A glory of sun dappled their way with dancing shadows, flowers were a-bloom in bank and hedgerow, and birds carolled blithe in the fragrant air, what time Sir Benedict rode beside Beltane, his ponderous casque a-swing at saddle-bow; and oft he turned his grizzled head to view my thoughtful Beltane as one might look upon a son, new-found.
She looked after him for a moment and two hot tears dropped from her eyes and dashed themselves to pieces on the peach-blossom ribbon. But the sky was clearing again she didn't realize it, but it was. April skies always make alternate lights and darks. The old curmudgeon had gone, but the garden gate was again a-swing. Ruth heard the tread on the porch and drawing back the curtains looked out.
But now Ulf uttered a joyful cry and pointed with his axe-shaft. "Yonder cometh Roger, lord, and with him the little archer, but whom bring they?" Very slowly they came, Roger and Prat the archer, up-bearing betwixt them good Sir Hubert of Erdington, his harness hacked and broken, his battered helm a-swing upon its thongs, his eyes a-swoon in the pallor of his face.
In the valley beyond Sidono there lies a garden of poppies, and where the poppies' heads are all a-swing with summer breezes that go up the valley there lies a path well strewn with ocean shells. Over Sidono's summit the birds come streaming to the lake that lies in the valley of the garden, and behind them rises the sun sending Sidono's shadow as far as the edge of the lake.
Horse and foot they thundered by until at last, amid a ring of cowering men-at-arms, Sir Pertolepe galloped, his white horse bespattered with blood and foam, his battered helm a-swing upon its thongs; grim-lipped and pale he rode, while his eyes, aflame 'neath scowling brows, swept the road this way and that until, espying Beltane 'neath the tree, he swerved aside in his career and strove to check his followers' headlong flight.
Now as I turned and strode for the door, I heard the sudden scrape of Adam's chair behind me, and whirling about, saw his pistol a-swing above my head, felt the vicious, staggering blow, and reeling to the door, sank weakly to my knees, and thence seemed to plunge into a black immensity and knew no more.
"Please to pay me.... Let me sell you...! Let me borrow...! Won't you hire...! Quack! Quack! Quack!" After him hurried the others in an excited group. The Piper led it, his plumbing-tools jangling, his pig-poke a-swing. And Gwendolyn saw him grin back over a shoulder craftily then lay hold of her father and tighten a strap. She trudged in the rear.
But in a while came Roger to him, his sword-belt a-swing in his hand, and looked upon his gloomy face with eyes full troubled. And presently he spake, yet halting in his speech and timid: "Master," he said, "suffer me a question." "Verily," quoth Beltane, looking up, "as many as thou wilt, my faithful Roger."
"Pertolepe's wolves!" he panted, "two of them have I slain within the last mile," and grinning, he patted the haft of his axe. "What news, Walkyn?" "Death!" panted Walkyn, "there be five dead men a-swing from the bartizan tower above Garthlaxton Keep, and one that dieth under the torture e'en now, for I heard grievous outcry, and all by reason of thy escape, lord."
Set turquoise, threaded with finest gold, a-swing in the rose-leaf of her ears, to fall and wind about the snow of her white neck. "Fasten the blue flower which spies upon thee from the shelter of the golden corn, within the glory of her hair.