deemed her no less than a sister of the saints. And
Elliot was sure to believe that I carried myself thus in mockery and
to make laughter; for, at that time, there were many in France who
mocked, as did that soldier whose death I had seen and caused. Thus
I stood in no more danger of death, great as was that risk, than in
jeopardy of my mistress's favour, which, indeed, of late I had been
in some scant hope at last to win. Thus, on all hands, I seemed to
myself as sore bestead as ever man was, and on no side saw any hope
of succour.

I mused so long and deep on these things, that the thought which
might have helped me came to me too late, namely, to tell all my
tale to the Maiden herself, and throw me on her mercy. Nay, even
when at last and late this light shone on my mind, I had shame to
speak to her, considering the marvellous thing which I had just
beheld of her, in the fulfilment of her prophecy. But now my
master's house was in sight, at the turning from the steep stairs
and the wynd, and there stood Elliot on the doorstep, watching and
waiting for the Maid, as a girl may wait for her lover coming from
the wars.

There was no time given me to slink back and skulk in the shadow of
the corner of the wynd; for, like a greyhound in speed, Elliot had
flown to us and was kneeling to the Maid, who, with a deep blush and
some anger in her face--for she loved no such obeisances--bade her
rise, and so kissed and embraced her, as young girls use among
themselves when they are friends and fain of each other. I had
turned myself to go apart into the shadow of the corner, as secretly
as I might, when I ran straight into the arms of the archer that
followed close behind us. On this encounter he gave a great laugh,
and, I believe, would have kissed me; but, the Maiden looking round,
he stood erect and grave as a soldier on guard, for the Maiden would
suffer no light loves and daffing.

"Whither make you, damsel, in such haste?" she cried to me. "Come,
let me present you to this damsel, my friend--and one of your own
country-women. Elliot, ma mie," she said to my mistress, "here is
this kind lass, a Scot like yourself, who has guided me all the way
from the castle hither, and, faith, the way is hard to find. Do you
thank her for me, and let her sit down in your house: she must be
weary with the weight of her basket and her linen"--for these, when
she spoke to me, I had laid on the ground. With this she led me up
to Elliot by the hand, who began to show me very gracious
countenance, and to thank me, my face burning all the while with
confusion and fear of her anger.

Suddenly a new look, such as I had never seen before on her face in
her light angers, came into her eyes, which grew hard and cold, her
mouth also showing stiff; and so she stood, pale, gazing sternly,
and as one unable to speak. Then -

"Go out of my sight," she said, very low, "and from my father's
house! Forth with you for a mocker and a gangrel loon!"--speaking
in our common Scots,--"and herd with the base thieves from whom you
came, coward and mocking malapert!"

The storm had fallen on my head, even as I feared it must, and I
stood as one bereft of speech and reason.

The Maid knew no word of our speech, and this passion of Elliot's,
and so sudden a change from kindness to wrath, were what she might
not understand.

"Elliot, ma mie," she said, very sweetly, "what mean you by this
anger? The damsel has treated me with no little favour. Tell me, I
pray, in what she has offended."

But Elliot, not looking at her, said to me again, and this time
tears leaped up in her eyes--"Forth with you! begone, ere I call
that archer to drag you before the judges of the good town."

I was now desperate, for, clad as I was, the archer had me at an
avail, and, if I were taken before the men of the law, all would be
known, and my shrift would be short.

"Gracious Pucelle," I said, in French, turning to the Maiden, "my
life, and the fortune of one who would gladly fight to the death by
your side, are in your hands. For the love of the blessed saints,
your sisters, and of Him who sends you on your holy mission, pray
this demoiselle to let me enter the house with you, and tell my tale
to you and her. If I satisfy you not of my honour and good intent,
I am ready, in this hour, to go before the men of law, and deliver
myself up to their justice. For though my life is in jeopardy, I
dread death less than the anger of this honourable demoiselle. And
verily this is a matter of instant life or death."

So saying, I clasped my hands in the manner of one in prayer,
setting all my soul into my speech, as a man desperate.

The Maiden had listened very gravely, and sweetly she smiled when my
prayer was ended.

"Verily," she said to me, "here is deeper water than I can fathom.
Elliot, ma mie, you hear how gently, and in what distress, this fair
lass beseeches us."

"Fair lass!" cried Elliot: and then broke off between a sob and a
laugh, her hand catching at her side.

"If you love me," said the Maid, looking on her astonished, and not
without anger--"if you love me, as you have said, you that are the
first of my comforters, and, till this day, my only friend in your
strange town, let the lass come in and tell us her tale. For, even
if she be distraught, and beside herself, as I well deem, I am sent
to be a friend of all them that suffer. Moreover, ma mie, I have
glad tidings for you, which I am longing to speak, but speak it I
will never, while the lass goes thus in terror and fear of death or
shame."

In saying these last words, the fashion of her countenance was
changed to a sweet entreaty and command, such as few could have
beheld and denied her what she craved, and she laid her hand lightly
on Elliot's shoulder.

"Come," said Elliot, "be it as you will; come in with me; and you"--
turning to myself--"do you follow us."

They passed into the house, I coming after, and the archer waiting
at the door.

"Let none enter," said the Maiden to her archer, "unless any come to
me from the King, or unless it be the master of the house."

We passed into the chamber where my master was wont to paint his
missals and psalters when he would be alone. Then Elliot very
graciously bade the Maiden be seated, but herself stood up, facing
me.

"Gracious Maiden, and messenger of the holy saints," she said, "this
lass, as you deem her, is no woman, but a man, my father's
apprentice, who has clad himself thus to make of you a mockery and a
laughing-stock, because that you, being a maid, go attired as a man,
by the will of Them who sent you to save France. Have I said
enough, and do I well to be angry?" and her eyes shone as she spoke.

The Maiden's brows met in wrath; she gazed upon me steadfastly, and
I looked--sinful man that I am!--to see her hand go to the hilt of
the sword that she wore. But, making no motion, she only said -

"And thou, wherefore hast thou mocked at one who did thee no evil,
and at this damsel, thy master's daughter?"

"Gentle Maiden," I said, "listen to me for but a little moment. It
may be, when thou hast heard all, that thou wilt still be wroth with
me, though not for mockery, which was never in my mind. But the
gentle damsel, thy friend, will assuredly pardon me, who have
already put my life in peril for thy sake, and for the sake of our
dear country of Scotland and her good name."

"Thy life in peril for me! How mean you? I stood in no danger, and
I never saw your face before."

"Yet hast thou saved my life," I said; "but of that we may devise
hereafter. I am, indeed, though a gentleman by blood and birth, the
apprentice of the father of this damsel, thy friend, who is himself
a gentleman and of a good house, but poverty drives men to strange
shifts. This day I went with my master to the castle, and I was on
the drawbridge when thou, with the gentlemen thy esquires, passed
over it to see the King. On that bridge a man-at-arms spoke to thee
shameful words, blaspheming the holy name of God. No sooner hadst
thou gone by than he turned on me, reviling my native country of
Scotland. Then I, not deeming that to endure such taunts became my
birth and breeding, struck him on his lying mouth. Then, as we
wrestled on the bridge, we both struck against the barrier, which
was low, frail, and old, so that it gave way under our weight, and
we both fell into the moat. When I rose he was not in sight,
otherwise I would have saved him by swimming, for I desire to have
the life of no man on my hands in private quarrel. But the archers
shot at me from the drawbridge, so that I had to take thought for
myself. By swimming under the water I escaped, behind a jutting
rock, to a secret stair, whence I pushed my way into a chamber of
the castle. Therein was a damsel, busy with the linen, who, of her
goodwill, clad me in this wretched apparel above my own garb, and
so, for that time, saved my life, and I passed forth unknown; but
yet hath caused me to lose what I prize more highly than life--that
is, the gracious countenance of this gentle lady, thy friend and my
master's daughter, whom it is my honour and duty in all things to
please and serve. Tell me, then, do I merit your wrath as a jester
and a mock-maker, or does this gentle lady well to be angry with her
servitor?"

The Maiden crossed herself, and murmured a prayer for the soul of
him who had died in the moat. But Elliot instantly flew to me, and,
dragging off my woman's cap, tore with her fair hands at the white
linen smock about my neck and waist, so that it was rent asunder and
fell on the floor, leaving me clad in my wet doublet and hose.

At this sight, without word spoken, she broke out into the merriest
laughter that ever I heard, and the most welcome; and the Maid too,
catching the malady of her mirth, laughed low and graciously, so
that to see and hear her was marvel.

"Begone!" cried Elliot--"begone, and shift thy dripping gear"; and,
as I fled swiftly to my chamber, I heard her laughter yet, though
there came a sob into it; but for the Maid, she had already stinted
in her mirth ere I left the room.

