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But anon she falls a-sighing, and braided a tress of hair 'twixt white fingers ere she spoke: "'Tis said of thee that thou art a hermit and live alone within these solitudes. And yet meseemeth thine eyes are not a hermit's eyes, messire!" Quoth Beltane, with flushing cheek and eyes abased: "Yet do I live alone, lady." "Nor are thy ways and speech the ways of common smith, messire."

And when he had viewed and touched those stark and pallid forms that lay scattered here and there amid the bracken, his anxious frown deepened. "These have been dead men full six hours!" quoth he. "Aye, lord," says Prat, "and 'tis unmeet such good fellows should lie here for beasts to tear; shall we bury them?" "Not so!" answered Beltane, turning away.

Thus I say, ye come in an evil hour." "Not so," answered Beltane. "Methinks we come in good hour.

"Nay, my lord, I thank thee, but I must hence this night to Barham Broom. But for my news, 'tis this: the out-law men call Beltane, hath, by devilish arts, sacked and burned Garthlaxton Keep." "Why, this I knew; there is a lewd song already made thereon, as thus: "They gave Garthlaxton to the flame, Be glory to Duke Beltane's name, And unto lusty Giles the same, Dixit!"

Already in the east was a roseate glory by whose soft light Beltane beheld Tall Orson, who grasped a bloody sword in one hand and wiped away his tears with the other. He, perceiving Beltane and Sir Benedict, limped to them forthwith and spake, albeit hoarse and brokenly.

"And ye have swords, I see," quoth Beltane, "and thereto hands wherewith to fight, yet do ye speak, forsooth, of booty, and fain would lie hid secure within the green? So be it! Bring forth the record, Giles, and strike me out the names of Orson and Jenkyn, the which, being shaped like men, are yet no men. Give therefore unto each his share of booty and let him go hence."

Like one in a dream went Beltane, heedless of his going; by silent street and lane where none stirred at this early hour, thus he wandered on until he was stayed by a high wall wherein was set a small, green door.

"Ah!" sighed the friar, and forthwith popped the leek into the pot. "I prithee, noble son, reach me the salt-box yonder!" Next morning, ere the sun was up, came Beltane into the minster and hiding within the deeper gloom of the choir, sat there hushing his breath to listen, trembling in eager anticipation.

Now it befell upon a certain evening as Roger bent to peer into the pot that seethed and bubbled upon the fire and to sniff its appetising savour, he presently fell a-singing to himself in a voice gruff yet musical withal; whereupon Beltane, turning languid head, fell to watching this new Roger, and thereafter spake on this wise: BELTANE. "What do ye so oft within the green?"

Now, of a sudden, while yet Beltane frowned down upon her, came Sir Jocelyn, and kneeling beside Winfrida, spake with bent head: "Messire Beltane, thou seest before thee two that are one, henceforth. So do I beseech thee, forgive us our trespass against thee, an it may be so. But, if thy wrongs are beyond forgiveness, then will we die together."