In this strange and unseemly fashion did I first come into the
knowledge of this admirable Maid--whom, alas! I was to see more
often sad than merry, and weeping rather than laughing, though, even
in her utmost need, her heart could be light and her mirth free: a
manner that is uncommon even among brave men, but, in women, never
known by me save in her. For it is the way of women to be very busy
and seriously concerned about the smallest things, whereat a man
only smiles. But she, with her life at stake, could pluck gaiety
forth of danger, if the peril threatened none but herself. These
manners of hers I learned to know and marvel at in the later days
that came too soon; but now in my chamber, I shifted my wet raiment
for dry with a heart wondrous light. My craig {13} was in peril, as
we say, neither less nor more than half an hour agone, but I had
escaped the anger of Elliot; and even, as I deemed, had won more of
her good countenance, seeing that I had struck a blow for Scotland
and for her friend. This thought made me great cheer in my heart;
as I heard, from the room below, the voices of the two girls
devising together very seriously for nigh the space of an hour.
But, knowing that they might have matters secret between themselves
to tell of, for the Maiden had said that she brought good tidings, I
kept coy and to myself in my little upper chamber. To leave the
house, indeed, was more than my life was worth. Now to fly and hide
was what I could not bring myself to venture; here I would stay
where my heart was, and take what fortune the saints might send. So
I endured to wait, and not gladden myself with the sight of Elliot,
and the knowledge of how I now stood with her. To me this was great
penance, but at last the voices ceased, and, looking secretly from
the window, I saw the Maiden depart, her archer following her.

Now I could no longer bridle in my desire to be with Elliot, and
learn whether I was indeed forgiven, and how I stood in her favour.
So, passing down the stair that led from my cubicle, I stood at the
door of the room wherein she was and knocked twice. But none
answered, and, venturing to enter, I heard the sound of a stifled
sob. She had thrown herself on a settle, her face turned to the
wall, and the afternoon sun was shining on her yellow hair, which
lay loose upon her shoulders.

I dared to say no word, and she only made a motion of her hand
towards me, that I should begone, without showing me the light of
her countenance. On this I went forth stealthily, my heart again
very heavy, for the Maiden had spoken of learning good tidings; and
wherefore should my mistress weep, who, an hour agone, had been so
merry? Difficult are the ways of women, a language hard to be
understood, wherefore "love," as the Roman says, "is full of anxious
fears."

Much misdoubting how I fared in Elliot's heart, and devising within
myself what this new sorrow of Elliot's might signify, I half forgot
my own danger, yet not so much as to fare forth of the doors, or
even into the booth, where customers might come, and I be known.
Therefore I passed into a room behind the booth, where my master was
wont to instruct me in my painting; and there, since better might
not be, I set about grinding and mixing such colours as I knew that
he required.

I had not been long about this task, when I heard him enter the
booth from without, whence he walked straight into my workroom. I
looked up from my colours, whereat his face, which was ruddy, grew
wan, he staggered back, and, being lame, reeled against the wall.
There he brought up, crossing himself, and making the sign of the
cross at me.

"Avaunt!" he said, "in the name of this holy sign, whether thou art
a wandering spirit, or a devil in a dead man's semblance."

"Master," I said, "I am neither spirit nor devil. Was it ever yet
heard that brownie or bogle mixed colours for a painter? Nay, touch
me, and see whether I am not of sinful Scots flesh and blood"; and
thereon I laughed aloud, knowing what caused his fear, and merry at
the sight of it, for he had ever held tales of "diablerie," and of
wraiths and freits and fetches, in high scorn.

He sat him down on a chair and gaped upon me, while I could not
contain myself from laughing.

"For God's sake," said he, "bring me a cup of red wine, for my wits
are wandering. Deil's buckie," he said in the Scots, "will water
not drown you? Faith, then, it is to hemp that you were born, as
shall shortly be seen."

I drew him some wine from a cask that stood in the corner, on
draught. He drank it at one venture, and held out the cup for more,
the colour coming back into his face.

"Did the archers tell me false, then, when they said that you had
fired up at a chance word, and flung yourself and the sentinel into
the moat? And where have you been wasting your time, and why went
you from the bridge ere I came back, if the archers took another
prentice lad for Norman Leslie?"

"They told you truth," I said.

"Then, in the name of Antichrist--that I should say so!--how scaped
you drowning, and how came you here?"

I told him the story, as briefly as might be.

"Ill luck go with yon second-sighted wench that has bewitched
Elliot, and you too, for all that I can see. Never did I think to
be frayed with a bogle, {14} and, as might have been deemed, the
bogle but a prentice loon, when all was done. To my thinking all
this fairy work is no more true than that you are a dead man's
wraith. But they are all wild about it, at the castle, where I was
kept long, doing no trade, and listening to their mad clatter."

He took out of his pouch a parcel heedfully wrapped in soft folds of
silk.

"Here is this Book of Hours," he said, "that I have spent my
eyesight, and gold, purple, and carmine, and cobalt upon, these
three years past; a jewel it is, though I say so. And I had good
hope to sell it to Hugh Kennedy, for he has of late had luck in
taking two English knights prisoners at Orleans--the only profitable
trade that men now can drive,--and the good knight dearly loves a
painted book of devotion; especially if, like this of mine, it be
adorned with the loves of Jupiter, and the Swan, and Danae, and
other heathen pliskies. We were chaffering over the price, and
getting near a bargain, when in comes Patrick Ogilvie with a tale of
this second-sighted Maid, and how she had been called to see the
King, and of what befell. First, it seems, she boded the death of
that luckless limb of a sentinel, and then you took it upon you to
fulfil her saying, and so you and he were drowned, and I left
prenticeless. Little comfort to me it was to hear Kennedy and
Ogilvie praise you for a good Scot and true, and say that it was
great pity of your death."

At this hearing my heart leaped for joy, first, at my own praise
from such good knights, and next, because I saw a blink of hope,
having friends at Court. My master went on -

"Next, Ogilvie told how he had been in hall, with the Dauphin, the
Chancellor Tremouille, and some scores of knights and nobles, a
great throng. They were all waiting on this Lorrainer wench, for
the Dauphin had been told, at last, that she brought a letter from
Baudricourt, but before he would not see her. This letter had been
kept from him, I guess by whom, and there was other clash of marvels
wrought by her, I know not what. So their wisdom was set on putting
her to a kind of trial, foolish enough! A young knight was dressed
in jewels and a coronet of the King's, and the King was clad right
soberly, and held himself far back in the throng, while the other
stood in front, looking big. So the wench comes in, and, walking
straight through the press of knights, with her head high, kneels to
the King, where he stood retired, and calls him "gentle Dauphin"!

""Nay, ma mie," says he, "'tis not I who am the Dauphin, but his
Highness yonder,"--pointing to the young knight, who showed all his
plumage like a muircock in spring.

"Nay, gentle Dauphin," she answers, so Ogilvie said, "it is to thee
that I am sent, and no other, and I am come to save the good town of
Orleans, and to lead thee to thy sacring at Rheims."

"Here they were all struck amazed, and the King not least, who then
had some words apart with the girl. And he has given her rooms in
the Tour Coudraye within the castle; and the clergy and the doctors
are to examine her straitly, whether she be from a good airt, {15}
or an ill, and all because she knew the King, she who had never seen
him before. Why should she never have seen him--who warrants me of
it?--she dwelling these last days nigh the castle! Freits are
folly, to my thinking, and fools they that follow them. Lad, you
gave me a gliff; pass me another stoup of wine! Freits, forsooth!"

I served him, and he sat and chuckled in his chair, being pleasured
by the thought of his own wisdom. "Not a word of this to Elliot,
though," he said suddenly; "when there is a woman in a house--
blessings on her!--it is anything for a quiet life! But, "nom
Dieu!" what with the fright you gave me, sitting there, whereas I
deemed you were meat for eels and carp, and what with thy tale--ha,
ha!--and my tale, and the wine, maybe, I forgot your own peril, my
lad. Faith, your neck is like to be longer, if we be not better
advised."

Hearing him talk of that marvellous thing, wrought through
inspiration by the Maid--whereat, as his manner was, he mocked, I
had clean forgotten my own jeopardy. Now this was instant, for who
knew how much the archer might have guessed, that followed with the
Maid and me, and men-at-arms might anon be at our door.

"It may be," said I, "that Sir Patrick Ogilvie and Sir Hugh Kennedy
would say a word for me in the King's ear."

"Faith, that is our one chance, and, luckily for you, the lad you
drowned, though in the King's service, came hither in the following
of a poor knight, who might take blood-ransom for his man. Had he
been La Tremouille's man, you must assuredly have fled the country."

He took up his Book of Hours, with a sigh, and wrapped it again in
its silken parcel.

"This must be your price with Kennedy," he said, "if better may not
be. It is like parting with the apple of my eye, but, I know not
well how, I love you, my lad, and blood is thicker than water. Give
me my staff; I must hirple up that weary hill again, and you, come
hither."

He led me to his own chamber, where I had never been before, and
showed me how, in the chimney-neuk, was a way into a certain black
hole of little ease, wherein, if any came in search for me, I might
lie hidden. And, fetching me a cold fish (Lenten cheer), a loaf,
and a stoup of wine, whereof I was glad enough, he left me, groaning
the while at his ill-fortune, but laden with such thanks as I might
give for all his great kindness.

There then, I sat, when I had eaten, my ears pricked to listen for
the tramp of armed men below and the thunder of their summons at the
door. But they came not, and presently my thought stole back to
Elliot, who, indeed, was never out of my mind then--nay, nor now is.
But whether that memory be sinful in a man of religion or not, I
leave to the saints and to good confession. Much I perplexed myself
with marvelling why she did so weep; above all, since I knew what
hopeful tidings she had gotten of her friend and her enterprise.
But no light came to me in my meditations. I did not know then that
whereas young men, and many lasses too, are like the Roman lad who
went with his bosom bare, crying "Aura veni," and sighing for the
breeze of Love to come, other maidens are wroth with Love when he
creeps into their hearts, and would fain cast him out--being in a
manner mad with anger against Love, and against him whom they
desire, and against themselves. This mood, as was later seen, was
Elliot's, for her heart was like a wild bird trapped, that turns
with bill and claw on him who comes to set it free. Moreover, I
have since deemed that her passion of faith in the Maid made war on
her love for me; one breast being scantly great enough to contain
these two affections, and her pride taking, against the natural
love, the part of the love which was divine.

But all these were later thoughts, that came to me in musing on the
sorrows of my days; and, like most wisdom, this knowledge arrived
too late, and I, as then, was holden in perplexity.

CHAPTER VIII--OF CERTAIN QUARRELS THAT CAME ON THE HANDS OF NORMAN
LESLIE

Belike I had dropped asleep, outwearied with what had befallen me,
mind and body, but I started up suddenly at the sound of a dagger-
hilt smitten against the main door of the house, and a voice crying,
"Open, in the name of the Dauphin." They had come in quest of me,
and when I heard them, it was as if a hand had given my heart a
squeeze, and for a moment my breath seemed to be stopped. This
past, I heard the old serving-woman fumbling with the bolts, and
peering from behind the curtain of my casement, I saw that the ways
were dark, and the narrow street was lit up with flaring torches,
the lights wavering in the wind. I stepped to the wide ingle,
thinking to creep into the secret hiding-hole. But to what avail?
It might have served my turn if my escape alive from the moat had
only been guessed, but now my master must have told all the story,
and the men-at-arms must be assured that I was within. Thinking
thus, I stood at pause, when a whisper came, as if from within the
ingle -

"Unbar the door, and hide not."

It must be Elliot's voice, speaking through some tube contrived in
the ingle of the dwelling-room below or otherwise. Glad at heart to
think that she took thought of me, I unbarred the door, and threw
myself into a chair before the fire, trying to look like one
unconcerned. The bolts were now drawn below; I heard voices, rather
Scots than French, to my sense. Then the step of one man climbed up
the stair, heavily, and with the tap of a staff keeping tune to it.
It was my master. His face was pale, and falling into a chair, he
wiped the sweat from his brow. "Unhappy man that I am!" he said, "I
have lost my apprentice."

I gulped something down in my throat ere I could say, "Then it is
death?"

"Nay," he said, and smiled. "But gliff for gliff, {16} you put a
fear on me this day, and now we are even."

"Yet I scarce need a cup of wine for my recovery, master," I said,
filling him a beaker from the flagon on the table, which he drained
gladly, being sore wearied, so steep was the way to the castle, and
hard for a lame man. My heart was as light as a leaf on a tree, and
the bitterness of shameful death seemed gone by.

"I have lost my prentice another way," he said, setting down the cup
on the table. "I had much a do to see Kennedy, for he was at the
dice with other lords. At length, deeming there was no time to
waste, I sent in the bonny Book of Hours, praying him to hear me for
a moment on a weighty matter. That brought him to my side; he
leaped at the book like a trout at a fly, and took me to his own
chamber. There I told him your story. When it came to the wench in
the King's laundry, and Robin Lindsay, and you clad in girl's gear,
and kissed in the guard-room, he struck hand on thigh and laughed
aloud.

Then I deemed your cause as good as three parts won, and he could
not hold in, but led me to a chamber where were many lords, dicing
and drinking: Tremouille, Ogilvie, the Bishop of Orleans--that holy
man, who has come to ask for aid from the King,--La Hire,
Xaintrailles, and I know not whom. There I must tell all the
chronicle again; and some said this, and some that, and Tremouille
mocks, that the Maid uttered her prophecy to no other end but to
make you fulfil it, and slay her enemy for the sake of her "beaux
yeux." The others would hear nothing of this, and, indeed, though I
am no gull, I wot that Tremouille is wrong here, and over cunning;
he trusts neither man nor woman. Howsoever it be, he went with the
story to the King, who is keen to hear any new thing. And, to be
short, the end of it is this: that you have your free pardon, on
these terms, namely, that you have two score of masses said for the
dead man, and yourself take service under Sir Hugh Kennedy, that the
King may not lose a man-at-arms."

Never, sure, came gladder tidings to any man than these to me. An
hour ago the rope seemed tight about my neck; one day past, and I
was but a prentice to the mean craft of painting and limning, arts
good for a monk, or a manant, but, save for pleasure, not to be
melled or meddled with by a man of gentle blood. And now I was to
wear arms, and that in the best of causes, under the best of
captains, one of my own country--a lord in Ayrshire.

"Ay, even so," my master said, marking the joy in my face, "you are
right glad to leave us--a lass and a lameter. {17} Well, well, such
is youth, and eld is soon forgotten."

I fell on my knees at his feet, and kissed his hands, and I believe
that I wept.

"Sir," I said, "you have been to me as a father, and more than it
has been my fortune to find my own father. Never would I leave you
with my will, and for the gentle demoiselle, your daughter--" But
here I stinted, since in sooth I knew not well what words to say.

"Ay, we shall both miss you betimes; but courage, man! After all,
this new life beseems you best, and, mark me, a lass thinks none the
worse of a lad because he wears not the prentice's hodden grey, but
a Scots archer's green, white, and red, and Charles for badge on
breast and sleeve, and a sword by his side. And as for the bonny
Book of Hours--"Master," I said with shame, "was that my ransom?"

"Kennedy would have come near my price, and strove to make me take
the gold. But what is bred in the bone will out; I am a gentleman
born, not a huckster, and the book I gave him freely. May it profit
the good knight in his devotions! But now, come, they are weary
waiting for us; the hour waxes late, and Elliot, I trow, is long
abed. You must begone to the castle."

In the stairs, and about the door, some ten of Sir Hugh's men were
waiting, all countrymen of my own, and the noise they made and their
speech were pleasant to me. They gave me welcome with shouts and
laughter, and clasped my hands: "for him that called us wine-sacks,
you have given him water to his wine, and the frog for his butler,"
they said, making a jest of life and death. But my own heart for
the nonce was heavy enough again, I longing to take farewell of
Elliot, which might not be, nor might she face that wild company.
Howbeit, thinking it good to have a friend at court, I made occasion
to put in the hand of the old serving-woman all of such small coins
as I had won in my life servile, deeming myself well quit of such
ill-gotten gear. And thereafter, with great mirth and noise, they
set forth to climb the hill towards the castle, where I was led,
through many a windy passage, to the chamber of Sir Hugh Kennedy.
There were torches lit, and the knight, a broad-shouldered, fair-
haired man, with a stern, flushed face, was turning over and gazing
at his new Book of Hours, like a child busy with a fresh toy. He
laid the book down when we entered, and the senior of the two
archers who accompanied me told him that I was he who had been
summoned.

"Your name?" he asked; and I gave it.

"You are of gentle blood?" And I answering "Yes," he replied, "Then
see that you are ready to shed it for the King. Your life that was
justly forfeit, is now, by his Royal mercy, returned to you, to be
spent in his service. Rutherford and Douglas, go take him to
quarters, and see that to-morrow he is clad as beseems a man of my
command. Now good night to you--but stay! You, Norman Leslie, you
will have quarrels on your hand. Wait not for them, but go to meet
them, if they are with the French men-at-arms, and in quarrel see
that you be swift and deadly. For the townsfolk, no brawling,
marauding, or haling about of honest wenches. Here we are
strangers, and my men must be respected."

He bowed his head: his words had been curt, no grace or kindness
had he shown me of countenance. I felt in my heart that to him I
was but a pawn in the game of battle. Now I seemed as far off as
ever I was from my foolish dream of winning my spurs; nay, perchance
never had I sunk lower in my own conceit. Till this hour I had
been, as it were, the hinge on which my share of the world turned,
and now I was no more than a wheel in the carriage of a couleuvrine,
an unconsidered cog in the machine of war. I was to be lost in a
multitude, every one as good as myself, or better; and when I had
thought of taking service, I had not foreseen the manner of it and
the nature of the soldier's trade. My head, that I had carried
high, somewhat drooped, as I saluted, imitating my companions, and
we wheeled forth of the room.

"Hugh has taken the pride out of you, lad, or my name is not Randal
Rutherford," said the Border man who had guided me. "Faith, he has
a keen tongue and a short way with him, but there are worse
commanders. And now you must to your quarters, for the hour is late
and the guard-room shut."

He led me to our common sleeping-place, where, among many snoring
men-at-arms in a great bare hall, a pallet was laid for me, and my
flesh crept as I remembered how this was the couch of him whom I had
slain. Howbeit, being well weary, despite the strangeness of the
place, after brief orisons I slept sound till a trumpet called us in
the morning.

Concerning the strangeness of this waking, to me who had been gently
nurtured, and the rough life, and profane words which I must hear
(not, indeed, that they had been wholly banished from our wild days
at St. Andrews), it is needless that I should tell. Seeing that I
was come among rude neighbours, I even made shift to fall back, in
semblance, on such manners as I had used among the students before I
left Scotland, though many perils, and the fear wherein I stood of
Brother Thomas, and the company of the maid Elliot, had caused me
half to forget my swaggering ways. So, may God forgive me! I swore
roundly; I made as if I deemed lightly of that Frenchman's death,
and, in brief, I so bore me that, ere noon (when I behoved to go
into Chinon with Randal Rutherford, and there provide me with the
rich apparel of our company), I had three good quarrels on my hand.

First, there was the man-at-arms who had kissed me in the guard-
room. He, in a "bourde" and mockery, making pretence that he would
repeat his insult, got that which was owing him, and with interest,
for indeed he could see out of neither of his squint eyes when I had
dealt with him. And for this cause perforce, if he needed more
proof of my manhood than the weight of my fist, he must tarry for
the demonstration which he desired.

Then there was Robin Lindsay, and at his wrath I make no marvel, for
the tale of how he came late to tryst, and at second-hand (with many
such rude and wanton additions as soldiers use to make), was noised
abroad all over the castle. His quarrel was no matter for
fisticuffs; so, being attired in helmet, vambrace rerebrace,
gauntlets, and greaves out of the armoury, where many such suits
were stored, I met him in a certain quiet court behind the castle,
where quarrels were usually voided. And now my practice of the
sword at home and the lessons of our smith came handily to my need.
After much clashing of steel and smiting out of sparks, I chanced,
by an art known to me, to strike his sword out of his hand. Then,
having him at an avail, I threw down my own blade, and so plainly
told him the plain truth, and how to his mistress I owed my life,
which I would rather lose now at his hand than hear her honour
blamed, that he forgave me, and we embraced as friends. Neither was
this jest anew cast up against either of us, men fearing to laugh,
as we say, with the wrong side of their mouths.

After this friendly bout at point and edge, Robin and Randal
Rutherford, being off duty, must needs carry me to the Tennis Court,
where Tremouille and the King were playing two young lords, and that
for such a stake as would have helped to arm a hundred men for the
aid of Orleans. It was pretty to see the ball fly about basted from
the walls, and the players bounding and striking; and, little as I
understood the game, so eager was I over the sport, that a gentleman
within the "dedans" touched me twice on the shoulder before I was
aware of him.

"I would have a word with you, sir, if your grace can spare me the
leisure."

"May it not be spoken here?" I asked, for I was sorry to lose the
spectacle of the tennis, which was new to me, and is a pastime
wherein France beats the world. Pity it is that many players should
so curse and blaspheme God and His saints!

"My business," replied the stranger, "is of a kind that will hardly
endure waiting."

With that I rose and followed him out into the open courtyard, much
marvelling what might be toward.

"You are that young gentleman," said my man, "for a gentleman I take
you to be, from your aspect and common report, who yesterday were
the death of Gilles de Puiseux?"

"Sir, to my sorrow, and not by my will, I am he, and but now I was
going forth to have certain masses said for his soul's welfare":
which was true, Randal Rutherford having filled my purse against
pay-day.

"I thank you, sir, for your courtesy, and perchance may have
occasion to do the like gentle service for you. Gilles de Puiseux
was of my blood and kin; he has none other to take up his feud for
him in this place, and now your quickness of comprehension will tell
you that the business wherewith I permit myself to break your
leisure will brook no tarrying. Let me say that I take it not upon
me to defend the words of my cousin, who insulted a woman, and, as I
believe, a messenger from the blessed Saints that love France."

I looked at him in some amazement. He was a young man of about my
own years, delicately and richly clad in furs, silks, and velvets, a
great gold chain hanging in loops about his neck, a gold brooch with
an ancient Roman medal in his cap. But the most notable thing in
him was his thick golden hair, whence La Hire had named him
"Capdorat," because he was so blond, and right keen in war, and
hardy beyond others. And here he was challenging me, who stood
before him in a prentice's hodden grey!

"Sir," I said, "I could wish you a better quarrel, but not more
courtesy. Many a gentleman seeing me such as I am, would bid me
send, ere he crossed swords with me, to my own country for my bor-
brief, {18} which I came away in too great haste to carry with me.
Nay, I was but now to set forth and buy me a sword and other
accoutrements; natheless, from the armoury here they may equip me
with sword and body armour."

"Of body-armour take no thought," he answered, "for this quarrel is
of a kind that must needs be voided in our smocks"; he meaning that
it was "e outrance," till one of us fell.

Verily, now I saw that this was not to be a matter of striking
sparks from steel, as Robin and I had done, but of life and death.

"I shall be the more speedily at your service," I made answer; and
as I spoke Randal and Robin came forth from the "dedans," the sport
being over. They joined me, and I told them in few words my new
business, my adversary tarrying, cap in hand, till I had spoken, and
then proclaiming himself Aymar de Puiseux, a gentleman of Dauphine,
as indeed my friends knew.

"I shall wait on you, with your leave, at the isle in the river,
where it is of custom, opposite the booths of the gold-workers,"
quoth he, "about the hour of noon"; and so, saluting us, he went, as
he said, to provide himself with friends.

"Blood of Judas!" quoth Robin, who swore terribly in his speech,
"you have your hands full, young Norman. He is but now crept out of
the rank of pages, but when the French and English pages fought a
valliance of late, under Orleans, none won more praise than he, who
was captain of the French party."

"He played a good sword?" I asked.

"He threw a good stone! Man, it was a stone bicker, and they had
lids of baskets for targes."

"And he challenges me to the field," I said hotly, "By St. Andrew!
I will cuff his ears and send him back to the other boys."

"Norman, my lad, when were you in a stone bicker last?" quoth
Randal; and I hung my head, for it was not yet six months gone since
the sailors and we students were stoning each other in North Street.

"Yet he does play a very good sword, and is cunning of fence, for
your comfort," said Randal. So I hummed the old lilt of the
Leslies, whence, they say, comes our name -

Between the less lea and the mair,
He slew the knight and left him there; -

for I deemed it well to show a good face. Moreover, I had some
conceit of myself as a swordsman, and Randal was laughing like a
foolbody at my countenance.

"Faith, you will make a spoon or spoil a horn, and--let me have my
laugh out--you bid well for an archer," said Randal; and Robin
counselling me to play the same prank on the French lad's sword as
late I had done on his own, they took each of them an arm of mine,
and so we swaggered down the steep ways into Chinon.

First I would go to the tailor and the cordwainer, and be fitted for
my new splendours as an archer of the guard.

They both laughed at me again, for, said they very cheerfully, "You
may never live to wear these fine feathers."

But Randal making the reflection that, if I fell, there would be
none to pay the shopmaster, they both shouted with delight in the
street, so that passers-by turned and marvelled at them. Clearly I
saw that to go to fight a duel is one thing, and to go and look on
is another, and much more gay, for my heart had no desire of all
this merriment. Rather would I have recommended my case to the
saints, and chiefly to St. Andrew, for whose cause and honour I was
about to put my life in jeopardy. But shame, and the fear of
seeming fearful, drove me to jest with the others--such risks of
dying unconfessed are run by sinful men!

Howbeit, they helped me to choose cloth of the best colour and
fashion, laughing the more because I, being short of stature and
slim, the tailor, if I fell, might well find none among the archers
to purchase that for which, belike, I should have no need.

"We must even enlist the Pucelle in our guard, for she might wear
this apparel," quoth Randal.

Thus boisterously they bore themselves, but more gravely at the
swordsmith's, where we picked out a good cut-and-thrust blade, well
balanced, that came readily to my hand. Then, I with sword at side,
like a gentleman, we made to the river, passing my master's booth,
where I looked wistfully at the windows for a blink of Elliot, but
saw none that I knew, only, from an open casement, the little
jackanapes mopped and mowed at me in friendly fashion. Hard by the
booth was a little pier, and we took boat, and so landed on the
island, where were waiting for us my adversary and two other
gentlemen. Having saluted each other, we passed to a smooth grassy
spot, surrounded on all sides by tall poplar trees. Here in places
daffodils were dancing in the wind; but otherwhere the sward was
much trampled down, and in two or three spots were black patches
that wellnigh turned my courage, for I was not yet used to the sight
of men's blood, here often shed for little cause.

The friends of us twain adversaries, for enemies we could scarce be
called, chose out a smooth spot with a fair light, the sun being
veiled, and when we had stripped to our smocks, we drew and fell to
work. He was very quick and light in his movements, bounding nimbly
to this side or that, but I, using a hanging guard, in our common
Scots manner, did somewhat perplex him, to whom the fashion was new.
One or two scratches we dealt each other, but, for all that, I could
see we were well matched, and neither closed, as men rarely do in
such a combat, till they are wroth with hurts and their blood warm.
Now I gashed his thigh, but not deeply, and with that, as I deemed,
his temper fired, for he made a full sweep at my leg above the knee.
This I have always reckoned a fool's stroke, as leaving the upper
part of the body unguarded, and avoiding with my right leg, I drove
down with all my force at his head. But, even as I struck, came a
flash and the sudden deadness of a deep wound, for he had but
feinted, and then, avoiding me so that I touched him not, he drove
his point into my breast. Between the force of my own blow and this
stab I fell forward on my face, and thence rolled over on my back,
catching at my breast with my hands, as though to stop the blood,
but, in sooth, not well knowing what I did.

He had thrown down his sword, and now was kneeling by my side.

"I take you to witness," he said, "that this has befallen to my
great sorrow, and had I been where this gentleman was yesterday, and
heard my cousin blaspheme, I would myself have drawn on him, but--"
And here, as I later heard, he fainted from loss of blood, my sword
having cut a great vein; and I likewise lost sense and knowledge.
Nor did I know more till they lifted me and laid me on a litter of
poplar boughs, having stanched my wound as best they might. In the
boat, as they ferried us across the river, I believe that I fainted
again; and so, "between home and hell," as the saying is, I lay on
my litter and was carried along the street beside the water. Folk
gathered around us as we went. I heard their voices as in a dream,
when lo! there sounded a voice that I knew right well, for Elliot
was asking of the people "who was hurt?" At this hearing I hove
myself up on my elbow, beckoning with my other hand; and I opened my
mouth to speak, but, in place of words, came only a wave of blood
that sickened me, and I seemed to be dreaming, in my bed, of Elliot
and her jackanapes; and then feet were trampling, and at length I
was laid down, and so seemed to fall most blessedly asleep, with a
little hand in mine, and rarely peaceful and happy in my heart,
though wherefore I knew not. After many days of tossing on the
waves of the world, it was as if I had been brought into the haven
where I would be. Of what was passing I knew or I remember nothing.
Later I heard that a good priest had been brought to my bedside, and
perchance there was made some such confession as the Church, in her
mercy, accepts from sinful men in such case as mine. But I had no
thought of life or death, purgatory or paradise; only, if paradise
be rest among those we love, such rest for an unknown while, and
such sense of blissful companionship, were mine. But whether it was
well to pass through and beyond this scarce sensible joy, or whether
that peace will ever again be mine and unending, I leave with
humility to them in whose hands are Christian souls.

CHAPTER IX--OF THE WINNING OF ELLIOT

The days of fever and of dreams went by and passed, leaving me very
weak, but not ignorant of where I was, and of what had come and
gone. My master had often been by my bedside, and Elliot now and
again; the old housewife also watched me by night, and gave me drink
when I thirsted. Most of the while I deemed I was at home, in the
house of Pitcullo; yet I felt there was something strange, and that
there was pain somewhere in the room. But at length, as was said, I
came to knowledge of things, and could see Elliot and remember her,
when she knelt praying by my bed, as oft she did, whiles I lay
between life and death. I have heard speak of men who, being
inflamed with love, as I had been, fell into a fever of the body,
and when that passed, lo! their passion had passed with it, and
their longing. And so it seemed to be with me. For some days I was
not permitted to utter a word, and later, I was as glad in Elliot's
company as you may have seen a little lad and lass, not near come to
full age, who go playing together with flowers and such toys. So we
were merry together, the jackanapes keeping us company, and making
much game and sport.

Perchance these were my most blessed days, as of one who had
returned to the sinless years, when we are happier than we know, and
not yet acquainted with desire. Now and again Rutherford and
Lindsay would come to visit me, seeming strangely still and gentle,
speaking little, but looking at me with kind eyes, and vowing that
my tailor should yet be paid for his labour. Capdorat also came,
for he had but suffered a flesh wound with much loss of blood, and
we showed each other the best countenance. So time went by, while I
grew stronger daily; and now it was ordained by the leech, a skilful
man, that I might leave my bed, and be clothed, and go about through
the house, and eat stronger food, whereof I had the greatest desire,
and would ever be eating like a howlet. {19} Now, when I was to
rise, I looked that they should bring me my old prentice's gabardine
and hose, but on the morning of that day Elliot came, bearing in her
arms a parcel of raiment very gay and costly.

"Here is your fine clothing new come from the tailor's booth," she
cried merrily. "See, you shall be as bright as spring, in green,
and white, and red!"

There was the bonnet, with its three coloured plumes, and the
doublet, with Charles wrought in silver on the arm and breast, and
all other things seemly--a joy to mine eyes.

She held them up before me, her face shining like the return of
life, with a happy welcome; and my heart beat to see and hear her as
of old it was wont to do.

"And wherefore should not I go to the wars," she cried, "and fight
beside the Maid? I am as tall as she, if scantly so strong, and
brave--oh, I am very brave "Glacidas, I bid you beware!" she said,
putting the archer's bonnet gallantly cocked on her beautiful head,
and drawing forth the sword from his scabbard, as one in act to
fight, but in innocent unwarlike wise.

There she stood before me in the sunlight, like the Angel of
Victory, all glad and fair, and two blue rays from her eyes shot
into my heart, and lo! I was no more a child, but a man again and a
lover.

"O Elliot," I said, ere ever I wist what I was saying, and I caught
her left hand into mine--"O Elliot, I love you! Give me but your
love, and I shall come back from the wars a knight, and claim my
love to be my lady."

She snatched her hand suddenly, as if angered, out of mine, and
therewith, being very weak, I gave a cry, my wound fiercely paining
me. Then her face changed from rose-red to lily-white, she dropped
on her knees by my bed, and her arms were about my neck, and all
over my face her soft, sweet-scented hair and her tears.

"Oh, I have slain you, I have slain you, my love!" she sobbed,
making a low, sweet moan, as a cushat in the wild wood, for I lay
deadly still, being overcome with pain and joy. And there I was, my
love comforting me as a mother comforts her child.

I moved my hand, to take hers in mine--her little hand; and so, for
a space, there was silence between us, save for her kind moaning,
and in my heart was such gladness as comes but once to men, and may
not be spoken in words of this world.

There was silence between us; then she rose very gently and tossed
back her hair, showing her face wet with tears, but rosy-red with
happiness and sweet shame. Had it not been for that chance hurt,
how long might I have wooed ere I won her? But her heart was molten
by my anguish.

"Hath the pain passed?" she whispered.

"Sweet was the pain, my love, and sweetly hast thou healed it with
thy magic."

Then she kissed me, and so fled from the room, as one abashed, and
came not back that day, when, indeed, I did not rise, nor for two
days more, being weaker than we had deemed. But happiness is the
greatest leech on earth, and does the rarest miracles of healing; so
in three days' space I won strength to leave my bed and my room, and
could sit by the door, at noon, in the sun of spring, that is warmer
in France than in our own country.

Now it could not be but that Elliot and I must meet, when her father
was in town about his affairs, or busy in the painting-room, and
much work he had then on his hands. But Elliot was right coy,
hiding herself from me, who watched warily, till one day, when my
master was abroad, I had the fortune to find her alone in the
chamber, putting spring flowers in a very fair vessel of glass. I
made no more ado, but coming in stealthily, I caught her boldly
about the body, saying -

"Yield you, rescue or no rescue, and strive not against me, lest you
slay a wounded man-at-arms."

For very fear, as I believe, lest she might stir my wound again, she
was still as a bird that lies in your hands when once you have
caught it. And all that passes of kiss and kind word between happy
lovers passed between us, till I prayed of her grace, that I might
tell her father how things stood, for well I had seen by his words
and deeds that he cherished me as a son. So she granted this, and
we fell to devising as to what was to be in days to come. Lackland
was I, and penniless, save for my pay, if I got it; but we looked to
the common fortune of young men-at-arms, namely, spoil of war and
the ransom of prisoners of England or Burgundy. For I had set up my
resolve either to die gloriously, or to win great wealth and honour,
which, to a young man and a lover, seem things easily come by. Nor
could my master look for a great fortune in marriage, seeing that,
despite his gentle birth, he lived but as a burgess, and by the work
of his hands.

As we thus devised, she told me how matters now were in the country,
of which, indeed, I still knew but little, for, to a man sick and
nigh upon death, nothing imports greatly that betides beyond the
walls of his chamber. What I heard was this: namely, that, about
Orleans, the English ever pressed the good town more closely,
building new bastilles and other great works, so as to close the way
from Blois against any that came thence of our party with victual
and men-at-arms. And daily there was fighting without the walls,
wherein now one side had the better, now the other; but food was
scant in Orleans, and many were slain by cannon-shots. Yet much was
spoken of a new cannonier, lately come to aid the men of Orleans,
and how he and John of Lorraine slew many of the hardiest of the
English with their couleuvrines.

At this telling I bethought me of Brother Thomas, but spoke no word
concerning him, for my mistress began very gladly to devise of her
dear Maid, concerning whom, indeed, she could never long be silent.
"Faithless heart and fickle," I said in a jest, "I believe you love
that Maid more than you love me, and as she wears sword at side,
like a man, I must even challenge her to fight in the island."

Here she stayed my speech in the best manner and the most gracious,
laughing low, so that, verily, I was clean besotted with love, and
marvelled that any could be so fair as she, and how I could have won
such a lady.

"Beware how you challenge my Maid," said she at last, "for she
fights but on horseback, with lance and sperthe, {20} and the Duc
d'Alencon has seen her tilt at the ring, and has given her the best
steed in his stables, whereon she shall soon lead her army to
Orleans."

"Then I must lay by my quarrel, for who am I to challenge my
captain? But, tell me, hath she heard any word of thee and me?"

Elliot waxed rosy, and whispered -

"We had spoken together about thee, ere she went to Poictiers to be
examined and questioned by the doctors of law and learning, after
thou wert wounded." Concerning this journey to Poictiers I knew
nothing, but I was more concerned to hear what the Maid had said
about Elliot and me. For seeing that the Maid herself was vowed (as
men deemed) to virginity, it passed into my mind that she might
think holy matrimony but a low estate, and might try to set my
mistress's heart on following her own example. And then, I thought,
but foolishly, Elliot's love for me might be weaker than her love
for the Maid.

"Yes," my lady went on, "I could not but open my heart about thee
and me, to one who is of my own age, and so wise, unlike other
girls. Moreover, I scarce knew well whether your heart was like
disposed with my heart. Therefore I devised with her more than once
or twice."

Hiding her face on my breast, she spoke very low; and as my fancy
had once seen the children, the dark head and the golden, bowed
together in prayer for France and the Dauphin, so now I saw them
again, held close together in converse, and that strange Maid and
Prophetess listening, like any girl, to a girl's tale of the secrets
of her heart.

"And what counsel gave the Maid?" I said; "or had she any prophecy
of our fortune?"

"Nay, on such matters she knows no more than you or I, or knows but
seldom, nor seeks to learn from her counsel. Only she is bidden
that she must rescue Orleans, and lead the Dauphin to his sacring at
Rheims. But she wished me well, and comforted me that your heart
was even as my own, as she saw on that day when you wore woman's
gear and slew him that blasphemed her. And of you she spoke the
best words, for that you, who knew her not, took her part against
her enemy. And for your wound she sorrowed much, not knowing, more
than I who am simple, whether it would turn to life or death. And
if to life, then, if she could but persuade the doctor and clergy
and the King's counsellors to let her go, she said that you should
follow with her to the wars, and she, if so the saints pleased,
would be the making of your fortune, you and I being her first
friends."

"The saints fight for her!" I said, "for we have done our part thus
far, and I would that I may be well ere she raises her standard."

But here Elliot turned right pale, at the thought of my going to the
wars, she holding my face off and gazing steadily upon me with
wistful eyes.

"O God, send that the Maid go speedily!" she cried, "for as now you
are not fit to bear arms."

"Thou wouldst not have me lag behind, when the Maid's banner is on
the wind?"

"Nay," she said, but slowly, "thee and all that I have would I give
for her and for her cause, and for the saints. But now thou must
not go,"--and her eyes yearned upon me--"now that I could overthrow
thee if we came to war."

So here she laughed again, being like the weather without--a
changeful thing of shower and shine.

Thus we continued devising, and she told me that, some days after my
wounding, the Maid had held converse apart with the King, and then
gave him to wit of certain marvellous matters, that none might know
save by heavenly inspiration. But what these matters might be none
could tell, save the King and the Maiden only.

That this was sooth I can affirm, having myself been present in
later years, when one that affected to be the very Pucelle, never
slain, or re-arisen by miracle, came before the King, and truly she
had beguiled many. Then the King said, "Welcome Pucelle, ma mie,
thou art welcome if thou hast memory of that secret thing which is
between thee and me." Whereon this false woman, as one confounded,
fell on her knees and confessed her treason.

This that Elliot told me, therefore, while the sun shone into the
chamber through the bare vine-tendrils, was sooth, and by this
miracle, it seems, the Maid had at last won the ear of the King. So
he bade carry her to Poictiers, where the doctors and the learned
were but now examining into her holy life, and her knowledge of
religion, being amazed by the wisdom of her answers. The noble
ladies about her, too, and these mendicant friars that were sent to
hold inquisition concerning her at Domremy, had found in her nothing
but simplicity and holy maidenhood, pity and piety. But, as for a
sign of her sending, and a marvel to convince all men's hearts,
that, she said, she would only work at Orleans. So now she was
being accepted, and was to raise her standard, as we had cause to
believe.

"But," said Elliot, "the weeks go by, and much is said, and men and
victual are to be gathered, and still they tarry, doing no great
deed. Oh, would that to-day her standard were on the wind! for to-
day, and for these many days, I must have you here, and tend you
till you be fit to bear arms."

Therewith she made me much good cheer; then, very tenderly taking
her arms from about me, lest I should be hurt again, she cried -

"But we speak idly, and thou hast not seen the standard, and the
banner, and the pennon of the Maid that my father is painting."

Then I must lean on her shoulder, as, indeed, I still had cause to
do, and so, right heedfully, she brought me into the painting-
chamber. There, upon great easels, were stretched three sheets of
"bougran," {21} very white and glistering--a mighty long sheet for
the standard, a smaller one, square, for the banner, and the pennon
smaller yet, in form of a triangle, as is customary.

The great standard, in the Maiden's wars, was to be used for the
rallying of all her host; the pennon was a signal to those who
fought around her, as guards of her body; and about the banner
afterwards gathered, for prayer and praise, those men, confessed and
clean of conscience, whom she had called and chosen.

These cloths were now but half painted, the figures being drawn, by
my master's hands, and the ground-colours laid; but some portions
were quite finished, very bright and beautiful. On the standard was
figured God the Father, having the globe in His hand; two angels
knelt by Him, one holding for His blessing the lily of France. The
field was to be sown with fleurs-de-lys, and to bear the holy names:
Jhesu--Maria. On the banner was our Lord crucified between the Holy
Virgin and St. John. And on the pennon was wrought the
Annunciation, the angel with a lily kneeling to the Blessed Virgin.
On the standard, my master, later, fashioned the chosen blazon of
the Maid--a dove argent, on a field azure. But the blazon of the
sword supporting the crown, between two lilies, that was later given
to her and her house, she did not use, as her enemies said she did,
out of pride and vainglory, mixing her arms with holy things, even
at Rheims at the sacring. For when she was at Rheims, no armorial
bearings had yet been given to her. Herein, then, as always, they
lied in their cruel throats; for, as the Psalmist says, "Quare
fremuerunt gentes?"

All these evil tongues, and all thought of evil days, were far from
us as we stood looking at the work, and praising it, as well we
might, for never had my master wrought so well. Now, as I studied
on the paintings, I well saw that my master had drawn the angel of
the pennon in the likeness of his own daughter Elliot. Wonderful it
was to see her fair face and blue eyes, holy and humble, with the
gold halo round her head.

"Ah, love," I said, "that banner I could follow far, pursuing fame
and the face of my lady!"

With that we fell into such dalliance and kind speech as lovers use,
wholly rapt from the world in our happiness.

Even then, before we so much as heard his step at the door, my
master entered, and there stood we, my arm about her neck and hers
about my body, embracing me.

He stood with eyes wide open, and gave one long whistle.

"Faith!" he cried, "our surgery hath wrought miracles! You are
whole beyond what I looked for; but surely you are deaf, for my step
is heavy enough, yet, me thinks, you heard me not."

Elliot spoke no word, but drawing me very heedfully to a settle that
was by the side of the room, she fled without looking behind her.

"Sir," I said, as soon as she was gone, "I need make no long story--
"

"Faith, no!" he answered, standing back from the banner and holding
his hands at each side of his eyes, regarding his work as limners
do. "You twain, I doubt not, were smitten senseless by these great
masterpieces, and the thought of the holy use to which they were
made."

"That might well have been, sir, but what we had covenanted to tell
you this day we have told unwittingly, methinks, already. I could
not be in your daughter's company, and have the grace of her gentle
ministerings--"

"But you must stand senseless before her father's paintings? Faith,
you are a very grateful lad! But so it is, and I am not one of
those blind folk who see not what is under their eyes. And now,
what now? Well, I can tell you. You are to be healed, and follow
these flags to war, and win your spurs, and much wealth by ransoms,
and so make my lass your lady. Is it not so?"

I was abashed by his "bourdes," and could say nought, for, being
still very weak, the tears came into my eyes. Then he drew near me,
limping, and put his hand on my shoulder, but very gently, saying -

"Even so be it, my son, as better may not be. 'Tis no great match,
but I looked, in this country, for nothing nobler or more wealthy.
That my lass should be happy, and have one to fend for her, there is
my affair, and I am not one of those fathers who think to make their
daughters glad by taking from them their heart's desire. So cheer
up! What, a man-at-arms weeping! Strange times, when maids lead
men-at-arms and men-at-arms weep at home!"

With these words he comforted me, and made me welcome, for indeed he
was a kind man and a wise; so many there are that cause shrewd
sorrow when there should be joy in their houses! This was never his
way, and wise do I call him, for all that has come and gone.

In a little time, when I had thanked him, and shown him, I trow, how
he stood in my love, he bade me go to my chamber and be at rest,
saying that he must take thought as to how matters stood.

"For you are not yet fit to bear arms, nor will be for these many
days. Nor is it seemly, nor our country's custom, that my maid
should dwell here in the house with you, as things are between you,
and I must consider of how I may bestow her till you march with your
troop, if marching there is to be."

This I dared not gainsay, and so I went to my chamber with a heart
full of grief and joy, for these hours that are all of gladness come
rarely to lovers, and to me were scantly measured. Perchance it was
for my soul's welfare, to win me from the ways of the world.

But to Elliot and me that night bore no joy, but sorrow, albeit
passing. At supper we met, indeed, but she stayed with us not long
after supper, when my master, with a serious countenance, told me
how he had taken counsel with a very holy woman, of his own kin,
widow of an archer, and how she was going on pilgrimage to our Lady
of Puy en Velay, by reason of the jubilee, for this year Good Friday
and the Annunciation fell on the same day.

"To-morrow she sets forth, and whatsoever prayer can do for France
and the King shall be done. Always, after this day of jubilee, they
say that strange and great matters come to pass. That there will be
strange matters I make no doubt, for when before, save under holy
Deborah in Scripture, did men follow a woman to war? May good come
of it! However it fall out, Elliot is willing to go on pilgrimage,
for she is very devout. Moreover, she tells me that it had been in
her mind before, for the mother of that Maid is to be at Puy,
praying for her daughter, as, certes, she hath great need, if ever
woman had. And Elliot is fain to meet her and devise with her about
the Maid. And for you, you still need our nursing, and the sooner
you win strength, the nearer you are to that which you would win.
Still, I am sorry, lad, for I remember my courting days and the
lass's mother, blessings on her!"

To all this I could make no answer but that his will was mine; and
so the day ended in a mingling of gladness and sorrow.

CHAPTER X--HOW NORMAN LESLIE WAS OUT OF ALL COMFORT

My brethren the good Benedictine Fathers here in Pluscarden Priory,
are wont betimes to be merry over my penitents, for all the young
lads and lasses in the glen say they are fain to be shriven by old
Father Norman and by no other.

This that my brethren report may well be true, and yet I take no
shame in the bruit or "fama." For as in my hot youth I suffered
sorrows many from love, so now I may say, like that Carthaginian
queen in Maro, "miseris succurrere disco." The years of the youth
of most women and men are like a tourney, or jousts courteous, and
many fall in the lists of love, and many carry sorer wounds away
from Love's spears, than they wot of who do but look on from the
safe seats and secure pavilions of age. Though all may seem but a
gentle and joyous passage of arms, and the weapons that they use but
arms of courtesy, yet are shrewd blows dealt and wounds taken which
bleed inwardly, perchance through a whole life long. To medicine
these wounds with kind words is, it may be, part of my poor skill as
a healer of souls in my degree, and therefore do the young resort to
Father Norman.

Some confessors there be who laugh within their hearts at these
sorrows of lovers, as if they were mere "nugae" and featherweights:
others there are who wax impatient, holding all love for sin in some
degree, and forgetting that Monseigneur St. Peter himself was a
married man, and doubtless had his own share of trouble and amorous
annoy when he was winning the lady his wife, even as other men. But
if I be of any avail (as they deem) in the healing of hearts, I owe
my skill of that surgery to remembrance of the days of my youth,
when I found none to give me comfort, save what I won from a book
that my master had in hand to copy and adorn, namely, "The Book of
One Hundred Ballades, containing Counsel to a Knight, that he should
love loyally"; this counsel offered by Messire Lyonnet de Coismes,
Messire Jehan de Mailly, the Sieur d'Yvry, and many other good
knights that were true lovers. Verily, in sermons of preachers and
lives of holy men I found no such comfort.

Almost the sorest time of my sorrowing was for very grief of heart
when Elliot set forth on pilgrimage to Puy en Velay, for we were but
newly come together; "twain we were with one heart," as a maker sang
whom once I met in France ere I came back to Scotland; sweetly could
he make, but was a young clerk of no godly counsel, and had to name
Maitre Francoys Villon. Our heart was one, the heart of Elliot and
mine own, and lo! here, in a day, it was torn asunder and we were
set apart by the wisdom of men.

I remember me how I lay wakeful on the night before the day when
Elliot should depart. Tossing and turning, I lay till the small
fowls brake forth with their songs, and my own thought seemed to
come and go, and come again in my head, like the "ritournelle" of
the birds. At last I might not endure, but rose and attired myself
very early, and so went down into the chamber. Thither presently
came Elliot, feigning wonder to find me arisen, and making pretence
that she was about her housewiferies, but well I wot that she might
sleep no more than I. The old housewife coming and going through
the room, there we devised, comforting each other with hopes and
prayers; indeed we sorely wanted comfort, because never till we were
wed, if ever that should be, might we have such solace of each
other's presence as we desired. Then I brought from the workshop a
sheet of vellum and colours, and the painting tools, and so
fashioned a little picture of her, to wear within the breast of my
doublet. A rude thing it was and is, for what gold, however finely
handled, could match with her golden hair, whereof, at my desire,
she gave me a lock; and of all worldly gear from my secular life,
these and the four links of my mother's chain alone are still mine,
and where my heart is there is my treasure. And she, too, must clip
a long curl of my hair, for as yet it was not cut "en ronde," as
archers use to wear it, but when she came again, she said she would
find me shrewdly shaven, and then would love me no longer. Then she
laughed and kissed me, and fell to comforting me for that she would
not be long away.

"And in three months or four," she said, "the King will be sacred at
Rheims, and the Maid will give you red wine to drink in Paris town,
and the English will be swept into the sea, and then we shall have
peace and abundance."

"And then shall we be wedded, and never part," I cried; whereat she
blushed, bidding me not be over bold, for her heart might yet
change, and so laughed again; and thus we fleeted the time, till her
father came and sent her about disposing such things as she must
take with her. Among these she was set on carrying her jackanapes,
to make her merry on the road, though here I was of another counsel.
For in so great a gathering there must be many gangrel folk, and
among them, peradventure, the violer woman, who would desire to have
the creature given back to her. But, if it were so, Elliot said she
would purchase the jackanapes, "for I am no lifter of other men's
cattle, as all you Scots are, and I am fain to own my jackanapes
honestly."

So she carried him with her, the light chain about her wrist, and he
riding on her saddle-bow, for presently, with many banners waving
and with singing of hymns, came the troop who wended together on
pilgrimage. Many townsfolk well armed were there to guard their
women; the flags of all the crafts were on the wind; the priests
carried blessed banners; so with this goodly company, and her
confessor, and her father's old kinswoman, Elliot rode away. The
jackanapes was screeching on her saddle-bow, her yellow hair was
lifted on her shoulder with the light breeze; her father rode the
first two stages with them. Merry enough they seemed that went, and
the bells were chiming, but I was left alone, my heart empty, or
only full of useless longings. I betook myself, therefore, to a
chapel hard by, and there made my orisons for their safety and for
good speed to the Maid and her holy enterprise.

Thereafter there was no similitude for me and my unhappy estate,
save that of a dog who has lost his master in a strange place, and
goes questing everywhere, and comfortless. Then Randal Rutherford,
coming to visit me, found me such a lackmirth, he said, and my wits
so distraught, that a love-sick wench were better company for a man-
at-arms.

"Cheer up, man," he said. "Look at me, did I not leave my heart at
Branxholme Mains with Mally Grieve, and so in every town where I
have been in garrison, and do you see me cast down? Off with this
green sickness, or never will you have strength to march with the
Maid, where there is wealth to be won, and golden coronets, and
gaudy stones, such as Saunders Macausland took off the Duke of
Clarence at Bauge. Faith, between the wound Capdorat gave you and
this arrow of Dan Cupid's in your heart, I believe you will not be
of strength to carry arms till there is not a pockpudding left in
broad France. Come forth, and drain a pot or two of wine, or, if
the leech forbids it, come, I will play you for all that is owing
between you and me."

With that he lugged out his dice and fetched a tablier, but
presently vowed that it was plain robbery, for I could keep no count
of the game. Therewith he left me, laughing and mocking, and saying
that I had been bolder with Robin Lindsay's lass.

Being alone and out of all comfort, I fell to wandering in the
workroom, and there lit, to my solace, on that blessed book of the
hundred ballades, which my master was adorning with pictures, and
with scarlet, blue, and gold. It set forth how a young knight, in
sorrow of love, was riding between Pont de Ce and Angiers, and how
other knights met him and gave him counsel. These lines I read, and
getting them by rote, took them for my device, for they bid the
lover thrust himself foremost in the press, and in breach, mine, and
escalade.

S'en assault viens, devant te lance,
En mine, en eschielle, en tous lieux
Ou proesce les bons avance,
Ta Dame t'en aimera mieux.

But reading soon grew a weariness to me, as my life was, and my
master coming home, bade me be of better cheer.

"By St. Andrew," quoth he, "this is no new malady of thine, but well
known to leeches from of old, and never yet was it mortal! Remede
there is none, save to make ballades and rondels, and forget sorrow
in hunting rhymes, if thou art a maker. Thou art none? Nay, nor
ever was I, lad; but I have had this disease, and yet you see me
whole and well. Come, lend me a hand at painting in these lilies;
it passes not thy skill."

So I wrought some work whereof I have reason to be proud, for these
lilies were carried wheresoever blows and honour were to be won, ay,
and where few might follow them. Meanwhile, my master devised with
me about such sights as he had seen on the way, and how great a
concourse was on pilgrimage to Puy, and how, if prayers availed, the
cause of France was won; "and yet, in England too, wives are praying
for their lords, and lasses for their lads in France. But ours is
the better quarrel."

So that weary day went by, one of the longest that I have known, and
other days, till now the leech said that I might go back to the
castle, though that I might march to the wars he much misdoubted.
Among the archers I had the best of greetings, and all quarrels were
laid by, for, as was said, we were to set forth to Orleans, where
would be blows enough to stay the greediest stomach. For now the
Maid had won all hearts, taking some with her piety, and others with
her wit and knowledge, that confounded the doctors, how she, a
simple wench, was so subtle in doctrine, which might not be but by
inspiration. Others, again, were moved by her mirth and good-
fellowship, for she would strike a man-at-arms on the shoulder like
a comrade, and her horsemanship and deftness with sword and lance
bewitched others, she seeming as valiant and fair as these lady
crusaders of whom old romances tell. And others, again, she gained
by bourdes and jests; others by her manners, the fairest and most
courtly that might be, for she, a manant's daughter, bore herself as
an equal before the blood of France, and was right dear to the young
bride of the fair Duc d'Alencon. Yet was there about her such a
grace of purity, as of one descended from the skies, that no man of
them all was so hardy as to speak to her of love, or even so much as
to think thereof in the secret of his heart.

So all reported of her, and she had let write a letter to the
English at Orleans, bidding them yield to God and the Maid, and
begone to their own country, lest a worse thing befall them. At
this letter they mocked, swearing that they would burn her heralds
who carried the message. But the King had named her chief of war,
and given her a household, with a good esquire, Jean d'Aulon, to
govern it, and all that beseems noble or royal blood. New armour
had been made for her, all of steel and silver, and there was talk
of a sword that she had come by in no common way, but through
revelation of the saints. For she being in Tours had it revealed to
her that a certain ancient sword, with five crosses on the blade,
lay buried behind the altar of St. Catherine of Fierbois. An
armourer of Tours was therefore sent thither, and after much labour
and search they of St. Catherine's Church found that sword, very
ancient, and much bestained with rust. Howbeit, they cleaned it and
made for it a sheath of cloth of gold. Nevertheless, the Maid wore
it in a leathern scabbard.

CHAPTER XI--HOW MADAME CATHERINE OF FIERBOIS WROUGHT A MIRACLE FOR A
SCOT, AND HOW NORMAN RODE TO THE WARS

Now, in this place I cannot withhold me from telling of an adventure
which at this very time befell, though it scarce belongs to my
present chronicle. But it may be that, in time to come, faith will
wax cold, and the very saints be misdoubted of men. It therefore
behoves me not to hold back the truth which I know, and which this
tale makes plain and undeniable even by Hussites, Lollards, and
other miscreants. For he who reads must be constrained to own that
there is no strait so terrible but the saints can bring safely forth
therefrom such men as call upon them.

There came at this season to Chinon from Fierbois (where the Maid's
sword was found by miracle) a Scottish archer, not aforetime of our
company, though now he took service with us. He was named Michael
Hamilton, and was a tall man and strong, grim of face, sudden in
anger, heavy of hand, walked a little lame, and lacked one ear.
That which follows he himself told to us and to our chaplain, Father
Urquhart, and I myself have read it in the Book of the Miracles of
Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois. {22}

You must know that Brittany, as at this time, held for the English,
and Michael Hamilton had gone thither reiving and pillaging the
country with a company of Scots men-at-arms. Hard by a place called
Clisson they had seized a deserted tower and held it for some days.
It so fell out that they took a burgess of the country, who was
playing the spy on their quarters; him they put to the torture, and
so learned that the English were coming against them with a great
company of men-at-arms and of the country folk, on that very night.
They therefore delayed no longer than to hang the spy from a
sufficient bough of a tree, this Michael doing what was needful, and
so were hurrying to horse, when, lo! the English were upon them.
Not having opportunity to reach the stables and mount, Michael
Hamilton fled on foot, with what speed he might, but sorely impeded
by the weight of his armour. The country folk, therefore, being
light of foot, easily overtook him, and after slaying one and
wounding more, he was caught in a noose of rope thrown over him from
behind. Now, even as he felt the noose tighten about his arms, he
(though not commonly pious beyond the wont of men-at-arms) vowed in
his heart to make a pilgrimage to Fierbois, and to the shrine of
Madame St. Catherine, if she would but aid him. And, indeed, he was
ever a worshipper of St. Catherine, she being the patroness of his
own parish kirk, near Bothwell. None the less, he was overcome and
bound, whereon he that had thrown the noose, and was son of the spy
whom Michael had hanged, vowed that he would, with his own hands,
hang Michael. No ransom would this manant take, nor would he suffer
Michael, as a gentleman of blood and birth, to die by the sword. So
hanged Michael was; doubt not but it was done in the best manner,
and there he was left hanging.

Now, that night of Maundy Thursday the cure of Clisson was in his
chamber and was about to go to bed. But as he made ready for bed he
heard, from a corner of the chamber, a clear voice saying, "Go forth
and cut down the Scots man-at-arms who was hanged, for he yet
lives."

The cure, thinking that he must be half asleep and dreaming, paid no
manner of regard to these commands. Thereon the voice, twice and
thrice, spoke aloud, none save the cure being present, and said, "Go
forth and cut down the Scots man-at-arms who was hanged, for he yet
lives."

It often so chances that men in religion are more hard of heart to
believe than laymen and the simple. The cure, therefore, having
made all due search, and found none living who could have uttered
that voice, went not forth himself, but at noon of Good Friday, his
service being done, he sent his sexton, as one used not to fear the
sight and company of dead men. The sexton set out, whistling for
joy of the slaying of the Scot, but when he came back he was running
as fast as he might, and scarce could speak for very fear. At the
last they won from him that he had gone to the tree where the dead
Scot was hanging, and first had heard a faint rustle of the boughs.
Not affrighted, the sexton drew out a knife and slit one of
Michael's bare toes, for they had stripped him before they hanged
him. At the touch of the knife the blood came, and the foot gave a
kick, whereon the sexton hastened back with these tidings to the
cure. The holy man, therefore, sending for such clergy as he could
muster, went at their head, in all his robes canonical, to the wild
wood, where they cut Michael down and rubbed his body and poured
wine into his throat, so that, at the end of half an hour, he sat up
and said, "Pay Waiter Hay the two testers that I owe him."

Thereon most ran and hid themselves, as if from a spirit of the
dead, but the manant, he whose father Michael had hanged, made at
him with a sword, and dealt him a great blow, cutting off his ear.
But others who had not fled, and chiefly the cure, held the manant
till his hands were bound, that he might not slay one so favoured of
Madame St. Catherine. Not that they knew of Michael's vow, but it
was plain to the cure that the man was under the protection of
Heaven. Michael then, being kindly nursed in a house of a certain
Abbess, was wellnigh recovered, and his vow wholly forgotten, when
lo! he being alone, one invisible smote his cheek, so that the room
rang with the buffet, and a voice said to him, "Wilt thou never
remember thy pilgrimage?" Moved, therefore, to repentance, he stole
the cure's horse, and so, journeying by night till he reached
France, he accomplished his vows, and was now returned to Chinon.
This Michael Hamilton was hanged, not very long afterwards, by
command of the Duc d'Alencon, for plundering a church at Jargeau.

The story I have thought it behoved me to tell in this place,
because it shows how good and mild is Madame St. Catherine of
Fierbois, also lest memory of it be lost in Scotland, where it
cannot but be of great comfort to all gentlemen of Michael's kin and
of the name and house of Hamilton. Again, I tell it because I heard
it at this very season of my waiting to be recovered of my wound.
Moreover, it is a tale of much edification to men-at-arms, as
proving how ready are the saints to befriend us, even by speaking as
it were with human voices to sinful men. Of this I myself, later,
had good proof, as shall be told, wherefore I praise and thank the
glorious virgin, Madame St. Catherine of Fierbois.

This tale was the common talk in Chinon, which I heard very gladly,
taking pleasure in the strangeness of it. And in the good fortune
of the Maid I was yet more joyful, both for her own sake and for
Elliot's, to whom she was so dear. But, for my own part, the
leeches gave me little comfort, saying that I might in no manner set
forth with the rest, for that I could not endure to march on foot,
but must die by the way.

Poor comfort was this for me, who must linger in garrison while the
fortune of France was on the cast of the dice, and my own fortune
was to be made now or never. So it chanced that one day I was
loitering in the gateway, watching the soldiers, who were burnishing
armour, sharpening swords, and all as merry and busy as bees in
spring. Then to me comes my master, with a glad countenance, and
glad was I, for these eight days or nine I had no tidings of him,
and knew not if Elliot had returned from pilgrimage. I rose to
greet him, and he took my hand, bidding me be of good cheer, for
that he had good tidings. But what his news might be he would not
tell me; I must come with him, he said, to his house.

All about his door there was much concourse of people, and among
them two archers led a great black charger, fairly caparisoned, and
covered with a rich silk hucque of colour cramoisie, adorned with
lilies of silver. As I marvelled who the rider might be, conceiving
that he was some great lord, the door of my master's house opened,
and there, within, and plain to view, was Elliot embracing a young
knight; and over his silver armour fell her yellow hair, covering
gorget and rere-brace. Then my heart stood still, my lips opened
but gave no cry, when, lo! the knight kissed her and came forth, all
in shining armour, but unhelmeted. Then I saw that this was no
knight, but the Maid herself, boden in effeir of war, {23} and so
changed from what she had been that she seemed a thing divine. If
St. Michael had stepped down from a church window, leaving the
dragon slain, he would have looked no otherwise than she, all
gleaming with steel, and with grey eyes full of promise of victory:
the holy sword girdled about her, and a little battle-axe hanging
from her saddle-girth. She sprang on her steed, from the mounting-
stone beside the door, and so, waving her hand, she cried farewell
to Elliot, that stood gazing after her with shining eyes. The
people went after the Maid some way, shouting Noel! and striving to
kiss her stirrup, the archers laughing, meanwhile, and bidding them
yield way. And so we came, humbly enough, into the house, where,
her father being present and laughing and the door shut, Elliot
threw her arms about me and wept and smiled on my breast.

"Ah, now I must lose you again," she said; whereat I was half glad
that she prized me so; half sorry, for that I knew I might not go
forth with the host. This ill news I gave them both, we now sitting
quietly in the great chamber.

"Nay, thou shalt go," said Elliot. "Is it not so, father? For the
Maid gave her promise ere she went to Poictiers, and now she is
fulfilling it. For the gentle King has given her a household--
pages, and a maitre d'hotel, a good esquire, and these two gentlemen
who rode with her from Vaucouleurs, and an almoner, Brother Jean
Pasquerel, an Augustine, that the Maid's mother sent with us from
Puy, for we found her there. And the Maid has appointed you to go
with her, for that you took her part when men reviled her. And
money she has craved from the King; and Messire Aymar de Puiseux,
that was your adversary, is to give you a good horse, for that you
may not walk. And, above all, the Maid has declared to me that she
will bring you back to us unscathed of sword, but, for herself, she

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